Embrace change, take risks, and disrupt yourself
Hosted by top 5 banking and fintech influencer, Jim Marous, Banking Transformed highlights the challenges facing the banking industry. Featuring some of the top minds in business, this podcast explores how financial institutions can prepare for the future of banking.
Bankers Like Us Must Make Change Happen
The banking industry, while steeped in tradition, is far from predictable. More than ever, marketplace changes are impacting what financial institutions deliver and how solutions are delivered.
Unfortunately, not all legacy bankers have kept pace with the changes in the marketplace … either by choice or because their organization has failed to keep up. Without a challenger mindset and a willingness to accept change, take risks and disrupt status quo, bankers like us will be left behind.
I am so excited to have Leda Glyptis PhD, chief client officer at 10x Banking back on the Banking Transformed podcast. She will discuss her amazing new book entitled, Bankers Like Us, which chronicles her journey, observations and recommendations for an industry being disrupted.
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Jim Marous (00:00):
Hello, and welcome to Banking Transformed, the top podcast in retail banking. I'm your host, Jim Marous, Owner and CEO of the Digital Banking Report, and co-publisher of The Financial Brand.
Jim Marous (00:22):
The banking industry, while steeped in tradition, is far from predictable. More than ever, marketplace changes are impacting what financial institutions deliver and how those solutions are delivered. Unfortunately, not all legacy bankers have been able to keep pace with the changes in the marketplace, either by choice or because our organizations have failed to let them keep up.
Jim Marous (00:46):
Without a challenger mindset and a willingness to accept change, take risks, and disrupt the status quo, bankers like us will be left behind.
Jim Marous (00:57):
I am so excited to have Leda Glyptis, Chief Client Officer at 10x Banking back on the Banking Transformed Podcast. She discusses her amazing new book entitled Bankers Like Us, which chronicles her journey, observations, and recommendations for an industry being disrupted.
Jim Marous (01:16):
Welcome back to the show, Leda. It hasn't been too long since we had you on the show. During your last visit, you discussed how to make banking better in 2022. Suffice it to say, that the show continues to be one of our most popular episodes with listeners due to the concrete insights and recommendations you've provided.
Jim Marous (01:36):
That said, a lot has changed since we had that show. In fact, probably the most important, at least in your life, is that you wrote the book, Bankers Like Us, which is really a compilation of your thoughts and insights through an entire career that you almost feel at the end that it's not really the end — that you're going to have pages continually added.
Jim Marous (01:58):
But before we start, I'd like to initiate our conversation with a modified question that you ask at the beginning of your book: who are you and why do thousands of people like me read and listen to your observations every week?
Leda Glyptis (02:15):
What an amazing way to kick off. First of all, let me say thank you for having me. I've done a lot of these things, but I love our conversations the most, because I forget I'm being recorded. It feels like I'm chatting to my friend. And I think part of that warmth and joy came through to our last episode and I hope it does in this one.
Leda Glyptis (02:32):
It's true, my book is out, and I do kick off with that question. And frankly, I kick off with that question because I ask myself that a lot as I go about doing my job. When I go to conferences, when I go to meetings, our industry has a lot of people pontificating a lot of the time, and I hear a little voice in my head sometimes going, "Who are you and what do you know about this thing?"
Leda Glyptis (02:58):
And sometimes, the answer exists and it's a very good one. And sometimes, the answer is, well, nobody's stopping me, so away I go.
Leda Glyptis (03:07):
So, you're right that the book is a compilation of almost 20 years of being in this business. And I think it's fair to say I'm a banker. I never thought I would be. I'm not a banker technically anymore. I'm in recovery as a friend of mine says. But I learned my craft inside a bank. I serve banks, at 10x, we serve banks, and I still think and feel like one.
Leda Glyptis (03:38):
And I've been very lucky because I'm an accidental banker as you see in the book, if you pick it up. I didn't plan for this, this was not my dream. I fell into it entirely randomly and after considerable resistance. But it turned out I love it, and it turned out I'm good at it. But that doesn't mean I am good at all of the thing as it is. And that's why I say I'm lucky.
Leda Glyptis (04:06):
Because I came into banking with enough time before the FinTech wave started to learn banking enough to make the most of the FinTech wave. And I was lucky because I was there when it started, and we caught this wave in a way that you can't do now. And I think that is a moment in time thing.
