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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Technology Drives the Customer Experience at Chase

There has never been a more exciting time to leverage customer insight, technology, and an innovation culture to drive improved customer experiences in banking. But how does one of the largest financial institutions in the world combine strategy and execution at a time of massive industry disruption?

Chase is at the forefront of emerging technologies in retail banking and the use of these technologies to drive product development and digital engagement. The question is whether size and scale provide an advantage or create new challenges?

We are joined by Rohan Amin, Chief Product Officer and Gill Haus, Chief Information Officer of Chase on the Banking Transformed Podcast. They discuss the acceleration of change that has occurred in the past two years and the ways Chase has navigated the pandemic.

This episode of Banking Transformed is sponsored by FIS.

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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. There's never been a more exciting time to leverage customer insight, technology, and an innovation culture to drive improved customer experiences in banking. More importantly, how does one of the largest financial institutions in the world combine strategy and execution at a time of massive industry disruption?

Jim Marous:
Chase is at the forefront of emerging technologies and retail banking and they use of these technologies to accelerate product development. The question is, is whether size and scale provides an advantage or a challenge to overcome. We are fortunate today to have Rohan Amin, chief product officer, and Gill Haus, chief information officer at Chase on the show. They discussed the acceleration of change that has occurred in the past two years and the way chase is addressing the change in the marketplace.

Jim Marous:
So, welcome to the show, Rohan and Gill. Before we start, could you provide our listeners just a short background of your careers and your roles at Chase? Rohan, why don't we start with you?

Rohan Amin:
Thanks so much, Jim. Glad to be here. I've been at the bank for seven years. I've had a variety of different roles here. I've been the global chief information security officer for the bank globally. I have led tech for Chase, and now in a new role as the chief product officer for Chase, responsible for product design, data and analytics, and customer experience for Chase.

Jim Marous:
And you actually came from Lockheed Martin, didn't you, in the cybersecurity area?

Rohan Amin:
I was at Lockheed Martin for almost 12, 13 years before I joined the bank. So, defense and intelligence community work. Did everything from cybersecurity, information technology, electronic warfare, and a whole bunch of other stuff I can't really talk about.

Jim Marous:
Okay. And Gill, how about you?

Gill Haus:
Yeah, so I have to go after that one. I have been at Chase now a little under two years, it's almost two years. Got to join right before the pandemic and see what life was like before that. I was the head of digital technology here at Chase until September of last year where I became the CIO for Chase. But I did for my first 16 months work for Rohan.

Jim Marous:
You were previously at Capital One, AOL and PayPal, correct?

Gill Haus:
Correct. Yes. So, capital One for about five years, but yes, also AOL and PayPal, and also Taxi Magic, which is now called Curb. For those that are in the city, they'll see that, which is the little green logo, there for a little while as well.

Jim Marous:
We probably should start by talking about the impact of the pandemic. We thought we wouldn't have to talk about this at the beginning of a lot of our podcasts, but this thing is not going away. What has been the impact on both the technology side, as well as the customer experience initiatives that are done within product and development?

Rohan Amin:
I'll kick it off, Jim, on that one. Clearly, a lot has changed over the past couple of years, and sadly that in fact that we were talking about this past couple years of pandemic, but first and foremost, we had to be there for our customers when they needed us the most during that time. So, there was a lot that was going on. Everything from the PPP program to help small businesses, to making sure that customers were able to get their economic stimulus checks on time and effectively. There was just a lot that was happening, very busy, and teams worked around the clock to make sure that we were there for our customers, financial assistance and a whole raft of other things that we had to make sure that we had ready.

Rohan Amin:
We exposed a lot of that capability through digital means so that customers could take advantage of that through the mobile app in an easy way. So, that was sort of like front and center what was happening over the past two years. What we've also noticed is that there's just been a ... I mean, we were already on a digital path and digitization of the bank. What we saw is just even further acceleration of that over the past couple of years. More customers using Chase mobile and Chase online, more customers depositing checks through the mobile app as opposed to going to the branch or using the ATM.

Rohan Amin:
So, more customers applying for mortgages digitally as opposed to using paper. All of those trends, we saw very strong progress over the past couple of years. And we think those shifts sort of are permanent shifts, if you will, in customer preferences for how they want to back with us. Those are just a few things that have changed over the past couple of years.

Jim Marous:
And Gill, how about from your perspective, as far as the technology changes, has there anything that ... I mean, obviously we're, we're speeding up the process of digital transformation, but what else has gone on at Chase?

Gill Haus:
Yeah. One you just hit on, and it's a little bit to what Rohan said. It really accelerated our agenda because making sure that the functionality that customers want in their hand, on the mobile app or a web, this is something that we've been working on for quite some time, but the pandemic made it all that more critical because people either wouldn't or couldn't go to branches. Also, this impacted our contact centers who spent, wait times on calls were longer. So, we wanted to make sure that the services that we wanted to go provide digitally, we were able to do that more quickly.

