Innovation Spotlight: First State Bank of St. Charles

innovation-1-10-18.pngCundiff Luanne.pngLuanne Cundiff, President and CEO
After beginning her career with the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, Luanne Cundiff joined First State Bank of St. Charles in 1995. She currently serves as President and CEO. With 25 years of industry experience, Cundiff has driven the $371 million asset bank’s steady and significant growth, its expansion into new markets and its introduction of innovative products and technologies. Passionate about the future of community banking, Cundiff leads a team of 225 banking professionals from the institution’s headquarters in St. Charles, Missouri.

What recent discussions have you had with your board around innovation?
Our commitment is always to increase personal service and enhance customer experience. Innovation is a driving force in meeting customer needs. First State Bank’s board is invested in and supportive of our approach. With an eye on the future, we have in-depth discussions to determine how we want to develop service channel enhancements to benefit customers. When considering new technology in an ever-changing market, we have to think about both business and personal clients and ask, “What is the best choice for customers?” Our decisions are focused on innovation that enhances efficiency and increases our ability to provide great service.

How have you used technology to help diversify revenue opportunities at First State Bank of St. Charles? Who helps implement your innovation strategy?
We have built diversity in our revenue streams. First State Bank achieved record-setting mortgage production with a 16 percent rise in home loan volume last year, and investment assets under management increased 4.5 percent. New technology plays a large role in increasing noninterest income in our mortgage and investment services divisions. We rely on the expertise of a variety of teams, headed by our IT strategist, to determine the best approach to integrating new technology. Our higher diversification of income is strengthened with increased operational efficiencies and productivity. In the future, it’s critical that we continue to adapt as payment systems evolve, and look to innovation that remains focused on the customer experience. During service enhancements, we strive to make the transition as seamless as possible to the customer. Through further enrichment of processes, we are optimistic for continued success.

In March 2017, you visited the White House to discuss the unique challenges facing community banks. What were some of your takeaways from that meeting?
Community banks represent such a critical segment of our economy, so I was honored to represent all community banks at such an important meeting. We discussed the regulatory constraints on banks and offered a rare perspective on the challenges financial institutions face today due to that burden. The need for tailored regulation was emphasized along with the critical role banks play in helping our economy thrive. Other topics included regulatory changes to increase small business and mortgage lending, the impact of the compliance burden, and the need to ensure regulatory capital standards are aligned with actual risks and conducive to credit availability. It was evident that the administration had a clear focus on getting feedback from all participants on what regulatory changes are needed. Discussions [about the] Dodd-Frank [Act] and the make-up [of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau] continue, focusing on how to revise banking regulations that restrict economic growth while maintaining appropriate consumer protections. Altering the regulatory landscape for banking is a challenge and takes time, but these are vital, ongoing discussions that must always take place.

Bank Director Staff Writer