[This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of In Business Magazine]
These days, just about everyone has the luxury of using mobile apps and secure websites to perform a wide variety of banking functions in your underwear, if you choose.
However, some banking clients still prefer a face-to-face (and more fully clothed) touch. The problem is, not all of them are able to make it to the bank in person.
Capitol Bank’s Traveling Banker program is an answer to a call from customers who are unable to visit the bank’s traditional locations, says Steve Lafontaine, director of marketing.
For more than 10 years Capitol Bank’s Jim Wermuth has been traveling to 13 different retirement communities in and around Madison, performing banking functions for the bank’s senior customers, Lafontaine notes. The effort hasn’t gone unnoticed, as Capitol Bank recently received a National Community Bank Service Award in recognition of its unique program from the Independent Community Bankers of America.
Such a service used to be commonplace, Lafontaine states, but banks locally and nationwide have cancelled similar programs due to costs. Capitol Bank doesn’t profit from the program, and as far as Lafontaine knows it’s the only bank in the U.S. still offering the service in this manner.
Wermuth is the sole traveling banker at Capitol Bank. A former teller, he “retired” about a decade ago and has spent his time since visiting retirement communities in the Madison and Verona area Monday through Wednesday every week. Along with a security guard, Wermuth sets up at a table as residents line up to meet with him.
Photo Courtesy Unified Newspaper Group
“They’re not customers, they’re friends,” Wermuth notes.
Each of the 13 locations Wermuth visits has been chartered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. as branches of Capitol Bank. Wermuth is able to open accounts, transfer money, cash checks, provide notary services, sell stamps, and exchange change for cash.
As a locally owned and managed community institution, Lafontaine explains it’s important for Capitol Bank to adapt its services to meet customer needs. Receiving national recognition from its peers for a service the bank would be offering local seniors anyway is just icing on the cake, he says.
“Jim’s personality is uniquely suited for his role as traveling banker,” adds Ken Thompson, president & CEO of Capitol Bank.
“He has made lasting bonds with seniors throughout Dane County and helps us provide an important service for people who cannot easily travel to the bank. His commitment to his customers and compassion for their needs inspires us everyday.”