WORD TRAVELS: In a conference room at Savings Institute Bank & Trust in Newport, Cristina Feden and Tom Olivier videoconference with Jason White, IT director at the institution’s training center in North Windham, Conn.
PBN PHOTO/KATE WHITNEY LUCEY
By Rhonda J. Miller PBN Staff Writer
Meeting face to face is a critical element in building relationships, so some banks, including Bank of America and Savings Institute Bank & Trust, are expanding the use of videoconferencing to maintain one-on-one conversations among employees in different locations and to offer customers an opportunity to meet with specialists, such as mortgage loan officers.
Webster Bank maintains its balance between videoconferencing for training and town hall-style events for employees and the personal interaction of actual face-to-face meetings.
At least one financial institution, Bank Rhode Island, sees videoconferencing as potentially detrimental to the relationships it develops through personal meetings, which are easily manageable in the nation’s smallest state.
Large national institutions such as Bank of America embrace videoconferencing. The banking giant plans to add videoconferencing capabilities at 500 branches across the country during the next couple of years, said Bank of America spokeswoman Tara Burke.
“It’s really about providing convenience and flexibility for our customers,” said Burke. “The videoconferencing is for consumers and small businesses.
“When they come in, they’ll have the convenience to connect with someone, so they won’t have to come back another time,” she said. “They might want to meet with a financial adviser or a small-business specialist or a mortgage specialist.”
Bank of America currently has videoconferencing capabilities in 80 locations, including one in Boston. None are in Rhode Island.
At branches of Savings Institute Bank & Trust, which acquired NewportFed in September 2013, an upgrade is in progress for phones and the overall communications system, said President and CEO Rheo Brouillard.
“We’ve already been using videoconferencing internally for the past year or so,” said Brouillard.