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.
Most Important Workplace Technologies for Banking in 2023
Modern workplace technologies are a primary driver of digital transformation in the banking industry, creating immense opportunities for improved experiences for employees and the customer.
With increased competition from fintech and big tech firms, what are the most important workplace technologies that will transform banking services and making banks and credit unions more future-ready?
I am excited to have Leo Brito, EVP Workforce Experience and Productivity Solutions at Wells Fargo on the Banking Transformed podcast. Leo shares why financial institutions must prioritize workplace technology investments in 2023.
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Hello, and welcome to Banking Transformed, the top podcast in retail banking. I'm your host, Jim Marous, Founder and CEO of the Digital Banking Report and co-publisher of The Financial Brand.
Jim Marous (00:22):
Modern Workplace Technology are a primary driver of digital transformation in the banking industry, creating immense opportunities for improved customer experiences, as well as improved employee experiences, with increased competition from both FinTech and big tech firms, one of the most important technologies in the workplace that can transform banking services and make banks and credit unions more future-ready.
Jim Marous (00:49):
I'm excited to have Leo Brito, EVP of Workplace Experience and Productivity Solutions at Wells Fargo on the Banking Transformed Podcast. Leo shares where financial institutions must prioritize their workplace technology investments in 2023.
Jim Marous (01:05):
Financial institutions of all sizes must invest in cutting-edge collaborative technologies to stay competitive. But given how quickly things have changed and how important technology is becoming, what are the most important technologies that financial institutions must consider in 2023, despite an unknown economic environment? And even more importantly, how does this impact the workforce? And how can the workforce impact the technologies.
Jim Marous (01:37):
So, Leo, your title is that you are the EVP of Workforce Experience and Productivity Solutions at Wells Fargo. How important is the integration of new technology solutions and the workplace experience?
Leo Brito (01:53):
Very important, Jim, and thank you for having me.
Leo Brito (01:56):
So, if you look at the name of our group, you will realize that probably in other banks, it's called Workplace Technologies. And when I joined Wells Fargo about 18 months ago, the title that we had for our group was End User Technologies.
Leo Brito (02:11):
And if you look at the name alone, you start seeing that we weren't focusing on the experience of our colleagues. We were focusing on deploying technologies for them to use that we thought they needed.
Leo Brito (02:26):
So, by calling ourselves Workforce Experience and Productivity Solutions, it was kind of changing the mindset to have human design. What do our colleagues do? How do they work every day? What technologies will make their day easier?
Leo Brito (02:42):
Historically, in the enterprise, we have these very complex solutions to everyday problems when it comes to the workplace technologies, and the user experience or the employee experience is lost. We need to make sure that it's secure.
Leo Brito (03:00):
So, then there is 400 passwords to get into a place or we cannot retain certain information, so we're going to shut down all the features. And then what happens, is that we're minimizing or reducing productivity, or we're minimizing collaboration.
Leo Brito (03:19):
So, as we look at the next four or five years, our idea is to transform the workplace technology into a cohesive ecosystem, just like the Apple ecosystem or the Amazon ecosystem. In our case, it will be the Microsoft ecosystem. That's what we're betting on. So, we we're providing all the solutions provided by Microsoft and trying to deploy them in a secure way, compliant with regulatory requirements, but a very rich user experience.
Jim Marous (03:56):
So, it's interesting; you're a relatively recent hire at Wells Fargo. When you first joined the organization, what did you see as your immediate challenge?
Leo Brito (04:05):
My immediate challenge, what I call it is, the trauma the organization has had for the last 10 years or so. You might be familiar on things that were on the news. And what the company rightly so has done is put a lot of controls.
Leo Brito (04:22):
So, the pendulum went into the very conservative state. There were features that if we were not sure that we could have them or retain them, we will not do them. So, what we're trying to do, now that we have closed a lot of those issues, we're trying to find the middle ground where we can actually provide a relatively good user experience, reduce a lot of the friction, but still have all the controls, and demonstrate the controls to the regulators or to our various internal and external stakeholders.
