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Innovation Strategies at Small and Midsize FIs

How US Banks and Credit Unions with Assets Below $100 Billion Are Building, Buying, Partnering, and Consolidating to Punch Outside Their Weight Class on Digital User Experience

About This Report
The pandemic is pushing consumers into digital banking channels, upping pressure on small and midsized banks to deliver value-added services and digital user experiences. They have to find ways of doing so on limited tech budgets to stay competitive.
Table of Contents

As the pandemic makes digital banking a necessity for consumers, small and midsize FIs are having to strategize on how to create better digital user experiences on limited tech budgets to stay competitive.


What are the unique strengths small and midsize financial institutions (FIs) enjoy that can be augmented by digital?

Although small banks and credit unions do not have the same tech budgets, hiring incentives, and tech talent that big banks boast, they do have strengths including deep community ties, more trustworthy reputations, and greater agility when it comes to core infrastructure and pace of innovation.

What strategies are open to small and midsize FIs as they seek to digitize in an efficient yet impactful way?

The traditional Build-Buy-Partner innovation framework is expanded when it comes to small and midsize FIs: They also have the option to pool resources and exchange best practices via consortia, and to consolidate in mergers of equals to combine strengths on digital.

What are some real-world examples of small and midsize FIs successfully deploying these strategies that our own organization can learn from and emulate?

In this report, we profile eight US banks and credit unions with assets of under $100 billion as examples of the innovation strategies mentioned above, to provide best practices and insights for other FIs in this market tier.

WHAT’S IN THIS REPORT? This report discusses the unique challenges and advantages small and midsize FIs face in relation to digital innovation; outlines the innovation strategies open to them, and their pros and cons; and gives real-world examples of these strategies in action.

KEY STAT: Improving the customer experience is the top objective for community-based banks and credit unions, at 77% and 81%, respectively. Smaller FIs are acutely aware of the need to develop value-added digital customer experiences, but they have to do so with smaller budgets than their competitors.

Here’s what’s in the full report


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Reliable data in simple displays for presentations and quick decision making.

Table of Contents

  1. Key Points
  2. Recommendations
  3. Introduction
  1. Small and Midsize FI Innovation: The Lay of the Land
  2. How Small and Midsize FIs Can Succeed on Digital
  3. Read Next
  1. Media Gallery

Charts in This Report


Maria Elm


David Morris
Tyler Brown
Daniel Van Dyke
Matthew Gaughan
Julia Woolever
Ryan Arnold
Research Editor
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