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.
Enhancing Customer Experiences Through Collaboration
From virtual and embedded experiences to digital payments and the power of AI, digital banking experiences can be enhanced at every touchpoint. With so much disruption – and opportunity – facing banks, credit unions and fintech firms, the industry must be more agile than ever to turn these changes to their advantage.
But capitalizing on disruption and unleashing new growth potential requires more than just new technology. It requires strong leadership, laser focus, a willingness to collaborate with third-party solution providers and a commitment to customer centricity.
We have DeAndre Jones, EVP, Chief Client Officer & Head of Client Experience at FIS on the Banking Transformed podcast. We dive into the ways in which technology and digital solutions are revolutionizing the banking sector, ultimately creating better experiences for customers.
This Episode of Banking Transformed is sponsored by FIS
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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.
(00:22) From virtual and embedded experiences to digital payments and the power of AI, digital banking experiences can be enhanced at every touch point. With so much disruption and opportunity facing banks, credit unions, and fintech firms, the industry must become more agile than ever to turn these changes to their advantage.
(00:42) But capitalizing on disruption and unleashing new growth potential requires more than just new technology. It requires strong leadership, a laser focus, and a willingness to collaborate with third party providers with a commitment to customer centricity.
(01:00) We have DeAndre Jones, EVP, chief client officer, and head of client experience at FIS on the Banking Transformed podcast today. We dive into the ways in which technology and digital solutions are revolutionizing the banking sector, ultimately creating better experiences for customers.
(01:20) Digital banking transformation must reimagine the banking experience, placing customers at the center and delivering convenience, personalization, security, and back office efficiency that can enrich customer interactions across the entire journey.
(01:36) DeAndre, welcome to the show. Before we start, could you spend a little time giving our listeners a quick overview of your extensive financial background, but more importantly what your role at FIS is today?
Absolutely, and thanks for having me, Jim. I've been very fortunate to work across the entire client journey in my career. In the 20 years or so I've been in banking and payments, I've worked everywhere from product development to sales, all the way through onboarding and managing relationships, so I've seen the client from every angle.
(02:10) Today, in my role at FIS as the Chief Client Officer and head of Client Experience, I lead in an organization that's responsible for the end-to-end client journey, so across the complex suite of solutions. We're charged with working with all of our clients in the banking solutions segment and really meeting those needs end-to-end.
It's interesting because FIS is really partnering with your finance institutions to help them in their digital banking transformation journey, which is a huge thing that never gets done, as they say. You know what's interesting is it's the major focus, digital banking transformation is certainly the major focus for almost every financial institution today. How would you define digital banking transformation and why do you see it as being crucial to the retail banking industry today?
I think consumer experiences are dynamic today. And when we think about the world of social media and just expectations that are set out there right now with consumers, they want speed, they want options. They want versatility out there from whoever they're working with. Whether you a small bank with five employees, or you the mega bank. They want those options that are out there and a way to serve and scale, no matter the size of the institution, is that you need digital to get there.
You know what's interesting is there's a lot of challenges institutions face in implementing digital banking solutions. As I said at the beginning of the podcast, this can only be done through really good collaboration with partners, and obviously FIS covers a range of services as they work with their financial institutions to overcome these challenges. How does FIS really focus on helping financial institutions meet their goals along the digital transformation journey? And how do you as an implementer of trying to build better relationships really work with your teams to try to say, "Let's be there for those financial institutions?"
It's a great question. I truly do believe that in order to be able to meet the needs of this dynamic environment that we're in right now, then you have to be able to co-create across the board. You have to be able to create these ecosystems that allow you to extract ideas and marry perspectives with third party integrators. You have to be able to extract the ideas and marry perspectives with your clients, and recognize that again, many situations are unique. However, you still can drive massive scale. Digital helps us get there, but we have to understand where institutions are, where they're trying to get to. And the only way to do that is to have very thoughtful conversations, truly understand what those needs are and really have a path and plan to help get there.
(05:07) We've moved into this place where we're sort of launching our client success model, and the key to that client success model is being able to sit down and having those conversations that are necessary to help draw that path in a co-created way, to how to take an institution from where it is today to where it hopefully wants to be and quite frankly need to be.
That's a great point, and your role within FIS is really the bridge between FIS and the client, to try to help them meet their goals, and that's what a good partner does. But right now, banks are facing economic headwinds, dwindling trust in many cases, and a lot of challenges from disruptors, neobanks, fintechs, things of this nature, while also in some cases partnering with those same organizations.