Jim Marous (04:52):
So, this really becomes, in a way, a trust issue, doesn't it? Because the employees thought they were getting beat up by the marketplace quite a bit, and in a way, they're beat up by their own organization just because so many more controls had to be put in place. But really, what you're doing now is opening the dynamics while still keeping the controls there. But it really gets down to a trust issue, doesn't it?
Leo Brito (05:17):
To a certain extent. I think the trust issue — I wouldn't call it a trust issue, I wouldn't say beat up. I think the employees were conscious of the situation that the company was in, and they were willing to accept the controls. What you're going to find interesting is that as we're trying to make things easier, we're still getting a lot of questions from our own employees about, "Are you sure? Like can I do this?" Historically.
Leo Brito (05:42):
Because there is a group consciousness that was created around all these issues where everybody ... actually, when you read things on the news, you start thinking that people just don't care. And what my surprise was, like people actually care a lot.
Leo Brito (05:59):
One of the few things or one of the most important things that I like about this company is how proud people are working at Wells Fargo. So, you can say that the trust issues is about me because I'm new. Here comes this guy trying to do something completely different, he probably doesn't understand that we need to have all these controls and we need to shut down all these features because we need to make sure that our reputation doesn't get damaged.
Jim Marous (06:26):
So, you were in the financial service industry before Wells Fargo. What is the biggest change that you've seen in the banking industry around workforce technologies even since two years ago?
Leo Brito (06:38):
Accepting that moving to the cloud is inevitable. So, the productivity suite being on the cloud, the data being on the cloud, your personal storage or your corporate storage being on the cloud, and how to secure them.
Leo Brito (06:52):
Like I've been in the banking industry for about 25 years. I think our biggest fear was how do we control the data? How do we get comfortable that companies like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon know how to control and secure our data the same way we do it ourselves.
Leo Brito (07:11):
And when you think about on-premise, there is a sense of security because you have a lot of control. You see all the widgets, you can potentially shut down all your links and nobody can get in. But when you look at most of the data issues that some companies have had, they've been attacked on-prem, and we haven't seen that massive attacks on the cloud yet.
Leo Brito (07:39):
I think we'll see them, and we'll learn from those. But historically, the bigger attacks have been to corporate sites, not necessarily cloud sites.
Jim Marous (07:50):
So, when you look at 2023 and you look at your role at Wells Fargo in the whole workforce management, but also, in the deployment of technologies, what is on your priority list for 2023?
Leo Brito (08:05):
My priority list, there's a few things. But the first thing is understanding my colleagues. I don't think we have done a good enough work to understand what every single role in the company does, and how they do it, and how they would like to do. And defining what are the friction points.
Leo Brito (08:24):
I think historically, when company talks about personas, the way I see it is that we actually create profiles of people, but that's not necessarily a persona. Like if you think about personas, you got to look at their journey; how does the day start? How does the day change throughout the day? What are the multiple things that I do throughout the day? What styles do I have throughout the day, and how does my day end?
Leo Brito (08:51):
And I wrestle with the idea, when you think about persona creation, people think, okay, six to eight. We have 240,000 users or 240,000 employees. Do you want to narrow them down to six to eight? We have five to six different business units that do radical different businesses, even within banking.
Leo Brito (09:14):
I think it's probably treating each one of those divisions as its own set of personas. And then go through seniority of those roles. My experience has been that the junior people work one way, the middle management works another way, and the senior management works another way.
Leo Brito (09:33):
The other thing that I want to make sure as part of the persona development, is I would like to understand the young part of the workforce, those people that we get right outside of school. I truly believe that we brainwash them when we bring them into the enterprise. They're used to working in a particular way that is very productive for them, very easy.
Leo Brito (09:56):
And I think a lot of them have not seen ... to be honest with you, Microsoft, when they first join an enterprise, they probably were on Chrome, or they were probably on Apple. Like those are the things that are popular with the younger population. And the first thing that we introduce them is like, "Alright, so you got to log into a VPN, you got to put three passwords before you log in."