Leda Glyptis (04:27):
Because when FinTech became a thing, you were there, I was there, we could all fit in a room. It was the same people who needed to talk about ways of working, monetization models, front end, backend. It was the same people who talk about APIs and DDLT. It was the same people that needed to understand everything and make space for it.
Leda Glyptis (04:51):
And now, 15 years is not a long time, but the things you need to know and understand at the depth at which they're being developed means that it is not possible to have that full generic overview anymore. And that's great on the one hand because it means we've actually done some things and built some things.
Leda Glyptis (05:12):
But it also means that you and I and those of us who are in the room where it started kind of thing, have a unique vantage point. So, to the question, who am I? I am someone who's been doing this long enough to have some scars, to have seen it change and not change enough. And someone who's ultimately willing to call it out.
Jim Marous (05:34):
You know, that's an excellent starting point for this because really, I think what you do as well as anybody in the industry, is you not only are a very, very, very good banker, but a lot of that comes because you're also an amazing observer of what gets in the way, and what doesn't get in the way.
Jim Marous (05:54):
I look back over my 40 plus years of banking and I'm very fortunate in that I think I was brought up in an inquisitive way to continually learn. My mother was a teacher, my father was in sales, but he continually did education to improve himself. And I think sometimes, we talked about this before the podcast, the desire to continually learn about what you're involved in and learn more about it — not just to become better at it, but to understand what gets in the way is really what makes you different.
Jim Marous (06:26):
And that's what makes the book so excellent in that you take very composable stories and talk about what you see in the marketplace and how it can impact us and how we can improve upon it. The book's a self-help book.
Leda Glyptis (06:43):
No, it is. And I made a very conscious choice. I mean the book is all about all the things that suck really.
Jim Marous (06:52):
But everyone ends in the positive way though.
Leda Glyptis (06:54):
Yes. I actually made it a challenge for myself to find something we can do about each of those things. Because otherwise, what's the use? What's the point of pointing out things that are broken if you don't at least offer a way out? And I was also very conscious to make the recommendations — you're right, it is a self-help book.
Leda Glyptis (07:16):
Make the recommendations immediately actionable. And I've stayed away from saying things like, "You should be more present." Because yes, you should be more present, but what does that mean? So, I've become much more granular.
Leda Glyptis (07:30):
And I've also packaged the things you can do in ways that can fit your appetite for disruption. Because not everyone is a revolutionary and that's okay, you can still have an impact. I do appreciate what you're saying about being a good banker and being a good observer.
Leda Glyptis (07:46):
I think there's an advantage that few people have as a combination. Most of our most vocal participants in our industry are former practitioners who now guide and write, and look into the future, and have a platform.
Leda Glyptis (08:13):
But some of the pain is a little more distant. And the people who are in the weeds doing the doing very rarely have the platform and talk. And I've found this niche for myself. I'm not a futurist, I'm not an organizational analyst-
Jim Marous (08:29):
You're very pragmatic. You really are.
Leda Glyptis (08:32):
I am. And I think part of it is because I do it every day. I think if I were to transition into a sort of a more strategic type of function, I would not stop talking and thinking about it. But the horizon of like the things that really get you going would be different.
Leda Glyptis (08:52):
So, I think there is a unique niche I sit in, in that I do this every day. Like I've got a day job as I keep telling conference organizers who invite me to talk about things I don't know very much about because they like my style. It's like I have a day job, I am an expert in this because I do it every day.
Leda Glyptis (09:11):
And I think the book, you called it almost like a journal earlier. And you're right, it is exactly that. It's the lived experience of the last 20 years.
Jim Marous (09:20):
Well, it's interesting also because I'm not in the banking industry, but I'm lucky in that I get to talk to people that are in it every day, so I can figure out what the challenges are. And I think one of the aspects — and I'm not going to put myself anywhere near the level that you have, because I love your writing and the style you have.
Jim Marous (09:39):
But sometimes, it's admitting that you're not the smartest person in the room. And when you admit you're not the smartest person in the room, you go around and try to ask questions of those people who may be, and it takes confidence. And sometimes that comes with maturity or age (I'm going to put age and maturity in different categories, I think).
Jim Marous (10:00):
But it comes at a point where you say, you know what, I don't need to be the smartest person in the room, but man, I want to rub shoulders with those who do. And that helps you get better perspective beyond your own circle of friends, your tribe.
Leda Glyptis (10:17):
You're so right.
Jim Marous (10:18):
What impact do you hope your book has on the industry? Now, there's no doubt that people who know you, people that are already part of your tribe, people that think like you and like the way you think are going to pick up the book and go, "Yes, yes, yes, yes, it's all good."
