Navigating modern financial services can feel daunting but many of the services we rely on, whether it’s banking, shopping or travelling, will continue to use technology to make the experience more efficient and safer.
Luckily, those in the financial industry have thought long and hard about the demographic of older adults that may approach these new technologies with trepidation.
When Clarien Bank moved away from traditional teller services in January of 2022 there was a fear that certain segments of the population who did their banking at the local financial institution would no longer be able to easily access their money.
Partnering with Age Concern, volunteers worked with Clarien’s client service team to make the transition smoother for seniors who were new to digital banking tools to help them feel a little more comfortable, whether it was help completing iATM transactions, using internet banking or opening new accounts online.
“This is a segment of the population we have thought about significantly” explained Simon Van de Weg, Clarien’s chief banking officer. “We have an executive committee at Clarien that is significantly Bermudian, so when we think about our policies and procedures we do filter it through our own needs, along with the needs of the ageing community here, so that is prevalent in everything we do.”
With the right guidance, Clarien found its older clients incredibly capable when provided with the right support and tools. The bank decided to make a shift away from “do this for me” to instead focus on “teach me how” he added.
“When you come into our branch on Front Street and look at our digital concierge you see customers being coached, trained and empowered with information and tools. The tools are there to help them manage their affairs more efficiently,” Mr Van de Weg said.
Many of the services available through Clarien can now be done from the comfort of home, including digital onboarding for opening new accounts, which can be done in less than 20 minutes and avoids having to drive into town and wait in long lines. For those who are without devices or Wi-Fi, the Digital Lounge at Clarien’s Point House location is available for free client use with the guidance from the team of banking concierges. There are also tutorials, demonstrations and tips available on the bank’s website.
“We no longer advertise our seniors’ hours but they are always there and seniors just need to ask or they can make an appointment. We’re happy to work with groups, if clients want to come in with friends or individually, to get support with tasks such as bill payment day. If ever a customer needs extra assistance, they are welcome and we are happy to accommodate to use our concierge area and have someone available to just lean over their shoulder and give them a bit of advice or the help they need to be comfortable, whether that be with logging on, payment authentication or setting up templates,” said Mr Van de Weg.
The important takeaway is that a shift is taking place and the adoption of digital tools and tech solutions means the people who continue to educate themselves and utilise the tools available to them will reap the benefits, as many of the best customer service and the best offers will be through these digital channels.
“Ask for help if you’re nervous about something. We provide access to people who can help empower you with information or advice on a wide range of client needs,” he added.
Along with providing help with digital tools, Clarien also offers advice for seniors in need of financial planning services specific to their needs and ensuring they have the means to reach their goals and live comfortably as they age.
Mr Van de Weg encouraged older adults to prepare and educate themselves as early as possible about managing their affairs and availing themselves with legal advice to help with making those decisions before the potential for cognitive decline or other ailments in which they find they need assistance with their finances and are stuck, or put themselves in a position to be exploited.
Clarien is also currently undertaking training for staff to help identify if a client is having trouble that goes beyond forgetfulness and best practices for how to handle such cases, which is why the bank continues to invest in affiliations with local organisations like Age Concern.
Along with preparing for any future age related challenges, Mr Van de Weg also encouraged older adults to continue to educate themselves on scams and cyber security: “There is an acknowledgement of responsibility to make sure that you are informed because it’s almost impossible to get away from online fraud,” he said. “If in doubt, wait before clicking on any suspicious links, and ask. There’s nothing that will ever need to be that rushed.”
In protecting yourself from cyber crime, the new technology has incredible benefits including alerts and controls through banking apps and tools: “All of our online banking tools or security devices have that level of security. If you’re guarded with your personal information and use the digital service channels, you’ll be fine.
“There will always be some variation of an online scam, and it’s something that requires education. A good financial institution will be your partner and make sure that information is made available on a regular or as-needed basis, so you’re empowered about the things you can do to be safe.”
For more information, visit www.clarienbank.com.