Training Top 125 Best Practice: Exchange Bank’s Relationship Banker Model

The Relationship Banker (RB) role is a relationship-based model that requires the branch employee to build long-term relationships with customers, assisting them with everything from basic teller transactions to product recommendations and lending.

The way customers interact with their bank is changing. Many customers are utilizing technology to conduct transactional business such as depositing checks, reviewing balances, and transferring money between accounts. While some customers still visit a branch for routine assistance, many customers coming into the branch require assistance with more complex transactions that demand a different skill set from branch employees. In an effort to address these needs, Exchange Bank developed the Relationship Banker (RB) role in 2017. This program supports three company goals: “Achieve Sustainable Financial Success,” “Customer-Centric Focus—Putting the Customer at the Center of Everything We Do,” and “Engage, Reward & Develop Talented People.”

Program Details

The RB role is a relationship-based model that requires the branch employee to build long-term relationships with customers, assisting them with everything from basic teller transactions to product recommendations and lending. There are four key elements to the RB model: 

1. Make a Connection

2. Discover Needs

3. Make Recommendations

4. Grow Relationships

While some branch employees already had much of the knowledge and skills needed to transition to the new model, the majority of branch employees required additional training to meet the challenges of their expanded role. To address these challenges, Learning & Development (L&D) partnered with the Retail organization, Information Technology, Bank Operations, Application Support, and the Customer Call Center. Developed for all branch employees, the training curriculum consists of a combination of classroom training, in-branch activities, and other events conducted by the Business Development and Retail Banking groups. In an effort to support the learning need, some existing classes were updated and new classes and materials were developed. A total of nine training options were available to support the rollout. All branch employees—68 percent of the total employee population—were required to participate in a minimum of five training sessions. Many were required to participate in all nine. 

The L&D initiatives included in the Relationship Banker plan include: Basic New Accounts, Consumer Lending (Equity and Non-Equity), Leading Change, and Professional Presence. Each of these initiatives has measurement for Kirkpatrick Levels 1 to 3, plus some Level 4 data, and all measurements met or exceeded expectations. In addition, the Retail organization provided four RB workshops with role-play and coaching on each of the four key elements noted above. 

Exchange Bank’s executive team supports the implementation in several ways. The SVP of Retail Banking regularly visits each branch location, makes presentations on the status of the rollout and the changes being made, and holds question-and-answer sessions to address employees’ concerns. Vice presidents in Retail Banking hold regular reinforcement sessions to refresh content from learnings, address operational issues, and discuss process changes occurring due to the role changes. 


Feedback from the branches and surveys indicate RBs are more engaged with customers. The RBs’ conversations sound different during coaching, and customer follow-up is ongoing to ensure customer needs are not only met, but exceeded. These enhanced behaviors are developing Relationship Bankers for future career advancement opportunities and contributing to internal customer experience by providing a defined career path within the branches from an entry-level position to branch manager.

The overall measurement (Level 4) that proves this initiative’s success is the incentive plan designed to reward Relationship Bankers for their sales success. In 2018, Relationship Bankers averaged 233 points per month per banker compared to the average of 143 in 2017. This represents an increase of 61 percent. 

Training Top 125

Applying for Training magazine’s 2020 Training Top 125 awards program can help you benchmark the excellence and effectiveness of your employee training and development.

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