Leo Brito (10:19):
And they get adjusted to it as every human gets adjusted to friction. But I would like to figure out like how do I make it easy for them, so when they do this jump from wherever they come to, into Microsoft, they have this unique experience. Where they can just use their face recognition. And we are comfortable that at the enterprise level, we are doing the right things in terms of security. And you open your computer or laptop or anything, everything I have is there.
Leo Brito (10:50):
I also would like to start implementing more data analysis proactively. I don't want to call it AI or machine learning, but we're not even using data to understand. It's like, "What does Jim use every day? How long does he spend on Outlook? How long does he do Teams? How many emails does he send?"
Leo Brito (11:11):
And then start figuring out, okay, so Jim probably should have more knowledge about this thing that he's not using, and proactively sent you something that says, "Jim, do you know if you do this, you'll save two minutes?" I also can look at, if I look at the data more closely, I can also see Jim's systems are having issues; they're overloaded and be proactive, and do some self-healing or self-cleaning stuff.
Jim Marous (11:37):
So, Wells Fargo, just like virtually every legacy financial institution of all sizes is somewhat playing catch-up on both the employee and customer expectations around digital transformation. How do organizations like Wells focus on the employee experience instead of simply trying to use technology to cut costs?
Leo Brito (12:00):
I don't think we see it as using technology to cut cost. I think we can increase productivity by reducing friction, is the way we are seeing it, at least with our colleagues. And the digital transformation from how the bank does business is not part of my realm.
Leo Brito (12:14):
But like my remit is how do I make the average employee more productive and save them time so they can do the business at hand? I think they wrestle with technology too much and that's what we're trying to transform.
Leo Brito (12:29):
Now, you could argue as well that Wells Fargo was a little bit behind or had not aggressively pursued this transformation in the workplace. But I think we're in a position of advantage to a certain extent because we have seen what other people have done and I think we can jump that step and move to the forefront.
Jim Marous (12:49):
So, you talk about giving the tools to the employees. How important do you see it for financial institutions to share data-driven insights across the organization and to actually provide this customer care, customer support insights to the employees themselves across the entire organization?
Leo Brito (13:11):
That's the thing that we're wrestling with. We haven't decided how we're going to do it. I think we started looking at Microsoft Viva, but there's a few things.
Leo Brito (13:20):
So, there is a perception of privacy that we need to address with our own employees and with our own HR and legal department. Like how much information does the cloud provider have? And how do we know that information is secure?
Leo Brito (13:36):
Then understanding if we look at a product like Viva, like what is it that the employee's going to want to see? So, it goes back to my very first priority, which is understanding what they do. If I understand what they do, I most likely can start giving them what they want to see. Ideally, there is a lot of wellness benefits.
Leo Brito (14:01):
You're having too many meetings, you're not meeting with your manager enough. There's so much data that we can provide our own employees. Like you haven't connected with this peer of yours over the last three months, you probably should. There is a lot that we can do for wellbeing. We can do a lot for career progression, and we can do a lot for professional development.
Leo Brito (14:24):
So, we can give them, it's like, "Okay, we noticed that you have not used this tool. Do you know how to use this tool? Here's the training." There is many things that we can do with the data, but we are still not quite sure how we're going to do it. We need to address a couple of more basic issues first.
Jim Marous (14:40):
So, we often talk about the importance of both speed and scale and innovation around digital banking transformation. How do you help to support increasing speed of innovation among the workforce and to improve the employee experience?
Leo Brito (15:00):
That's an excellent question. So, it's not easy. What we've been trying to do is have probably three or four initiatives going on at the same time. So, if you think of one initiative, is just steady deployment of things that we know, if you think about VDI for example (virtual desktop).
Leo Brito (15:21):
And then at the same time, we have another initiative looking at cloud desktop. And at the same time, we're looking at something more native where everything is ... we're calling it a cloud desktop. So, I ship you a device, the device comes directly from the manufacturer, you log in with your Wells Fargo credentials, and the device belts itself, gives you all the applications you need, and then you're ready to go.