Gill Haus:
What it did though was it really exposed a couple other things too. The modernization work that we had been doing in the organization, which allowed us to release software more quickly, we had started doing that work well before the pandemic. Because of that, we were able to respond very quickly. For example, we mentioned the Paycheck Protection Program. We had to respond in days, not in weeks, not in months to build software. We could build, test, and deploy that to our customers immediately. That meant that, not only we were doing the right thing for our customers, but for our engineers, our product teams, etc, that was also exciting because we're in the business of building products, features, and services, and we wanted to see that actually happen.

Gill Haus:
And we could get software out to our customers. That was the other part that I thought, at least for me, the takeaway that was really incredible is money is really at the center of what makes the world work. Our customers really depend on us, particularly during pandemic. Because of that work, because of the shifts that Rohan talked about, we could be there. If you think about a purpose driven culture, people got a ton of energy out of doing this work, even though there were some late hours and weekends, etc, at times, they got a ton of energy out delivering for our customers because we were able to do really meaningful work for them.

Jim Marous:
Sticking with you, Gill, Chase is a huge organization. Actually, I think you have a massive number of people that work for you. How do you work with other business units within Chase to make sure that the development of technology and the deployment of technology is uniform? Because I know there's silos. There's silos in every financial institution and I'm sure it's no different in Chase, how do you work to make sure that the left hand's talking in the right hand and all the different areas of the bank?

Gill Haus:
Yes. Wonderful question. And it is a big team. My team alone, in the 12,000 range. But if you think about product and tech and design and data, it's a rather large organization. One of the things that we did, and we started this again before pandemic, one of the things that we have done is we have aligned in an agile fashion. As opposed to us being organized by business unit, we're organized around product and back. Why that matters is, when you have, let's say a feature such as you want to open an account, if every business unit has a team that's responsible for building that software, I have to coordinate across all of our business lines.

Gill Haus:
Then you multiply that by the tech and design and the product people that are sitting in those organizations. By organizing instead around one product, just one account opening where you have one tech leader, one design leader, product etc, now you have one place where you need to go. Now, of course, CEOs and other business leaders will have their perspective and opinion on what we want to build into that solution, but it makes it a lot easier for teams to prioritize the work, understand what the work is.

Gill Haus:
It's a lot less frustrating for them to get things done. Those teams are also much closer to the customer, what we're trying to deliver, so they're able to make decisions much more quickly without having to escalate that and bring in the thousands of people that are the organization. That's one way in which we work that has made a huge difference. The other part of it too is, and I mentioned modernization already, how we have modernized the way we build our software. When we build software and it's done in a manual way where one person writes the software, another person then tapes it and tests it, another person then goes and deploys, it's a lot of coordination.

Gill Haus:
Those people typically are on different teams. We've been working hard to automate that process. So, our software delivery lifecycle, you can write, test, deploy, and manage application in an automated fashion. What that means for an engineer is they don't have to talk to many other people in the organization. They can work when needed in an autonomous fashion, and that's how they're able to move. And we're able to move at speed, even though we have a large group.

Jim Marous:
Rohan, from your perspective, in very much close to the same question, how do you work with different areas of the bank to not only determine what the product development needs are, but the prioritization of how you build different products and services throughout the organization?

Rohan Amin:
Just to extend a little bit on what Gill was talking about, Chase is structured into roughly a hundred product teams. Those product teams are organized, to Gill's point, not about our internal organization structure, they're organized around the customer value stream, the customer's journey is how we organize those teams. Why that's really important is because those teams wake up every single day, and what they're focused on is improving a particular aspect of what the customer does in their interaction with us, an account opening team, a team focused on payments as an example.

Rohan Amin:
So, they own those customer journeys and they're thinking about them from front to back, and you got product people, design people, technology people, and increasingly data analytics people all working together on those various 100 different areas that we have. The other thing that I think is really important to this is design. A big part of what we're trying to do is to have a design led organization.

Rohan Amin:
To your question earlier, Jim, around, how do we ensure there's some consistency and some uniformity to this? Is always, we have to anchor ourselves in what makes sense for the customer and then work our way back from there. That is a big part of what our design team does, understand what's happening from a customer research standpoint, understand what really motivates customers, how they feel, and then bring that to life in terms of the user experiences, the actual visuals that a customer will interact with, and how do we make sure that we're solving their problems and they're walking away with the right feeling as a result of their interaction with Chase?

Rohan Amin:
That is a big part of the product development process. The inputs for all this stuff, a lot of it, honestly, Jim, as you can imagine, we pay attention to the competitive landscape. We pay attention to what's happening, each of our businesses, but a lot of it also is just coming straight from customers. So, we listen very clearly to customer feedback. We embed that into our roadmaps, and the product teams that we have, the a hundred product teams, they're empowered to actually understand their customer and determine the best roadmap to provide the greatest value for those customers going forward. That's a lot of where that input comes from.

Rohan Amin:
Then the prioritization piece, to your last question, that is those product teams making those decisions. Each of those product teams is looking at how much capacity they have. I've got this much engineering capability, I've got this much design capability. Here's the feedback that I'm getting from customers. Here's the objectives and key results that we're trying to hit for Chase overall. Then I'm putting forth those initiatives and activities that I think yield the best value for customers and for the firm. And those teams are empowered to define those roadmaps, which I think is just a fantastic opportunity for folks is to own your own destiny a little bit and drive that in the context of a much larger Chase. It's just a way we make the place feel a little bit smaller to those teams that are working inside, obviously, which what is a big firm.

