Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 5 months ago

149) #NewStartsNow - Partnerships: More than Mere Survival

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

As the world moves more and more to digital, there is a misconception that partnering with a Fintech or financial brand is a partnership based on survival.

That couldn’t be further from the truth.

The best partnerships are ones that benefit each member.

Today, I’m joined by Allison Netzer, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer at NYMBUS, and Margaret Hartigan , CEO and Founder at Marstone, Inc. as they share how they're making that a reality every day.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • Why wealth management isn’t only for the rich
  • How partnerships are shaping the future of finance
  • Why the most successful partnerships are between equals    

You can find this interview and many more by subscribing to Banking on Digital Growth on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify , or here . 

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Banking on Digital Growth in your favorite podcast player.

...money has no value without the activities of life mm mhm Mhm. Mhm. You're listening to banking on digital growth with James robert. Ley who believes there is no better time than now to educate and empower financial brands to gain a fresh perspective around future growth opportunities. That's why today's episode is part of the new starts now series brought to you by Nimbus who offers a complete set of tech tools and services, all designed and engineered to empower you and your financial brand to maximize your future growth potential greetings and hello, I am James robert ley and welcome to the 148th episode of the Banking on Digital Growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the news starts now series and I'm excited to welcome Margaret Hartigan and Allison net sir to the show, Margaret is the founder and Ceo of MAr Stone on a mission to enhance financial literacy, deepen financial inclusion and humanize Finance for all. Allison is the chief marketing and strategy officer at Nimbus who is empowering financial brands to transform their capabilities to drive value and maximize growth in today's digital marketplace. Welcome to the show, Margaret and Allison, it is so good to share time with you both. Hi, thanks for having me, good to see you, Thanks for having me. You know, I always like to start things off on a positive note here. Something good, something exciting, something That's been going well, what is that right now for both of you? one thing. One thing that is good personally, professionally, it's always your pick to begin. Well, it's always a good day in austin texas Sun is out and I know it is where you are, I think what's going well for me right now with the team were growing rapidly at Nimbus as you know, and we've got some really cool teammates joining us on the marketing and strategy side that we're going to be...

...announcing in the next week or two, so I'm pretty pumped about that. Growth. Growth is good, Growth is exciting and it really is energizing. I'm looking forward to those announcements and by the time this airs will hopefully get that out and people will know exactly what that is. So you have to wait and see. You actually come back and follow Allison on, linked in to get the low down on that Margaret. What about you? What's been going? Well? Um similar teams growing, we're seeing a lot of success, but particularly really excited about our collaboration with Alison and Nimbus and really the Community Bank credit union space where it's really fun to be able to bring wealth management to these organizations who maybe didn't think it was an opportunity in the past. Very much so in collaboration is a key part of growth. It is a key part of bringing together people together for good and this idea of wealth management, you spent 10 years here As a financial advisor, 2000-2012 before founding Marston Back in 2013, I want to hop into the, to the DeLorean of the mind and let's take it, let's take a trip. Let's go back to 2000 and eight, the great recession. I'm curious, you know, being in wealth management as a financial advisor, what did that time period have on you? How did the great recession help you see things a little bit differently when it comes to wealth management, when launching marston? That's a great question. So, uh, in addition to gray hair, it gave me a new perspective on people um, when I remember I was client facing. So every account was the personal narrative. It was a special needs trust. It was a college account of mortgage or what have you. And so what I recognized during that period of time was that there were three challenges. The first one was most people lack financial literacy and that doesn't mean that they weren't right. It just meant they weren't familiar with the language of investments Or correlations of assets. The 2nd 1 was when President Obama got elected, there was concern that maybe the tax code would change. And I started seeing money move across generations pretty radically and...