(05:57) As I meet with bankers, one of the things that comes out in every conversation is when I ask them, "What is your biggest challenge today?" Invariably they say, "We just don't have enough time."
(06:09) In addition, as you are well aware, because it hits both the financial institutions and analysis solution providers, is there's more than enough to do.
(06:19) As you work with financial institutions, and you work with so many of them, what should financial institutions right now be focused on? Because without focus, nothing really gets done and sometimes you end up with so many priorities, it's hard to know, "Where do I start?" What do you believe financial institutions have to focus on today to start the process and to enable a strong digital transformation process that leads to better customer experiences?
One is, and it's become quite cliche over the last couple years, but you cannot get away from innovation. We need ideas, you need experiences. Again, why I like to sort of combine innovation and diversity. I don't think without diversity of thought, you can get to the innovation that you really need to. But in order to be able to move at the speed and pace that we need to, not distracting or being deviated from what's most important to your customer base, you have to have a rapid innovation. And then, you have to be able to prioritize that innovation.
(07:22) If you're extracting those ideas from your clients, you're extracting those ideas from your internal colleagues, you have to be able to prioritize and then invest rapidly into those areas that you have prioritized, to get moving with the speed that's necessary to compete in today's environment.
When it comes to enhancing customer experiences, going through the digital transformation process, most companies think about technology, but that's not the only component of a good, strong transformation process, or in building a better customer experience. Can you discuss what you believe is needed to transform an organization? But more importantly, what are some of the challenges that you see there in organizations where they maybe, I don't want to say just don't get it, but where they're trying to do something but not necessarily getting the return on their investment?
Yeah, it's another great question. Leadership is key. And in order to really drive the transformation, inspire the people to follow and really excite the client base as well, having the right leaders in place and the model that the team is going to follow is really, really important.
(08:35) If you think about how to maximize that growth, you got to deliver those disruptions and stay laser-focused on the mission. Mission-critical organizations tend to thrive in these environments, which makes a lot of sense. If leadership is a true component to driving this thing forward, those leaders with the really strong missions and sort of that blueprint to make it happen really make great progress.
(08:59) Then obviously global expansion is critical right now. How do you continue to scale your products and services, be mindful of the markets that you want to hit. Those things that are happening in technology and capabilities, and quite frankly the people to be able to make it all happen is really, really important.
DeAndre, it's very interesting, and as we talk to a lot of financial institutions, we start to get some responses that seem consistent over time, and you referenced it. When you're talking about change, which is what digital transformation is, and it really gets down to leadership, and not just leadership, but preparing your people to also implement against that.
(09:42) When we work with financial institutions in surveys that we do and as with you working with organizations, how do you see organizations trying to make it so that they make their employees comfortable? I mean, you've seen it in your organization as well. We have changed very quickly in the banking industry and moved more and more towards digital solutions. Maybe I'll just ask this about your organization. How do you help employees feel like they're going to be part of the future, as opposed to being displaced by digital solutions?
So the first piece on how I'm seeing finance institutions change, one, you're seeing the role of the CIO is a really critical role, and it has evolved and it continues to evolve. So being able to have the right CIO in seat, to ensure that they're well-equipped, to ensure that they have the resources and the talent that they need to really drive that transformation is absolutely important. I'm meeting with CIOs on a daily basis regarding what they're looking to do and how they're trying to drive transformations, and a lot of it is, "How do I influence within the organization to get everyone excited around this big thing that we're trying to do?"
(11:00) Specifically to FIS, what we've been able to do, back to that sort of state of innovation, is in order to drive true innovation, you need to be able to count on your teams. So I'll combine sort of the co-creation and the innovation piece and sort of doing it together, and the more we collaborate internally and we have summits and a variety of big ways to better extract those ideas from the team and get them excited around the follow-up of it, we're able to drive rapid change without leaving anyone behind. And that's really, really important to sustain disruption and getting better.
There's so many moving parts. We can go on forever in talking about one element or another element, but one key element of developing a great customer experience and actually transforming your organization is around personalization. And yet, few institutions, while we talk a really good game about what we know we need to do, few organizations really deliver really good personalized solutions. From your working with financial institutions and what you're trying to do at FIS, what stands in the way of delivering to customer expectations on what they believe they should get from a personalization perspective?
