There are 11 FHLBank districts nationwide, including FHLBank Atlanta that covers Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, the Carolinas, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Each FHLBank focuses on lending to institutions that build and strengthen the local community, yet each manages that mission independently.
“Because we are a cooperative, we’re owned by our customers. And in Atlanta, that mix includes everything from name brand commercial banks to a single-office credit union that supports a local church,” said Brennan. “We take our role as their trusted advisors very seriously; the guidance we give and the decisions we make will have long term implications not necessarily for the Bank, but more so for our members.”
This model creates a unique dynamic between FHLBank Atlanta and its members. Brennan and the rest of the FHLBank Atlanta team are solely focused on meeting members’ business and funding needs and on making smart investments that ultimately create more value for members.
However, Brennan and team have to compete against other entities if they are going to be successful in meeting the funding needs of the Bank's members. “Just because they own us doesn’t mean they have to work with us,” said Brennan. “As customers, our members are looking for the best option. And there are a lot of options for sourcing funding, so it’s really important that we understand who they are and what they need so that we can build lasting relationships.”
And this mindset proved to be especially important coming out of the financial crisis in 2008.
“After the recession, we knew we wanted to intensify our focus on the customer as a way to rebuild trust in the financial services industry,” said Brennan. And at a time when smartphones were emerging as the next household staple, social media platforms were redefining what it meant to be connected to one another, and services were starting to be delivered at the speed of an app “data was the way to do that. [Members] expect as much information as possible throughout whatever service we are providing them, and so we had to demonstrate our subject matter expertise across multiple disciplines.”
The team started going down the path of business intelligence, capturing the kind of data they needed to better serve members. This effort included pulling together its own information—such as historical tranactions with a given member that happened to be stored in various systems across the Bank—along with more colorful information about the changing market, FDIC or regulatory data, information found on members' websites, news stories, and so on.
Next, the Bank had to determine how to best manage all this data, asking questions like what’s the best way to make any customer-facing employee aware of all details, at all times and what do we need to learn or leverage to make us faster, better, more efficient?
“We set out looking for the best CRM for FHLBank Atlanta, and it happened to sit on the cloud.”
- Collaboration: “We meet frequently – we have sales meetings once a week with two different groups. And in those meetings, we go around the room and find out what’s happening in, say, Virginia that might translate to North Carolina. Those meetings were effective before, but not everyone was able to meet every time because they were on the road, and sometimes it’s hard to remember every conversation you’ve had with a member over the past week,” said Brennan. “Now, we’re continuing to have those meetings, but they’re based on data we’re inputting into the CRM real-time, so nothing is slipping through the cracks.”
- Mobile access: “A few months ago, one of our sales reps was in Alabama for a few days for a customer meeting, which ended up getting cancelled. So, all of a sudden he found himself with a window of time and nothing to do with it. And he was out of the office, so wouldn’t have had access to pull the information he’d need to make a meaningful sales call,” said Brennan. “But with the new CRM in place, he was able to pull all the information he needed, contact the member, and set up a really productive sales call from his iPad on the fly. That never would have happened before. He may have been able to set up a handshake or update meeting, but not something that would have provided the kind of value he was able to provide.”