...earlier than people anticipated. So I thought, wow, how our institutions going to keep their arms around those deposits and those investments when this money moves because remember like, you know, I'm the oldest of five, most, none of us actually bank at the same place as our parents. Right? So how do we safeguard against this. And then lastly, the systems that we were using were very paper driven and the systems didn't speak to each other. So they were silos versus ecosystems. So having lived in san Francisco for a long time, I knew that we had to have technologies that enabled both the institution in the in their bankers or financial advisors, but really the clients too because we're not prepared for that. So that that was really, that was the big item for me, it's packed to stay now, but technology does change consumer behavior and our industry was very remains very late to it. So you're 100% correct. Technology does drive consumer behavior. It also drives, you know, new competitive threats as well. We're seeing that. But on the flip side it also drives the potential for collaboration which is where you and Alison have been doing a lot of thinking around, I want to stay right here for just a bit Alison because Margaret, you, you mentioned people, people really being at the core, the center of your thinking here and Alison, you and I have had many conversations about the people problems, the people problems when it comes to money and really the emotive side of managing money at Nimbus, you spent a lot of time listening listening to people listening to financial brands about some of these problems, some of these challenges, listening is core to the culture at Nimbus. What have been some of the big pain points that people feel when it comes to managing money. What have you been hearing here? Yeah, I know excited to talk a little bit more about that. But first you want to congratulate Margaret on, on all of marston's recent success. There there definitely 11 to watch, not only in the wealth management space, but I think beyond. So I just wanted to be able to...

...tell her that kind of quasi in person, but James robert, you mentioned the emotions people feel when it comes to managing money and it's connected to the emotions that they feel that we all feel when it comes to managing life, right? Money has no value without the activities of life. And there was a recent survey called Mind over Money by Capital One and the decision lab which I know you're familiar with and it noted that three and four americans feel anxious about their financial situation. 58% feel finance controls their lives and 52% have difficulty controlling their money related worries. That adds up to over 100% if you think about people feeling it controls your lives and then they can't control their worries. So in a word, people are anxious is when we say it and with our, just from from our example, our bank for newlyweds hitched, which we've done a lot of first person research on, we found that Future financial security as their number one concern are working conversations with business owners, you know, we found the same thing, right? Business owners or people too. And I keep keep repeating that, I'm going to keep repeating that. So business owners are concerned and have have that fear and that anxiety about their livelihoods, but also are worried about their impact on the businesses that depend on them. And we often kind of forget about that part. So all that said, emotions are energy, We need collective energy to, to drive the type of changes that I know the three of us champion in our industry, meeting people where they are, understand where they can go and definitely being accountable beyond the technology motion is definitely our energy and a lot of this does come back to well being because there's the financial well being aspect and even TD has done...

...some studies around this showing the correlation between a person's physical well being and their financial well being, their financial well being and their mental well being and when money is stressful, money is confusing, money is overwhelming than it can take a toll and really impact things in a not so positive way. I want Margaret, I want to expand maybe a little bit further on Allison's thinking here, dig deeper into some of these challenges specifically when it comes to wealth management, both from a consumer perspective as well as from a financial brand, a bank, a credit union. What are some of the problems that we must be thinking about? We must be aware of here that could, could hold things back from moving forward to creating a bigger, better, brighter future for for others in this space. One thing I came from both management, I have to say, I didn't fully appreciate or understand banking all sides of banking until I started working with banks, right? They have very different back end systems. They uh many bank operators haven't rotated through all aspects of a bank, so they aren't really bilingual in their understanding of each other's pain points and process. Um but I think what I do think you see is this massive convergence of everyone getting into each other's swim lane. So the firms like Merrill lynch or morgan Stanley, they have what they call cash management accounts or beyond banking. To a layperson, they act like a bank, you can pay with things A. T. M. They do mortgages, etcetera, etcetera, legion companies are now starting to get into banking and they're starting to get into wealth management. So I think that the world has changed and you need to collaborate, it's very difficult to be all things to all people and I think we all have to offer more service lines than we probably did before. And so I think there's a huge opportunity for banks and credit unions that typically don't offer wealth management. These, I actually think it's a very important strategy to...