Leo Brito (15:50):
So, innovation has to be done like that. So, the last one is probably the one that we think is going to be the future. And we start deploying through pockets of the firm. When you have a good solution in my space particularly, you get calls about "I want it." So, if nobody's calling you that, "I want this solution," your solution is probably not good enough.
Leo Brito (16:15):
So, the other thing that we're trying to do is I have a specific group that is looking two years ahead. Because I think that sometimes we concentrate too much on the present, and what I tell my team is like I want to look two years ahead, so when the present becomes the past, we're ready for the future.
Leo Brito (16:38):
So, it is like we look at projects as a holistic sense. Like we're done in 2025, now, we're going to look. By the time you look and you solve, you already did it yourself if that makes sense. Hopefully, that answers the question.
Jim Marous (16:56):
Yeah, it does. You know, it's interesting too when you talk about the management of people, which you do, and you also work to make it so the people do a better job — it really is a different world than it was two years ago because many of us are remote at least certain days of the week, and it makes the management of employees different.
Jim Marous (17:15):
How have you adjusted as a person to a work from home or remote work environment and what have you done to make it more personal?
Leo Brito (17:26):
So, I've struggled with it because I don't like working from home. First of all, I eat too much. My kitchen is like right there. And second, I like the on-schedule interactions. I was listening to a podcast the other day and they were saying that a big factor in happiness is your human interactions with the driver, the person at the coffee shop.
Leo Brito (17:56):
So, obviously, when we were in the lockdown, it was about making all the technologies available so they could actually work. But now, that we're in a more mature state in the hybrid, I think the key until we figure out which way we're going. And when I say "we," is the world.
Leo Brito (18:17):
Right now, it feels hybrid — I have this feeling that we are going to go back to the office eventually. Humans want to be with humans. The flexibility is what I think is going to be important: "I need to work from home today, I can work from home the same as it was in the office."
Leo Brito (18:36):
So, finding equality between the participants is going to be critical. So, when it comes to meetings, that is important that I see what the people in the room see. I hear what they hear, and I'm not just a spectator in a meeting.
Leo Brito (18:54):
So, I think before the pandemic, there was a center of gravity normally in a meeting, and then everybody else that was attending digitally was probably a spectator rather than an active participant. More often than not.
Leo Brito (19:07):
So, one of the things that we want to solve is like how do we make everybody equal? And we also working with Microsoft to do that. So, I see every single face in the conference room, not just a long table that I cannot even tell if people are actually awake.
Leo Brito (19:24):
I see the content, I see the chat. And then if I'm in the conference room, the other way around. So, I see all the features all at once. So, there is nobody with an advantage in terms of the meeting. That's one portion.
Leo Brito (19:39):
The other portion is when we were talking earlier about data. So, how do I tell you who you should be interacting with that you haven't? Because when you're permanently from home, you don't have the, "I ran into you on my way to the pantry."
Leo Brito (19:59):
So, figuring out how digital relationships can give us data around you should be interacting with this person. Even sometimes — and this is probably far away from now, but it's like if we will understand all the common interests that our employees have, we can potentially create a community.
Jim Marous (20:27):
Almost better than we were able to do in person.
Leo Brito (20:31):
Almost better, almost better.
Jim Marous (20:33):
Because you have the ability to use data to actually drive engagement with similarities between people.
Leo Brito (20:38):
So, love using data, but I never see it as an exact science. I think our computers and our brains are so much more accurate and based on our intuition. But I think that I can help or we can help create new relationships. So, it's like, "Do you know that this other person went to the same school you went and their experiences, they did these things that you did?" And then we'll figure out how to break that ice.
Leo Brito (21:08):
But I think that's one of the parts where we can start creating better human connections inside the enterprise.
Jim Marous (21:14):
You know, it's interesting, we talk about diversity and inclusion and in the past, it had to do with somewhat easier dynamics such as male, female and nationality and color, things of this nature. But you brought it up. The diversity inclusion also has to do with what's your work habits? Are you in the office all the time — you're not in the office? Does it hurt me if I'm going to be remote and an ability to get promoted throughout the organization?