Jim Marous:
We have interesting dynamic here, because in financial institutions, we always traditionally introduce things in quarters or annually. We make big changes that took a long time as opposed to small changes that can be implemented almost on an iterative basis. I was lucky enough right before the pandemic to visit WeBank in China, and they were running four parallel cloud platforms in order to test things. They went from innovation idea, ideation, to implementation in something around 14 days. That astounded me because I'm a legacy banker, and that just ... To think that, that could even happen. How do you at Chase try to implement things at both scale and speed, Rohan, from your perspective on the product side?

Rohan Amin:
Yeah. That's great question, Jim. There's a few things that I think are really just fantastic, which is yes, to your point, we are moving away from sort of like this annual thing or the quarterly thing, and many of our teams these days, largely due to some of the things that Gill was talking about in terms of our focus on automation, our focus on the engineering process and the focus on how we build quality software at pace and at scale, we have teams which are delivering new feature and functionality sort of like when they can. They're making new releases on a daily, weekly basis because they can.

Rohan Amin:
That is game changing for sure. But the way we go about doing that, the reason why we're able to do that is not only some of the things that Gill was talking about in terms of engineering automation and the rest of it. But it is also because of a platform thinking that we have, which is how do we make sure that we're building reusable components? How do we build platforms that can serve multiple purposes? So, when it's time for us to launch PPP, which we had to do during the pandemic, we went from zero to billions of dollars of loans rather, rather quickly because we had an existing platform that we were able to leverage, existing toolkits, existing capabilities.

Rohan Amin:
For us to be able to pivot and respond and then adjust for the use case was very quick. Platform thinking, software, reusable toolkits, frameworks, these are all the things that we use to make sure that we are able to deliver more quickly for our customers. So, some of the product teams that we have, some of those a hundred teams, their job isn't necessarily the customer facing thing that the customer might see, but it's the platform enablement work that everybody else can leverage so that they are in fact faster. That discipline thinking is just a toolbox that we use to make sure that we're able to deliver at scale and at speed.

Jim Marous:
Gill, we've gone around the curve a little bit on talking about back office automation and transformation of the technology side. What are you doing at Chase to improve the back office efficiency, the automation of the process? Because the reality is, we talked about account opening a little bit, you can't get account opening at speed unless you fix what's going on in the back office. A lot of organizations tend to try to automate what was there already as opposed to rebuild. How much emphasis right now is being put on rebuilding the back office?

Gill Haus:
Yeah. Getting our foundation or the fundamentals right is incredibly important, the way you described it for account opening matters are true. Back to something that Rohan said though, about having the roadmap, autonomy, and being customer led when it comes to our product teams. The reason why doing multi-year planning, etc, you need to do that, you set a strategy etc. But the reason why we do it in an agile fashion here is sometimes we don't necessarily know what we would need to build. Having our product teams really understand the customer, we may discover that this action that we are telling customers to do, this piece of data we need them to enter, or this flow we send them through, we don't need to do that at all. In some cases, it's not back office automation. It's doing it correctly upfront and streamlining it for the customer so we don't have to have the back office event happening for our customers.

Gill Haus:
That's one way that we look at it, which is making sure that we can do straight through processing, so service everything on our mobile or web, or even if you call, you can complete it in that particular session. So, we do focus a lot of our effort in that way. But also, we are modernizing our backend systems because, Rohan said this too, everything that we do, whether it's a shiny new mobile app, or it is a deposit platform for our accounts in the bank, all this is running on for backend technology, and modernizing that and building that in a platform way means that we're able to build those products, features, and services that we want when we know that it's time to build that, versus having to have a large effort.

Gill Haus:
We spend a good deal of time prioritizing that work, rebuilding, modernizing. But at the same time, to your point of your question, there are places where we aren't able to do that work now. We're a big company, and so there will be some places where we know there's a manual task that we have to do. So, we will do automation, sometimes robotic process automation so that we can free up our people to work on other things that are more value add while we wait until we have the time to go back and actually modernize and refactor that application. So, we look at it through that lens, but always from a customer back, which is, how are we going to make sure we're benefiting the customer when we take that action?

Rohan Amin:
Another angle on this, just on the back office, is that we are tackling the back office, to be very clear. Some places you might just sort of like have the digital veneer, if you will, and you have something that looks nice, but then there might be some spaghetti back there. Look, the reality is everyone has their share of spaghetti that they have got to go deal with, but we're being very clear around how we want to modernize the core of the bank. We've been actually public with the partnership that we have with a startup to actually reimagine the core of our banking capability and build that onto a cloud native software platform that allows us to innovate financial products with speed and at scale.

Rohan Amin:
Those are the examples of us, like delving into the back, if you will, and then modernizing those platforms so that they're also digital and cloud native, in addition to the front end of the things that the customers see every single day.