...protect their deposits as I highlighted earlier when a small business owner has a liquidity event or if there's a inheritance. Oftentimes it may not stay at that institution because it may be the money manager has these other capabilities, right not. So I think there's a huge opportunity. Fin techs have firms like Nimbus and what not have made it easier for people to offer a niche bank or de novo bank that enables that their cost to serve to go down dramatically. And I think by offering these additional services, it enables you also to enhance like your net promoter score and the average number of services per company. So I think people would be very surprised by how accessible the cost structure is to actually launch these programs, whether it's, you know, nimbus or marketing, but I also think they really have their hair blown back by how fast they're deployed. Yes, yes, that speed the speed to market, but that's also the simplicity as well. You mentioned something, this idea of what I will call here, the great convergence and you've got, when you mention legion companies, I think of like a nerdwallet for example, offering some of these services that was more of a content play to begin with and then now they're flipping it on its head and bringing these services to bear in the marketplace. And you mentioned collaboration. I I see collaboration, as I mentioned before is a path towards exponential growth because of this idea around speed, it's way too short cut to create new paths to solve big problems for people, How are you two working together to collaborate to create value for people by humanizing finance and and and and also from from the internal side, empowering and simplifying some of the back offices the processes of the systems, what does collaboration look like for the two of you? So I'm very fortunate that that Margaret and I collaborate together in in several ways and and then we'll get into partnership...

...best practices in a little bit. Uh currently, I mean we're working with mar Stone on the concept of wealth management within niche segments in both consumer an S and B. And and so, you know, you've got I think two very different but but holistic offerings coming together and just like Margaret mentioned, you know, she's learned a lot about banking, you know, in this partnership, I've learned enough to be dangerous about what wealth management and when you talk about the the human side of banking and then also this simplification of backend processes, you know, um you know, Mark, you said before wealth management is not necessarily for the wealthy, right? A lot of it is the looking forward the financial literacy, a lot of things that financial brands are doing today in trying to humanize, right, higher level of service, looking towards the future financial literacy setting goals, those are the ingredients for wealth management, we just sort of, people sort of have a visceral reaction when you say a wealth management, right? You think of a big desk, you think of new york, at least I do. Um and you've got to like be super rich and but the planned fullness, the literacy, the thinking of your family, the legacy of your business, those are human things that wealth management Cannon should help with. And again, like myself, my team, the broader team at Nimbus, I was surprised at how easy it would be for banks and credit unions to be able to offer wealth management when they don't. That's a great point. This idea of what I would call the democratization Of wealth management because what you just said, financial management wealth management is not just for the wealthy, that's a misconception right there. And...

I'm curious, you know, Margaret, you've got 20 years of experience in wealth management, what might be some of the other misconceptions and misunderstandings? Financial brands might have around this subject. What could be holding them back from, from bringing this capability in, because we're talking about collaboration, we're talking about simplicity, we're talking about empowering people with knowledge, which with, with education here. Sure, I think part of it's a different regulatory oversight, so that might be, you know, certain bankers who say maybe I don't need another regulator. Like in my but there are new business models. So, you know, for instance marston, we are a registered investment advisor. We can be the regulatory regulated entity and we can manage the money and actually revenue share back To the client and in that model we can stand someone up in 30 days. I think, I think it's the cost. I think it's maybe the uncertainty of what it takes on the regulatory environment. But you know, we've worked together to come up with like really easy bullet points to almost get started quick guys. And you know, we're also, we want to be a great coach. So let's say that someone wants to start out, they want to date the whole business, They want to date us as a provider. But then once they get their sea legs, you might say, hey, you know what, we might want to take this back in house. And there's all sorts of flexible models. Like I think like we want to be a player coach with folks and want to help them kind of explore the entity. But going back to one of the things Allison said is wellness and you know, at the end of the day, Dave and plan and based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs its food shelter security. And then bits of aspiration of whimsy and that's true if you're a billionaire and that, that's true, if you're financially innocent and just starting out and all of those things are actually financial decisions, right? Where am I going to live? How am I going to get to work? You know, are my family, Are they safe? And so what we have done in Alison and her team seemed pretty stoked on it is we've created this interactive financial wellness and...

