VSa 150-year-old institution still relevant in these times of change? The Walden Savings Bank proves it, according to President and CEO Derrik Wynkoop.
“We’re bringing a more interactive approach to our flagship branch,” said Wynkoop, who started his career at Walden Savings Bank after graduating from college. He returned in 2011 to become its President and CEO.
“We are not bringing in technology for the sake of technology; we do this because it will make things easier and more comfortable for our current and future clients in all age groups.
Walden Savings’ customer base is divided almost 50-50 between those born before 1964 and those born after 1965.
Shifting to an interactive platform – while continuing to offer traditional services its customers have come to expect – will bridge the generational gap. A consequence of the pandemic was that those who looked askance at “modern” banking methods have now embraced the ability to get things done when they can’t get out of the home or office.
“My 86-year-old mother now uses Internet banking,” Wynkoop said with a smile. “These upgrades are a benefit to all of our customers in all age groups.”
To achieve the goal of harmoniously merging traditional and contemporary, the bank is creating a 3,100 square foot interactive banking floor at its flagship Montgomery branch. The new floor plan eliminates the tall counters that once separated the cashier from the customer and eliminates those queues.
Instead, customers will be greeted by a digital banking specialist who can help them with basic cashless transactions and then guide them to additional downstairs services if needed.
Four separate banking modules will replace traditional cashier counters, and cash “recyclers” will take care of counting bills and coins, freeing up the cashier to help the customer with other services.
The renovated space will also have a “digital discovery center” which will offer the opportunity to learn how to access and use the bank’s technological services, in particular CardValet; Bank-Wise personal financial management dashboard; a demonstration and registration for online banking services; and mobile wallet.
For customers unfamiliar or uncomfortable with new technologies, the digital banking specialist will be available to explain how new banking options can fit their lifestyle and work to their advantage.
John Carola, vice president of distribution and retail marketing, is particularly excited to bring augmented reality to banking customers.
“By scanning a QR code, they will be able to take an augmented reality tour of the agency and its services. This is a very exciting innovation that we will soon be able to offer to our customers.
The redesigned layout will also offer three confidential meeting spaces and a separate conference room with video conferencing capability for meetings with clients.
“When we welcome a new client here to our Montgomery branch, I am able to come in and personally welcome them,” said Wynkoop. “With the new videoconferencing capability, I will be able to personally welcome new clients in our eleven other branches as well as in our credit center. “
The new layout will be complemented by a self-serve coffee bar for customers and a parts clearinghouse that will not charge fees to its customers or neighbors who may need to use it. A new walk-in ATM can dispense 20’s, 10’s, and 5’s and is capable of handling bulk checks and cash deposits for personal and business customers.
The bank also plans to introduce contactless cards, prep transactions, fingerprint biometrics and an identity scanner in the near future.
Wynkoop said its board was initially skeptical of introducing the concept of embedded technology into Walden Savings, a family-owned company, but after discussing and reflecting on the long-term benefits the changes would bring to its current customers and future, they agreed to spend nearly $ 1 million on proposed physical and technological upgrades.
The new hall is being built by Storm King Group, a Montgomery-based company, and is expected to be completed by fall.
Walden Savings Bank, a federally chartered mutual savings bank founded in 1872, has already started preparations for its 150th anniversary on April 25.
Part of the celebration, Wynkoop said, is the bank’s commitment to the community and confidence in its continued service with the addition of the latest technology. He said: “60-70% of our customers are omnichannel, but one channel doesn’t go away when another opens. Our goal is to make sure our customers get the same level of service across all channels.
“Digital natives” are the most comfortable with today’s technology. Traditional banking isn’t going to go away, but we would be putting our heads in the sand if we didn’t embrace the technology and the times. We are committed to remaining contemporary.