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If Starbucks were a bank

The New York Times calls Umpqua Bank “Starbucks with tellers.”

Jerry Fritz of Madison-Wisconsin University told me he’d discovered a cool new bank several years ago, called South Umpqua Bank, that re-designed itself from the ground up . Now, as Umpqua Bank, it is possibly the coolest bank in the world (vying with Grameenbank, which is cool for completely different and more substantial reasons).

The CEO Ray Davis, who led what he calls a ‘banking revolution’ in re-designing Umpqua’s processes and its external as well as internal brand, has written a book on it, which I recommend, called Leading for Growth.

From the book jacket: “When Ray Davis took over the local 40-person South Umpqua Bank in 1994, many people in the industry poked fun at his insistence that employees answer the phone with a cheery “World’s Greatest Bank.”

Eleven years, $7 billion in assets, and 128 branches (or ” bank stores” in Umpqua lingo) later, the moniker seems quite apt. Other banks scratched their heads when Davis sent his tellers to Ritz-Carlton to learn customer service and were intrigued when he hired a cutting-edge design firm to completely re-think retail layout.

Now, with a top design award under their belt, a name change (there never was a North Umpqua bank), and a completely new definition of the banking business, Umpqua has become the darling of the entrepreneurial press and a growth powerhouse.”

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