Magazine article Independent Banker

Growing Outward from a Small-Town Base with the Help of Technology

Magazine article Independent Banker

Growing Outward from a Small-Town Base with the Help of Technology

Article excerpt

The communities in Ogle County, Illinois are decidedly rural and agricultural, despite being a short drive from both Rockford and Chicago. For more than 130 years, locally owned Stillman Bank has been at the center of the local economy, and the lives of townspeople. "Our customers are our neighbors-my children go to school with their children," notes James Coons, vice president for Stillman Bank. "You don't encounter that much at the larger banks."

A technology leader

Despite its idyllic setting, Stillman Bank has long been known for its use of advanced technology. "We've always been a leader with our online banking programs," Coons notes. One example of this was offering customers an online mortgage application as early as 2004.

At the time, the bank had forged partnerships with real estate agents in hopes of expanding its mortgage business geographically. "We wanted to be available for current customers buying a second home in another state, and gain new customers outside of our territory," recalls Patrick O'Gorman, the bank's senior vice president. "To do this, we needed to match our larger competitors from a technology perspective. We knew D+H offered scalable solutions that would help a community lender like us keep pace with the bigger banks."

A hassle-free process returning a minimum of $50,000-$75,000 savings per year

The bank is harnessing SaaS-based technology to allow customers to easily apply and receive instant conditional approvals from the agent's office or the comfort of their own home. "People can work on an application at 9:00 at night, after the kids have gone to bed," Coons describes. "The calculators are all there, and consumers can get notifications when rates drop below a certain point."

Loan processors are also capitalizing on back-office SaaS advantages since the institution adopted similar technology for its processing through post-closing requirements. …

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