Jim Marous (21:41):
How have you changed the way you look at diversity and inclusion, not just with your current employees, but with regard to hiring and management?
Leo Brito (21:52):
I'm going to focus on the inclusion portion rather than the diversity portion. I think the diversity portion is a complex topic and I'm very passionate about it. But the inclusion is what I said before, it's about equity. So, regardless of who I am and where I'm at, I should feel included, and not left out, of a conversation, of a interaction, of a project.
Leo Brito (22:15):
So, how do I figure that problem out? Or how my team and I figure that problem out, that's going to be super important because that is going to drive the diversity as well. And then there is some funny thing that I've seen on data studies. Like we all assume that the younger generation wants to work from home. The fact is that based on some studies, no, they actually want to come to the office.
Leo Brito (22:44):
It's us in the middle of our lives — well, I'm probably on the third portion of my life. But on the middle of our lives that we have a little bit more complicated lives and we have errands to run and kids to take to doctors. But when you're younger, like you tend to be more social. So, you want to be in the office so you can interact with people.
Leo Brito (23:03):
So, how do we find the balance of concentration at the office and concentration remotely? And how do we bring those two together?
Jim Marous (23:12):
So, let's take a short break here and recognize the sponsors of this podcast.
Leo Brito (23:14):
So, welcome back to Banking Transformed. I'm joined today by Leo Brito. You know, you're very passionate about this and I know that it extends beyond work. Can you elaborate a little bit on that, and how your success at Wells Fargo has actually helped you set precedence for your peers in the banking industry and beyond?
Leo Brito (23:38):
So, my success actually comes from my previous company. I worked in another financial institution, and I learned a lot there. It was about learning how to interact with people from multiple cultures. It was very interesting.
Leo Brito (23:57):
I was very lucky to have a lot of interactions with my team in India. I had a team there since 2002, I want to say. And then I lived abroad in Japan for a year. It gave me another view. And when people say something that sounds almost cliche, it's like diversity is about diversity of thought. But I actually saw it. Like going to places and being there for extended period of time.
Leo Brito (24:27):
So, now, I think that when I build teams or when I'm in companies where there is a diversity of thought, I think we can all be successful. You learn new behaviors, you learn new ways of thinking. You start thinking broadly.
Leo Brito (24:44):
So, at Wells Fargo, at least at my level, I'm seeing that. I think we need a lot more work when it comes to diversity. And ethnicity diversity is important to me. Obviously, fairly brown, but I think is a good start. It's a nice place.
Leo Brito (25:05):
The other thing I think is super interesting to me since I joined Wells Fargo is the customers that we have for the firm, most of our customers are everyday Americans. And I think the fact that we have those customers also relates to our employees. So, I've seen a lot more diversity on our workforce because we have to, because those are our customers as well. So, I like that a lot.
Jim Marous (25:36):
We're going to make a little shift here. A lot of what you do involves partnering with outside partners that can drive technology and innovation, can drive scale and speed. How does your success with your technology partners actually set an example for other organizations? I mean, what do you see that works and how much do you actually let go between developing internally and using partners?
Leo Brito (26:07):
My personal preference is always using partners first. Unless we are going to do something that is a business process that is critical to the firm or how we help our customers, I think we are not experts on cloud nor we should be.
Leo Brito (26:23):
I think our partnerships — if I use Microsoft as an example, I think having access deep into their bench is what is important to me when I look at a partnership. Having relationships with the engineers, with their managers. Not just your account team.
Leo Brito (26:40):
And I think with Microsoft, we've been very successful at having all those layers of interactions. Also being transparent with each other. So, I think when I'm asking for a solution for something that is too narrow for my industry or even for my bank, we together, look yet for another partner that can solve that for us.
Leo Brito (27:04):
So, if you think about all the regulatory things that we have around communications, electronic communications, I cannot expect for Microsoft to solve every issue. I would like them to help me. But we also together can actually help all the partners that they have that can solve problems for the whole ecosystem.
