Women’s world

Confidence in banking—Besides helping women become more financially savvy, Her Traditions program awards student scholarships every year.

The innovative Her Traditions program from York Traditions Bank aims to boost women’s confidence in handling financial matters

By Ed Avis

It’s been a long time since the local bank was a man’s world, filled with male cashiers in green eyeshades waiting on suited businessmen. Nevertheless, some women still find the world of banking a little intimidating.

“We have found that, a lot of times, women think they’re making mistakes, that they’re simply not confident dealing with money,” says Suzanne Becker, director of marketing for York Traditions Bank, a $400 million-asset bank in Pennsylvania.

To help alleviate that problem, York Traditions Bank amped up its innovative Her Traditions program, now a copyrighted program, about five years ago. It has made York Traditions Bank the go-to bank for women in that community, Becker says.

The program began taking shape in the late 2000s, says Carolyn Schaefer, managing director of specialized banking, when the bank’s president, Mike Kochenour, identified the need for such a program in the community.

“We did a lot of interviews with individual women in the community, asking them what they would like out of this program,” Schaefer recalls.

The bank formed a women’s council in 2010 and then hired a local female artist to create a logo. “That was really one of the things that put a stamp on the program,” Schaefer says. “The logo was our mark, and we used it to move forward.”

One member of the council was in the health-care industry, and she raised the idea of a financial checklist, similar to health-care checklists used by physicians during patient exams. The checklist idea eventually led to perhaps the most innovative aspect of Her Traditions: a 10- to 15-minute online questionnaire called the Financial Personality Indicator, which the bank created with the help of a consultant.

Personality test
The Financial Personality Indicator is a series of multiple-choice questions, such as, “If you got an unexpected $1,000, would you…” and “I experience financial stress because….” It then identifies the participant as exhibiting characteristics of mostly one of the four financial personalities. For example, a “Security Keeper” is in charge of household finances, likes to feel prepared and lives within her means. A “Freedom Finder,” on the other hand, cares about self-expression and hobbies and is more concerned about enjoying the present.

The Financial Personality Indicator identifies the likely financial strengths of the participant and the areas that probably pose challenges. A booklet explains the results.

“The indicator allows us to open a dialogue with the prospective customer,” Schaefer says, “and it allows the woman to feel more at ease.”

Training staff on how to interpret the indicator and properly address the concerns of female customers is also part of the program. Understanding women’s needs is now part of the bank’s culture, Schaefer adds.

Another important aspect of Her Traditions is an annual networking luncheon. The luncheon, which predated the official launch of Her Traditions by a couple of years, brings together female customers, prospective customers and bank employees to share experiences and listen to a speaker. About 240 people attended in 2016.

“If women understand their strengths and challenges in dealing with money, they will be more confident in making those decisions.”
—Suzanne Becker,
york Traditions Bank

Members also receive a debit card with the Her Traditions logo, free checks, and a small holiday gift, such as a coin purse or nail file.

Her Traditions supports potential customers with a scholarship program. “We are looking for students who have exhibited leadership characteristics, are in the higher scholastic echelon and have community involvement,” Becker says, adding that five $500 scholarships are awarded each year. “So we have the pleasure of being able to touch a number of lives.”

All are welcome
Women who join Her Traditions do not need to be bank customers. A little more than half of the program’s 1,300 members are accountholders, however, and Becker says the program is a useful recruitment tool.

“The more they come to know us, the more likely they are to become customers,” she says. “It has made our bank THE bank for women professionals.”

But the success of Her Traditions is not just measured in the number of new customers.

“If women understand their strengths and challenges in dealing with money, they will be more confident in making those decisions,” Becker says. “If we have been successful in making women feel more comfortable with money, then the program has succeeded.”

The four financial personalities…
…according to York Traditions Bank

1. Security Keepers
These women are the organizers of their home and work environment. They are in charge of the checkbook and household finances and like to feel useful and prepared.

2. Relationship Protectors
Empathetic, intuitive and idealistic, they value relationships above
all else. They like to help people reach their full potential and despise conflict.

3. Opportunity Seekers
They’re independent and driven, always searching for efficiencies in order to build a more comfortable and well-furnished home. They enjoy learning and problem solving.

4. Freedom Finders
Spontaneous and flexible, these women work to live, not live to work. They live in the moment, focusing on self-expression, hobbies and fun.

Ed Avis is a writer in Illinois.