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Moving from Teller to Universal Banker

June 9, 2016

This article was originally published in the Branch Manager’s Letter

By Lana Chandler from Branch Manager’s Letter

There’s no quick checklist for implementing the Universal Banker concept… and it is not an overnight change. Rebecca Doepke, President of Keeping It Awesome (Milwaukee, WI) says the transformation involves two initiatives and that both require a strategy. Based on your answers and consideration to key questions, you can begin formulating your strategy into two buckets:

  1. Changes in the physical space, meaning the branch along with the changes in technology
  2. Changes for the staff

Key Questions to Address

Before crafting an overall strategy, Doepke advises that you address the following questions and considerations:

  • Is the transformation from teller to Universal Banker for one branch as a pilot or test, or is this a transformation for multiple branch locations? The difference between the two answers is how you are looking at things. Are you looking at things from a branch point of view – transformation of how a branch does business? Or are you looking at things from an organizational point of view – how your financial institution does business?
  • What exactly is happening? Are you transforming from teller to Universal Banker in existing branches with no changes? Or are you considering the transformation from teller to Universal Banker with technology support such as implementing cash recyclers with the removal of the traditional teller line? Does the transformation include physical and technology changes or not?
  • What does this mean for the staff making the change?
  • What is the new job title – is it Universal Banker, universal associate, personal banker, consultant, relationship banker, or something else?
  • What does staff need training on?
  • How will staff get trained?
  • What is the training approach and how long will it take?
  • What are the new job expectations?
  • Does the compensation change?
  • How does the transformation change the choreography of the branch? “Meaning, if you change from transactional behavior behind a teller line to the cross-trained role of Universal Banker with freedom to move with clients, the focus becomes more on the relationship versus ‘just transaction,’” explains Doepke.
  • What questions and concerns will the staff have?
  • Why are we doing this?
  • How will my role change?
  • What if our clients don’t like this?
  • Will this work?

Physical and Technology Changes

“The transformation of teller to Universal Banker often brings physical and technology changes,” says Doepke. Examples are:

  • Cash recyclers
  • Video Assisted Interactive Teller Machines
  • Smart ATMs

Staff Changes

When building your strategy for moving to Universal Banker, Doepke says there are three components related to staff that you need to consider:

1. Communication “It all starts with communication. A communication strategy needs to address all staff concerns and questions and should also build excitement and create buy-in for the upcoming change,” Doepke says. “Your communication strategy should include a kickoff, after all this isn’t the kind of information you just announce at a meeting. It will require some type of a kickoff, ongoing meetings, communication, along with support and buy-in from management.”

When you communicate to existing staff that teller positions are changing or evolving into a Universal Banker position, your staff will have many questions such as:
 Why is the organization making this change? Why are we doing this?
 What does this mean for me and my job?
 What exactly is changing? What will be different?
 What if I don’t want to be a Universal Banker?
 What kind of training will I receive for the new position?
 How will this impact clients?

As information and updates are shared and communicated with staff, consider your communication delivery methods such as:
 What is appropriate to communicate via email?
 What requires face-to-face communication?
 What can you do differently? Perhaps the traditional methods of communication can be taken to the next level.

TIP: The change from teller to Universal Banker means doing something different. Why not set the stage for something different in how you communicate?

2. Job title and description While Universal Banker is a common title, some financial institutions prefer titles such as universal associate, banking associate, relationship banker, and oftentimes personal banker makes the cut.

TIP: Involve your marketing people. A creative team may come up with title options that reflect and align with your brand.

As you map out the details and expectations of the job, there are several options to consider. “It could be one all-encompassing job description or you might want to consider the tiered approach. A Universal Banker I might have different levels of responsibilities versus a Universal Banker II or III. The differences in the tiers are typically related to lending responsibilities. The job description also gives you the opportunity to set expectations for service standards and sales behaviors,” says Doepke.

3. Onboarding. You can’t just send a teller to training for new accounts and/or lending then hand over the title of Universal Banker. While training is necessary and good, it isn’t enough to inspire success. It’s a new job with new goals and responsibilities …that’s why you need an onboarding strategy.

“When you take existing teller staff to a universal position, you are onboarding them into a new and very different job with new and different expectations. It’s no different than an onboarding strategy for new hires,” Doepke continues. “When bringing new staff into the organization, an effective onboarding strategy ensures that your new employees feel welcomed, comfortable, and prepared for their journey. Existing staff needs to feel the same. They need to understand what they will be trained on, how long the training will take, and how the training will be delivered.”

Universal Bankers, says Doepke, need two types of training: Technical and banking. This involves…

  • Product knowledge
  • New account opening
  • Account maintenance
  • Lending (consumer and business)
  • Regulation and complianceRelationship training. Moving from transaction to conversation requires additional service and sales training such as service standards, relationship or sales training, and sales expectations.

“For both the technical and relationship training, elements such as learning job immersion, journey maps, knowledge checks, sustainment, and coaching should all be part of the onboarding strategy when making this transition,” says Doepke.

TIP: When crafting the onboarding strategy for existing staff, it’s also the perfect time to craft the onboarding strategy for new hires. “Today’s workforce desires to be identified with a company that has true purpose, and they want to understand how their work contributes to this purpose. Companies that focus on creating a workplace that engages employees will in turn create a business that engages its clients,” notes Doepke.

For information on how to subscribe to the Branch Manager’s Letter send an email to Lana at info@BranchManagersLetter.com

Learn how FMSI can help recruit and screen the right universal banker employee candidates.

Learn more about FMSI’s Universal Banker Staffing Model

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