Jim Marous (10:35):
But there's the other aspect, those who probably, need the book the most. I'm going to keep on the self-help thought.
Leda Glyptis (10:45):
It is a self-help book, you're right.
Jim Marous (10:47):
How do you hope the book impacts the industry as a whole and leaders?
Leda Glyptis (10:52):
I appreciate that question. And first of all, you know me and secondly, reading the book, you know that that's top of mind. I think it's that thing that if you're always the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room, and so are you surrounding-
Jim Marous (11:05):
And nobody wants to talk to you.
Leda Glyptis (11:06):
Exactly. Are you surrounding yourself with people who ask the right questions? So, part of what the book tries to do, the first and foremost thing is you're not alone. These things that you observe that at times, you're the only person in the room you are in that seemingly observes them — you are not alone, you are not crazy.
Leda Glyptis (11:28):
The second is that calling these things out has power. And as you know, there is a section in the book about my superpower, Captain Obvious. And in fact, I don't know if you know Andrew Vorster, he made me a t-shirt, Captain Obvious, which I wear with great pride because part of my superpower is putting words around elephants in rooms, and things that often people are not articulating.
Leda Glyptis (11:55):
And there's power in the telling. Sometimes we all know, but by saying the words, you highlight what it is we're all consenting to or what it is we're all accepting or what it is we're all sort of sliding towards.
Leda Glyptis (12:11):
So, I do think that the book in saying, "Well, look, you're not alone and these things that you consider part of the furniture are not inevitable." So, let me say it because once I've said it, we're forced to reflect. And once we reflect, I think there are these two major drivers in the book.
Leda Glyptis (12:30):
One is there are things you as an individual, whoever you are can start doing right now that don't jeopardize your job, that don't lead a rebellion, but will make a material change to you, your colleagues, the inclusion of your workspace, the ability to think more freely. And some of the examples are tiny, but actually, they have a real impact.
Leda Glyptis (12:56):
The second piece of the book is that there are some really big foundational pieces of society, fairness, how money operates, who gets access to credit and why that seem too big for an individual to take on. But we as an industry are in a unique moment in time where we have the technology and the language to make different choices.
Leda Glyptis (13:29):
Now, those are not easy and they're not the sort of choices you quietly make from your desk, like the first category. But it is very much a case of, if not now, when? If not us, who?
Leda Glyptis (13:41):
And the book balances that sort of every day and mundane, "Don't go to a meeting without an agenda. Don't let someone be rude to a colleague. Don't let something slide if you know incorrect information is being passed, or don't silence someone asking a question, answer it. It's a healthy instinct." These are small things, but they make a huge difference.
Jim Marous (14:05):
Well, and to a degree, not every bank, but it's built into the legacy of banking in its own way. And in reading the book and in talking to you through the years, the overriding theme in banking seems to be the negative gravitational pull of habits, status quo, aversion to rebels and risk.
Jim Marous (14:27):
Do you think it's changed over time? Has it gotten better, or has it stayed basically the same, but those with the voice are moral apt to speak — I mean, everybody has a voice, but you know where I'm going?
Leda Glyptis (14:40):
No, I know what you mean. Has it gotten better? I think in pockets, it absolutely has gotten better, and I think we have language to challenge some of this that we didn't have before.
Jim Marous (15:01):
Leda Glyptis (15:03):
So, actually, in that sense, it has definitely, definitely gotten better. I think certain behaviors that you could get away with for a very, very long time are no longer there. Is it getting better fast enough? Absolutely not. Is incremental getting better enough? And my view is no, it's not.
Leda Glyptis (15:35):
It would be wrong to say it hasn't gotten better. And in fact, I would say that if I look back in my own time in the industry, we've come a really long way. We have, we've come a really long way. We've done a lot and we've learnt a lot. And that's not the same as having done enough though. So, yes, it's gone back-
Jim Marous (15:57):
By no means enough. I mean, you're going to continue to write your articles. So, it's never going to be a done process. I think it's interesting though because in reading your book, it could have been called "People Being People" because it really, it's not just banking, but I'm wondering is the aversion to change, is the aversion to disruption more specific to banking? Or is it a human trade overall?
Jim Marous (16:31):
Stated differently: does the industry seek out people that are less likely to be rebels? Or do the more conservative workers just avoid banking? I mean, the more conservative actually seek out banking. In other words, do we pull them in or are they drawn in?
