How has banking changed? First Tennessee market president weighs in on technology, mergers

Brandon Paykamian • Mar 17, 2019 at 2:56 PM

Ever-changing market demands and new technologies are changing industries across the nation and locally, and banking is no different. 

But while much has changed in banking, people still prefer what they always have — one-on-one human interaction and financial advice from people they can trust. Gerald Hallenbeck, who works as the regional market president for First Tennessee Bank, said this is one thing he has noticed as he’s witnessed changes in banking over nearly 35 years in the industry. 

What kinds of industry changes have you noticed in previous years and recently? 

“Obviously, the 2008-2010 recession was something that really affected banking in general, but you’ve also had mergers. Probably the biggest thing has been the mergers of banks in the area. Then now, the biggest changes have been in technology. We’ve probably seen more change in banking over the last four years and over the next four years to come than we’ve seen in a long time, and technology is a big thing driving that.”

How is technology changing banking? 

“I think we’ve been a little bit slower on the technology curve (locally). When you go to the larger metropolitan areas, people cannot come into banks much anymore. I think locally, people enjoy that personal relationship with their bank. Nationally, particularly with the younger generation, you’re seeing people become more comfortable with technology and doing banking over the computer or phone.”

Do you see people losing that one-on-one relationship with their local bank due to technology?

“We have fewer transactions through the branches these days than we did before because of the mobile banking and the internet, but we still have people come in when they want to buy a house or have a question about something. They still want people to sit down and talk to. I don’t see that changing. The normal deposit and transaction thing will keep shifting, but people want advice.

“I think there’s a base thing where people like to bank with people.”

What are some of the biggest concerns you have when it comes to local and/or national banking trends? 

“When you look at the potential BBT and SunTrust merger, you’ve got the big folks who keep getting bigger. But you’ve also got a lot of things going on now outside of the banking industry with PayPal and those sort of people outside of the banking industry.

“With the landscape today, you can’t be slow to change. If you’re slow to change, you’re going to be in trouble. Banks traditionally haven’t been fast movers, but the banks that are going to do well in the future are the ones that are going to adapt more to the marketplace. We need to keep looking forward and keep looking at what the customer needs and wants and supply those things.”

Where do you see banking in the future?

“There’s always been this discussion about if we’re going to have fewer banks or if banks are going to continue merging. My guess would be we would have fewer, but I still see it being pretty competitive, and I don’t see us going to the Canadian or European model where you just have a few banks. I think there’s a place for a lot of banks, and I think the competition is good.” 

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