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Get those Smiley Faces off Your Online Banking Website

by Kristin Moyer  |  October 10, 2008  |  7 Comments

Stessa Cohen here. This morning, my daughter’s care giver at the daycare center asked me what she should do with her money. Now, I’m a technology analyst, not a financial analyst and certainly not a financial planner, certified or otherwise.  But as I helped my daughter out of her jacket, she told me how anxious she was about all the news she was hearing. Even her brother, who was better off than she, she said, reported that he was losing money. If he was scared, should she panic?

Another friend e-mailed me from England that she and her neighbors have discovered in the last couple of days that their local county council (in England, the councils fund the schools, and run other local services) had more than £20m in an Icelandic bank that collapsed. In fact, Reuters reports that 108 councils had £799 million deposited in Icelandic banks.  Why she asked me. What were they planning on doing with it? And what’s going to happen now?

Where are your bank’s answers to the questions both implicit and explicit in these anecdotes?

  • What should I do with my money now?
  • Can I protect my money during this financial crisis?
  • I’m worried about losing my job and my house (even if I have a fixed rate mortgage). What should I do?
  • Can I trust my bank and the information it gives me? Why should I?
  • What is going to happen to this bank and other banks now?

I went to see what my bank’s answer was to my friends’ questions. If I looked past the big ad for secure (!) CDs and money market accounts, there it was: in the lower right-hand corner of its home page, a small box that highlights a new FDIC limits on deposit insurance. It’s below the featured rates for car loans and mortgages and above the advert for a checking account. If I clicked through, I got an explanation of FDIC insurance and links to the FDIC website and phone number. I checked the web sites of other banks in the US, UK, Norway, Sweden, Spain

For many bank customers around the world, you’d never know there was a financial meltdown in the US between today and October 2007.

Tell me: How upfront is your bank? Does your bank address this crisis upfront on the home page, branch, contact center with straightforward information and help? Or does it maintain business as usual? How do you feel about that?

Now is not the time for press releases. Your customers are waiting. And if you don’t answer them soon, I’m sure I’ll hear about it at the coffee shop this weekend. And so will you.

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Tags: banking-and-investment-services  customer-communication  financial-crisis  iceland  

Kristin R. Moyer
Research Vice President
14 years at Gartner
more than 20 years IT industry

Kristin Moyer is a Research Vice President in Industry Advisory Services/Banking and Investment Services. She has more than 20 years of experience across the global high-technology industry in a variety of roles. Ms. Moyer's research coverage includes… Read Full Bio

Thoughts on Get those Smiley Faces off Your Online Banking Website

  1. Helen Smith says:

    Interesting post.
    In the UK, I noticed in the last couple of days that the home pages of Alliance & Leicester and Abbey (both owned by Santander), now have large banners stating ‘We’re Backed by one of the world’s largest banks” and providing further details on Santander’s financial credentials. The notices also appear on A&L’s online banking site.
    A start at least, but what about the rest?

  2. Stessa Cohen says:

    Thanks! I hope some of the larger banks will take more of a lead here and go beyond the banner and engage the customer. I think that will mean a lot to people right now.

  3. Chris says:

    There are new temporary limits for the FDIC until 12/31/09. Use an online bank that is FDIC insured.

    FDIC insures up to $250,000 per depositor. Keep in mind that individual and joint accounts are insured separately, so if you have both types of accounts, your total deposits can be insured up to $500,000; that’s up to $250,000 in all your individual accounts and up to an additional $250,000 in your joint accounts.


  4. […] Cohen here. When the financial crisis hit last Fall, I blogged about how banks should communicate with their customers, all consumers, about the financial crisis […]

  5. […] here. Since the financial crisis broke into the mainstream press, I’ve been following how banks are communicating with their customers about the crisis. The bottom line so far: pretty dismal.  More press release-style communications than clear, […]

  6. […] in October, February   we pointed out that the economic crisis was an opportunity for banks to deliver […]

  7. […] noted that banks were answering key customer questions regarding the financial crisis (see “Get Those Smiley Faces Off Your Online Banking Website“).  We also looked at how banks could begin to address the issue (see “Financial […]

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