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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Medlin, May 24, 1999. Interview I-0076. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Maintaining personal connections in a changing business environment

Here, Medlin describes his effort, in a time of evolving banking technologies, to sustain the personal relationships on which he believed Wachovia had built its success.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Medlin, May 24, 1999. Interview I-0076. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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There's one other element that I think I would say in the early part of the '70s that banks still had not, were not very open. There was reasonable competition. There was still a feeling I think that you went in and sort of sat down in the lobby in the bank. You were the subject, and the banker was the king still. We began, we had been improving our technology as we went along, all through the '60s and early '70s. It was apparent that there were going to be lots of ways for people to do business with you that would involve less contact with you. I had been and many of our people had been concerned about not losing the personal contact with customers. We had always been a relationship bank and we still are be it an individual or a corporation. It was something you built on several fronts over time, mutual trust. So we to try to strengthen the personal relationships with the customers, we introduced what we called a personal banker program. That was something of a, it doesn't sound radical or revolutionary, but in truth was. We assigned all of our customers who wanted one a personal banker. We said, 'Their name is on your statement. If you have problems, here's their telephone number. Call them up. They're going to be calling up to tell you about some new things we have from time to time.' It was, it got a lot of publicity. It took the technology to make it possible was developed. Previously you would have to go to this place to find out the checking account balance, and somewhere else to get the savings balance and somewhere else for the loan balance, and somewhere else for the trust relationship. We developed an information system that pulled all of that together, retail accounts information system we called it. So the personal banker could punch the buttons and up would come on the screen the full relationship. And this would make it possible to assess, 'Well, you don't have a saving s account with us.' We could call up and say, 'Hey how about a savings account or a credit card' or whatever. It had marketing as well as relationship building elements to it. This was I think something of a stimulant in banking during those times to other banks to compete on that basis. It has been more fully developed now. I think it's pretty generic. They don't call them all personal bankers, some private bankers and those kinds of things.