Ask An Expert

Sean Keathley discusses how to create connections through branch conversions

After a COVID slowdown in banking mergers and acquisitions, we’re now in the midst of a predicted resurgence of M&A activity. But it's once the deal is done, that the real work begins. In this Ask an Expert, Sean Keathley discusses converting branches to the new post-merger brand. With the exterior of the branch as your beacon and the interior as your experience, branch conversion is a rich opportunity to drive acquisition, deepen customer connections, and solidify and grow relationships. Learn the principles and practices in branch conversion that help banks master all the complexity.

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Sharing Successes

Taking aim at black income disparity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated (AKA) has announced the launch of For Members Only Federal Credit Union as the first “Black-owned, woman-led, sorority-based, digital banking financial institution” in the country. Gaining its charter from the National Credit Union Administration in February, the credit union expects to be fully operational by the end of 2023 and will provide a full range of savings and lending products and banking services to members of AKA, their families and organizational employees.

Driven by purpose, AKA’s community building and service initiatives are deeply ingrained in the organization’s culture and founding principles. The sorority sees For Members Only as a natural outgrowth of that calling and hopes to help “build economic wealth, promote social justice and uplift communities,” according to Insider Intelligence.  Even more, “the founders believe the core purpose of a credit union – people helping people – aligns with this mission and will empower Black women to take control of their financial lives.”

“We are delivering the most progressive and revolutionary economic initiative in this century,” said Danette Anthony Reed, international president and chief executive of For Members Only, as reported in American Banker. “[And] We are poised to deliver innovative financial solutions that drive economic growth.” The NCUA governing body also sees shared purpose in the mission of credit unions and a sorority like AKA. “It’s perfectly fitting that an organization whose members pledge to be of ‘Service to All Mankind’ has created a credit union,” said Todd Harper, chairman of the NCUA.

Read more about how AKA’s are serving their communities in the financial space. 

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Data You Can Use

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*Percentage of adults who report they trust their bank to do what’s right

The Story:

New survey data from Morning Consult finds that Americans’ level of trust in banks has remained resolute even in the wake of key institutional failures over the last two weeks. After the collapse of Silicon Valley and Signature banks, the industry was on alert for the prospect of fear spreading, but data finds that confidence in banking is about as high as it was this time last year. Trust is highest among customers of regional and national banks (at 81% and 78%, respectively), next among customers of community banks and credit unions (at 71% and 67%, respectively) and lowest but still respectable among customers of digital banks (at 57%).


The Takeaway:

Moments like this provide an opportunity for banks to communicate with trust and transparency and share insights into their institutional approach to balance and diversify their holdings. VeraBank did exactly that when they sent out an email and posted a powerful letter from their CEO, which notably included the CEO’s personal phone number, so he could answer any questions customers had about the safety of their money. Of the 100 or so customers he heard from, according to Adrenaline, the great majority called or texted to simply thank him for proactively communicating. “I thought it was really important that we get our story out,” Tidwell said in his interview on NPR’s Marketplace, to differentiate themselves from the failed banks and spotlight their core values.


Source: Morning Consult, “Consumer Trust in Banks Remains High Despite Recent Bank Collapses,” March, 2023

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