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.

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KeyBank: Leveraging Targeted Scale for Differentiation and Growth

Situated on the asset spectrum between large national banks and community financial institutions, regional banks face the challenge of scale to make the technology investments needed to modernize legacy operations. To meet changing customer expectations, regional banks need to develop innovative ideas and approaches to reduce expenses, create new products and services, serve unique market segments and leverage technology for future growth.

One organization that has emerged as a regional banking success story is KeyBank. Headquartered in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, KeyBank is a top 20 bank serving 15 states with over 1000 branches and 1500 ATMs.

We are very fortunate to have Chris Gorman, Chairman and CEO of KeyBank on the Banking Transformed podcast. Chris discusses how KeyBank has leveraged technology, ecosystem partnerships, and innovative solutions to help drive KeyBank into the future.

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Jim Marous:
Hello and welcome to Banking Transformed. I'm your host, Jim Marous, owner and CEO of The Digital Banking Report and co-publisher of The Financial Brand. Situated on the asset spectrum between large national banks and community finance institutions, regional banks face the challenge of scale to make technology investments needed to modernize legacy operations. To meet changing customer expectations, regional banks needed to develop innovative ideas and approaches to reduce expenses, create new products and services, serve unique segments, and leverage technology for future growth.

Jim Marous:
One organization that has emerged as a regional banking success story is KeyBank. Headquartered in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, KeyBank is a top 20 bank serving 15 states with over 1000 branches and 1500 ATMs. We are very fortunate to have Chris Gorman, chairman and CEO of KeyBank on the show. Chris discusses how KeyBank has leveraged technology ecosystem partnerships, innovative solutions, and a very, very target focus to help drive KeyBank growth into the future.

Jim Marous:
Welcome to the show, Chris. I am so happy to have you on the show today. Not only because you lead one of the great digital transformation, success stories in banking, but because I'm a legacy Cleveland banker from the '70s who remembers many of the stages of growth of KeyBank through the years. Chris, as a two-decade veteran of KeyBank, you were named to Beth Mooney, who was the first female CEO of a top 20 US bank in 2019. In a 2019 interview, when it was announced that you would be replacing Mooney in the May of the next year, you stated that you believe that banking industry would see massive change and massive disruption fueled by the digitization of everything. Did you ever imagine that the amount of change that would take place only a few months later because of the pandemic?

Chris Gorman:
Well, first of all, Jim, thank you so much for having me this morning. It's nice to have a chance to catch up with you and chat. I don't think any of us would've anticipated not only the pandemic, but the changes that were driven as results of it. I always say to the team, "I think, obviously, we were on a path to go from a physical to a digital business, and we were well on our path, but I think in five months we advanced probably five years." The reason for that is we're fortunate we have three million customers, so we have a lot of great customers and they have great relationships with people in our branches, but what really changed over that period of time is there's people that had never tried digital before that tried it, and once people try it, they don't go back. I mean, it's so frictionless, it's so easy. We have a bunch of customers that just never really had a need to really try digital, and they did, and boy, it really accelerated. It's pretty phenomenal.

Jim Marous:
As we know, the digital transformation process really isn't something that has an end, it continues to go. How is the overall digital transformation process going at KeyBank? When you look at other financial institutions and you had an investor day yesterday, how do you position yourselves as a mid-regional financial institution in that whole maturity process of digital banking transformation?

Chris Gorman:
Sure. Let me start at the top. Our strategy is what we call "targeted scale," Jim. We're not trying to be everything to everyone, but to those client sets that we are focused on, we're trying to be really important to, and that means whether it's a consumer customer, or a commercial customer, we need to be digitally out in front.

Chris Gorman:
We've been on a digital journey for time, but let me talk about the different things we're doing. First, I'll start with consumer because consumer's what everyone thinks about. Not only have we been completely years ago when we did an acquisition of First Niagara, we redid the front end of all of our digital offerings, but we're to a point now where we have end-to-end digital processing for 90% of our products. A lot of people talk about being digital, but they're really not. If you can open a checking account, which in our case, you can in three seconds, that means you have straight-through processing, and you are truly digital end-to-end. That's on the consumer side.

