New regulations, a slowly recovering economy and emerging technologies have come together to reshape the banking industry, executives at four banks with major Charlotte presences said Wednesday.
Provisions in the Dodd-Frank financial reform law are pushing up expenses and low interest rates and weaker borrowing demand are crimping revenue. At the same time, customers are changing how they interact with their bank.
“The whole environment is really forcing us to rethink everything,” said Laurie Readhead, chief information officer at Bank of America.
Wells Fargo, PNC Financial Services and Fifth Third Bank also were represented at a forum titled “Banking 2.0,” hosted by the Charlotte Business Journal at the Ritz-Carlton on Wednesday morning.
The executives said the volume of new rules – as many as 400 over three years – from the Dodd-Frank act is making it more difficult to lend. While some were necessary after a period of deregulation, the pendulum has swung too far back the other way, said Terry Begley, CEO of PNC’s corporate banking.
“If we can’t lend, the economy will never be able to grow,” Wells Fargo’s East Coast community banking president Laura Schulte said.
Customers are also growing more comfortable with online payments and expect their banks to provide mobile services. That’s made banks face increasing competition from outside the industry with companies like Facebook expanding into payment services and Amazon offering small loans for businesses.
“Barriers to entry are dropping,” Fifth Third Bank chief administrative officer Todd Clossin said. “I worry about a couple of guys in a garage.”
The executives said that has pushed banks to focus on customer service and demonstrating their value in what is a commodity market.
They were also bullish on Charlotte, especially as a financial center.
Begley said the long-term demographic trends in the country point favorably to mid-South cities.
Schulte said that 30 percent of its open technology and operations positions are in Charlotte, and said the bank hasn’t had much trouble convincing executives to move to the city.
“Charlotte is going to be just fine,” Schulte said. “It’s a city that keeps reinventing itself.”