COVID-19 Financial Industry Responses (2)

Part
01
of three
Part
01

Homestreet Bank - Messaging Surrounding COVID-19

Homestreet's messaging related to COVID-19 has been scant in comparison to other banks. The posts on their social media accounts only tell customers that they are monitoring the situation and ask customers to be aware of scammers. However, their website has more information about what their employees and customers must do to stop the spread of the virus. There were no news items, interviews, or releases by upper management about COVID-19.

Target

  • Their messages were aimed mainly at their customers. When a customer visits the website, they will see a banner near the top of the page. The "Learn More" button links to a webpage that seems to have been built to inform customers during this crisis. The webpage is titled "Emergency Response".
  • Their "Emergency Response" webpage is also aimed at employees and tells them what they should do to stop the spread of the virus.

Sender

  • Based on searches through their news releases and other places on their website, as well as outside sources and social media, there have been no quotes or interviews from upper management about their response so far.
  • Most of their messages have been sent by their social media teams and teams that are in charge of making content for their website. There was no signature or appended paragraph to detail that the message is coming from management or a specific department at the bank.

Communication Topics

  • On Twitter, Homestreet's first related to COVID-19 was on the 9th of March when they assured customers that they were monitoring the situation surrounding the virus. This tweet links to a webpage titled "Emergency Response".
  • On the 18th, they sent out their second tweet warning customers that they should be careful about phishing emails claiming to be the WHO or the CDC. They gave tips that customers should verify email addresses and exercise caution when clicking links or attachments.
  • In that tweet, Homestreet linked to the Secret Service's website that talks about this issue. This message was repeated on their Linkedin page and their Facebook page.
  • On their "Emergency Response" webpage, they assured their customers that they are monitoring the situation closely and promised to follow the guidelines set by the CDC and other health agencies.
  • Like their social media channels, they warned customers on their webpage about potential scams that they can fall into, telling them to visit the FTC website to stay informed.
  • They are assuring customers that they can bank anywhere even if they are unable to visit a branch by using their website or their banking app.
  • At the bottom of the page, they are assuring customers that if they are experiencing financial hardships during the pandemic, they can help them by calling their Loan Customers.

Communication Channels

  • HomeStreet Bank has made only two messages on Twitter. Both messages were aimed at their customers.
  • On social media, most of their communications were found on their Twitter page. Only one message related to COVID-19 to customers was sent on their Facebook and Linkedin pages.
  • Their website is the only other place where they have content related to COVID-19. The "Emergency Response" page is the only place on the website that customers can get information on Homestreet's response to COVID-19.
  • They seem to have also sent emails related to the current crisis. According to a customer on Twitter, Homestreet emailed him on or before March 15 and its contents put his mind at ease. Two more tweets (in a thread) made on the 10th were found mentioning Homestreet's email.

Research Strategy

Our search found messaging by Homestreet Bank on their website and their social media but we were unable to find any specific sender of these messages by the bank. To find messaging, we first started by searching through their website including their press releases. We found a webpage dedicated to COVID-19 and we expected to find an address either by upper management or a department to their employees or customers. However, their last press release on their website was on the 6th of March and a search of their website brings up no address by management or any quotes by a department about the crisis. Hence, we changed strategy.

In our next strategy, we looked for outside news sources for direct quotes from workers or management from Homestreet. We looked through sources such as Businesswire, Bloomberg, and Yahoo News, however recent stories about Homestreet only mentioned the CFO resigning his post and that a new hire was made the next day. We believed that there would be a news article discussing Homestreet's response to the crisis and would include a statement by a higher-up, however, this was not the case. After this, we tried another strategy.

In our last strategy, we looked through social media sites and video sites for recent videos featuring Homestreet and/or its workers. We hoped to find videos or statements by executives on business shows by CNBC, Bloomberg or the like. When no videos were found on YouTube, Vimeo or CNBC's or Bloomberg's websites, we looked through social media and found content on their Facebook and Twitter pages. However, the only tweets we found mentioning Homestreet and Coronavirus were by their account and by three alleged customers mentioning the email they received from Homestreet about the virus. No tweet or status update mentioned a statement by someone or a department at the company.

We believe that the messaging we found by the bank on their social media accounts and their website was made by internal social media teams and other teams in charge of digital communications. Usually, when an executive or a certain department puts out a statement, it would be followed by a signature or summary of who they are, followed by contact information, such as can be seen in this example.
Part
02
of three
Part
02

Banc of California - Messaging Surrounding COVID-19

Banc of California has communicated its response to the coronavirus pandemic to its clients and internal team via its website, email, and social media; specifically LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. While there was no mention of who sent the communications, the bank directed clients to its client services team for questions and concerns about the pandemic.

