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First Financial Bank [NASDAQ: THFF]: Ushering Technology Renaissance to Banking

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Brad Waldhoff, CIO and Dennis Rhee, First-Financial-Bank, CMONorman L. Lowery, Chairman and CEO
Our Bank of the Year is a special company. Very few have withstood the test of time through almost two centuries of service and their future looks very bright.

Forbes Magazine recently named First Financial Bank as one of America’s Best Banks and their success and longevity rests on a foundation of customer-centric principles. First Financial is one of the nation’s Top 100 farm lenders and they continually receive a five-star rating from Bauer Financial, the nations leading independent bank rating firm.

Simple. Fast. Easy.

Founded in 1834, First Financial is the oldest bank in Indiana and the 5th oldest in the United States. They provide digital banking services as well as brick and mortar options at 83 stores located throughout Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Being a market leader for 185 years is a testament to the organization’s strength and stability. Clients can depend on and be sure that their financial interests will be safe and secure through future generations.

Their mantra is to be simple, fast and easy, with a focus on providing customers an outstanding banking experience. This mindset helps the organization disrupt the traditional approach and usher in an era of expanded services irrespective of a clients location. Their goal is to provide a seamless omni-channel experience where customers can get what they need with one click, one call or one visit.

Clients can interact with the organization in multiple ways and rest assured that the banking experience delivered to them will be consistent, no matter where or how it takes place.

“In everything we do, our goal is to deliver exceptional customer service. That means we need to be simple, fast and easy,” says Chairman and CEO Norman L. Lowery.

Unified Data Systems

Most banks use multiple separate platforms that tend to work in silos. To this end, First Financial Bank is working to unify these systems and data sets.

“Whether it is in person with a banker in one of our stores or someone sitting at home with their computer, everyone should be provided with the same great experience,” says Lowery.

In the future, their goal is for staff to have the ability to see what their clients are experiencing by having a 360-degree view of the customers’ information. This will enable the organization to easily recommend additional products and services that will help clients save more and earn more. The company is continually exploring solutions in order to better deliver data sets to both customers and staff in real time.

After more than 180 years, we’re still, FIRST in service to businesses. We are making banking not only simple but fast and easy

The company is continually exploring solutions in order to better deliver data sets to both customers and staff in real time.

“Our current strategy is to unravel the traditional banking technology infrastructure and move it into a unified cloud-based platform that can provide us better visibility and a higher level of service,” says Chief Technology Officer Brad Waldhoff.

Cybersecurity Focus

On the cybersecurity front, First Financial is constantly deploying the latest technology to identify and combat threats in the banking space. The organization bolsters clients with industry know-how by having an in-house cybersecurity expert, who is also an FBI consultant and heavily involved in helping clients and communities stay abreast of digital scams and better understand how to manage and protect their identities and personal information.

The bank’s Chief of Cybersecurity Brian Toevs exercises a robust vetting process for all technology vendors and content providers, and the organization uses intense security monitoring to activate instantaneous response protocols. “We treat our client data as if it is our own personal data,” says Toevs. “Information security is our number one priority.”

Standing Tall Among Peers

“For us, it is all about delivering banking on the consumers’ terms. We are evolving to provide service anywhere you want it: online, in our stores or at your home or office. In other words, banking how, when and where you want it,” says Lowery.

First Financial Bank is continually enhancing their customer experience and working to bring innovations into effect. To this end, they continue to move forward with a technology-focused mindset.

Over the next 24 months, the organization plans to upgrade and enhance their digital tools. They are launching a new website and internal intranet and upgrading a variety of major systems. They are streamlining processes in the back office, allowing more time to focus on clients, staying true to their customer-focused culture. This helps the organization remain efficient as they implement more automation and cloud-based services to deliver services in a faster and better manner.

“We will be continuing on the same path of evolving internally to embrace the changes in customer expectations,” concludes Lowery. First Financial Bank’s approach drives them to be a front runner in the world of banking.
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Terre Haute, IN

Norman L. Lowery, Chairman and CEO and Brad Waldhoff, CIO and Dennis Rhee, CMO

First Financial Bank has served businesses since 1834 with strength and stability that the customers can depend on. The organization’s mantra, right from its inception, has been about treating customers as neighbors, family, and friends, and being there for them in all their banking needs. First Financial Bank is undergoing a transformation from being a traditional banker that leveraged technology to a technology company which provides banking services. This transformation will help the organization to disrupt the traditional “consumers bank on bankers’ terms” paradigm, and usher an era where “consumers bank simple, fast and easy,” with banking services available to them 24/7, irrespective of their location

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