Seize the Chance to Make a Difference

Last weekend, my wife, teenage daughters, and I took part in Toyota TeenDrive 365. Toyota offers this interactive defensive driving education program with a stated goal of creating the next generation of safe drivers. 

I’ll admit, I was skeptical of a “free” event, hosted by a car manufacturer and focused on teen drivers. I fully expected to walk into a sales pitch. Imagine my surprise when my family and I experienced a first-class event actually focused on teen driver safety. The facilitators and coaches were energetic and passionate, and we felt their genuine care for the lives they were impacting. After investing two great hours to the safety of my teen drivers, our family walked away empowered by useful, thought-provoking education. 

As I thought more about the event, I also realized that, while it may not be focused on selling cars, the program definitely helps Toyota stand out. Simply demonstrating their genuine concern for the safety of their buying public is a great way that they are winning favor (and most likely, new customers). 

While they may be one of the few that actually do it, Toyota isn’t the only organization that can transform concern for its customer base into leadership. In fact, there are obvious parallels to today’s community banking industry. 

At this moment, community banks have a golden opportunity to use service to grow in favor while making a profound impact on their communities. The economy is trying to recover. Employment and consumer spending are showing tenuous signs of improvement. And people are apprehensive. 

In March 2014, Jump$tart published its seventh annual Financial Literacy Survey of US Adults on behalf of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Inc. The study, conducted during 2013, revealed that bank customers are plagued by many of the same insecurities and questions. 

  1. 40% of adults gave themselves a grade of C, D, or F on their knowledge of personal finance.
  2. 78% agree that they could benefit from additional advice and answers to everyday financial questions from a professional.
  3. 57% indicated they are worried over a lack of savings, including 43% who are concerned about not having enough “rainy day” savings for an emergency, and 38% concerned about retiring without having enough money set aside.
  4. 26% (roughly 61 million people) were worried about servicing their debt commitments, including concerns around paying credit card debt (13%), repaying student loan debt (8%), an inability to make monthly vehicle payments (7%), and not being able to pay off existing medical debt (6%).
  5. While 19% were worried about their credit score and/or lack of access of credit overall, 16% were anxious about their score, with 9% concerned over their lack of access to credit.
  6. 20% of adults indicated they do not have any financial worries. 

Ten years ago, Toyota saw a real need. Teen drivers and their families were concerned about safety. Would it keep them from driving? Likely no. But it created an undercurrent of worry that could be alleviated with education. Today, community banks face a similar chance to lighten concerns. By reaching out to their communities with financial advice and strategies that help mitigate financial concerns, banks can strengthen existing relationships, establish favor among new and potential customers, and make a real difference. 

How is your community bank taking the opportunity to stand out by offering thoughtful answers and guidance? What more could you do to calm the fears of your customer base and put them more firmly in their financial driver seat? 

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Topics: Community Banking, Bank Growth

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