By: Sarah Phalen
INB President and CEO
When I get the chance to talk about the history of our main branch, I like to point out that even though the building had been used by a gas company when we bought it, it had teller lines because people used to come into the building each month and drop off their payments. We pay our utility bills much differently now, thanks to changes in banking. It was fun to recently reminisce with some of my colleagues and hear what they remember most about their early days in banking. Of course, we all find today’s processes much better because they give us time to spend with customers, customizing solutions.
Word Processing Became Obsolete
When John Maxfield began his banking career at the original Illinois National Bank in 1979, there were no personal computers for the staff.
If you wanted something typed, you would dictate it to one of six employees in the word processing department.
“Most of our business back then was conducted by phone or in-person appointments,” John recalls. “Today, the majority of my communication now comes in by email. We still talk to people on the phone and meet with them, but email is the majority of it. Some of the younger guys are even texting back and forth with customers!”
Banking professionals who have worked in the industry for more than a few years have experienced an enormous shift in how the industry operates and technological advancements that affect every aspect of financial service. Our long-time staff at INB enjoys recalling how much banking has changed over the decades.
Payday Fridays Disappear
Debbie Shelton and her colleagues laugh now about how busy the bank’s drive-through would get on Payday Fridays.
“We would prepare ourselves for paydays. We would have to put cones out to stop the traffic, because we were closing at 6 p.m.!” she remembers. “We don’t have lines anymore. There is direct deposit and mobile deposits, and we don’t see the customers like we used to after we open their accounts. So we need to concentrate more on outreach now.”
Debbie, SVP at INB’s Wabash and Montvale branches who started her banking career as a teller nearly 40 years ago, also recalls verifying customer signatures. When a customer opened an account, they would sign a physical “signature card” to be kept on file. Anything they signed after that needed to be compared to their signature card to verify its authenticity.
In the last couple of decades, much of the paperwork has been traded for digital.
Checks Take a Back Seat
“Checks aren’t hand-encoded anymore; plus, they are converted into images for processing rather than having to put them into a huge sorting machine,” said Steven Southwick, operations manager for INB.
Gina Diel remembers sorting checks as well, when she began in the bookkeeping department of a bank in Newton, Ill. She compiled the checks with the customer’s bank statements to mail out, and she also ran a proof machine.
“Banking as I knew it when I first started 40-plus years ago was Ice Age compared to today,” she laughs.
For Gina, banking’s biggest transformation can be found in technology.
“Even between the ‘old’ and ‘new’ INB (from 1988 to 1999), it has become less departmentalized and more individuals are able to do what entire departments used to be trusted to do. Much less paper and more electronic transfer of information has been a big – and welcomed! – change,” she said.
“Email has helped to streamline processes, eliminating the need to contact by telephone call which can take more time,” Gina noted. “Because of the computer advancements, word processing departments have been eliminated, and that function has been placed on loan assistants, documentation specialists and bankers who can perform those duties as well as the typical duties of their job.”
50 Years Later, Changes Everyday
Linda Dirks, who is soon retiring from INB’s Mt. Pulaski branch, has seen extensive changes in banking technology since first starting in 1969.
One of Linda’s first jobs was to create name-address metal plates to be used to print the name and address on each customer’s checking and savings account monthly statements.
“We posted every check and deposit to those monthly statements. Then we hand-counted each check and deposit on the statement before putting them in the envelope to the customer,” she recalled.
“I have always strived to keep up with the new technology in banking, from computers to online and mobile banking,” she added. “Now it seems the changes happen daily – or maybe I am just getting older!”
As they recalled the “good ol’ days,” each of the employees said they appreciate INB’s innovation, as well the education and communication needed to ensure employees are well-trained and up-to-date on technology and industry changes. As Gina noted, “Progress creates change, and INB makes it easy to learn and adapt to those changes.”