the blog: TWICE FOCUSED with JIM JONES

Massachusetts Bankers Association Risk Managers Forum on June 9, 2017

June 2, 2017   Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post

If you are in risk management you won’t want to miss the Massachusetts Bankers Association Risk Managers Forum on June 9, 2017!

Our speaker, Mike Cohn, Wolf & Company, P.C. will discuss the links between a community bank’s Key Risk Indicators, its risk appetite and other ERM tools and techniques to build a bridge to strategic planning and the process of innovation.

The forum is a great way to learn new approaches, discuss the latest risk issues and trends and network with your peers. I will once again serve as the forum’s facilitator partnering with MassBanker’s Ben Craigie throughout the day. Program and registration information can be found at: http://bit.ly/2qK8zR3

First Wellesley Voted Top Consulting Firm

October 19, 2015   Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post

Honored by Banker & Tradesman for the Seventh Year

Wellesley Hills, MA, October 19, 2015 — First Wellesley Consulting Group, Inc. has again received the Banker & Tradesman Best of Gold Award in the Bank Consultant category.  First Wellesley is honored and pleased to be designated the top bank consultant by the Banker & Tradesman 2015 Readers’ Poll.

“We are truly honored to have been chosen for the seventh year by Banker & Tradesman readers.  We thank the readers, our clients and colleagues for their confidence in us,” said James D. Jones, President/CEO, First Wellesley Consulting Group, Inc.

Banker & Tradesman, founded in 1872 and headquartered in Boston, MA, is published by the Warren Group.  The Warren Group provides comprehensive banking and real estate news and data throughout New England.

  • Since early July, Banker & Tradesman conducted an online survey of readers. It promoted this project via ads in the newspaper, emails to thousands of readers and customers of Banker & Tradesman, and through its website, www.bankerandtradesman.com. Readers responded by the thousands to voice their opinions.
  • The polling measures the loyalty and satisfaction readers have with vendors. It is an opportunity for readers to speak up for those providers they believe are the best.
  • The readers’ poll honors the best providers of services in the banking and real estate professions- the companies that have won the loyalty and support of the Bay State’s financial and real estate communities.

About First Wellesley Consulting Group, Inc.

First Wellesley Consulting Group, Inc. (www.FirstWellesley.com) was established in Wellesley Hills, MA. The 24-year old firm, founded in 1991, is a national professional services firm specializing in the financial services and mortgage industries. First Wellesley offers strategic and succession planning, lending consulting, SurveyMatters™ instant polling, professional development and education. Lending consulting services include strategy, organization, technology and best practice process redesign.  Clients include Fortune 500, FinTech100, Inc. 500, and other leading financial institutions, technology companies, regulatory organizations and national and state trade associations.  First Wellesley received the Banker & Tradesman Best of 2015 Gold Award in the Bank Consultant Category, its seventh year of recognition.  It is an associate member of the Massachusetts Bankers Association.

Mr. Jones, a 36-year industry veteran, is a nationally known speaker who focuses on the future of the industry, innovation, best practices and emerging technologies. He is a former bank and mortgage executive and Big 4 consultant.  He speaks nationally to CEO, director and senior management audiences and educates industry professionals in strategy and technology.

Mr. Jones serves on the core faculty of the New England School for Financial Studies.  He is the author of Strategic Planning for Mortgage Lenders, published by the Mortgage Bankers Association, and is designated as an MBA Master Faculty Fellow.

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Same Industry – Vastly Different Strategies

February 24, 2014   Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post

Financial institutions (FIs) are not standing still in today’s turbulent environment. FIs are pursuing promising opportunities and are well aware of the biggest risks.  Financial institutions, however, rarely choose identical strategies.  Consider the different strategies that FIs are choosing this year.

Two of the most public strategic initiatives are mergers and acquisitions and, for some mutual banks, conversions to stock savings banks. Financial institutions committed to M&A believe that greater asset size is essential for success. Mutual banks converting to stock savings banks believe that the access to capital is necessary for continued financial viability and to take advantage of the best opportunities.

Retail branching strategies are in a state of flux and vary widely. Some banks and credit unions remain strategically committed to the building of new physical branches. These FIs believe that new branches fuel market and business line expansion and new customer acquisition.  Other institutions are pursuing the opposite strategy of closing branches and reducing the number of retail branch staff and hours.  Some FIs are pursuing new 21st Century branch models, such as Wells Fargo’s 1,250 square foot “minibranch,” betting that a new model will increase sales and more cost effectively support lower lobby traffic.  Banks can pursue a number of these branch strategies at the same time.

