In 2022, Veritex Community Bank — serving customers in Dallas, Fort Worth and Houston, Texas — made a big push to improve its legacy account opening software.
Customers were complaining that it took too long to open accounts, says Rudy Beeching, executive vice president of retail and business banking at Veritex.
So Veritex partnered with MANTL, a tech company that offers account opening software to banks and credit unions. And within 90 days of launching a new deposit platform across its 29 branches and call center, Veritex raised more than $135 million in retail and commercial deposits. The bank was also able to increase its in-branch account opening 77% year-over-year — without hiring any additional employees.
Since adding the new technology, Veritex has been able to increase its customer acquisition and improve experience, Beeching says.
“It’s about efficiency, it’s about customer experience, and the ability to do more with your existing resources.”
But updating the tech stack wasn’t the only contributing factor for the $12.3 billion bank’s deposit spike. It also required a heavy investment and focus on employee training.
Banks across the industry are implementing technology at faster rates, but ensuring employees are up to speed has proven to be a challenge, particularly when it comes to training them on artificial intelligence and similar technologies. There can also be a reluctance to incorporate new technologies in fear it could replace jobs.
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This is true for workforces in different segments, but community banks and credit unions specifically run into issues with employee-tech training. This can be because many institutions don’t have designated learning and development departments who can focus their time on upskilling workforces. The responsibility sometimes falls on the HR department, but overburdened HR managers may not have time to focus sufficiently on worker training.
Investing in solid training strategies for new technology is especially important for community banks if they want to keep pace with larger competitors, says Nathaniel Harley, chief executive of MANTL.
“Competition is heating up in the banking landscape,” Harley says. “Our goal is to bring [smaller institutions] a better experience than what Chase is spending billions of dollars on, to help level the playing field. Ultimately, we want these banks to be around for many years to come because of how vital they are to the communities that they serve.”
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Step One: Train the Trainers
In its partnership with MANTL, Veritex Community Bank solved the employee training problems that other institutions struggle with on a daily basis.
The first step Veritex took was implementing a “train the trainer” model. This approach is common in many industries to upskill workers, according to Patrick Graupp, owner and vice president and senior master trainer at the TWI Institute, which helps organizations better train their workforces.
Using this model, an instructor leads a training session with workers, who will then go and teach their direct reports and colleagues how to use the tool.
“The train-the-trainer process has been standardized to the point where, no matter where a trainee attends an initial facilitator training, they will receive the same instruction, in the same format,” writes Graupp, adding the format of the course and process is standardized, even if the practical exercises taught in the training is tailored to the individual company.
“Competition is heating up in the banking landscape. Ultimately, we want these banks to be around for many years to come because of how vital they are to the communities that they serve.”
— Nathaniel Harley, MANTL
At Veritex, for example, the bank held a training session with every bank center manager and tasked them with training their employees, Beeching says. Then, these employees went back to their individual branches to train their workers how to use the software. Those who were slow to adopt the new technology, Harley says, began to see how easy the process was for their colleagues and were more likely to use it themselves.
“They essentially deputized internal champions at each of their branches or offices or made them the software experts in account opening,” Harley says. “What started to happen was everyone else in the branch saw how well it was working, how much time those individuals were getting back, and started to self-train and self-learn.”
Step Two: The Power of Incentives
To expedite the training process, Veritex also offered incentives to friends and family: a premium money market rate to relatives and friends of bank employees. The program also provided a “friendly” test environment for the new processes in December 2022, generally a quiet time of year.
The roll-out also addressed a big challenge that many banks have when upskilling their workers on new software: Employees often aren’t customers themselves. By getting friends and family onboard, the bank was able to soft launch a software with a larger group of users, while simultaneously training their staff on how it worked.
Step Three: Supplement with Technology
Veritex also offered video tutorials to walk employees through the software. After the video training, went through a test run with their manager, Beeching says. The quality of the test run determined when the employee was ready to use the technology with new customers.
MANTL also provided step-by-step guidance for bankers that help guide them through the account opening process: what needs to be entered when, what documents need to be uploaded and what due diligence questionnaire needs to be answered. The technology can also guide a frontend employee who isn’t sure of the next step, so staff can focus on their primary job: building a lasting relationship with the customer.
The data analysis support alone can make the new tech investment worth it. For instance, Veritex can now track submitted or lost applications or target potential customers who may have visited the bank’s website, but didn’t open an account. In the long-term, Beeching says, the bank is hoping to use this data to better inform its marketing to potential customers.
“It has allowed us to move from focusing on account opening to being more relational with the client in the moment,” Beeching says.
Caroline Hroncich is a freelance business journalist based in New York. She writes about workplace trends, HR, personal finance, banking, and more. Her work has appeared in MarketWatch, Business Insider, Employee Benefit News, the Society for Human Resource Management, and Cannabis Wire.