Leda Glyptis (16:50):
It's a very good question. I think it's both. I think it's a bit of both. I think we definitely have a case of self-perpetuating demographics now because like always attracts like, so people know what we're like, the types of people that want a career in banking are attracted to, the status, the predictability, the bureaucracy — but also, a certain type of person will hire people like them.
Leda Glyptis (17:16):
I think that is also true of a lot of big organizations and sort of big established industries. It's an interesting one because actually, my publisher, when I first got the manuscript together, he said exactly the same. He said, "This book isn't just for bankers, so why don't we form it in a way that we essentially make it available ..." and I don't mean physically available, but like intellectually available to non-bankers.
Leda Glyptis (17:48):
And he and I played around with it, and actually, the book is written in a way that a non-banker would totally understand it. But my objection to him (and I'd love to hear your thoughts on whether you think I'm right) is that the industry has changed a lot as we just said, but it has still made the minimum amount of effort that they thought they could get away with.
Leda Glyptis (18:08):
The reason it's changed a lot is because there was a lot of pressure from competition within, from the economy digitizing, from regulators getting on with a program. But in terms of willingness to change, that has not come. And that actually should have been my answer to your previous question.
Leda Glyptis (18:23):
So, the reason I double down on banking is that I find that because I'm a banker of 20 years standing, I can call bull shit. Am I allowed to swear?
Jim Marous (18:34):
Oh gosh, yes.
Leda Glyptis (18:36):
I can call bull shit.
Jim Marous (18:37):
I'm going to follow you up with swearing of my own — and the three options I gave, I said maybe not the way I was going to go about it but-
Leda Glyptis (18:46):
So, if I were to say this applies to all industries, somebody could come in with an example for petrochemicals or manufacturing that I could instinctively say that's not the same thing, but because I don't have the detail, they could obfuscate and get away with it.
Leda Glyptis (19:03):
The reason we doubled down on banking is because I can smash the excuses people hide behind by having the facts, having the knowledge, having the ability to say the thing you're describing isn't actually set in stone. But to your point, is it just us? Absolutely not. It could be everyone. The reason I focus on banking is exactly because I know the examples that-
Jim Marous (19:28):
Leda Glyptis (19:28):
Highlight the market. And I'm pretty sure that someone could take the book and swap out the examples from banking, from manufacturing-
Jim Marous (19:36):
And make a great book.
Leda Glyptis (19:38):
Jim Marous (19:39):
Yes. Well, it's interesting too because — and you referenced it here, banking tends to do things because they have to, as opposed to want to. They may say they want to, but the reality is, you need to look at tech firms, they do things because they want to. They want to make this change, they want to do this improvement, they want to do this innovation.
Jim Marous (19:58):
Banking tends to, again, in a very ... there are certainly differences in all banks, but as an industry, we tend to move based on requirements as opposed to desires. And part of that, I believe is profitability.
Jim Marous (20:18):
I mean, except for very few, when was the last bank that didn't make an annual profit? Well, when you're doing okay, there's no pain, and you can look at a personal level why is it so hard to put the exercise regimen in place or the eating regimen in place? Because until there's a pain, until you're given an ultimatum that something bad's going to happen — if the pull is not great enough …
Jim Marous (20:44):
It's interesting too, and you talk about the power of tribes throughout your book. I mean, it's in every single section of the book. How important is it to find a tribe? And just similarly, can big dreams even be achieved without a tribe around you?
Leda Glyptis (21:10):
I don't think so. Let me start with that. I don't think ... what's that quote? Only God and beast go it alone, and mostly not the beasts. I don't think you can do much on your own for many reasons. I think we're all smarter when we think together. We crystallize our thoughts better when we try to explain them, when we answer questions.
Leda Glyptis (21:36):
I also think what we're trying to do is hard and the industry is making it harder, and having a group of people around you who encourage you to go on is important. But I also think when you have the tribe around you, you do things for each other in a very meaningful way. And the energy and the creativity cannot be done without the tribe. But also, the optimism. We've described everything that is difficult about the industry.
Leda Glyptis (22:06):
And you're right, no bank has changed unless it had to. And why did it have to? Pressure on the margins, pressure from competition in the market, either a new entrant or someone doing something clever and having your investors or the street come down hard, regulators learning faster than banks. And also, the fact that you are in an organization that rewards knowledge, not learning.