Many financial institutions are keenly focused on business line growth, most often commercial lending. Some FIs are committed to an electronic future, with investments in mobile technology, mobile payments and virtual branches. Still other banks and credit unions believe that branding initiatives and increased sales and marketing budgets will produce the desired results.

A number of financial institutions are more carefully examining lines of business and product offerings. Some institutions are entering new lines of business while others are eliminating existing business lines. Examples include insurance and wealth management. At the same time a number of firms are adding and eliminating financial products and services based upon profitability studies and forecasts.

Many financial institutions, responding to the increased costs of doing business, have placed a magnifying lens on non-interest expenses. Intense efforts have been undertaken to reduce and combine staffing and reduce other operating costs to lower overhead and efficiency ratios.

Finally, a number of FIs have decided to focus on and highlight their legacy core competencies including local market knowledge, personalized customer service, high credit standards and community commitment.

The reality is that individual banks and credit unions are pursuing a number of these strategies simultaneously. What combination of strategies is best for your company? It depends upon factors such as your FI’s core competencies, culture, legacy, employee expertise, market competition and demographics and available opportunities.  It is clear that many of today’s FIs are not standing still when it comes to new strategies.

The Greatest Strategic Challenges Facing Financial Institutions Today

February 18, 2014   Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post

Financial institutions (FIs) have moved past the Great Recession and are focused on the future.  The future includes addressing potential threats and challenges.  What are the greatest strategic challenges for FIs this year?

The greatest economic challenges are a slow growth economy, continued low interest rates, and higher operating costs.  FIs face several important demographic challenges, including the gradual loss of legacy customers and their large deposits. Another demographic challenge is the emergence of younger generations, many of whom are digital consumers, with vastly different banking preferences and expectations compared to their parents. FIs are also challenged with the difficulty of recruiting and retaining qualified younger generation employees.

Regulation challenges include the remaining implementation of the Dodd-Frank Act (only 50 percent complete) and new regulations issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. FIs face increases in regulatory costs, higher risks, greater operating complexity and continuous employee training requirements. Some new regulations threaten the viability of traditional business lines such as residential mortgage lending and servicing.

Technology delivers its own set of challenges. Financial institutions face the challenge of trying to keep up with the latest technology, budgetary constraints, increased risks and complexity, the need for more IT staff and continual employee training.

Finally, many executives that we have spoken with recently indicate that competitive challenges have increased this year. Non-bank competition, in particular, is stronger, especially in the areas of electronic banking and payments and alternative lending.

Financial institutions are not lacking meaningful strategic challenges. Banks and credit unions, however, are employing a variety of strategies to solve these challenges and to take advantage of the best opportunities available today. The various strategic approaches chosen by FIs will be the subject of my next blog.

2013 – The Year of Mobile Banking

February 13, 2013   Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments | Email This Post | Print This Post

All signs point to a big push by financial institutions to deploy mobile banking this year. An article this morning in the Wall Street Journal, Banks Make Smartphone Connection, illustrates this trend. Many financial institutions have deployed mobile banking or plan to deploy it this year. The difference in an FI’s approach will be its deployment strategy. Some deploy mobile banking to provide customers with the ability to conduct standard transactions using a smartphone or tablet. Standard transactions include balance checking, transfers between accounts and bill payments. The more intrepid FIs are providing an additional level of mobile banking – remote deposit capture by camera. Consumers can sit in the comfort of their home and “snap” a deposit remotely rather than travel to a branch. The most innovative FIs have now taken mobile banking to a third, exciting stage-“mobile phone bill pay”. Mobile phone bill pay allows customers to take pictures of their bill coupons using smartphone or tablet cameras.  The FI electronically processes the payments for them.  First Financial Bank, Texas, calls their version Picture Pay™.

Mobile banking is clearly designed to satisfy the preferences of tech savvy customers of all ages and to also attract new Generation X and Y customers.

I enjoy mobile banking.  I began using the mobile check deposit feature when it was first offered by my bank. I had to complete a quick learning curve, answer my concern as to whether it would work (it did) and change how I track deposits. Now, after a number of months of use, I use mobile check deposit for business and personal accounts and am quite satisfied.

It’ll be fascinating to see the speed of adoption of mobile banking by FIs and consumers. Keys to consumer adoption will include trust, ease of use and reliability. It’ll also be interesting to see what impact mobile banking will have on in-branch, Internet and call center transactions.

What are your mobile banking views? How quickly do you think mobile banking will be adopted by FIs and consumers?

About Jim Jones

James D. Jones, a national speaker for 16 years, has presented to financial services and mortgage audiences for organizations of all sizes.More >

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