Does Your Left Hand Know What Your Right Hand Is Doing?

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve taken on a new role here at Epsilon, in marketing (stop laughing). A press release announcing the change went out, and, not surprisingly, I received calls from a few financial institutions who thought this new position might be bringing me new riches and fortunes that I would need some help managing (now you can laugh).

Although I don’t need any additional financial help (my wife keeps all the money in some secret Norwegian bank account that only she has access to), I certainly didn’t mind getting the calls — except for those that came from the SAME firm.

Within 24 hours, I received two calls from the same firm — the first from the private banking division, the second from the wealth management division. I politely told the first guy that I wasn’t in need of any additional financial advice.

But when the second guy called, well…Mr. Cranky spoke up.

When he asked if I might need his services, I said “As a matter of fact, you might be helpful….” [I’m sure his heart began to race, adrenalin flowing]….”my wife has an old 401(k) with your firm — could you tell me how to roll it over to my Fidelity account?” He said no, but that he would have someone contact me.

This isn’t a story about a bad customer service or sales experience — it’s about coordination and organizational structure. Over the past few years, many banks have made concerted efforts to attract mass affluent customers — especially baby boomers who have accumulated a nice nest egg, have reached prime earning potential, and need advice on how to manage that money.

Winning those customers will take internal coordination. No amount of “feel good, achieve your dreams” television advertising will overcome the bad impression a financial services firm makes if it doesn’t have its act together.

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