Leda Glyptis (22:31):
And you said something like that earlier when we were not recording. But who's a senior banker? Someone who lays down the law and knows things and is an expert. So, the vulnerability of learning and trying things goes against the grain of the industry. It can be extremely lonely and isolating. So, if you don't have a tribe, I don't know that you even get started on this work.
Jim Marous (22:53):
That's excellent. And it was interesting too because when I read the book and kept on hearing more and more about tribes, I realized that in certain ways, when I became a leader or a manager, so to speak — I found people that were somewhat like me. And from the standpoint of accepting risk, being confident, being willing to do things that were not going to be at their level, well beyond their level, and not from a level of ability to do something, but in the level of the banking world.
Jim Marous (23:28):
And I found that in each one of those, those people were part of my tribe that when I had that terrible day, which happened often, they were there to go, "No, but you did this before, try this this way." Or, and it doesn't even have to be within your own organization.
Jim Marous (23:45):
Heck, we've had conversations before where we're rattling the cages going, "What do we do?" You know, it's sometimes good when you're not totally well to have others like you that you can talk to. So, it interesting. Talk about people not well.
Jim Marous (24:03):
We talk quite a bit about the frustrations we have with the banking industry, and we sometimes coin the term “bankers being bankers,” and that is never said in a complimentary way. It's always said in a, "Nope, bankers being bankers."
Jim Marous (24:17):
Now, all bankers are not created equal. But you do dedicate 50 pages of your book to the discussion around bankers behaving badly, which I thought was really nervy that you didn't dedicate the whole book to that chapter.
Jim Marous (24:34):
But you're not talking about illegal activity here. You're talking about just things that are just abnormal either as people or as bankers to be doing things. Can you give a couple examples from your book on bankers behaving badly?
Leda Glyptis (24:53):
Yeah, of course. So, you're right. My chapter on bankers behaving badly is not about illegal activity, it's not about immoral activity, although actually on some levels, it's about values and principles. It's about two sets of behaviors.
Leda Glyptis (25:06):
One is learned behavior, attitude behavior. That imperious, dismissive, curt with people, sort of that senior boss that comes down like a ton of bricks is really short with folks, gives one-word answers to complicated questions, never has time for anyone.
Leda Glyptis (25:32):
And we've all come across that person. And then the flip side of it is with possibly more sympathy saying that some of those behaviors are learned behaviors. And I do genuinely think that some people go, "I had that happen to me when I was a junior and now, is my time." And it's, it's a learned behavior and an attitude thing that is a choice.
Leda Glyptis (25:55):
But I also lay out in the book that a lot of it is a side effect of how we manage time. I call it the cult of busy. People take great pleasure in telling you they're in back-to-back meetings. They start at seven in the morning, they don't have time for lunch. And it's very hard to resist.
Leda Glyptis (26:17):
I fall into these traps very regularly of having 14 hours of half hour meetings back-to-back. You skip lunch and you haven't had any time to think. And part of the reason you do it is because everyone does it in the industry. So, you need to do what you need to do.
Leda Glyptis (26:31):
But the reality is you don't have time to think. You don't have time to digest complicated things, and you become cranky because that sustained stress is bad for your health, it's bad for your ability to concentrate, it's bad for your cognitive faculties. It makes you moody, it makes you less forgiving of a small thing.
Leda Glyptis (26:52):
I mean, an example, I don't think I even have this in the book — is that one of the most common fears you have as a junior (I'm pretty sure I don't have this in the book) is that you accidentally send an email to senior people without an attachment.
Leda Glyptis (27:05):
And we've all done it and we've all had a telling off. And the first time you do it, you don't think it's a big deal, and you follow up a few minutes later going really sorry with the attachment now. Now, maybe it doesn't happen as much, but 20 years ago, you would get a telling off like there was no tomorrow and it would make you so scared.
Leda Glyptis (27:31):
Now, why did you get a telling off? Because the people that you were sending the email to were cranky for reasons that had nothing to do with you. Because at the end of the day, it's not a big deal. It doesn't matter. You are human, but it's such a small thing. And I remember the first time I did it, I got told off so badly.
Leda Glyptis (27:50):
And it never occurred to me at the time because I was young, that the reason I'm getting told off is because my boss has zero patience. Because the way that the company manages their time is dehumanizing and adds this sort of very, very heavy burden of stress.
Leda Glyptis (28:10):
What it did to me is created this anxiety that was residual and cumulative, and it stayed with me for years of like this sort of low-level anxiety whenever you sent an email to important people.