Leo Brito (27:22):
So, partnerships are critical here. I think teaching your partners why you think the way you think and why you have sometimes odd set of requirements — and that information translating all the down to the engineering teams is where we can actually get better over time. Hopefully, that answers your question.
Jim Marous (27:49):
Yeah, it does. As you look to 2023 and beyond, what do you see as the three most important workforce technology and digital transformation trends for next year and beyond?
Leo Brito (28:03):
So, the ecosystem, like I mentioned before. So, having an enterprise ecosystem where you can access all your data and your applications. Not only that you can access it — that's a given. You need it to do the work, but you can access it however you want.
Leo Brito (28:19):
You can access it in the office on a corporate device. I can give you a corporate device to carry with you. You can access it on a personal device. You can access it like on a tablet, like on your phone. I think that's going to be critical.
Leo Brito (28:34):
I think our workforce is going to be more mobile. I think people are going to change how they behave in terms of like — we used to think, and say "I'm coming to the office and I'm going to just sit at my desk."
Leo Brito (28:45):
If we go back to the office and we do that, I think we failed. I think we need to provide people spaces where they can sit and do concentrated work, but we need to provide spaces to collaborate more freely and unbound.
Leo Brito (29:00):
I think conference rooms are very constricted. It's like if the two of you want to have, we will sit on the couch, we both have our tablets. We can just write and draw and do a lot of things that are not necessarily a theme for the banking industry.
Leo Brito (29:16):
If you think about the tech industry, they probably do it more often than we do. I don't think they're perfect. But that's what I think we need to do. That's what is important in the future; the mobility of the ecosystem, and I can access it and I can just work however I want to work at that given moment. It's not a rigid way of working.
Jim Marous (29:39):
So, your career has really been at very large financial institutions. Everything we've talked today about — can these type of strategies and implementations be done at any size organization? Is it just driven by the biggest or can these ideas, these strategies that you've discussed today in the workforce be implemented in any size?
Leo Brito (30:04):
I think it can be implemented any size as long as you understand the users, and segment your market accordingly. I think the scale was complex when you were doing on-prem stuff. You needed more servers and you needed more things and bigger data centers.
Leo Brito (30:24):
But I think with the maturity of the cloud, I think deploying 50 and deploying 240,000 is becoming almost irrelevant as long as you have done the pre-work and the engineering and the controls and identifying the right requisites. So, I don't think scale has anything to do.
Leo Brito (30:47):
I come from a firm that was like 60,000 workforce including employees and non-employees, and now, I'm in one that is 260,000 or 240,000. Big difference between the two. I think the larger firms have a little bit more red tape. But from a technology perspective, if I can solve it for all the right personas, I should be able to scale.
Leo Brito (31:10):
Like the one thing that's been impressive to me is that when I was at the smaller firm, it would take us a year to deploy 50,000 users. Here, we do weekend deployments of 40,000.
Jim Marous (31:24):
Leo Brito (31:26):
So, we almost finished rolling out Teams for the entire firm, included users that have some regulatory requirements and we're doing 30, 40,000 a weekend. It was just crazy. I was super impressed. And we probably have the largest deployment of Teams in a financial industry.
Jim Marous (31:43):
Yeah, it's amazing how we have functionality-wise, have really transformed from the standpoint of being able to do things quicker and easier to deploy better technologies.
Jim Marous (31:56):
You know, thank you so much for being on this show, Leo. I really appreciate your time and your insights onto workplace technologies and transformation.
Leo Brito (32:07):
Thank you for having me.
Jim Marous (32:08):
Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed, the winner of three international awards for podcast excellence. If you enjoyed today's interview, please give us a five-star rating in your favorite podcast app. Also, be sure to read my recent articles on The Financial Brand, and check out the research we're doing for the Digital Bank Report.
Jim Marous (32:25):
This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts. A special thank you to our producer, Leah Haslage, audio engineer, Sean Rule-Hoffman, and video producer, Will Pritts.
Jim Marous (32:35):
I'm your host, Jim Marous. Until next time, remember, that investing in technology is only the first steps. Organizations must commit to integrating these new technologies with people throughout their organization.