Everyone in this world think they're very unique, "My institution is the most unique you'll ever work with. My institution caters to this type of client," and I don't doubt the values, missions. Those things are true and core to the institution. Those things are what makes the financial institution unique, the way that their people show up and present to their clients.
(12:49) The digital capabilities, those people, that mission, that purpose is what brings those things to life in front of the client on a daily basis. The way that they utilize them, the way that they sit down and serve a client, those things are make institutions unique.
(13:09) And that in order to drive the transformation that's necessary internal to the organizations, I like to say, to look at that mission, that purpose, and figure out how you're going to disrupt utilizing those things.
We often talk about collaboration between banks and solution providers and how critical it is as far as really getting to the point of successful digital transformation. This is your role and you talked before we started the podcast on what you're trying to do within FIS to make this more seamless, because as I mentioned, I'll speak at corporate events and somewhere in the conversation it gets to, "Geez, I wish my solution provider knew I existed, or was thinking on my behalf." Could you elaborate a little bit on what third party solution providers need to bring to the table to drive innovation and success in conjunction with the clients that they serve, which is the banking credit unions?
Going back to the uniqueness and the mission, wanting to be mindful of what that mission is. You talk to a credit union, where they want to know every single customer that they have, where they're bumping to them into the streets. There's a personalized level of experience that's really important. You talk to our largest financial institutions, they want scale. Their clients expect the fast capabilities, things moving quickly. They need that scale there. So being mindful of the various treatment strategies that you need to deploy as a third party provider to your clients is really, really critical, and then knowing their client base.
(14:55) I talk to the team a lot around just empathy and having a level of empathy that's necessary to really help our financial institution drive transformation is by understanding their client base or their customer base just as well as we understand ours.
That's an interesting point, because really, what you're trying to provide is not a whole lot different than what the financial institutions are trying to provide their customers. It is interesting.
(15:23) When I was in banking, which is a long time ago, a lot of my primary solution providers that I used, a lot of times, it was hard for me to know who I should talk to. There were multiple people I'd contact for different solutions. But that's even a bigger problem today.
(15:40) I mean, one of the benefits of a company like FIS is you provide just a vast array of services across the entire spectrum of what we would consider to be the customer journey. How are you working to make it so it's easier for your clients to work with your company to build a better solution for their actual end consumers?
That's right. It has to start with the client. And truly understanding what... Again, back to purpose, mission, client base, product set. Our organization is laser-focused on ensuring we understand every single client that we have. And if we're going to be there to be able to meet them... We're talking about technology that's helping them transform their client experience. That is a big responsibility. And understanding that responsibility puts us in position to where we owe it to our clients to understand what their true needs are. So having those very thoughtful conversations both at scale but also in a very thoughtful way, to understand what's most important to them, where they're trying to get to, and what are those industry disruptors are really important.
(16:56) The other unique thing that we bring to the table is that because of the large set of products that we have, the fintech assets that we have, the thousands of clients that we have, we have a set of unique insights to help our clients in a way that we can be that strategic advisor to them, to help them forecast things to come, but also avoid some of the mistakes that others have made, to be able to move at the pace that they're needing to move.
That's a great point, DeAndre. And I think it was about three or four podcasts ago, it became a realization that sometimes the fault, if there's a fault to be had, lies with the financial institution itself. If we don't ask as bankers what you can provide us from a level of insights, we may not get it.
(17:44) I mean, you work with, as you mentioned, thousands of financial institutions. That gives you a lot of insights, that it's sometimes overwhelming from your employees' perspective, to know what to provide their clients, the banks and credit unions. Sometimes the banks and credit unions got to say, "I have this problem. Can you give me some solutions that have worked elsewhere and can you tell me why they worked?" And sometimes, it's the question we ask as opposed to just waiting for it to fall in our lap.
(18:13) Another thing I've seen recently, and I've been at a number of very big conferences lately. I was just in Amsterdam at Money20/20. And I was astounded by the amazing solutions that are provided by solution providers. There are just amazing things that are being put on the table and amazing tools that are being given to banks and credit unions. That said, when I dig deeper, I find that a lot of these organizations are really good at selling the solution, but many fall short in actually helping the financial institution bring these solutions to market. In other words, taking it from being a cost to actually being a revenue generator.