Jim Marous (28:25):
Leda Glyptis (28:26):
And I go out of my way now that I'm an important person. If I get an email from a junior without an attachment and then a profuse apology, I make a point of going back saying "It's not a big deal. It doesn't matter."
Jim Marous (28:37):
Oh yeah. Now, mind you, I had more than a few where I replied to all or replied and had somebody else on the email that I didn't want on an email. Those are sometimes more damaging. But again, if it doesn't carry on beyond that day or beyond that minute, in many cases, what's the purpose of fighting over?
Jim Marous (28:56):
And we get nitpicky. But you're right, sometimes it's because somebody was nitpicky for that person. Overall, before we take a break, it's interesting because the entire book, I got to keep on emphasizing to those who are not familiar with Leda, that it's just a series of stories told in an extraordinarily interesting way, in the way only Leda can do.
Jim Marous (29:22):
And ChatGPT is going to take forever to try and figure out how to replicate her writing style. But the reality is, it's stories about how we can get better at what we do as bankers, and what we can do better as people.
Jim Marous (29:36):
There was more than a few places I did not put in the context of being a banker, but could put in the context of being a father and of a husband, and as of a friend, because we make the same mistakes in our regular life. So, with that in mind, let's take a short break here and hear from our sponsors.
Jim Marous (30:00):
So, welcome back. I'm joined today by Leda Glyptis, the Chief Client Officer at 10x Banking. You know, we've been discussing her new book, Bankers Like Us and the insights and lessons that can be learned from a career in banking and actually, a career in life.
Jim Marous (30:15):
So, as you know, the banking ecosystem today, what stands out as the most important trend that is changing bankers as we know them?
Leda Glyptis (30:26):
If you asked me that question five years ago even, I would've told you that the technologies now at our disposal are forcing us to revisit big questions because we were doing the best we could (or so we thought) with the tools we had. And now, we have tools that remove so many of the constraints of how we do things, both as humans and as bankers.
Leda Glyptis (30:56):
One of the examples I use in my book is how we were accepting the constraints of lending to a particular type of person because there was no way of doing it without losing a lot of money, where now there is. The unit economics can be so much lower that you can lend to a whole host of people that were excluded and still make money.
Leda Glyptis (31:18):
So, if you asked me even five years ago, I would tell you that the technology, the tooling is really giving us the opportunity. We don't always take it to rethink the big questions as bankers and as humans. Although, I still believe that is the case.
Leda Glyptis (31:36):
I would say that now, what I'm seeing the biggest change is, is there is a generational change that is extremely powerful. There is a generation that I feel is coming in after me that are digital natives, that are ... I mean we love to mock them for being touchy-feely, but they believe in values in a way that ... when you and I talked about values in our offices, we were brave and a little embarrassed, right?
Jim Marous (32:02):
Yeah. We thought it was soft stuff.
Leda Glyptis (32:05):
That's right. They're not. They come in and they want to talk about impact not to the side of the work, but they want to lead with it. I've had people ask me about 10x's carbon footprint and diversity makeup in interviews. I wouldn't have dared. I wanted to know, but I wouldn't have dared when I was their age.
Leda Glyptis (32:25):
So, I do think that this generation that has grown up with the technology that allows you to revisit big questions is bringing a values and impact-based mentality to the workplace in a really major way. Not as an initiative, but just as a way of being.
Leda Glyptis (32:44):
So, I do genuinely think that the biggest impact right now is generational because those kids are not kids anymore. They're sitting in positions of decision-making, influence, and power.
Jim Marous (32:55):
You know, it's interesting because on that same theme and you put it better — the whole thought of technology is that more and more components of what a banker used to do: the accounting division, the legal division, the compliance division, the back office operations are now more and more being taken over by technology.
Jim Marous (33:19):
Just look at ChatGPT — certainly, I looked at it and said, "Oh geez, could this replace me?" And there's got to be a wide array of bankers that think in the back of their minds, they won't say it in a meeting, "Geez, could this replace me?"
Jim Marous (33:38):
The thought of replacement for the rote things that we do, the things that we do just in doing them as opposed to things that we bring our personality to, our feelings to, our emotions to, that won't be replicated by technology, but we may be finally forced as people to double down on the soft skills that Tom Peters wrote about 25 years ago. And that now, are becoming more important because technology is actually pushing away many of the jobs that we came to banking for.