Jim Marous:
Has that been the biggest challenge for Chase? I mean, really rethinking banking? Because I'm sure, just ... But I'm a big fan of Chase, and watching over the years, you're obviously building from what I'm going to call mobile first and not mobile only, but by building from mobile, you're making the other platforms easier to work with, but is that the biggest challenge is to really take apart what has been the legacy of a financial institution forever with regard to the way products are built, the way to deliver the back office and really almost start with a blank sheet of paper?

Rohan Amin:
Jim, it's great. It's a good question. I wouldn't say it's the biggest challenge, but clearly it's a challenge that we have to work through. You're talking about, you're spot on, you're talking about years of things that have been built over a period of time, and we are super committed to how we modernize that plant and how it's able to be a platform that we're able to innovate on and build new products and services more rapidly. But as you can imagine, it's a multi-year journey. But that's actually one of the reasons why I just love working here, which is that the intellectual challenge of being able to take a steward institution such as ours, and it's going through an incredible journey with regards to modernization, an incredible transformation of how we bring new product to market for customers.

Rohan Amin:
And being part of that journey at the scale that we have with 58 million customers on the platform, active digital customers on the platform, where else do you go to have that kind of impact on people in a very personal way, like their money? Yes, there's a lot of work to do. There's a lot of heritage here. But that to me is also, I treat that as sort of like a great intellectual challenge and a great opportunity as well for people's personal growth and development.

Jim Marous:
Rohan, sticking with you for a second here, we talked about the legacy and the way that Chase had been built. You obviously are emphasizing the digital delivery, but you're still building branches, and probably of all the big banks in the country, you're probably building more branches, you're putting as much emphasis on the physical structures as any financial institution. How do you balance the physical and digital at Chase from the product delivery perspective?

Rohan Amin:
Yeah. Really good question. We get this often, and obviously we've been out there talking about it's not a or thing, it's an and thing. We believe very strongly, both in the power of digital and the power of the branch. In fact, what we see is that many of our customers leverage both channels. They actually leverage other channels as well, including our contact center and everything else, and so they are multichannel. So, the opportunity for us is a few things. One is to continue to focus on customer centricity, which is absolutely what we're focused on and how Gill and I sort of lay out our philosophy for how we build experiences for customers.

Rohan Amin:
Regardless of which channel you interact with, you have a consistent set of experiences that are being provided through there. But the other thing is that the changing nature of the branch, which I think is really important to keep in mind, which is, if you sort of look, even if you take the pandemic as sort of a shorter timeline, the amount of transactions, which have moved from the teller line, or the ATM into things like the mobile app, for something like quick deposit and the ability to deposit a check has been significant over the pandemic.

Rohan Amin:
What that means is actually the story around the branches, is less about being a place to execute transactions, and really more a place to go for advice. This is what the branches are providing a significant amount of value, is that customers want to be able to talk to people, want to be able to talk to a human being about something that's very important to them, getting their advice on how should I plan? How should I budget? How do I achieve my goals? How do I build wealth? How do I save? These are important conversations that are best frankly had with a human being in front of you.

Rohan Amin:
That's the changing nature of things and the power of being able to have the digital tools, but then you'll be able to have that same conversation with somebody who can guide you along the way is what the branch is turning into, and I think that's just a very powerful combination.

Jim Marous:
Gill, I'll do a little of a pivot here and ask you a little bit about the technology background that you have at Chase and the way it's being implemented. How do you determine, when you have a challenge that you're trying to address, how do you determine if a certain technology is going to be a built out of a certain technology internally as opposed to contracting out to a solution provider?

Gill Haus:
Yeah. No, it's wonderful question. Because we're focused primarily on making sure that we're building products that are solving our customer's pain points. Now, there are going to be solutions in the market that solve a problem already that are commoditized. For example, we are in both the private and public cloud, and there's a reason for that. We use technology that's been solved by others so that we can have our engineers, our product teams working on what solves that unmet need for a customer versus building something that already exists in the market. But as you can imagine, we also work with a variety of third parties and fintechs all this time. So, it's going to be [inaudible 00:24:47] ways, depending on the particular situation that we have.

Gill Haus:
There will be cases where we recognize that something that we want to build is going to be more IP based. We would like to make sure that we are building that and we have that wherewithal to control it, or if it's data and we're protecting that for our customers, we may make decisions on it being something that is internal versus being external. But we look at that each time we are building something to make sure that we're making the right choices as we decide whether it's in-built, or it's a buy, or it's partner, it's a foe.

Jim Marous:
Yeah, we're going to dig down a little bit more into this. And how do you determine whether you're going to go the partnership route with an external provider or if you're going to purchase the technologies from the vendor, for instance? Obviously there's been a lot of change in the space in the last 12 and certainly in the 24 months since the pandemic started, but how do you determine at Chase? What are the decision points and how do you approach determining if it's better for a partnership perspective or better to purchase the technology?