...inclusion planning tool that is a lovely compliment to a bank like hitch where two individuals are coming together and trying to figure out how much is pooled, how much is separated and like put guardrails on things. And it's also a great way to actually test drive. Do we actually have the same values and beliefs about some of these items? So I think the partnership that we have is is great on many levels because we complement each other. I never want to be a core. I'm not going to be launching any banks. I don't think we'll get into both management or Jeff. I'm good. But one thing that I think is like her team Alice in particular in jeopardy, they have a very high EQ as well as I. Q. And subject matter expertise and a real commitment to design sensibility because at the end of the day, at least on the most management that's highly commoditized activity. But what's not highly commoditized is how bank X, Y. Z what their value proposition, what their culture is and how they display that to the greatest number of people at the greatest cost and the greatest ease. And so I think we're very aligned in our design sensibility and are kind of approach today's episode of banking on digital growth is brought to you by Nimbus who believes in creating even better financial services for all better access, better experiences, better value, all while supporting the entire customer journey. And how do they do this? Offering end to end niche banking solutions that you can buy or build, providing accountability beyond the technology and prioritizing impactful, intentional innovation. Instead of chasing features ready to transform what is and create what's next. Learn more at nimbus dot com, I like what you're, you're referencing a couple of things. Number one addressing the fears, the fear, particularly the unknown. Like this is unchartered territory, there's the regulatory aspect of this, that's what aspect that I'm really encouraged by. But number two, it's this model of the player...

...coach or what I like to reference as the helpful guide. You know, we could do this for you, we can do this together with you or we can guide and empower and coach you to do this and do even more there and that really is at the essence of collaboration here and when it comes to collaboration. Um uh I'm curious Alison, what can we do to maybe clear up some misconceptions and misunderstandings that a financial brand, a bank or credit union might have about collaborating when things Might not have gone to well historically in the past and some of these these areas um I just had a conversation with Sarah, how about this in episode 146 and she coined the phrase, it's all about the symphony of simplicity. So what holds financial brands back from making collaborative commitments? Well, you know, I love the topic of misconceptions, it's one of my favorite things to talk about. So you know, to me, one of the biggest misconceptions around fin techs and financial brand partnerships is this this misperception that it's one of survival, right? This is sort of almost desperation and that's not a collaboration of equals, right? That's not what you're hearing. For example, from Margaret myself today, there's this misconception that there's this be all end all in some fin techs digital drawer. Somewhere that's going to save, you know, save your institutions, save the world. The truth is that the best partnerships and collaborations aren't even always on paper, but they are always from a place of abundance where the groups and it can be more than two doesn't have to be to the groups have momentum, they have ideas, they have passion and they just need a structure to make that happen. The partnership is the structure, It's not the salvation, right? It's just a structure. And so,...

...you know, I think two good examples of this, certainly what Jason has been doing an alloy labs and of course is Margaret mentioned what we're, what we're doing a written nimbus labs when, when you reference this idea of abundance, I just immediately latch onto that because that's how I view the world competition in my mind, I let go of that a long time ago and it was a very good thing. Truth be told. I took a little bit of therapy, but we worked through some of that. We got out on the other side and it's a lot better off and, and but I'm curious you mentioned this idea of partnership and I want to want to come back over to you on this market. It's called a partnership rooted in purpose. I think purpose is really key. There's that alignment and you're touching on this before. So when it comes to a purpose uh framed around really designing a bigger, better, brighter future for, for people. What do you see some of the biggest opportunities here to humanize finances for people going for? You touched on this with hitched, but to really make money more approachable, feel less intimidating, feel overwhelming. How does purpose play into this? And really a partnership of purpose. It's definitely why we get out of bed every morning And there's, you know, we're, we've been around for a while in part because we were the first ones to move in this space and we did a lot of the back end plumbing on the wealth management side with large financial firms. This tool that I referenced, maps that we are going live with a couple of clients in first quarter, not everyone is ready to invest. Almost everyone needs help getting their financial house in order. And so when you marry that purpose and then marry it with really great design fidelity, it's not heavy and math and not heavy and jargon. It actually really enables people to start playing with opposites, see what the simulations can be and when you have a gamified interactive...