Chris Gorman:
The other thing we did that has been great for us is we've bought a lot of fintech companies. Specifically, we bought a company called Laurel Road in the second quarter of 2019. Laurel Road, when we bought them, they had 32 full stack engineers in San Diego. Today, that number's above 50, 5-0. Not only have they done a great job at Laurel Road, and I'm going to come back to Laurel Road, because it's really unique from a digital perspective in a moment, but not only have they advanced the Laurel Road strategic map, they've advanced all of Key. I'm still on consumer, but we are a digitally progressive company as it comes to the consumer.

Chris Gorman:
Specifically on Laurel Road, what you might find interesting is we bought Laurel Road, they're a student loan refinance business focused on doctors and dentists currently. We're going to expand that to nurses in a moment. But what we were able to do is buy that business in the second quarter of 2019. Then in the first quarter of last year, 2021, turn it into a complete digital affinity bank. What I mean by that is fintechs, we've partnered up with fintechs for more than the last decade, we have tremendous respect for what they do, but typically, they're really good at doing one thing. What we're doing is we're building digital relationships with, in a current case, doctors and dentists globally. 80% of our doctors and dentists are outside of our 15-state footprint, for example. A doctor or dentist doesn't want to be going into a branch because while if they're in a branch, by definition, they're not practicing their trade, right? It's a hands-on job. That's on the consumer side.

Chris Gorman:
On the commercial side, I always say you can't be a great digital bank unless you have great analytics. We went out last year and bought a business called AQN. AQN was a group of leading consumer analytics folks. They had actually done all the algorithms at Cap One and then they had built this consulting business. We bought them and put them in charge, basically, of our analytics, which is critical. You think about the amount of information that banks have running through our veins every day, it's phenomenal, but the challenge for banks is to find the signal and the noise. AQN helps us. That's some of the things we're doing what I would say on the front end of consumer. Then there's the middle and back office. One of our four strategic pillars is to digitize the enterprise. It's great to have great front end, but you have to have a smooth middle and back office, otherwise, it's a bunch of clunky procedures with a fancy front end. That's not digital. We've made huge progress there, which brings me to commercial.

Chris Gorman:
Commercial's where we're focused a lot right now. We bought another FinTech company just last year called Xup, spelled, I'm sorry, X-U-P, but pronounced "Zup." You'll know this from your banking days. Typically, when you buy a bunch of products, think about products and what you would've referred to as "treasury management," we refer to now as "enterprise commercial payments," but as you buy these products, it's kind of like going to McDonald's and standing in one line for a milkshake and then going to the next line and getting fries and going to the next line and getting a Big Mac. What this does is we can onboard new clients concurrently with a bunch of different products.

Chris Gorman:
That gives you the lay of the land of what we're doing digital. I see Key as a digitally progressive bank, not just a regional bank, a digital progressive bank. One of the reasons we're so able to do that is because we're focused on just certain industry sectors. A $180 billion bank's a big bank, but you don't want to try to be everything to everyone. You got to be really focused. When you get focused, then you can be really relevant, whether it's the doctors and dentists, et cetera.

Jim Marous:
One thing you said at the beginning of that answer was, did you say that you actually are able to open up a digital checking account in three seconds?

Chris Gorman:
We can. We can.

Jim Marous:
What have you done in the back office to rethink all the steps we used to do in the new account opening process? I mean, what you're talking about is an opening process that is similar to what Apple does with their Apple card. We're seeing that in many institutions, and you reference it, while they say they're opening an account digitally, the process takes 15 minutes. It is just digitizing what was bad in the past, putting it into digital format. What have you done differently in the back office to enable that?

Chris Gorman:
Well, we started from scratch, and instead of trying to cobble it all together, we built it on a very flexible platform that enables us to iterate very, very quickly. We basically built a new chassis from the beginning as opposed to take a variety of different things and cobble them together, Jim.

Jim Marous:
You also mentioned the targeted scale.

