Iowa’s First Security Bank Combines Old and New in Wealth Management Market
By Karen Kroll
reave Coffaro, director of the Strategic Advisory Consulting Group, recently met a young tech millionaire in Silicon Valley. The potential client skateboarded until the meeting, during which everyone was in suits and ties. His comment, as Coffaro recalls: “All I want is an SMS when something happens. I don’t need to meet you all unless something needs my attention.
Wealth management marketing is changing. Wealth management itself is more complex, the number of generations that can use wealth management services is increasing and the range of competitors is widening.
“Banks need to make conscious decisions about how best to offer their services and how to market,” Coffaro explains. Traditionally, many have segmented customers based on asset levels. This approach loses its relevance as other dimensions, such as generation and culture, exert more influence on people’s thinking about wealth, he adds.
One bank that combines both innovation and tradition to successfully market its wealth management services is First Security Bank and Trust, based in Charles City, Iowa. Over the past 28 years, assets under management have grown from zero to $ 240 million, says David Jarvill, CFP and wealth management advisor.
“We try to be forward looking in what we do,” Jarvill says. To this end, First Security uses several approaches to attract customers, including traditional and new media.
New approach needed
Several converging factors underline the need for multiple and new approaches. Banks, like all businesses, need to meet customers in the way that customers prefer to engage. While many still consume traditional media such as radio, most are also online and engaged in social media.
Banks also face increasing competition from non-bank entities, such as licensed investment advisers. This is happening just as bank customers are asking for fee reductions. Some potential customers see banks as technological laggards that lack the data aggregation and interface tools that can provide them with a holistic view of their financial health, the study notes.
At First Security, Jarvill and his team have been working for several years on new ways to engage clients in wealth management. When it comes to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, Jarvill notes that he was not initially enthusiastic. Over time, he began to realize the power of these platforms.
A turning point came when the brokerage firm that First Security worked with was sold, and the bank needed to find a new partner. Ultimately, the bank partnered with Infinex Financial Group, which is part of a group of around 40 banks. Infinex also had staff who were proficient in social media marketing and could deliver programs and content. This meant less content for First Security to create on its own.
While First Security Bank engages across multiple social media platforms globally, Jarvill has focused on LinkedIn, given its more professional tone. The platform offers several advantages over traditional media, he adds. “It allows us to tell our story in our own words,” Jarvill says, and to speak directly to customers and prospects, including those who have left Iowa. He is also able to integrate a range of media into his LinkedIn posts, including blog posts, video clips, and links to radio ads.
Almost all potential customers, and especially younger ones, will search the Internet before logging into the bank or Jarvill, says Matt Bradley, senior vice president of First Security. “A strong LinkedIn presence is key” to demonstrating his expertise, he says.
Jarvill sends clients monthly emails that cover a wide range of topics, such as planning for retirement or organizing your finances. These take on a friendly tone. “It’s like you’re talking to someone at the cafe,” he says. A quarterly newsletter, printed and posted, summarizes market movements.
While these initiatives help keep the First Security name in front of customers, Jarvill is careful not to overdo it, he says, and focuses on quality over quantity. That way, when people check their inboxes, they’re more likely to read the information.
Along with social media, Jarvill continues to use standard marketing tools. One is simply to meet customers and prospects. “As a community bank, no matter where it is, we will come to you,” he adds.
First Security also reaches customers through radio ads. While conventional wisdom says radio audiences are older, this isn’t always the case. First Security runs certain advertisements to be shown in close proximity to the shows of famous financial advice radio host Dave Ramsey. “We have reached out to a group of people who are interested in the philosophy of financial planning,” he says.
Radio ads also help to strengthen Jarvill’s expertise. “They are very important to who we are and how we can help solve problems,” he says. Ads running in the spring could discuss IRA contributions and saving for retirement. In early summer, the focus is often on education savings plans and, in the fall, long-term care options.
The ads are produced in-house, using Bradley’s skills in electronic media, along with a desktop computer and some simple software. The overall investment is minimal, Bradley notes.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person meetings with customers have moved to a virtual format. During these, Jarvill focused on listening more than conversing and impacting customers. He also quickly became familiar with the range of resources available through the bank.
With this knowledge, Jarvill was able to connect its clients with experts who could help them meet their challenges. For example, a client owned a high-end dance school and needed help when home orders took effect. Jarvill was able to put her in touch with a loan officer for a Paycheck Protection Program loan, even though she did not have a loan relationship with the bank at the time.
By helping clients, Jarvill and his team have also helped grow the business and generate decent fee income without, for example, simply increasing bounced charges, a tactic that can leave a negative impression on clients.
Since the market for First Security is not growing from a demographic perspective, the growth of the bank requires Jarvill and his colleagues to maintain their relationships and strengthen the strength of those relationships. Along with wealth management services, they will try to capture checking, lending and other banking transactions. “If you have four or five of these relationships, you turn a customer into a customer. With customers, you can help solve problems, ”Jarvill explains. In contrast, with customers, you might not even know what the problem is, he adds.
As last year has shown, successful commercialization of wealth management, like any business, requires adapting to the larger business environment. A few years ago, “I thought what made me successful would continue to make me successful,” Jarvill says. “I was fortunate to be surrounded by people who said, ‘We can do it in a different way. “”