...platform or approach like this plan planning tool has people get up the hockey stick really quickly because they have purpose, they want to buy a house, they want to send the kids to school, they want to do those things and when the tool shows them how to get there, what's very cool is they actually self correct whether it's saved more or change the size of the house or the time frame and that is incredible. So then suddenly you have people that actually are empowered because they're educated when they do advance to either applying for a loan or or what have you so, but a planning tool without connectivity to take action whether it's banking, lending or investing, it's sort of like a Fitbit and never going to the gym or or working out right, it doesn't work. So what's key is an ecosystem and I think what the Nimbus team has done is it adds this extension two, a planning tool that offers banking and in our partnership, we can offer investment and planning well now you have an ecosystem where everything is talking to each other and it can be automated and a big psychological key for success is actually automation. So I think that the nimbus opportunity also enables a lot of banks to reach people that they actually really want to reach. But with their current technologies the cost to serve is so great. So this is pretty exciting for us because there's a bank that we're about to announce in New England that really wants to extend deeper into the community, but they can't with the their stead trust department are plus firm or their current core or their current custodian. And now we're being able to come in with a very fast, easy and very cost, competitive platform, good point you make about a planning tool without the ability to empower someone to act. It's almost kind of like a Fitbit and an act is an act as you see in digital growth. Topia acronyms abound and maybe it's just because 20 years in the banking...

...space, I've gotten so accustomed to an acronym for everything, but I think it's also a little mental hack for this A. D. D. Mind actually remember things, but but here's the acronym for Act, it's awareness plus commitment equals transformation because there's one thing to know what you need to do to get the awareness but you need to have the courage to act to move forward to make the commitment so that you can reach that transformative state because it's the growth that comes through transformation, that's where you achieve the goals, that's where you house the business, whatever that might be on the other side. So I really like this idea of providing that just the knowledge, but then providing really the guidance, the recommendations to empower, someone to act with courage. Allison, I want to leap into the mind here of uh financial brand leader and you're touching on this a little bit Margaret about some of these examples, I want to leap into the mind of a leader here, they're at a bank or credit union, they're listening to today's conversation, they're feeling hopeful, they're feeling excited about the future here to create even more value for their account holders, what might be some of the big opportunities for them to create through collaborative commitments through strategic alliances, what one of my favorite places to be as in someone else's mind. Um but and I was just checking my fit that actually, and Margaret is correct, if you do not actually walk, it does not register steps which is sort of where I am at the moment, but I hope the bank and Credit Union leaders are feeling hopeful even before listening, but we talk a lot at nimbus about how there are no obstacles to growth. Only, you know, only opportunities not taken. And I think the opportunity for financial institutions to create that value through collaboration. It is there. It really is, I think especially if you take the mindset I mentioned earlier, coming to the table as equals and from that place of abundance, I think the specific areas where f I s can...

...collaborate are with smaller well run fin techs that can partner to make incremental changes versus big overhauls. A few examples, I think what Katherine is doing a plank, its course, auto books, I think are 22 good examples of that kind of type of partnership. And when you look at the data from folks like american banker, even just pull up your app store consumers and business owners aren't demanding a revolution. I know we'd like to be in a revolution, like that's more exciting, but they're not demanding a revolution they want to be seen and heard. And that can often be a, you know, jim's revenue, you're big into the small steps that can often be just a small step towards the consumer or business owner versus a disruptive technology that could possibly move them farther away. It's a great point. That idea of small incremental changes, it's it's change just the word. It it set some people off because, you know, no one likes to get their cheese moved. Uh I prefer to seek the solace of the of the norm and what I know to be safe and true, but on the flip side it's through that commitment of transformation, that we can create something new together, but when we do it in small incremental bits, the small steps, which is where I'd like to wrap up today's conversation, it has been fantastic and I really thank you both for the knowledge, the thinking, the expertise that you're sharing here so that we're all learning and growing together what are some very small practical steps and maybe it's just one next best step that the dear listener can take, who is hearing this so that they can continue to move forward to make progress along their digital growth journey when it comes to capturing some of the opportunities we've discussed around wealth management, around even collaboration, what would you recommend as the next best step forward for them Margaret something small, something simple. I...