Chris Gorman:
Yes.

Jim Marous:
How long has that been in place at KeyBank to really say, "We can do everything and it's better to be the best at the things you do," especially when I think you're in, I'm sorry, you're in 15, I think, markets nationwide, but you're also digitally in every marketplace, so how do you manage the balance of that?

Chris Gorman:
It is the secret, right, to figure out in any business who you want to be relevant to, where you win, how you win, why you win, and it goes all the way back to when we launched our integrated corporate and investment bank, which I was very proud to have been a part of, now almost 20 years ago. What we said is if we're going to make the pivot and we're going to be focused on certain industry sectors by definition, what we don't do is more important than what we do do because we follow like 700 companies from a research perspective in these seven industry verticals.

Chris Gorman:
Let me give you a couple examples that I shared with people yesterday that'll bring this to light for you two big mega-trends out there that we're very well-positioned for that we've been focused on. The first is healthcare. Healthcare is obviously 18% of the GDP going to 20% of the GDP. We are a leading healthcare bank. In healthcare, for example, we years ago bought a boutique called Cain Brothers. Cain Brothers is the leading boutique for advising large healthcare organizations. You're in Cleveland. If you think about the large hospitals there, there's only a couple, and you can assume that Cain Brothers, for example, talks strategically to all the big ones because everyone's trying to figure out strategically how to position themselves.

Chris Gorman:
Then, of course, we're in a position to provide capital, so if that's the discussion you have with the CEO, the discussion you can have with the CFO is, "Here's how we raise capital. Here's how we can help you with your payments. Here's how you can predictively know what you're going to be reimbursed by which insurance carrier and when."

Chris Gorman:
Then, obviously, the big challenges for these healthcare entities is there is a shortage of doctors and a shortage of nurses, so calling on the chief human resources officer, we can very financially advantageously refinance the doctors' student loans, help the doctors buy houses, help the doctors manage the money. Same for the nurses, by the way, just the scale is a little different in terms of the amount of debt that they have, but their needs are exactly the same.

Chris Gorman:
Then as you know, from visiting people in the hospital, there are many, many employees that it takes to run a hospital, and for all of those employees, we say, "Okay, if as long as we have the depository account," in other words, the paycheck goes in the primary operating account, then Jim, what we do is we provide all those, all those individuals, free financial planning. We call it "financial wellness." People worry more about their financial health, frankly, than they do about their physical health. That just gives you an idea. I use that just as an example, healthcare.

Chris Gorman:
Another area where we talk about target scale is technology. We've been ahead of technology for a long time. We built a technology business. Then we bought and integrated a boutique that happened to be headquartered in Portland, Oregon that was the leader in SaaS, software as a service, which was the beginning of another mega-trend. Not only is technology important, but think about every middle-market company that we deal with. Whatever business they're in, they're part a technology company, just the conversation you and I are having about banking this morning. Those would be kind of two areas that are huge parts of the economy that we're focused on.

Chris Gorman:
Then we're also focused on some great niche plays. Let me describe a couple of them. We're the number two financier of renewable energy in the country. We've been at it since 2007. We've financed over $50, 5-0, billion worth of project since 2007. We were in the financing of renewable energy before people had heard of ESG. As a consequence, we're the number two provider in all of North America.

Chris Gorman:
Then lastly, another niche that we're in, but it's a very important niche, is this notion of affordable housing. Affordable housing, there's a real shortage. In all the communities in which we operate, there's only one-third the number of front doors to match the need, so there's a seven million unit, I beg your pardon, need out there, and there's only 120,000 units that come online every year. We're the number three player in affordable housing.

Chris Gorman:
I just share those with you to bring this notion of targeted scale to life, but it enables us not only to really, I always say, "Focus propels growth," it enables not only us to grow our business, but it frankly also enables us to use our tech dollars, and when we digitize the organization, to do it in a focused way, instead of trying to just digitize. If we're trying to serve everyone, if everything's important, basically nothing's important, we feel strongly.

