Starting Sunday and running through Tuesday of next week, the American Bankers Association holds its annual Bank Marketing Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The event’s program primarily focuses on digital and social media marketing, branding, and keeping customers and employees engaged through integrated marketing. As always, it’s valuable to look at some of the latest topics and trends prior to arriving; quite often some of the most common conversations involve industry news that came to light long after the workshops, panels, and keynotes had been finalized. Five topics or areas that matter heading into Nashville are:

  1. The Wells Fargo Fraudulent Account Fiasco: The high-profile incident will have been in the news cycle for a few weeks, and with an upcoming House of Representatives hearing, there is no way the subject won’t be analyzed and commented upon by the ABA conference’s attendees. Especially as Nashville is a marketing-centered event, the manner in which Wells Fargo employees “cross-sold” products and how such tactics were deemed culturally acceptable will most certainly drive the discourse on behavioral norms, brand loyalty, and industry reputation and regulation.
  2. ABA President’s Recent Op-ed on Regulation: In a piece published by The Hill, Rob Nichols, president of the ABA, and Greg Baer, president of the Clearing House Association, believe that heavy industry regulation hinders lending, despite historically low interest rates, and thus economic growth. “Our nation’s banks hold far more short-term, liquid assets than they did pre-crisis, in place of the kind of loans to businesses and families that would generate economic growth. Companies seeking lines of credit face diminished availability and increased price because regulations force banks to assume that those lines will be drawn in amounts greater than in the recent financial crisis, requiring banks to hold cash to fund those hypothetical conditions,” they wrote. Since regulatory policy essentially affects all facets of banking, it would be highly surprising to attend a bank marketing conference, particularly one organized by an association whose president penned an op-ed on the very matter, and not participate in a related dialogue or two.
  3. Mobile Banking’s Moment: Despite starting as a preference of Millennials only, mobile banking has now spread to 58 percent of adults surveyed by ABA in partnership with Ipsos, a market research firm. “Consumers are increasingly turning to their smartphones and tablets to manage their everyday finances, and banks have responded by expanding their mobile capabilities,” said ABA SVP Nessa Feddis. Historically speaking, this pivot towards a digital banking experience, whether online or mobile, has increased among adults from 47 percent in 2014 to 62 percent in 2016, according to a Bank of America survey. Additionally, the rise of mobile seems to correlate with a decline in unbanked individuals over the past two years, as leveraging the platform was cited as a specific strategy to assist the unbanked and underbanked in an FDIC report. Attendees should look forward to hearing more about best practices for mobile marketing in banking.
  4. The Fintech Factor: How banking and fintech will interact with each other may be the question of the year for the industry. While some tech companies are looking to assume additional banking functions like lending, many conversations revolve around the topic of regulation, and whether fintech firms will begin to endure some of the same costs of traditional banks or continue to be nurtured.
  5. Personalizing the Banking Experience: A greater demand for digital means that customers, whether retail or commercial, now expect a fully customized interaction, knowing that enough data exists for banks to tailor their approach and product offering to one’s specific needs and circumstances. A survey from Bizfi, ironically a fintech firm specializing in business lending, found that 87.5 percent of small business owners aim to invest more in their business in 2016 than 2015, with 91.4 percent seeing loans as their primary source of capital. And the fact that 67 percent said they would consider nontraditional lending options means that banks need to execute a more robust lending strategy in order to deliver greater value against that of fintech challengers like Bizfi and industry incumbents. This is considerably pertinent when absorbed in tandem with a Wells Fargo/GfK small-business survey from earlier this year. In that survey two-thirds of Millennials believed that borrowing is a prerequisite for growth, with 21 percent looking to borrow within the next year.

While these topics should be top of mind for attendees, valuable insights and fresh strategies will undoubtedly derive from the ABA Bank Marketing Conference, energizing industry stakeholders as 2017 approaches. Look for a recap of the event and its most salient points in October, and Seismic hopes to see you in Nashville!