Greg Schwab, CFO at Northland Financial of Steele, N.D., had some interesting things to say about having ample deposits. Due to the recent energy boom in North Dakota many bankers have had to aggressively manage their deposit liabilities. Northland is not seeing the influx that some banks have but it does have two branches in Bismarck that are affected.
Fortunately, he said, Northland Financial is not alone. “We are all in it together and don’t compete with each other, which gives some easing [on the deposit rates],” Schwab said.
“We do see the ripple effect of what is happening, in terms of the influx of wealth. Everybody is after good loans; it is very hard to make money on the margin side. You have to be very conscious of the rate you are paying for those deposits,” he said. The banks that have no need for more deposits may have to offer lower than market rates. “If you don’t need the money you shouldn’t have a super good rate out there,” Schwab said. An approach can be to try to sell trust services to your customers but for most people it is all about saving. CD’s are still the lynch pin, he said.
Schwab said educating the customer is important. “You can commiserate with them a little bit too,” he said. Bankers can share the risks and rewards available to their customers. “As people learn the tradeoff between risk and reward we are able to explain [the difference between the stock market and a savings account]. Though there are higher yields out there, you have the risk. The customers can usually see that,” he said.
Schwab believes a solution comes in cross selling products rather than giving key customers special terms. Bankers may have the temptation to try to cover their cost by negotiating account structures with the customer. Examples of this would be offering a higher rate in exchange for the customer depositing their paycheck through direct deposit or for receiving electronic rather than paper statements.
“You don’t want to deal with it in the negotiations as much as you do with product line ups,” he said. The risk is that, if a banker offers one customer better terms than another, it can get messy if the other customer finds out. “You have a menu of products that meet people’s needs. When the customer approaches you about their savings account, you can say, ‘we can get you this rate for three years but if you add [another product] we can bump that rate,’” he said.