Jim Marous:
Since you have some legacy digital banking capabilities and you're trying to hit the nationwide network, I would imagine this targeted scale really helps from the standpoint of not only your 15 banking regions that you have a physical footprint, but really helps you expand nationwide on a digital base, because almost every one of these players are digital organizations to begin with, or digital target areas, anyway, aren't they?

Chris Gorman:
For sure. If you think about our integrated corporate and investment bank, we have offices in certain places. I happen to be speaking to you this morning from our New York office, for example, but we have offices everywhere, but we go wherever our clients are. We're not constrained by geography. I mean, if we are experts in SaaS, if we're experts in affordable housing, we need to go wherever that is. Additionally, I think as I mentioned, Laurel Road, again, focused on doctors and dentists, and in the next 60 days, to be focused on nurses as well, those will all be national businesses because we're focused. That's a national digital affinity bank, so you're right, the nice thing about digital is it actually, it removes the constraints of geography.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting because your organization, a lot of banks did not really grow that much as far as new customer base and grow within their customer base on organic growth. You did so. Your 2021 results speak to that. Is this really helping you grow at a time when many organizations are not growing? I mean, I just read an article on Forbes that was done by Ron Shevlin, one of my friends, who said that the major banks really aren't getting anywhere near the share of new account that they had in the past, and in fact, a lot of the digital consumers are opening more accounts with the fintech firms and the PayPals and the Squares in the world than ever before. Is this helping position KeyBank in a marketplace that really is getting much more aggressive from a competitive standpoint?

Chris Gorman:
Exactly. I mean, if you think about from a demographic, and I think this is really a telling statistic, because right now, a full 25% of our new customers are under 30. I think that really speaks to the combination of digital and physical because people that are under 30 are digital natives and they know what they want and they know what good technology is.

Chris Gorman:
The other thing, of course, that helps us grow is this notion of being targeted and going after, for example, Laurel Road has 48,000 doctor and dentist households. Put it in perspective, KeyBank has been around for 200 years, and we're in areas where, frankly, there's a lot of medicine, and I think we've now eclipsed the number of doctor and dentist households that we've garnered with Laurel Road since we bought them to how many doctor and dentist households we've acquired in our 200-year history.

Jim Marous:
Wow.

Chris Gorman:
There's no question that digital helps you grow. The other thing that helps us grow, by the way, is we are in some really fast-growing markets. Separate and part from digital, if you think about the markets that Key is in, namely places like Denver and Salt Lake and Boise and Seattle and Portland, we are the beneficiaries of a lot of in-migration, so separate and apart from digital, which is keenly important, also in banking, it's nice to have net in-migration.

Jim Marous:
With this targeted focus, a lot of organizations talk about building better experiences. Our research for The Digital Banking Report found that only 25% of organizations globally consider them adept at the most basic applications of insights for driving a better customer experience. A lot of the experience now is built around engagement. We're focusing on the fact that getting a good checkmark that people are satisfied is not as important as making sure you're engaged. What has KeyBank done to improve both the personalization, but more importantly, the engagement value of what your digital banking growth has been?

Chris Gorman:
It's this notion of having a true relationship, a national digital affinity bank. Let me compare and contrast it. If you went to bankrate.com, you would see how most digital banks compete. You'd see stacked up from top to bottom what banks are paying for deposits. There's nothing wrong with using a digital bank to gather deposits, but what we've built is something completely different.

Chris Gorman:
Conversely, if you look at the fintech world, fintechs do a fantastic job, and this is why we partner with them, usually of solving one pain point. If you think about the really good fintechs, they are exceptional at one thing. Now, I think over time, some of the best fintechs will, in fact, be able to morph into having complete relationships, but you asked about engagement. The way you get engagement is, if you're focused on doctors and dentists, to be pushing out real information that matters to them and having a connectivity with them.