Jim Marous (34:15):
I mean, think about it. The people who went to school for accounting and finance were either going to one of the big accounting firms or to the banking industry. That was it. Well, and oh, by the way, today's technology people, the younger generation are being self-taught on YouTube for the next wave of what's coming along, and spending more time on doesn't make a difference.
Jim Marous (34:40):
So, interesting question I have, is what can bankers do to improve the industry, but also, what can the industry do to improve their bankers?
Leda Glyptis (34:53):
That's a very good question. I think there is a sort of uncomfortable truth we need to admit, which is not everyone wins here. The reality of what you described, and I must admit that the first time I played with ChatGPT, I was terrified because it was so good. We made it do an onboarding API with a friend and it was pretty good. It was vanilla, but it was pretty good.
Leda Glyptis (35:18):
And I think you're right that a lot of the work bankers do is mechanical. Like non-bankers think about bankers and they think about traders, but actually, the vast majority of bankers are school leavers, not university graduates who do pretty mechanical manual work. They don't get paid particularly well, and they don't do work that is impossible to automate: account opening, account maintenance, bond coupons.
Leda Glyptis (35:44):
Those are things that can and probably will be automated. And the reality is that the banking industry will be smaller as a result. And we need to face into that. Not everyone is a winner out of this. And there are a lot of people who are employed inside banks that are not the greedy, fat cats, and their jobs are most at risk.
Leda Glyptis (36:07):
So, to your question, what can bankers do to improve banking, is to accept that technology can do a lot of those things, but it can also do a lot of things that are not like for like, and ask the big questions. Because if as bankers, we are here to enable access to funding so that people can live and transact and get healthcare and travel the world to do basic things and big things, our job is to be that intermediary — the way we used to do things was constrained by the tools we had.
Leda Glyptis (36:47):
And as I was saying earlier, now, we're not. So, use the technology to automate and streamline the simpler stuff and then use your energy and your knowledge and your humanity to imagine how you can do better and different. How can you provide the ultimate fundamental purpose of why you're here, which is to facilitate life, commerce, and government to transact, to do whatever it is they're doing. That's all.
Leda Glyptis (37:15):
How can we do that better with the tooling we have? And that exercise and imagination can never be automated. Sure, you'll probably need smaller teams and slightly different teams, but that can't be automated.
Leda Glyptis (37:27):
The second part of the question is equally interesting — what can banking do for bankers? I think there are three things, and they need to be done simultaneously. One is we need to start valuing learning more than knowledge. We were talking about it and you were saying exactly that before we started recording.
Leda Glyptis (37:49):
We reward knowledge now and knowledge is valuable, but teachability is more important. So, the minute we start looking for teachability, rewarding for teachability, we get different behaviors, we build different habits, we get different people. That's the first thing. And that can happen immediately.
Leda Glyptis (38:06):
The second thing is that we need to stop forgiving bad behavior. We need to raise the bar. That will help sort through — if we need to have smaller teams, let's make them better teams, both in terms of delivering, and in terms of ethics.
Leda Glyptis (38:20):
The third thing we can do is look after the people who are at the sort of pointy end of this. As I was saying earlier, the vast majority of bankers are not particularly well-paid. They're not greedy Gordon Gekko types. They are people who could be working in a bookstore instead, they just have ended up in a bank, in a back office, operations room, or in a branch.
Leda Glyptis (38:46):
Those people are not benefiting from banking being how it is and they're not in control of the change. And they can very easily be forgotten in this change. We need to create programs that help them retrain. The teams will get smaller for sure. So, what are you doing in anticipation of that? How are you helping your people develop useful skills or be absorbed somewhere else in the community?
Leda Glyptis (39:10):
We are not a struggling startup who doesn't have a choice. We have visibility of a 20-year horizon where the hiring needs of a bank will shift, are we doing the decent thing for the people that will be most impacted on a personal level?
Jim Marous (39:26):
Leda Glyptis (39:27):
I don't think we are right now, but we could, and we should.
Jim Marous (39:30):
So, your book provides an enormous opportunity to do some soul-searching, look in the mirror, determining do I fall in the positive or negative side of your stories. And hopefully, there's a good mix with everybody who reads it.
Jim Marous (39:46):
When you look at your career, when you look at your past, what is the biggest legacy you would like to leave behind from your career?
Leda Glyptis (39:56):
I was a very ambitious and sort of scrappy person when I started. I don't come from much, and everything I achieved was a little bit of a "Ooh, will we get found out here?"
