In recent years, Horicon Bank has emerged as a model for how to transform a local institution into a digital powerhouse—all while staying true to its deep Wisconsin roots. We sat down with Cassie Voight to talk about Horicon’s next-generation approach to automation, integration, and innovation.
What brought you to Horicon Bank? What does your role entail?
I’ve been with Horicon a long time—going on 20 years. The bank has grown so much while I’ve been here! We had eight branches when I started. Now we have 22. And I’ve had the opportunity to work in numerous areas across the bank, starting as a teller. I helped open a few branches. Then I transitioned to the back office, so I’m very familiar with pretty much every aspect of our operations.
In your opinion, what needs to change about community banking? What needs to remain the same?
Here at Horicon, we’re obviously making a lot of changes to remain competitive, but at the same time we want to maintain that feeling of a small, close-knit community bank. And it’s very important for us to maintain that balance. We want to innovate so we can attract new audiences and new business, but we still want to know our customers’ names when they walk in the door.
How are consumers’ expectations changing?
Well, I think the pandemic has taught us that you don’t need to come into a branch to do your banking. You can do most things remotely. And a lot of our customers have grown accustomed to these new technologies, and they’re realizing that it saves them time to use these digital services instead of visiting a branch in person.
Do you see that shift as largely generational? Or do you see that happening across generations?
I don’t think it’s limited to the younger generation—not at all. All of our customers seem to be picking up on this technology, regardless of age. In particular, we’re seeing a lot of retirees who have a little more time to research and delve into these new offerings, and they’re finding it just as useful as the younger generation.
How has the pandemic affected your approach to risk management?
Well, the more online services we offer, the more we have to think about the risks associated with those channels. So we’re doing everything we can to mitigate risk by using services like MANTL and Alloy to identify and prevent fraud before it happens.
You recently appeared on a podcast about next-generation automation for community banks. What role does automation play in your operational strategy?
Everything we can automate saves time and allows for smoother operations. About six years ago we started working with Finastra, our core banking provider, to put next-generation automation to work here at Horicon, and it’s developed into a major asset for the bank. Most of our departments rely on automation to help them achieve greater consistency, quicker processing, and just a smarter way of doing things on a day-to-day basis. And in terms of fraud prevention, automation helps us ensure that we’re asking the right questions to ensure that we have the right customer in front of us, whatever channel they happen to be using.
For a lot of community banks, legacy infrastructure is one of the biggest obstacles to achieving digital transformation. But it sounds like you have a great relationship with your core provider, Finastra. They’re really helping you move things forward on your digital journey. Why do you think that relationship works so well?
Well, we’ve been with Finastra for a long, long time. We’ve built strong relationships with their team. And as they continue to develop new capabilities, we partner with them to help them build those features. That way, they can approach their work from a banker’s perspective and not just a developer’s perspective. It’s all about telling them what we need, and then working closely with them to get it across the finish line in a way that’s going to work for us.
What advice would you give to a leader at a community bank or credit union who might be at the very beginning of their digital journey?
Take it slow. You can’t do everything at once.
And what role has MANTL played in your digital evolution?
MANTL has provided us with an amazing online account opening platform that’s very simple for customers to use. Your backend processing saves us a ton of time—you know, just simple things like getting rid of the need for a signature card. It sounds silly, but by eliminating that one step, we reduce a lot of headaches on our end. And obviously the integration between MANTL and Alloy offers us significant protection against fraud, because you’re automatically checking each interaction on so many levels to identify and flag suspicious activity.
So what’s next for you and Horicon?
It’s going to be a busy few years. I think MANTL will definitely be part of our journey as we continue to grow. You’re building some great stuff, and we’re excited to see where it goes!
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