Gill Haus:
Yeah. I love the question because we do all of the above, right? It's one of these things where, because we are constantly in the market, we do all of those things. So, we will partner. We will sometimes also make a strategic investment. We can build our own solution, or we will, even outright acquire companies. It does depend on the situation. There isn't this one rubric that I can say, here, this is what we give. What I can tell you is that the roadmap that we have for our customers hasn't really changed. We are moving to make the features products that we want to offer available where a customer is at any time.

Gill Haus:
A lot of that work does require us to think about things like taking advantage of the cloud, reimagining how we build our software, but also really starting to embrace even more machine learning and artificial intelligence. Why I say that is when we are looking at how we're going to solve a particular problem, let's pick on something like machine learning, there may be some solutions in the market that make more sense for us to use because it's more mature, etc, than for us to go and actually build ourselves. But it's a dynamic situation because the industry is constantly changing.

Gill Haus:
We will find that there may be a technology today that is mature, and then we surpass that over time and vice versa. This is one of the things that I really deeply love about working here as well, is that we're thinking about this as we build. So, when we're building our products, we're building them in a modern cloud native way. We're focused on building them in what we call microservices industry standard term. But the way that I define that is we build in smaller units that are easier for us to build, test, deploy, so that, when we discover, you know what? Maybe we should instead be partnering with this third party. We can replace what we have and use that third party and vice versa without there being a large effort to move forward.

Gill Haus:
While there isn't necessarily that plan on, we know exactly when we would use a third party or not, we know how we should build our software. So, we're me in a way that is mature and scalable enough that we can make the decision when we need to.

Rohan Amin:
I think there's another, Jim, just to just emphasize what Gill was getting to, which is that, in some places, they might outsource or they might leverage a whole bunch of contractors or things to create all that. We pride ourselves actually on honing our craft and building the capabilities and sort of owning our destiny, right? Gill mentioned the more than 12,000 engineers that we have here. Those are technologists and engineers who are building and crafting the solutions that we have for our customers, and where it makes sense, we will certainly partner or acquire with a partner or a finTech.

Rohan Amin:
But the vast majority of what customers see and touch and interact with every single day is built by Chase employees, and it's a point of pride, I would say, for the organization as well.

Jim Marous:
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Jim Marous:
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Jim Marous:
Welcome back. I'm joined today by Rohan Amin, chief product officer, and Gill Haus, chief information officer at Chase. We have been discussing the digital transformation journey at Chase and the importance of technology as a competitive weapon for the future and for the development of new products. Before the break, we were talking quite a bit about how the data and integration of data insights technology, all helped the product process. But we didn't really get too much into the innovation process.

Jim Marous:
Can you each share a little bit about how innovation is really done at Chase? I remember visiting your facility in Columbus and seeing the innovation lab at one point was front and center. Seeing you out in front door, they had a brand new ATM they were going to introduce. Then there was a glassed in walled area, what we used to call the innovation theater to make everybody feel good and investors feel good. Well, that doesn't cut it anymore when you come to real innovation. How does innovation happen at Chase?

Rohan Amin:
It's great, Jim, and thanks for the commentary about the innovation labs and all that. Obviously this is a very important top for us. First, what I would say is that, going back to the a hundred product teams that I was talking about earlier and the teams that are sort of dedicated around those customer experiences and paying attention to the customer feedback and evolving and iterating their particular solution, innovation is their responsibility. We find that the best examples of innovation come from people who know the space really well. They see all the problems and they see all the opportunities, and it is their responsibility to make sure that they are innovating and providing new ways to solve those problems or breakout ideas to solve a particular pain point that we have for our customers.

Rohan Amin:
We certainly embed that into every single one of the teams that we have, but then, for all of the buzzword tech that you see out there, what's happening with AR, augmented reality, and virtual reality, and blockchain, and crypto, and everything else that's going on, we have dedicated teams that are sort of researching those topics, experimenting with things, trying out different concepts, and then we'll take those learnings and then figure out the right ways to put them into our product teams. I think one other point I want to make about innovation is that to me, and what we talk about with the organization is that innovation doesn't necessarily always have to be some brand new, big idea.

Rohan Amin:
That innovation is also, simplification is innovation, small changes in the customer experience can have outsize impacts and benefits to the customer. We view that as innovation as well, process efficiencies as innovation. We don't have a narrow view of it in terms of like brand new, big idea. Usually people usually think of those traditional buzzwords that are out there that are getting all the attention, but there's lots of innovation that's happening, that's simplification, efficiency, improvements in the customer experience, and we put all of that under the banner of innovation and our teams are all working on that every single day.

Jim Marous:
That essentially gives ... Account opening is account opening, but the way you open an Apple card in four steps is a whole lot different than the way you open a checking account in most finances, just to take 15 minutes. That is not innovation. It's a continuous iteration to make the process easier for the consumer.

Rohan Amin:
And it definitely doesn't take 15 minutes to open an account with us, Jim, just to be clear.

Jim Marous:
There we go.

Rohan Amin:
Much faster.

