Innovation Spotlight: BankWest Community Bank


Vincent Tyson
Deposit Accounts Manager, BankWest

Vincent Tyson oversees deposit generation and retention for the South Dakota-based bank, including product development and process changes. He works closely with branch managers, the regional president and CFO on rate changes and deposit pricing. In this interview, he discusses the practical dynamics of staying relevant and assessing customer needs outside of the traditional bank environment.

How have you been able to stay innovative at BankWest?
We have a dedicated project team that works with our vendors to integrate vendor solutions into our product mix when we believe that our markets are ready for it. We aren’t bleeding edge, but sometimes we will be first in our markets. For a South Dakota bank, we’ve been able to stay innovative with the remote solutions we offer our customers. With such a large agricultural customer base, our products and services need to be in the fields, barns and on the ranches where our customers are. Despite our 127-year history, our innovation is the ability to remain relevant in our customers’ lives, no matter where they work, live or play.

When it comes to implementing a fintech solution, would you rather buy, build or partner?
At this point, we’d rather partner. We’re not big enough to buy and don’t have enough resources to build. Like most banks of our size ($1 billion in assets), we prefer to —buy in’ to new technology and roll it out as part of another service/sales channel. Investing too heavily could be dangerous, and bringing in resources for development could be hit and miss.

As consumer expectations in banking change, how do you stay engaged with this audience?
Lots of research, especially among our existing customers. We also invest heavily in staff education, keeping key personnel up to date with relevant technology and making sure all of our staff members are trained and ready to launch new technology as it becomes available. South Dakotans tend to be up-front with their needs, vocal about their opinions and pretty focused on where they see value from their bank. We make sure that we hear their voices by keeping in touch, making sure that we are in the places where our future customers are learning and asking our existing base what they’ll need tomorrow. This is done through engaging face-to-face meetings, either in our branch network or out at the customer’s property or place of work. We have many touch points, as well as surveys that allow us to track trends and focus resources where needed.

Bank Director Staff Writer