Fall 2014
Select Page

Jabian Conversations

As executive vice president of consumer banking and private wealth management at SunTrust Bank, Brad Dinsmore focuses his team of 15,000+ employees nationwide on the concept of an improved end-to-end experience instead of just customer satisfaction. Through the use of big data, customer feedback, and strategic insights, Mr. Dinsmore has helped lead SunTrust to develop offerings, training, and new services that help its customers bank how, when, and where they want.
Brad Dinsmore
Executive Vice President of Consumer Banking and Private Wealth Management, SunTrust Bank

In retail banking the whole profit model has changed, driven by changes in client expectations and the regulatory environment.

The way banks used to make money was driven by free checking accounts to attract customers, and then revenue was driven by fee income. That’s all changed now, and in our view, for the better. The fee income pools, such as overdraft fees, are dramatically smaller. Clients’ expectation of better value is a major driver of this shift and has led banks to be more innovative and to compete on things other than free checking. The whole idea that the checking account is the center of the client relationship is gone. It’s leveled the playing field and our clients no longer compare us to other banks. We’re compared to Amazon, Nike, or Nordstrom in terms of the service and value we provide, and we’ve upgraded our model to adopt to that.

“Client first” is in our DNA. People talk about client satisfaction — we don’t talk about satisfaction; it’s a total end-to-end experience.

We talk a lot about warmth being our currency. We take the time to understand what’s going on in our clients’ lives and are willing to solve both their big and small problems. When they find themselves in a jam, we have the tools, the technology, and the people to help them.

Ultimately this reduces stress in their lives. There’s lots of research that says reducing stress with regard to your finances reduces overall physical stress. As a purpose-driven company, we talk about lighting the way to financial well-being. This means being there for our clients when they face moments of truth in their lives. We are constantly talking to our clients looking for feedback on how we’re delivering for them. One of our big initiatives now is called “Omni-channel.” This means building capabilities so clients can bank with us how, when, and where they want. And we’re constantly talking to them about making it better. Again, we’re compared against the experiences they have with other retailers, not necessarily other banks. The way we measure and incent our teams is based on the “Client-First” mindset, so qualitative and quantitative measures are in place based on client feedback. We align our performance ratings and incentives to client experiences, and our teammates respond accordingly.

It’s important to understand your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and to surround yourself with really talented people ....

The Omni-channel initiative is our single largest initiative right now.

We’re building and investing our capabilities in the places our clients demand it. We’re investing heavily in building a better smartphone and tablet experience because of changing client expectations. Right now we do less than 10 percent of our business online. In the future we expect it to be 30 to 40 percent, but we need to improve the experience. Having said that, technology is just table stakes. We don’t want clients to bank with us because we have the most killer app. We want them to have the best experience possible, and augmenting the technology is one way we can accomplish that. We ask ourselves how we can leverage technology to improve the experience. That’s the question we aim to solve. And a good experience is different than satisfaction.

Satisfaction by itself doesn’t drive loyalty, and if you don’t have loyalty and you’re not meeting the needs of your clients, you can’t help them with their financial well-being. Everything drives back to our purpose, and if we’re not creating a great lasting experience, we can’t achieve our purpose.

Our goal is to be the best, not the biggest.

There’s no need to be the biggest to be the best. When we say best, we mean the best place for our clients to do business, for our employees to work, and for our shareholders to get a return on their investment. In the past, big has been defined by brick and mortar locations. We have businesses in California, Texas, and New York with no brick-and-mortar branches, so the notion of a “footprint” and being constrained by branches is an old way to think about things. So we focus on being the best, not the biggest, and driving that customer experience.

Acquisition has not been a key part of our growth strategy over the last five plus years.

We’re really investing in SunTrust. We’re investing in technology, in our people, and in our training that helps make acquisition for geographical reasons irrelevant. We have clients across the country that can do business with us where we have no physical location. We’re investing in our core business where we can differentiate ourselves. Lightstream is an example of that. Lightstream is our online lending provider targeted to super prime customers. It’s incredibly easy for these clients to get a loan, with a typical application taking three minutes or so, and they will have the money in their accounts the same day. These capabilities allow us to expand our reach outside of the typical brick-and-mortar footprint.

The best advice I ever got was to see the world the way it really is, with all its possibilities.

It’s important to understand your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and to surround yourself with really talented people who can debate the issues, and help make decisions from a point of knowledge rather than speculation.

Share This