SOPHISTICATED PRODUCTS PLUS PERSONAL SERVICE
Regions is a Bank With the Best of Both
By David Zaslawsky
Photography by Robert Fouts
“We’re a big-little bank.” That’s how Arthur DuCote, Central Alabama area president for Regions Financial Corp., describes the company.
“Regions is a large enough bank to have sophisticated products and services, but locally focused in such a way that you receive the personal service you would at a small bank,” he said. “We still make decisions locally. We are extremely strong community supporters both in terms of dollars and that distinguishes us from a lot of other large banks. The scope in which we can do that certainly distinguishes us from small banks.”
Regions is the only Fortune 500 bank headquartered in Alabama and that has its advantages. “It makes a difference in terms of giving back to the state and being a part of the community, where you go to church and raise your children in the same community that you do your business,” DuCote said. “It adds up in terms of community service as well as the dollars that you can provide in those communities.”
But size really does matter. “We can offer the advantages of sophisticated products and services that come along with scale and scope of your operation and that would include specifically designed products for small businesses – not a one-stop-shop-fits-all checking account or loan product for small businesses,” DuCote said.
“We also have sophisticated cash management and fraud-prevention products for large businesses. We invest a lot of money in technology to be able to deliver those kinds of things.”
That sheer size has enabled the bank to offer new products and services. Under the umbrella, “Our ‘Regions Now Banking’ products are specifically designed to meet the needs of a broader group of consumers that visit our branches,” DuCote said.
One of those products is “Ready Advance.” It is an Internet-based loan product for customers, who have maintained a checking account in good standing for nine months, according to DuCote. A customer may borrow up to $500 and it is paid back through a direct deposit. There is a fee per id="mce_marker"00 borrowed.
“You do it online and before you know it, you aren’t even dealing with the bank during normal operating hours and you have the credit that you need to take care of life,” DuCote said. “It has really, really met a need for a lot of consumers – as you can imagine.”
Another new product is a pre-loaded debit card, which a customer can add to and check the balance at a Regions ATM. DuCote said that some parents are using the pre-loaded debit card for their children in college, but another use is for customers to save money for Christmas – a type of Christmas club account.
Regions has also become an authorized Western Union service site – that is a site at all 1,700 branches. “We are now in the money transfer business,” DuCote said. “It meets the needs of our customers that wanted to use us for that business anyway and would come to us and ask us how to solve these problems. We can now do it.”
Regions is partnering with a Tennessee firm to launch a new service of cashing checks for non-customers. “Now we can offer check cashing for non-Regions’ customers for a fee and do it in a safe, responsible way for our company and in a safe, responsible way for the customer,” DuCote said. He said the fee “is much less expensive than traditional providers (charge for) this service.”
These products and services are by-products of Regions’ size, “but I don’t want to over-emphasize size,” DuCote said. “Size is nothing more in terms of offering these kinds of sophisticated products and services – than a ticket to the game. You still have to show up and provide great service and earn your customers’ business first, second, third …
“You can be as big as you want to be, but if you’re not an entity with a strong service ethic and want to do a good job for your clients it doesn’t matter how big you are. Big doesn’t make you successful.”
What does make Regions’ successful?
“Our job is to help people reach their financial goals,” DuCote said. “It’s as simple as that. We do that through loans, deposits, investments, insurance, trust. It is our job to be a partner for our customers. We make sure that we hire people that have a high-service ethic and high integrity. They are willing to invest in their profession to be the best bankers they can possibly be. What that ends up being is a group of associates that care about whether or not they are successful in helping their customers reach their goals. If we do that well – day in and day out – we will be a successful bank; make a good living; and have a successful company all at the same time.
“It sounds very, very simple, but is the driving force behind our approach to business and it impacts what we do every single day.” •