Gill Haus:
We're faster than that, for sure. I was going to add on to what Rohan said. I think it's spot on about innovation. A lot of times people do think about that, which is, are you an innovative company? Can I see your mobile? What new features do you have in it? Now, we do have great innovative features inside of our mobile app, but also, when you think about the 12,000 engineers that we have, because of the way we're organized, we are empowering our engineers to improve the way they build software. When an engineer on a team makes it so that when they build their software, it takes 15 minutes less time, not everybody runs around talking about this, but when you have 300 engineers that use that, you can do the math.

Gill Haus:
Those sorts of things are innovations as well. When we find other ways to take advantage of technologies that may not be those buzzwords, those things have a meaningful impact on our engineering teams. But what you don't see is, because we then find ways of doing things more efficiently, a little bit to the process point that Rohan said, now, when it comes to let's build that great feature within the mobile app, etc, we have more capacity to put toward it, and it's a lot less work for those teams to do when they want to make it happen, and so we look at it through that lens as well.

Jim Marous:
Now, do you have KPIs around innovation that may impact employees throughout the organization? I mean, is that part of the overall key KPI format at Chase is around innovation?

Rohan Amin:
Yeah. A couple things. So, we use objectives and key results for all of our product teams. What are the outcomes that the product teams are trying to achieve? And then the teams talk about how their roadmaps and what they're doing drive to those outcomes. Those outcomes could be things like user growth, user adoption, the typical types of things you'd expect to see from an objectives and key results standpoint. The other thing we do, which might be a bit closer to what you're getting at is that, when we look at the money that we spend, each of the particular product areas, we look at the, how much money is being spent in a particular area focused on near term activities and longer term activities? Which might be more of the innovation sort of R&D arena.

Rohan Amin:
We look for sort of a balanced set of investments that are being made by each of our teams to make sure they're not only focused on the things that are front and center, here and now, the stuff that will benefit the customer in the next 12 months or so, but also things that are a little bit further downstream that take a little bit time to incubate. So, we want to see a balance on the teams in terms of how they invest their resources and their capacity. That's how we manage that aspect of your question, Jim.

Jim Marous:
Gill, the elephant in the room is even a firm such as Chase is being impacted by the competitors in the marketplace that are both fintech, big tech, and I'll even call them the big fintechs out there in the marketplace. How does Chase address what's going on in the marketplace? I know you have the capability of throwing money against everything, but the reality is that's not feasible. How do you look at the competitive market set out there when the mindset of the consumer, in many cases, is being really taken into these new organizations? The Chimes, the PayPals, things of that nature, as well as organizations like PayPal, I'm sorry, Amazon and Facebook. How do you look at competition within Chase?

Gill Haus:
Yeah, but we do have a wide lens to look and understand what's happening in the industry. We do have, as Rohan mentioned, 58 million active and growing digital customers. So, we do have a large base of customers that use us and trust us every single day. The way that we think about this is a lot of the ... I feel like I'm dropping agile and like the organization a bunch, but I actually think it's just so fundamental to really being able to move, which is, as opposed to us having, again, multiple lines of business that are trying to figure out how you provide a solution, which tends to be a bit fragmented, we have a product team, product leader, design leader, tech leader, etc, that is myopically focused on making that product better. So, they understand the customer challenges, the need, so they can obsess over that customer experience.

Gill Haus:
What lot of startups do and a lot of other companies is they also might often be focused on solving that customer problem. So, by us organizing this way, that doesn't mean to imply that we're myopic in general, but I mean, for this particular case, these teams are looking at, how do we make that experience equal or better to those competitors? What's exciting about that is, when we get it right, and we do often, immediately, millions upon millions of customers have this opportunity and can use the feature versus a startup that would have to gain traction. Now, it doesn't mean that we always get it right. Also, it depends on the timing of when we are focused on the particular experiences, but is why you see these startups, etc, growing as well. But that's how we approach it to make sure that we're not just staying relevant.

Gill Haus:
We're also competing at bringing the fight to the startups. I think the other part of this too, is that there is a brand that we bring on. We are here, we have been here. We offer a variety of services, not just for one particular function, but as you grow your financial life, you can with, at Chase, stay and adopt, add a new functionality to your life, which is fantastic. And we use the data that we get from our customers to make sure that we are on our customer side. We can see the different activities you're doing. We can make recommendations to our customers, such as, we see that you aren't saving. Would you like to auto save? Those sorts of features and functionality that we provide, they are direct competitors.

Gill Haus:
And in many cases, I think, of course I'm biased, but better than the competitors that are out there, and that's how we look to make sure that we are competing with that broad space of players in the field.

Rohan Amin:
I think also, just a bit more on that is, if you look at the ingredients, do you have a modernized platform that you're able to build on rapidly? Check. We have that in many different cases and that is continuing to expand in our footprint. Are we organized in the right way to put the customers first and think about how the customer experiences their journey and then make sure we have teams to organize around that, and who are focused on improving that customer experience? Check. We've got teams that are organized, our product teams, our design teams, our engineering teams working hand in hand. Those are some of the core ingredients that we definitely feel we have. Here's two things, Jim, that I think are sort of differentiators for us. One is the scale.