Chris Gorman:
I'll give you an example. If you're financing your student loan with Laurel Road, the doctor path is very clear cut. Basically, you go to medical school, you do your residency, you do a fellowship, and then you become an attending physician somewhere. That is really when you start to be paid as the doctor that you are. You can imagine, we have perfect information. If you're an orthopedist in Tampa, we know what the market is. In an anonymous way, people can access information like that. Engagement is about having information that people really care about, or having some affiliation with something that they're proud of. That's a big basic tenant. We interview 1,000 doctors regularly to make sure that the content that we're pushing out in Laurel Road is something they find both relevant and important.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting because this all takes data, analytics, and technology.

Chris Gorman:
For sure.

Jim Marous:
For many organizations, it's become somewhat prohibitive from a cost center perspective, but also when you look at the partnerships that are available, it also is less expensive than it used to be, so you're in a real interesting spot. It's a mid regional where you can't be putting money down the way the big guys do, but on the other hand, as you've mentioned, you can build partnerships that allow you to do that. How has KeyBank kept pace for the marketplace and the development of new products, leaner and more nimble operations, and even better experiences?

Chris Gorman:
It starts with targeted scale, Jim. We're not spreading it over everything, we're trying to figure out where we can be relevant. We spend about $800 million a year in tech and ops and 200 million or so of that is front-end-type stuff. We've done a lot of the heavy lifting around core systems, so we have a lot of money that we can spend.

Chris Gorman:
Then in addition to that, obviously, we buy these other companies that wouldn't be included in those numbers, where we get technology, we get people, we get capabilities. It isn't that we are wanting to spend more dollars. It all starts with the client of, where do we want to spend money that we can be more relevant, which goes right to your questions.

Chris Gorman:
The other thing that sometimes is lost is with many, many apps, software as a service, going to the cloud, and many apps, you sort of pay by the usage, being big isn't that much of an advantage because you're for each interaction, you're paying the same amount, anyway, so it's not it's a huge savings to be 20 times as big if you're using the same app, for example.

Jim Marous:
Not everything always goes well in the digital transformation journey. What challenge have you faced in the journey with being a legacy financial institution and having some slow markets, but also in your whole process of digital transformation, how important is leadership and culture in addressing challenges, and what challenges have you faced?

Chris Gorman:
Let me just step back. The biggest challenge we and the whole financial services faced is we got competition from every direction. You have large banks who, as you mentioned, have significant budget, you have fintechs, as I said, are good at certain things, but let's face it, they focus on the certain things that matter to certain groups of people. Then you have smaller banks that are consolidating and getting bigger. The biggest challenge we face all the time is, how do we make sure that we're out in front of our targeted customers and that we're really relevant and differentiated? That is the number one strategic issue. We spend a lot of time thinking about, "Who do we want to focus on?" Once we know who we want to focus on, what can we do to be really relevant to that group?

Chris Gorman:
The next challenge that I've been frustrated with, and it's true of Key and banking in general, and I mentioned it earlier, is you can't be a great digital bank without great analytics. Banks have tremendous amounts of data running through them. We have $5 trillion worth of transactions that run through Key on an annual basis. What we need to be able to do, Jim, is find that which is actionable. So we can be out ahead helping our clients. I mentioned the acquisition of AQN. We've spent a lot of money organizing our data because it's very important to me that, excuse me, we can proactively be out talking to you about how we can help you. Those are a couple areas.

Chris Gorman:
The other is just in every business, I think the number one thing that we all have to fight is complacency. We obviously had a record year in 2021, very, very proud of the year we had, but what worked in 2021 won't work in 2022, and what works in 2022 won't work in 2023. We always have to be looking ahead 18 or 24 months. You can never get complacent for all the reasons I shared.

Jim Marous:
Well, it is building that challenger mindset that says, "We can't ever rest on our laurels because they're gone the next month, not even the next year anymore." We found that a lot of organizations globally, again, ranked themselves surprising on innovation maturity. Now, you've mentioned a lot of the acquisitions you've done, some of the partnerships you've done, some of the new ideas you brought to the marketplace, but how do you address the need to innovate faster than ever? Do you look more at a buy, a build, or a partnership scenario, or is it just looking at every individual aspect of what you're trying to achieve, and figuring out what's the best way to get there?