Messaging Via Website & Email

  • On its website homepage, Banc of California states at the top that it is committed to its clients, communities, and employees and is responding to the Coronavirus pandemic internally and externally. It has a webpage dedicated to how it is handling the virus.
  • The company has sent emails to its current clients and customers assuring them of the steps it has taken to protect their safety and wellbeing, and advising them to utilize mobile banking.
  • Banc of California mentioned on its website that it regularly tests and has business continuity procedures in place to ensure that it can cater to its clients with little to no disruption.
  • The bank urges current customers to create an online or mobile banking account or otherwise contact them to set this up.
  • Banc of California stated that it is following the "recommendations of health officials regarding social distancing and also implementing enhanced procedures to maintain healthy and clean work environments" for both customers and employees.
  • The company mentioned that it has not closed any of its 31 branches. It is still open during regular business hours.
  • Banc of California assures customers that it is willing to come up with a resolution for clients that are experiencing hardship due to the pandemic. It advises these clients to reach out to their personal bankers.
  • It appears the bank's client services team is in charge of communicating and handling issues around coronavirus among current clients.

Messaging Via Social Media

  • About a week ago (March 13), Banc of California posted a link to a webpage on Facebook about how it is responding to the coronavirus pandemic and related disruption.
  • It shared the same post on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram on the same day.
  • It appears this post was targeted towards current clients and employees.
  • This information was shared by the company's social media team.
Part
03
of three
Part
03

Wells Fargo - Messaging Surrounding COVID-19

Analysis of Wells Fargo's communications has found that COVID-19 messaging was done through their website and social media to detail their thoughts on the government's response and what customers should expect in terms of service and responses from customer service. These points are made in greater detail below.

Messaging to Customers via their Website

  • "Wells Fargo is here to support you". That tagline is directed at customers and employees and discusses possible work disruptions. This page seemed to be mostly aimed at employees.
  • Another reassuring message can be found near the top of their main page where they have the tagline "We're here for you: Important coronavirus updates" with a link to help customers learn more about the bank's actions during the crisis.
  • On the webpage titled "Your health and safety — COVID-19 information center", Wells Fargo assures customers that they are still their top priority and that their finances are protected during this crisis. On this page, they provide a link to let customers know if the branches in their area are opened and let them know that their waiting times on the phones will be longer than usual.
  • Also, they emphasize to customers about how they can do their banking online and through their app and other apps like Zelle. They also warn their customers to be wary of scams. Near the end of the page, the bank makes it known that they are heavily involved in philanthropic efforts to stop the disease as they have donated up to $6.25 million to various bodies to help fight the disease.
  • To employees and customers who have health concerns about visiting their nearest branch, they let everyone know what they are doing to keep each work environment safe, including increasing use of hand sanitizers and wipes, closely monitoring their supply chain, and restricting call center access to some workers who are sick or who've been in contact with sick people.
  • On their website, no webpage had any note that showed that these messages were from management or any other source apart from a team that would usually be in charge of making website content.

Messaging to Customers via Social Media

  • There are no communications about the coronavirus or COVID-19 from Wells Fargo's main Facebook account.
  • However, their customer-facing Twitter account, @Ask_WellsFargo and their main Twitter account, @WellsFargo, have both made one tweet each about the crisis.
  • Their @Ask_WellsFargo account is mainly used to answer complaints and questions put forward by customers on the app. In their only tweet, they mention that their response times to questions and concerns will take longer than usual because of the virus' impact on staffing.
  • Their investment page, @WFInvesting, has made many more tweets about coronavirus and COVID-19 as it pertains to the stock market. One key tweet which was retweeted on Wells Fargo's main Twitter page was a tweet linking to an address by Wells Fargo Wealth & Investment Management Chief Investment Officer, Darrell Cronk, about the coronavirus' impact on market volatility. The link to that message was also shared on the company's Linkedin page.
  • On their @WellsFargo Twitter account, the bank tweeted about the evolving situation in the Bay Area, and let customers know that they can use the mobile app and the website for their banking needs. A link then goes to a webpage titled "Health and safety is our top priority".
  • All tweets seem to have come from their social media team, as none were appended by keywords such as "-management" to denote the message was coming from elsewhere.

Messaging to Investment and Wealth Management Customers

  • Their Investment Institute put out a statement targeting their global investment customers that they were disappointed with the White House's response to the current crisis.
  • In that opinion piece dated March 12, 2020, they detailed all the actions the President took in fighting the virus, and their view into what they think should've happened. They then throw predictions about what the stock market should look like in the future, especially as it pertains to the S&P 500 Index.
  • This piece was prepared by their Global Investment Strategy team and was intended to convey the team's opinions about the current White House response to its global customers.
  • The webpage also contains a link for customers to download a report that details some technical analysis of the S&P 500 Index.
  • Wells Fargo does messaging to its investors on their YouTube channel as well. On March 17, they uploaded the Monthly Economic Outlook where their economists discussed the coronavirus and what it means for consumer spending, oil prices, and a possible recession.

Sources
Sources