ChangeCamp coming to Vancouver?

ChangeCampLast year I was one of the co-organizers of BarCampBankBC, an un-conference devoted to innovation in the financial services industry. BarCampBank has occurred several times around the world, and, as one of the attendees Morriss Partee recently blogged, each one takes on a local element. Morriss said that BarCampBankBC specifically “had a worthy-cause and social media flavor”.

After BarCampBankBC was over, Jeremy Osborn, a friend and sometimes commenter on this blog, mentioned to me that he would like to see the same un-conference, collaborative style applied to topics of sustainability and social change. Sounded like a very good and extremely worthwhile endevour.

I am lucky to work at a financial institution focused on these issues. Not many FIs aim at this space, but it exactly the intersection of where the money is and the changes we need to make in our society that makes Vancity such an amazing anomaly.

In a questionnaire, I recently (and somewhat inarticulately) told one of my favourite conferences, Net.Finance, in answer to their question “In a volatile economy like we have today, what does it really mean to be innovative?”:

As FIs in today’s economy the greatest innovations we can achieve are those that bring us closer to our customers. Anything that helps us better understand their needs and help them understand and manage their finances so as many people as possible can get through this period with their assets intact. Those are the innovations our customers will remember us for, how we treated them when everything was down. That’s how we build loyalty for the long term.

Recently, I found out that a BarCamp devoted to social change may, in fact, be happening.

In Toronto, people are planning something called ChangeCamp. This is how the organizers describe it:

ChangeCamp is a free participatory web-enabled face-to-face event that brings together citizens, technologists, designers, academics, policy wonks, political players, change-makers and government employees to answer one question:
How do we re-imagine government and citizenship in the age of participation?

Very intriguing. If you live in Toronto, check it out.

And now I learn that there is a spinoff group of ChangeCamp starting right here in Vancouver, calling their event VanChangeCamp. I’m paying close attention. Looks like it is currently being aimed to happen on March 28th, 2009.

I’ll post more as I learn more, but it should be an event worth watching…

BC credit unions launch mobile banking commercials.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Mobile Banking launching at Vancity. At the time we had just introduced it, as did many other BC credit unions. In fact, 80% of credit union members in BC now have access to this new feature. I also mentioned that all BC credit unions came together to advertise mobile banking province wide.

Credit unions in BC have been working co-operatively for quite a while now (Gene, do you know how long the Province-Wide Advertising Committee has been around?) to advertise our shared differentiators. You can see a bunch of recent BC credit union ads on YouTube.

Each addresses a different perception in the marketplace that we’re collectively trying to address in the minds of consumers. We know we have the emotional, or heart, attributes like giving back to the community, being local, etc… What we need to move the needle on is the intellectual, or head, attributes. These commercials deal with issues like accessibility (Ding Free ATMs), full service options (That Guy, one of the less successful ads in my opinion). And now with the mobile banking ads, we’re dealing with innovation.

I’ve embedded the two mobile banking ads below, so take a look, and let me know what you think. I don’t sit on this committee so be honest. Personally, I like these commercials, and I also like many of the recent commercials credit unions in BC have run (That Guy excepted).

Enjoy!

PS: For those of you who wonder, that is NOT Gene Blishen as the dad in the second ad!

Reflections on Net.Finance East.

Net.Finance EastLast week I was in New York for Net.Finance East. Truth be told, I’m kind of ODing on conferences, and with all the financial turmoil and chaos affecting the banking sector, I wasn’t sure I was looking forward to this conference. And yet it was one of the best conferences I attended all year.

One of the key signs of a great conference is an engaged audience, looking for ways to contribute and participate by asking good, challenging, insightful questions of the presenters and having good conversations at breaks and in between sessions. That happened in spades.

Maybe it is the tough times we’re in that brought us all together in a spirit of knowledge-seeking and camaraderie. Maybe it was the manageable size of the conference – at about 175 attendees, it was neither too large nor too small. Maybe it was the mix of speakers from FIs large and small, all sharing their stories. Whatever it was, the mix of presentations, attendees and subjects was excellent.

ShoreBank VoicesOne of the companies I was most excited to hear from was ShoreBank. ShoreBank is a community development bank based in Chicago. They do amazing things to alleviate poverty and economic distress in their community. They truly show the power a financial institution can have when it follows a triple-bottom line business model, and focuses on the economic, social and environmental impact of its business.

I was excited to find out that ShoreBank has launched a blog called ShoreBank Voices Blog. It’s one worth following to see what they do with it. They have experimented with several social media efforts. This is definitely an FI with something to say.