Chris Gorman:
Well, first of all, I'll answer the first part of your question, then I'll step back and answer the second, which is actually the bigger issue is, how do you get the mindset around it? But we do all three. We buy, and when we buy, you have to be very careful of how and what you integrate, right? You buy a small entrepreneurial company and you pay a premium for it. You have to make sure that you understand what you're protecting and what you just paid a premium for and make sure you can preserve that culture. That's the buy.

Chris Gorman:
Build, we clearly have built a lot of things, and we're not opposed to building if we think we can do it faster, simpler, better, and have it be unique. I think the important thing is if you're going to, and I'll come back to uniqueness in a minute as it relates to innovation, that's buy and that's build. Those are the two ways we really think about.

Chris Gorman:
The third, you mentioned, is partner. I look at partner as sort of a hybrid of the two, right? We've done that a lot and we've had all kinds of different partnerships. We've owned a bunch of pieces and parts of fintechs where we frankly have had some incredible liquidity events, but for us, it all starts with the client. How can we be most relevant to the clients that we're serving, which gets me to the real motivation for innovation is there's 5,000 banks in the United States. We need to make sure that we're differentiated, and if you want to be differentiated, you can't offer the same things to the same people provided by the same vendors as everybody else. That's not a path to differentiation. I'm a strong believer. If you think about any business that you do business with, Jim, any business you really value is differentiated in some way. That's the key to business, I think.

Jim Marous:
Chris, we can't look at regional banking right now because it's all around us without talking a little bit about M&A and the desire for some institution to get bigger, which I believe on some cases is simply getting bigger for bigger's sake. We've had a recent announcement of TD Bank acquiring First Horizon that kind of juggles the ranking of the top 10 financial institutions. What is your perspective from KeyBank's perspective on the need or not the need to get bigger through an M&A perspective?

Chris Gorman:
Yeah, so I feel strongly, going back to our notion of targeted skill, Jim, we have made, for example, a lot of small acquisitions and partnerships, et cetera, that help us serve our targeted client base. We've done that. We've bought entrepreneurial companies, we've successfully integrated them. We will continue to do that. Again, everything we do starts with our client.

Chris Gorman:
In terms of going out and buying a depository, which is the type of transaction you just described, I don't think scale just for scale's sake makes a ton of sense. It would have to have a very high bar strategically, which is what I just mentioned, and it would also have to make a lot of sense from a financial perspective. Having said that, we bought First Niagara in 2016, took out 42% of the costs, kept the people, kept the clients. That was a successful business model. But our strategy right now is to focus on really serving our targeted clients. I don't think scale for scale's sake makes that much sense. The largest bank in the United States has 3.7 trillion in assets. We're obviously a very large bank at 180 billion, so I would ask the rhetorical question, what is scale?

Jim Marous:
It's interesting. My background goes back to the savings loan crisis, where the government thought that combining multiple bad savings loans made a better bank, it doesn't necessarily happen that way. You have challenges, it slows your organization down just by the scenario of saying, "How do you integrate all this stuff?" You already have a digital footprint nationwide that allows you a lot of flexibility to not having to go that route. I mean, it's not a necessity, for sure.

Chris Gorman:
Yeah, we feel like we've got, we've got plenty of empty space to successfully go out and grow our business organically. Yesterday's investor day, we spent a lot of time, Jim, talking about where we think those organic growth levers are.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting, too, one of the major advantages you've had in the marketplace is you've had great leadership. Beth Mooney before you, yourself, and the ability to build that mentality of embracing change. You're a legacy banker, but it's very clear from our conversation that you do embrace change. You're willing to take risk and go beyond your comfort zone in areas in a digital world that certainly are all in unfamiliar to all of us and are changing daily. How do you instill that same mentality throughout your entire organization and how hard is it today to find the right talent to move your organization forward while also reskilling your existing teams?