Jim Marous (40:11):
I used the same going, “I'm doing well until the sheriff catches up with me.” And again, nothing illegal, but the reality is we honestly ... I've been with you at events; we pinch ourselves sometimes going, "I don't know if everybody realizes I'm faking it here. This is really cool, and this is so above where I put myself," but it's kind of fun that way.
Leda Glyptis (40:37):
It is, and I think it's fair to say we've thrown ourselves at it and so have earned our place here. But there've definitely been times when it's like, I've got to keep going until someone stops me. And I think there's definitely hunger in that and there's definitely ambition. And if you asked sort of younger me what I want to be remembered for, I would tell you I want to kind of make a dent in the world. I want to build things and I want to achieve things.
Leda Glyptis (41:09):
And although if I look back, I've been part of teams that have built incredible things, actually. I can point to pieces of technology that I'm proud of. I can point to client work that I'm proud of. I look at the things we do with 10x and I'm like, "I'm part of this, this is so cool."
Leda Glyptis (41:29):
But actually, as I get older I realize that it's the teams you do the building with that is the most important thing. And if my legacy is the people that have love for me and trust me, not just my judgment, but my willingness to be there for them — like for me the biggest honor is when a team member, a former team member knows I will have their back, and I will give them honest feedback and I will always fight for them without needing to check.
Leda Glyptis (42:05):
That earned trust and affection of I'm a person of integrity and you have seen enough integrity for me to know that you can count on my trajectory being predictable and my values being true, that's the biggest, that's the absolute biggest thing.
Leda Glyptis (42:28):
And for me, the biggest gift of the tribe I've built through my writing and my outreach — because with work, with your team, these guys know you. These guys and girls are in the trenches with you every day. So, it's a personal connection.
Leda Glyptis (42:42):
What the writing has given me is because I have, as you pointed out, a pretty conversational way of writing. I've met people that I had never seen before who came up to me and was like, “I feel like I know you.”
Leda Glyptis (42:56):
And you create that bond with people much further afield. But that's the legacy. Are you creating that bond of trust? Not just "I like you, but I have seen enough consistency in your beliefs and your behaviors that I trust that you will hold firm no matter what the circumstance is, that you'll continue believing this, that you'll continue advocating this, that you will not be blown off course by circumstance."
Leda Glyptis (43:27):
That is the biggest legacy, both being known for that and having that remembered, but also, creating a community alongside other folks who feel the same way, where that is expected. And I do think that we're definitely building that now.
Jim Marous (43:43):
That right there is the best culmination of what your book is. You said it better than I ever intended that question to go, but the reality is, your book from page 1 to page 280 — you know it better than I do, how many pages? 280 something.
Jim Marous (44:01):
Every single page is a lesson learned and a recommendation given. You can take it, you can leave it. But the reality is the entire book is a gift. And I mean that very genuinely, that it continues to show that, "Geez, here's a path you may want to take that I've already seen or been a part of or done myself. And here's how you can avoid that going forward."
Jim Marous (44:28):
That is a legacy that few can speak to. But in the reality of what's going on, if you want more bankers to be better people, your book gives a path in a very, again, conversational, entertaining, short snippets. You don't have to read it all at once. It comes into compartments very easily. It is not depressing, but there's a depressing moment within each story.
Jim Marous (45:00):
It is not motivational, but there's a motivational moment in every single story, and there's a lesson to be learned. And so, Leda, so much appreciate your friendship, your guidance, and your thoughtfulness in putting this all down on paper because it is so important.
Jim Marous (45:16):
For those listening who do not know, Leda also writes every Thursday on #Ledawrites, and that's the only way you're going to get the next chapters of the book that haven't been written yet. She keeps going. And again, thank you so much for being on this show and sharing your insights, your passion, and I'm very honored to be a part of your tribe.
Leda Glyptis (45:44):
Thank you. Thank you for your friendship, and thank you for having me.
Jim Marous (45:48):
Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed, the winner of three international awards for podcast excellence. If you enjoy what we're doing, please take some time to give a review on your favorite podcast platform. It helps continue to get great guests like today.
Jim Marous (46:01):
Finally, be sure to catch my recent articles on The Financial Brand, and check out the research we're doing on the Digital Banking Report.
Jim Marous (46:08):
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our senior producer, Leah Longbrake audio engineer, Sean Rule-Hoffman, and video producer Will Pritts. I'm your host, Jim Marous.
Jim Marous (46:21):
Until next time, remember, "lead" is a very powerful word. We are all part of this service industry. If we are not of service, we are in the way.
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