Umpqua BankIn our first meeting of the advisory board at Net.Finance East, I said that the two FIs I would love to hear from are ShoreBank and Umpqua Bank. I learn as much from the big players like Wells Fargo and Bank of America as I do from outliers like Umpqua and ShoreBank. I was gratified that people responded so positively to these presentations after hearing what these small FIs with different ways of doing business have to say.

I have long admired Umpqua and really enjoyed reading Leading For Growth, the book written by their CEO Ray Davis. They spoke about their Word of Mouth marketing efforts, including The Lemonaire.

There many, many good sessions, including a joint presentation on Mobile Banking by Royal Bank of Canada and Wachovia (I was impressed by their simply showing up). It was a great discussion, perhaps one of the best on the subject I have been at at a conference.

I can’t mention all the presentations here, but almost every one was a solid presentation followed by a dynamic discussion, which made for a very satisfying, productive and informative event.

And now I look forward to staying home for a few months and taking a break from all the conferences.

Get a discount at Finance 2.0.

The Finance 2.0 SummitIn January, I’ll be speaking at Finance 2.0.

I just found out that I can offer my readers a discount. Ten of my readers can get a 15% discount off the regular registration fee of $2,095.00. I was also offered two discounts of 35% each. Normally I would keep the bigger discounts for colleagues at Vancity, but I want to offer them here to readers of my blog.

So if you want a discount, contact me at william |at| azaroff |dot| com and I’ll shoot you the info.

It should be a great conference, with talented and insightful speakers, including:

  • Trey ReemeAre You a Spider or a Fly? Defining Your Relationship with the Web
  • Ron ShevlinWhy Are We Talking About Finance 2.0 When We Haven’t Figured Out Finance 1.0?
  • Tim McAlpineYoung & Free Alberta: Integrating Marketing & Social Media to Connect with Consumers
  • Ed TerpeningCrashing the Party: Are Financial Institutions Welcomed on the Social Media Scene?
  • Shari StormBest Practices in Blogging: How to Maximize the Benefits of This New Medium
  • Morriss ParteePerfecting Your Palette: Recipes for a Successful Social Marketing Campaign
  • Jeffry PilcherResults 2.0: Using Web 2.0 Tools to Achieve Real Business Objectives

Thanks, see you there.

Looking forward to Finance 2.0.

The Finance 2.0 SummitA few months ago I was put in touch with Kristin Rodriguez at Financial Research Associates who was starting to put together a conference about social media and finance. She was calling it Finance 2.0, but beyond that she was simply seeking advice and support to put on a great conference.

Over the next few weeks, we spoke a lot, and she caught on extremely quickly, talking to many of the best and the brightest in the online world of banking innovation. The result is that I’m on the advisory board of what should be an amazing conference at the intersection of community engagement and banking.

Some of the highlights I’m completely looking forward to are (and no offence at all to the people on the agenda I’m overlooking):

  • Trey ReemeAre You a Spider or a Fly? Defining Your Relationship with the Web
  • Ron ShevlinWhy Are We Talking About Finance 2.0 When We Haven’t Figured Out Finance 1.0?
  • Tim McAlpineYoung & Free Alberta: Integrating Marketing & Social Media to Connect with Consumers
  • Ed TerpeningCrashing the Party: Are Financial Institutions Welcomed on the Social Media Scene?
  • Shari StormBest Practices in Blogging: How to Maximize the Benefits of This New Medium
  • Morriss ParteePerfecting Your Palette: Recipes for a Successful Social Marketing Campaign
  • Jeffry PilcherResults 2.0: Using Web 2.0 Tools to Achieve Real Business Objectives

I’ve heard many of these speakers before, and I’m looking forward to hearing from them again

My session is called Using Social Media to Connect With Your Community: It Really Does Change Everything. I’m excited and honoured to be sharing the stage with these amazing thinkers and experts.

I am particularly excited to finally meet the amazing Ed Terpening in person. He will be chairing the whole event, and his take on things should prove illuminating and insightful.

I’m also really excited to hear from Jeffry Pilcher. After meeting him this weekend at BarCampBankBC, and catching his energy and enthusiasm, plus after reading Gene Blishen’s review of a recent presentation, I imagine he will close out the two-day conference with a bang.

If you’re looking for a conference on the future of financial services marketing and engagement, check out The Finance 2.0 Summit – Channeling the convergence of social media and finance: Practical marketing strategies to connect with your customer. Coming to New York January 26-27th, 2009.

Let me know if I’ll see you there!