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2018 Banking Outlook: Ann Marie Baker

UMB Bank president of Greater Missouri region

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To better serve clients, bankers have become more involved in the inner workings of businesses. At UMB Bank, Ann Marie Baker is following the trends that most affect commercial banking and our community.

2018 Projection: Technology continues to open the door to advances and risks.

SBJ: How would you describe the current climate of the industry?
Baker: Exciting. The impact of economic trends on businesses and individuals is like never before. Almost every sector – health care, manufacturing, transportation, etc. – is being affected by new technologies and challenges. The banking industry touches virtually all sectors of our economy through our customers, and our understanding of those changes is relevant and vital to our future. It’s very dynamic, at this point.

SBJ: What economic trends are you referring to?
Baker: You have the impact of the stock market and slightly rising interest rates, and all those different components tend to enter into decision making on the part of businesses as well as consumers. So all those trends make it a particularly exciting time.

SBJ: What are keywords you would use to describe where the industry is heading in 2018? And why?
Baker: Evolving customer expectations and technology integration. In 2018, we will need to ensure clients have high-tech customized solutions, while still integrating operations and regulatory and compliance needs.

We’re seeing technology in all facets of our lives and, certainly, in many businesses. In addition to equipment, for example, in manufacturing or distribution, you’re seeing much more integration of technology into those processes. You’re seeing technology really become embedded as key components of those industries as we’ve never seen before.

SBJ: How does that affect banking?
Baker: Anything that affects our clients affects us, as well. We are embedded in our clients’ businesses as we work to serve their needs.

In the banking industry, these things are critical to us, as well. We use technology in banking for a number of things, not only in back-room operations, but also in client-facing systems such as online and mobile platforms, as well as using technology in some cases to meet our regulatory and compliance requirements.

SBJ: What will be most disruptive to the industry?
Baker: Payments will be an industry disruptor in 2018, in regards to adding new players, new risks and new platforms for customers to engage with to further develop their business.

There has been an evolution from payments like check and wire into more (automated clearing house) and commercial card systems. But you also have now PayPal, where they are facilitating payments between otherwise unrelated parties.

SBJ: What was a pivotal moment in 2017 that is a game changer going into 2018?
Baker: Prevalence of cyberrisk to all businesses and individuals continued to grow in 2017. We expect to see this trend persist in 2018, and we encourage all clients to have a plan in place should an attack happen.

Nationally, there seems to be a thirst for transparency, while also being diligent with personal privacy and security. It will be interesting to see how this balancing act plays out and affects businesses in the coming year.

SBJ: What trends are on the horizon – nationwide and locally?
Baker: In the past, we as bankers were aware of risk related to security – not only physical security, but security related to technology. That has become known to everyone now. It’s easy for people to think, “That won’t happen to me.” But it’s happened to most of Americans at this point, statistically speaking. So we’re trying to build relationships, communications and technology to protect against those types of things.

Transparency is in the media and on the lips of everyone right now. I think there is so much openness and sharing of information through technology and through media that the expectation for transparency is the new normal, not only in business, but in other types of our society, as well. So that openness and that sharing of information that may have previously not been public has changed. I think balancing that with the security risks that we’re facing now as a society, it’s interesting how those two are finding a balance and what that balance will be in the future.

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