A Conversation with John Hanley of Equity Bank

Equity Bank is a $5B full-service community bank with offices throughout Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. They offer a full range of financial solutions, including commercial loans, consumer banking, mortgage loans, and treasury management services.

Today, we’re talking about checking accounts with Equity Bank SVP and Senior Director of Marketing John Hanley. John, who has been with Equity Bank for almost a decade, oversees all marketing, advertising, communication, brand management, product development strategy, and public relations and investor relations for the Wichita, KS,-based financial institution.

For those who may not be familiar with you, tell us about Equity Bank.

We're a very heavily concentrated M&A bank. Our model is to acquire community financial institutions within a six-state footprint, of which we're currently in four. When you serially acquire all of these banks over 20 years, you end up with a laundry list of checking products, with the “Gold Plus checking,” “Gold Emerald Plus Minus Superstar Checking, “Gold Checking with an eStatement,” … We could go through the names, we have 61 of them. That's one of the reasons that brought StrategyCorps to our doorstep.

We completed our IPO in 2015. Going public for Equity Bank was designed to maintain our independence as a community bank. In terms of a product set and a communications rollout for all of our providers, the IPO helped us right-size not just our checking suite—it's opened some doors with us in merger targets that have been really good markets for Equity, like Southwest Kansas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.

How did the pandemic affect your efforts to move Equity Bank forward?

We took it as an opportunity to go big in our marketplace. One of our goals was to refresh and revamp our checking account suite, but we also wanted to refresh the website’s look and feel in certain spots. So, we white-labeled StrategyCorps’ BaZing product as Bank Local—that's how we position it online—and added an educational video that’s still on our website today.

Why pursue a partnership with StrategyCorps?

What I liked about StrategyCorps was the opportunity to refresh our whole checking suite in addition to cleaning up the past. We're very, very good in those midsize markets that really prioritize community banking and may not have the huge market share command of U.S. Bank or BofA. So that's been our model is to find those CFIs that are selling. Then, from a people standpoint, we keep things as they are but offer better products like the StrategyCorps partnership, like Bank Local, and better online and mobile experiences.

On January 1, 2021, we converted 70,000 households to our three tiers of checking.

And how have things been?

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Outside of the refresh to the marketing suite and the customer support, I'm most pleased with the immediate impact we felt in our non-interest income. That was notable at Q1 during our reporting period. It was staggering.

I had a CFO who was really appreciative of getting to go into his first investor call and say, “Hey, I had $500,000 in extra fee income this month due to a checking account refresh.” Another time, one of our accountants was working on balance sheets, and he's like, “This can't be right, these fees for this quarter. Is this right? Did I make a mistake?” I told him, “No, this is quicker than we thought, but this is what set up to do with the product suite.”

We've consistently seen that, and it will only continue to swell over time.