Chris Gorman:
Well, I think one of the things that we reward and talk about a lot throughout our entire company is the notion of being intellectually curious. Here's four facts. Here's what's going on in the marketplace. Why is that happening? Who's doing what to whom out there? Where do we think this is going? Why do we think it's going there? This notion of really instilling intellectual curiosity and then the notion of we need to iterate quickly. The world's moving really quickly. We need to try things. Some things will work and some things won't.

Chris Gorman:
Obviously, when we put together our integrated corporate and investment bank 20 years ago, the battlefield was littered with a bunch of people that had tried it and failed. People said it would never work. It was sort of the first kernel that built this notion around targeted scale of really identifying your clients. We're looking for people that have great subject matter expertise, but we're also looking for people that are just business people, that just enjoy being in the game and trying to figure it out, and so I think that's what makes it exciting. I think if we were just running the same plays year after year, I think we'd have trouble keeping the kind of team that we've built that is digitally progressive and is looking out front.

Jim Marous:
It's interesting, too, because you mentioned earlier in our conversation, the ability to look at data not as simply a report generation tool, but deploying that data across the organization for decision-making, building new products, innovation, and even answering business model questions is important as well because when you are your employees with data and insights and analytics, you really are making them more digital by the nature of that.

Chris Gorman:
It's so important. I always say you have to find the signal in the noise. Anyone can generate a bunch of reports, but what do they mean, and how is that actionable, and how can that be commercialized, and how does it matter to our client, and why?

Jim Marous:
What is the biggest challenge that KeyBank and maybe other legacy financial institutions face? I'll say in the next three to five years, even though I think that's extending too far given the scenario we're up against today, but what's the biggest challenge that you see is on that horizon?

Chris Gorman:
Well, the biggest challenge, I think, any business faces is how do you stay relevant? Once you identify who you want to really be relevant to, how do you make sure you keep that lead? We've talked a lot this morning about Laurel Road. We are in a great position. I could give you a bunch of statistics in terms of asking doctors where we fit in, and we're where we want to be, but you got to stay relevant because we in a really, really competitive world. I think the biggest challenge for any business is first to identify where you can be relevant, as I said earlier, how you win, where you win, why you win. Then once you identify that you better work really hard to defend your position because it's not going to go unnoticed out there.

Jim Marous:
Boy, that is so true. The keeping the fire burning, I mean, I had a conversation with PayPal a while back and they were thrown off by Klarna. You get the feeling that they were kind of caught off guard, but it's interesting, when you start talking to a fintech about other fintechs upending their business model, it's really dynamic what's happening, and how fast it's happening. Finally, what do you consider the most important opportunity for KeyBank as you go forward?

Chris Gorman:
I think our most important opportunity is to really drive our business and grow our business. I'm a big believer that we need to continue to invest heavily. We need to invest in our people. We need to invest in digital. We need to invest in analytics. Those will drive growth and growth will create opportunities for our shareholders and also for our teammates. That's my biggest focus right now is to make sure that we maintain our discipline around risk and capital because that underpins everything, and then, Jim, that we continue to make the investments we need to make to continue to grow.

Jim Marous:
Chris, thank you so much. This conversation could go on forever. It's exciting for me as a banker and the biggest learning experience I've had is this podcast process us what we've gone through because it lets me get to know other different organizations and see what they're doing. You are obviously not just talking the talk, you're walking the walk, and it shows. It has been the distinctive component of what KeyBank's become over the last decade and I've seen it up close and personal in Cleveland. Congratulations on the success you've had and good luck on the successes of the future.

Chris Gorman:
Well, thanks so much, Jim. Good luck to you as well. I enjoyed our discussion this morning. Have a great day.

Jim Marous:
Thank you. You, too. Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed, rated as a top-five banking podcast and winner of three international awards for podcast excellence. We appreciate the support we have received to make this endeavor a success. If you enjoy what we're doing, please take some time to show some love in form of a five-star review. 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. This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our producer, Leah Longbrake, audio engineer, Sean Will Hoffman, and video producer, Will Pritts. I'm your host, Jim Marous. Remember, at the core of every great banking organization is leadership that is willing to embrace the future and target their investments.

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