Rohan Amin:
We keep talking about the 58 million people who are on the platform. But the moment we put a new feature out there, it's that many people who are able to see it. So, the impact that we have so quickly, when we put new feature and functionality out on our mobile app is just tremendous. That scale is incredible. That is just a very exciting thing for someone in my job or in Gill's job to be able to do, is to be able to have that level of scale and impact with the distribution power is just significant.

Rohan Amin:
The other thing, and Gill touched on it, is the data. We have an incredible amount of data of which we use to provide a better, more personalized experience for customers. You go into the app right now, you can get spending insights and trends that are specific to your financial path in terms of what you specifically are doing. So, we're able to take all that data and provide just a much more powerful and personalized experience for customers, and we are just at the beginning of that, and there's a lot more coming on that front.

Rohan Amin:
I think data and scale are two big things that other people don't necessarily have. The other ingredients, strong design, strong modern platforms, less legacy, increasingly, that's us too. We've got a lot to be happy with.

Jim Marous:
It was interesting Rohan, you cut me off in my thought process as I was saying, okay, yes, you have this, yes, you can do this. But as an industry, we've been caught in this whole dynamic of great reports, poor deployment of insights. You talked about it earlier in the podcast around we have the ability to go beyond security and go beyond risk with regard to AI and machine learning. Most financial institutions aren't even scratching the surface there. In fact, it's a part that frustrates me the most as a legacy retail banker to say, we have the capability to make the consumer's life so much easier, but we don't.

Jim Marous:
You address that a little bit saying, we're scratching the surface, but that scenario of tremendous emphasis within Chase right now. Rohan, I'm going to throw a curve ball to you a little bit here. I'm going to say, okay, so I'm going to do some body snatching of you, and I want you to put you into a smallish, let's say a community bank, or I'm going to put you into a mid-sized regional bank. One has obviously more financial wherewithal, some legacy leadership. The other one is probably a lot easier from the standpoint of layers, and probably, I'm going to assume more agile. If you had to be taken out of Chase and I gave you the choice of those two sides organizations, which one do you think today provide you a greater opportunity to make a difference in the marketplace?

Rohan Amin:
That's a great question, Jim. What I would say is, and obviously a little bit tricky question to answer, but what I would say above all else, regardless of sort of the size of the place and the layers and all that sort of thing is, one, is the team, is the company, is the firm prepared culturally and mentally to make the changes that are required to operate in this world where you have to be nimble, you have to be agile? I always tell people like, no one had in their plans, at the end of 2019, that there was going to be a global pandemic in 2020. Were you able to pivot and respond very quick? That is, a lot of it is culture and mindset. A leadership team that needs to know that part of this journey of empowering your product teams is less about you controlling everything centrally and more about establishing the outcomes and guiding everyone to that.

Rohan Amin:
That to me is the biggest cultural element here above everything else. If you've got the buy-in around that strategy, to actually run Chase the way that we do in a product driven way with product teams and design teams and engineering teams working together, that's a major change in terms of how we rewire the place, how you do planning, you do strategy, how you do finances, how you do budgeting, all these things. But if people are committed to the outcome of disrupting themselves, committed to the outcome of empowering teams, breaking down the organization into smaller components that can run a little bit more autonomously, the rest of it all will come together. [inaudible 00:44:16] that has that mindset and culture over, anything else, which is what we have here.

Jim Marous:
I love the answer. As my team, my production team knows, culture trumps all. The reality is it doesn't matter how much money you have, doesn't matter how big you are, size doesn't really matter, especially in a world where you can buy components anywhere from a third party. It really takes the commitment of senior management and the cultural issues that have to be aligned. I think you're exactly right there. Gill, we are getting close to wrapping up this podcast. I'm wondering, what do you see as being the biggest opportunity and technology innovation that you see coming forward in banking in the next 12 to 24 months?

Gill Haus:
Yeah. No, the biggest one ... The answer that people typically would give is going to be something, I think, along the lines of machine learning and AI and data and cloud, etc. All these are incredibly important. Don't get me wrong. We need to make sure that we are investing in those technologies. What I think gets lost a little bit, and it actually is tied to Rohan's answer, I was really curious which company he was going to choose, but it really comes down to making sure that you are focused on the key engineering practices you have, product practices. That's actually, in my mind, key to delivering on technology. For example, there's a lot of companies that will say, we're going to be investing heavily in AI and crypto, etc.

Gill Haus:
They'll buy MacBooks for their engineers, and they have really great stickers and hoodies, etc. They'll have an open floor plan with a foosball table, but you're not going to make the changes that make it so they can actually take advantage of all of those wonderful technologies. The real changes you have to make, and by the way, you should still do the MacBooks and the hoodies and things. Everyone loves hoodies and stickers. But you need to change the way that you hire, the way that you fire, the way you build, test, deploy, manage your application, and also the way that you organize around your product.

Gill Haus:
If you can't do that, you won't be able to compete. When you ask the question like, what is the technology change? There are going to be companies that get it and do that, but it's really hard to do, which is something that we have done, which is a testament just to the leadership here and the culture. That's going to be the difference between everyone else and those companies that are successful.