...think one might be to take an inventory and audit of what their current client base looks like, you know both from like an age concentration diversification because I think we do have to start planting for the future and you know, so I think that's one and then figure out what are the right ways that we can go out and start getting smaller, younger new clients. I think that that's pretty critical what are the tools because my guess is that it's pretty concentrated and that that's vulnerability and just elaborating on you know your question but also Allison's answer earlier, I just came from in wealth management conference and we were talking about Robin Hood and you know different companies and people are sort of scoffing at, you know whether average account size is $3000 or blah blah blah. But truthfully that's what Bob looks like in 85. And so the people who are saying, well that's cute about hitched or you know that you know that's nice that people are doing a niche bank but you know there are average bank balances is $15,000 or this or that. Well, you know what, look at how big these generations are, you know, I'm in gen z gen x so there's like five of us but like the generations behind us are large and so I think that banks that aren't looking at how they can retain these assets and acquire new ones. So that's where I would begin look at the audit, look at where the A. C. Hs are going, My guess is they're going to stash their going to Robin Hood, they're going to things like this and you know coined based and all these wealth management firms Schwab fidelity etcetera, they're becoming more and more banks and they're doing things that banks can't do right now. Like same day settlement and pre funding like Robin Hood and coin based do. So I think an opportunity like working with nimbus in particular, a bank can actually be agile and they can do R. And D. And no one's going to lose their job if it doesn't go exactly how they want it to be because the expenditure is not so...

...great and so I do think people have to test and learn. So it's more than you asked for, but that was just sort of my idea. No, I want to bring that back to really kind of two points. Number one inventory clients like just take a snapshot of, of where you're at and how does that look and project out over the next 10 years. Is that a, is that a sustainable model going forward? And then it's like, okay, well you've got like you said your ex, well then you got the millennials, then you've got those ears, those are, you know, we're going to be probably the most massive transfer of wealth ever at this point, going from one generation to the next and and where is all that going to go, where are they going to be? It's once again, it's the democratization of money and I think those that can provide clarity, those that can provide some some help and hope and really hope comes before help. They'll be in a really good position to guide the next generation forward. But the concern as I'm hearing you say this, well they're not large dollar accounts at this moment in time. Give it time because if not now when, if not who, then then what? So really, really great thinking right there, Margaret, Allison, what about you? What's the next step you would recommend to the dear listener to take to move forward with courage and confidence on their own journey of growth, wow, that is a tough ask to live up to. I'm going to take a slightly different spin on the word assets. So I know we're only on video, but I am putting my hands to my head so mine is protect the asset which is your mind and give it love, give it attention and give it rest. That's a great point because you know, as we move forward into this age of ai, into this age of automation, I really believe it's the thinking that we are doing that will create the greatest value, not just the doing because it's...

...the doing that has the ability to be automated that can feel a little bit scary, but if we can detach ourselves from the doing and really wrap our minds around the thinking, we can all do even better together, Margaret, Allison, this has been a great conversation, thank you both for the knowledge of the insights. If someone wants to continue the conversation with you that we started here today, what is the best way for them to, to reach out and say hello Yeah, for me, I'm the Lincoln junkie. So that's uh that's the best way to get all my info there. Go to linkedin, connect with Allison, learn from Alison, Margaret, what about you? Same, that or em hard again at marston dot com. Be happy to speak with anyone. All right, well thank you, thank you both and thank you for listening, thank you for joining me on another episode of banking on digital growth as always. And until next time be well. Do good and make your bed. Thank you for listening to another episode of banking on digital growth with James robert ley brought to you by Nimbus, who is on a mission to bring the people process and technology together to create new routes to growth for financial brands and enable them to deliver outcomes to learn more about how you can collaborate with Nimbus to maximize your future digital growth potential, visit www dot nimbus dot com until next time, be well and do good.

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