As I was sitting in the presentation by Terry Jones, founder of Travelocity.com yesterday at the EO Texas University, I was reflecting on the overall trend Terry pointed out about how we’ve seen such an emergency of do-it-yourself (DIY) culture in the past several years–thanks to the Internet. Travel agents are obviously just about obsolete now because of this DIY movement.
It’s similar in banking.Thanks to the Internet, consumers can shop for the best rates, products and services online, and then after making a selection, take action. They can do it all by themselves, without any real help from the individual banks they are considering.
So I got to thinking, “what if….”
(Note: as with all my “what if” ideas, I’m not saying the following is necessarily a good idea–I’m just saying it’s an idea that should at least be pondered for a few minutes if you advocate innovation in financial services)
What if there were a layer of “banking agents”? Would they be able to add any value to the consumer or the bank, and thus earn revenue? Is there money to be made stepping into the middle of what is otherwise a DIY situation? Here are a few quick ideas I had:
- Buyer’s Agent: There is a (small) market for car buying agents–people who have established relationships with car dealers, and can help consumers get the best prices, sourced from a large network of dealers, without price haggling. What if a banking agent could develop special relationships with banks and credit unions, and be able to offer special exclusive deals to consumers who worked with that agent? The consumer would be willing to pay a reasonable fee for that. This model would work if….
- …The agent could guarantee the delivery of a certain volume of business to the banks and credit unions. It would like being an independent sales rep for the bank and credit union, and the financial institution would be willing to pay a commission for those sales.
- Commercial Loan Participations. A banking agent could be a great resource for coordinating the funding of large loans that individual financial institutions couldn’t or wouldn’t want to fund. It’s likely both the borrower and the lender would pay for this matchmaking and coordination.
- Continuous Evaluation: A banking agent could continuously evaluate his/her client’s banking relationships (for both deposits and loans), and proactively create better deals and arrangements with other banks, and then let the customer know when it was ready. The customer would find value in this and would pay accordingly.
What are your ideas? Let’s add to this list. Or, on the flip side, feel free to disagree!