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Young bankers keeping watch on young customers

Parker England

Parker England

By LISA MONTI

When Parker England, first vice president of Planters Bank & Trust Co. in Greenville, looks to the future of the banking industry, a couple of things grab his attention.

One is finding ways for his bank to make a profit in an increasingly competitive market. The other is providing his customers with what they need and expect in the technology-driven financial marketplace.

Millennials are used to getting results quickly, he said, and to remain competitive, banks must keep up with the changing market.

“And you’d better be ready to adapt to it,” he said.

England has been with the bank for eight years and is the new president of the Mississippi Young Bankers division of the Mississippi Bankers Association. The Delta native has a bachelor’s and master’s from Mississippi State University and is a graduate of the Mississippi School of Banking and the Graduate School of Banking at Louisiana State University.

England worked previously as an accountant and auditor at Parkway Properties Inc. in Jackson before he returned to his hometown for the Planters Bank job.

England said banks in the Delta are competing for millennial customers who are just getting established or starting their own business.

“All the banks are after them,” he said. “We have to adapt to the need of the customer.”

England said the Young Bankers group focuses on promoting financial literacy. Eight councils throughout the state visit classrooms and participate in community events to educate Mississippians about financial matters such as personal savings, mortgages and other money matters. “This past year we got in front of over 110,000 individuals and we’re very proud of that,” England said.

Through the MBA Banker in the Every Classroom program, which matches bankers in the classroom with teachers, the association’s members gave presentations to more than 40,000 students over the past three years. “It’s a very powerful program,” he said.

As a young banker himself, England has insight into what young customers are used to and what they expect from a banking experience. What millennials want is fast action.

“Anyone will tell you that millennial bankers are having to do our best to just keep up with all of the things you can do online and we’re having to gear ourselves toward that. Being a banker now is a 24/7 job, with phones and texts. There’s no such thing as time off, which is good. We’re always available and customers know where to find us,” he said.

“As a banker you want to provide the best customer service possible as quickly as you possibly can do it.”

For customers new to the experience of buying a house, England said, it is even more critical for a bank to speed up the process that can be loaded with time consuming regulations. Ten years ago, buyers could close on a home in a few days. Now, England said, bankers find themselves having to explain to frustrated customers why it takes several weeks.

“Most younger people never have bought a house or car before so you have to walk them through the process and help them understand,” he said.

The goal is to have the customer leave happy and feeling taken care of and not walking out frustrated.

“We have got to take care of our customers now more than ever because if we don’t somebody else will,” he said. “We have to stay on our toes.”

Looking to the banking industry 10 years in the future, England said, “Obviously I would hope that there would be some regulatory changes so there is not so much burden on customers coming into the bank and getting a mortgage or real estate loan,” he said.

In spite of the sometimes complex regulatory process, England said, he finds satisfaction in the challenges of a banking career.

“Regulations are getting in the way of what used to be a simple job,” he said. “But it’s still a very rewarding job.”

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