Jim Marous:
Is there anything more important than speed, Gill? I mean, really, when it gets down to it, with everything happening so fast, is there anything really, is everything driven around, certainly culture, but as far as speed, getting ... The whole mindset within banking has certainly not been around speed traditionally, but is there much more important things than speed and simplicity right now?

Gill Haus:
Speed is important when you have quality and security and predictability, all those things together. The reason why you hear Rohan and myself pushing on the modernization is when you modernize how you build your software, you can get the speed and the quality, and the security, and that's when you're able to really move well. If you are delivering software that is not quality or not secure, you're only going to move quickly for a very small period of time, and then you won't be moving quickly.

Jim Marous:
Rohan, to finish up the podcast, what trends do you see coming in the near term and mid-term? We're not going to take any chance on long-term because we already know that everything can be thrown out tomorrow when we open the paper, but what do you see as the major banking trends in the next 12 months?

Rohan Amin:
Yeah, so I think things that are out there, and I thought that you're focused on the near term versus sort of like these long-term things, because honestly, there's so much changing, and the pace of change right now is frankly just incredible. But what I would say is first and foremost, customer experiences that customers love. So, great design, great experiences make it easy for the customer to achieve their outcome. You're going to, at least from us, you're going to continue to see constant evolution in the customer experience and improvements with regards to how customers interact and bank with us.

Rohan Amin:
The second thing, and actually Gill alluded to it earlier, is sort of omnichannel experience. Whether you bank with us in the branch, you with us and leverage our contact centers, you bank with us on mobile or online, we want the data and the decisioning engines, and all the things that power all those experiences to increasingly think of you and put you as the customer at the center. So, you're just going to see a lot more in that way as well, in terms of like making it easy for you to interact with us using the channel that you'd want to choose, maybe start something in one channel and pick it up in a different channel as an example.

Rohan Amin:
But that omnichannel experience and being customer first and customer centric, as we go down that path, I think is going to be another change that you see. The third and four things I would say are certainly personal. You're already starting to see it in a material way inside the mobile app. There's a lot more coming on that front with regards to personalization powered by data, powered by machine learning. All the things that Gill was talking about in terms of being able to leverage machine learning and all that at scale, that's coming ... You're going to see that take form in the form of personalization for the customer.

Rohan Amin:
Then lastly, what I would say is technology and product that puts the customer in control and allows the customer to make choices around what they want to do. You know that we've talked about trust and privacy being sort of job one for us, and it is job one in terms of how we think about building, capability. But some of the new capabilities that we bring to customers are about putting the customers in control, being able to understand what recurring transactions are happening, being able to understand what third party tools are linking to their bank account and giving them the control to turn things on and off, like I can go on and on.

Rohan Amin:
But the point is, giving customers the ability to control have transparency and control and give them choice, I think is an important element of what you're going to see come through in some of the products that are being built out there. That's just a few things. There's plenty more, but it is absolutely an exciting time to be in this industry, and in particular here at Chase, just given our commitment to product design, tech, data and analytics, the amount of investment that we're making, the people we have, the town that we have. It's an incredible opportunity.

Jim Marous:
I'm going to promise, and I'm going to get you both back on, if not before, then at least a year from now, because you both talked about making sure it's more than just talk, and it's extraordinarily tough where ... I've been meeting with a lot of bankers over the last several months. The biggest challenge for them is, when I get into work in the day, I have great aspirations, but it's hard to keep up with what's going on today, let alone that view forward. We give great soundbite. We talk as an industry about customer first. We talk about digital transformation, automation, AI, machine learning. We talk about a lot. Even with the most money in the world, it is still hard to implement it where the customer feels it. It'll be hate to reflect upon this a year from now to say, okay, what were our hits?

Jim Marous:
What were our misses? Because they're not all going to be home runs. I don't care how many people you have, it's still hard to guide all those processes. I appreciate you being on the show today, because I think what's really been unique to me is that I can tell the difference between organizations that are movies forward and those that are somewhat standing still based on the enthusiasm and the passion for what people do. I often bring up the leader of Varo as being a person that I said, "man, you can tell, as soon as you got on the podcast, this guy had focused as to what do you want to accomplish. And I get on his bandwagon immediately and say, "I want to be on that train." I would say the same about both of you. It's been a pleasure having you on the show today. I really appreciate your time.

Rohan Amin:
Thanks so much, Jim. Appreciate the opportunity.

Gill Haus:
[inaudible 00:52:16].

Jim Marous:
Thanks. Thanks for listening to Banking Transformed, rated as a top five banking podcast, and the winner of three international awards for podcast excellence. If you enjoy what we're doing, please take some time to show your love in the form you'll review. It helps us continue to get such great guests as we had today. Finally, be sure to catch my recent articles on the financial brand and the research we're doing the for the Digital Banking Report. This has been a production of Evergreen Podcasts, a special thank you to our producer, Leah Longbrake, audio engineer, Sean Rule-Hoffman, and video producer, Will Pritts. I'm your host, Jim Marous. Until next time, remember, advanced technology is best when it improves everyday life, but where you don't really know it's being put in place.

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