(18:53) In your experience, what are some best practices for establishing a successful partnership between the bank and a company like yours, a solution provider, and actually helping them in that, what we'll call the final mile?
In the partnership, if you see yourself as a true partnership, and we like to tell our clients and our colleagues, "We're not just a vendor. We have to be a trusted partner, especially given the responsibility that we have," and if you see yourself as that weight, then that means that you need to be able to say, "Hey, this may not be the best fit for you," at times, depending on the solution. And you also need to be able to say, "This is a solution that can take you to another level."
(19:38) And being able to have that candid and transparent conversation builds trust between you and the client, to where when you get to that last mile, and throughout the entire client journey, that you're able to say, "Hey, here's how we now need to maximize this to get it to market as quickly as possible. We've chosen collectively and co-created a solution to help you not only implement, but then also to ensure that you drive the transformation within your own company. That your client base responds to it, that we have the communications ready. We have all these things packaged and ready to go." Which is what a true partner who has insights should be able to do and help you get around.
It's interesting, one of the things most finance institutions look to their primary solution providers to do is to have a view of the future, to have an insight into what are the emerging technologies or trends that are going to take hold in the next six months, nine months, 12 months. And geez, I used to say one to three years, or three to five years. Well, that no longer is very valid, because it's almost impossible to determine what's going to pop up.
(20:47) But what are you excited about as you look down the road, as being technology in transit, you think it's going to have a significant impact on the future of digital banking and customer experiences?
Our ability now to listen to clients and take in rapid feedback, just to be able to get it and be able to make those changes through digital experiences quickly, whether it be through AI or APIs or just a variety of ways, now to be able to take feedback, then action it quickly is going to continue to move at a pace that's at times going to feel like it's very difficult to keep up with. But what's going to happen is that we're going to see the talent continue to adapt to it. We're going to see our systems and processes begin to adapt to it even faster.
(21:40) I envision an environment where clients can openly come into our environments and co-create with us at various times. I envision an environment where CIOs can come into our environments and really lay out and build what the future looks like. And the more we sort of co-create and do these things and build this collaborative environment, and through these communities of aspiration, I would call them, is that we're going to be able to move at the pace in which the consumers now expect us to move at, which is going to be a pretty cool thing to see.
So what do you think about ChatGPT and just the expansion of AI for regenerative AI? What's your thoughts on how that's going to impact banking, but also what your company's role is as you work with financial institutions that are obviously not going to be able to staff up to keep on top of this technology?
I think it's also an amazing opportunity to embrace the technology, to continue to realize the scale that's needed. If we're going to take in those fast ideas, be able to take in feedback, social media channels, there's just so many things that we're not getting, and I think it's only going to push many of us to embrace the client centricity that we should have been embracing all along. And then, just create these environments to where we collaborate.
(23:05) When I saw my 26-year-old nephew walk around my home for an entire week and basically plan out his life with ChatGPT, that there, I saw as a consumer experience, and that lens as this phenomenal technology is going to make us move faster, more nimble. And really, if those who can embrace it the same way my 26-year-old nephew embraced the technology, we're going to be able make some really special things happen.
Okay, so as our final question, I'm going to have you put on the hat of a financial institution, so actually putting you on the other side of the desk, so to speak. What advice would you give to financial institutions that right now may feel like they're either stalled or not meeting expectations as far as the digital transformation journey or in meeting customer expectations? What would you advise them to do?
Continue to listen to clients, continue to create those environments where they can co-create with those clients, where they can invite them in early. Many times, we fall in love with our ideas and then we want everyone else to fall in love with them the same way. But how do I build this environment from scratch to where we can do it together, we can fail fast, and really begin to adopt quickly? I find that customers tend to adopt the technology, the changes a lot faster when they're part of the process. And the sooner we bring them in and create this collaborative environment, then the faster we'll be able to drive the transformation, which is they want to see.
It's interesting, your overarching theme, both from the standpoint of how FIS is working with the financial institutions, but your advice as far as financial institutions working with the end consumer is a co-collaboration, the co-innovation, the working together to build better solutions. And actually, in many ways, acting like a startup. I mean, acting like that small business, even though in some cases these are very big organizations, is actually saying get your feet on the ground, find out what the customer wants, and build together.
(25:12) DeAndre, I really appreciate having you on the podcast today and I'm looking forward to seeing the journey that your organization, but also you as a person have in the near future. There's so much going on, we have no lack of things to do.