Founded in 1952, Bank of Utah has always been an innovator: it was the first bank in the state to issue a credit card and the first to offer a drive-up teller window. Now it’s making headway in the digital realm under the guidance of Mary McBride, VP Digital Experience & Sales. We sat down with Mary to talk about tradition, transformation, and staying ahead of the curve.
It seems like innovation has always been a part of the story at Bank of Utah. How do you find the right balance between tradition and innovation—between honoring the past and moving forward into the future?
I think one of the great things about community banking is that we can really interact with our customers and understand their interests on a personal level. We can talk to our customers one-on-one to get a clear sense of what’s working and what needs to change. And if we’re really listening and responding to their needs, then we can stay ahead of the curve instead of just being reactionary.
How do you see the relationship evolving between digital channels and brick-and-mortar branches? How can these channels work together? How can they amplify each other?
We’re really focused on this issue right now. We’re still figuring out those synergies. But I think it comes down to this: customers criss-cross channels all the time. They may start out online, but they might have a question about filling something out correctly. So then they might call, or they might visit our website, or they might come into a branch. We want to make sure that if people are online, they’re getting the same information they’d get if they sat across from somebody at a desk. And in that way, digital can serve as a great unifier. The information living on the website provides seamless and unified information not only for customers, but also branch staff and call center employees.
I know that you offer online account opening (OAO) for consumers. What about OAO for businesses? Are you seeing a lot of demand for that?
I do see a demand, depending on the business. Some businesses are relatively simple in structure and need a smooth and easy way to get off the ground. They’re not looking for a lot of assistance. They just want to get up and running and get their business moving forward—and that’s where online account opening comes in. But there are definitely companies with more intricate needs. And if we can arm our teams with something super-easy, where they can go into the field with their tablets and sit down with business customers and walk them through the process, that’s a win-win.
You recently wrote a blog post in which you quoted Benjamin Franklin: “Employ your time well, if you mean to get leisure.” How does that inform your approach to creating and humanizing the digital experience for your customers?
It’s really about ease. Banking and finance can be intimidating. The feeling that you need to constantly earn money and monitor accounts can get really overwhelming really quickly. So we’re trying to provide simple digital tools that give people ownership and control over their finances. That, in turn, gives them confidence in their financial health without having to make an all-encompassing effort. They can spend more time enjoying what they’ve earned rather than worrying about it.
What advice would you give to a leader at a community bank or credit union who might be at the beginning of their digital journey?
The journey is long, and there is so much blue sky in terms of what you can do. So don’t get overwhelmed by this idea that you have to do everything at once. Be methodical and thoughtful in how you prioritize the steps of your journey. Give yourself time to market your new services well, then learn and optimize. That will make each step better and the future steps easier. And don’t treat digital as a silo, either. Treat it as an integrated part of what you’re offering to your customers, because every channel has an impact on every other channel.
What role has MANTL played in your digital transformation?
MANTL has been a great partner for us. We had this huge void because we weren’t opening accounts online. And with MANTL, we’ve been able to create such a simple and clean experience, and our customers have really responded positively to it.
What’s next for you and Bank of Utah?
We’re just getting started. We’ve got online account opening up and running for consumers, then we’re going to bring our business accounts online, and then we’re going to bring MANTL into our branches. So again, it’s all about making sure that every step of the customer’s journey is a smooth one. There’s so much work to do—it’s a really exciting time.
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