First Choice Bank Leverages Technology to Be First in Speed, Service, and Solutions

4 min read

While the community banking industry faces competitive pressures from larger institutions, First Choice Bank has found success in remaining true to its mission — to be “First in Speed, Service, and Solutions” for the communities it serves.

First Choice prides itself on its responsiveness, deep understanding of client needs and exceptional customer experience. These priorities have driven digital transformation across the organization, including the implementation of a Laserfiche electronic records management solution. Having used Laserfiche for almost six years, the bank has centralized and standardized records, preserved record integrity, and automated routine tasks such as classifying records so that employees can reclaim time for customer service. As a result, First Choice has seen greater efficiencies, a more modern, responsive customer and employee experience, and a stronger IT infrastructure upon which to build more automated business processes in order to support the bank’s strategic imperatives.

“In this ever-changing world, we’re given the opportunity to really open up people’s minds to the possibilities of leveraging technology — and what you can miss out on and what you lose without it,” said First Choice Bank EVP, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Commercial Banking Lorraine Lee. “Change and technology are at the forefront of business progress, particularly in the increasingly competitive market in which community banks, like ours, operate — an industry that has not historically embraced technological change. We need to find the right solutions that work for our organization – solutions that will allow us to flexibly pivot as the world changes so that we can continue to effectively service our clients.”

Electronic Records Management: Accelerating Service Delivery and Simplifying Compliance

First Choice Bank, headquartered in Cerritos, California, has served its community since its founding in 2005. With a diverse client base of individuals and commercial clients, First Choice is a leading provider of commercial and industrial loans, loans to small businesses and other financial services that enable customers to grow, maintain strength and reach their financial goals.

As the bank grew, the First Choice team recognized the need for technology that would support staff to easily search and retrieve documents and information, while enabling the organization to set up safeguards and controls to protect client data and show compliance with regulatory requirements. First Choice worked with the Laserfiche team to implement a Laserfiche electronic records management system and build out robust processes that are scalable as needs change.

“Community banking runs on human interactions and communication, which require time and commitment,” Lee said. “We believe that technology can support us in what we need to do to serve our clients efficiently. It allows our talent to focus on more of the important things that require communication with our customers, rather than spending a lot of time performing tasks that technology can take care of.”

In addition to making client information easier to find and use, Laserfiche electronic records management system has enhanced information governance and facilitated seamless audits. In 2018, First Choice acquired another organization adding six branches with expanded geographic footprint and further realized the value of electronic records management in bringing new employees and departments into First Choice’s operations and processes.

“We get a lot of compliments from auditors and examiners about how well our files are organized — which is a huge testament to how the platform adds value to our business proposition. With the help of Laserfiche automated workflows, we are able to protect the integrity of the files — taking out any element of human error or inconsistency, so our staff can stay focused on our clients.”

—First Choice Bank EVP, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Commercial Banking Lorraine Lee.

Keeping Business Moving

Most recently, First Choice saw the benefits of the Laserfiche initiative during the COVID-19 pandemic, during which about 70% of bank employees shifted to work from home. Using Laserfiche to access loan files and other documents has enabled the bank to continue operating with minimal disruption.

At the same time, the bank saw an influx of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan applications from business owners looking to keep employees on payroll despite revenue losses due to the pandemic. Having immediate access to client information in their time of need has been an invaluable benefit, according to Lee.

“You see on the news that people call larger banks and they can’t get a response,” Lee said. “At community banks, we gain business by leveraging our strong asset — relationship banking — by striving for a high level of responsiveness and personal attention. When a client asks for information, we can quickly retrieve it from Laserfiche and tell them what this may mean for them, what the terms are, and give them copies of documents they need. All our clients can talk to someone individually at the bank and have their concerns addressed. In a time of uncertainty, that is really important.”

Supporting a People-First Approach with Tech

First Choice is always exploring new ways to digitally transform the organization with the goal of creating the best possible experience for clients and employees. Driven by that commitment, the team attends the annual Laserfiche Empower Conference to learn about Laserfiche’s ever-evolving capabilities and how to best implement new features and solutions.

In the coming years, First Choice plans to expand its use of Laserfiche into areas such as compliance, loan processing and loan servicing — where Laserfiche electronic forms and business process automation will assist the bank in streamlining legacy processes that are currently driven by paper forms and manual tasks.

“We want to leverage technology as much as possible, and be as efficient as possible in service of our community,” Lee said. “As a community bank, we’re very much a people business. Laserfiche is empowering us to stay true to our values while delivering top-notch service to our clients.”

Simplify audits and reclaim time to for customer service: Learn more about digitizing, standardizing and automating your records management with our free eBook, “The Ultimate Guide to Electronic Records Management.”

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