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ABA Banking Journal Podcast

May 17, 2018

For Jim Edwards, a third-generation banker and the chairman and CEO of United Bank Corp. in Zebulon, Ga., community banking is about providing a “high-touch” experience. On the latest episode of the ABA Banking Journal Podcast, sponsored by Windstream Enterprise, Edwards discusses how this philosophy applies to the retail operation and to wealth management.

United Bank was an early adopter of interactive teller machines, which allow it to offer full retail banking services between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. “That channel is really growing in terms of how we serve our customers,” Edwards notes — it handles about 50,000 sessions per month and a quarter of former in-bank transactions now go through ITMs. “The special sauce in it is hiring the right people on the back end so that we you have customers there that are using the machine, they really feel like it is a warm, friendly, high-touch service,” says Edwards, who hires students from a nearby community college to fill part-time interactive teller roles.

United Bank is also “one of the larger community banks with trust powers in Georgia,” Edwards says; its wealth and trust business currently has $600 million under management and serves individuals and nonprofits in its central Georgia market. The wealth business also intersects with its small business banking line, allowing commercial customers to keep banking with United after a liquidity event. United positions itself between large transaction-oriented brokerage houses and asset management firms that focus on high-net-worth individuals to find a high-touch sweet spot. “They want to work with someone they know and trust who’s not just a 1-800 number,” says Edwards.

Edwards also discusses the challenge of differentiating with the “United Bank” brand, the bank’s leadership development approach and ways that S. 2155 will help United Bank better serve its customers. Read more about Edwards here