Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 1 year ago

73) #DigitalGrowthJourneys: Business Alignment - The Key to Your Digital Transformation ft. Cory LeBlanc

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Want to know the secret to a smooth and successful digital transformation? Business alignment.

Many businesses think digital transformation is about adopting technology without any real understanding of business needs, but our guest, Cory LeBlanc, a Fintech Co-Founder, joins us to debunk that mindset and provide other sharp insights from his personal digital growth journey.

On this episode, we talk about:

-How honesty drives transformation

-Adopting technology for all the wrong reasons

-Reinventing how community banks can serve their clients

-Why it’s important to get the business lines involved with your digital transformation at the very beginning

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.
 

...as financial institutions. It's really is our responsibility just to be excellent providers, sound guides, you know, just good. Stewart's with the trust these customers are giving us. Mhm. Mhm. You're listening to Banking on Digital Growth with James Robert Lay, a podcast that empowers financial brand marketing, sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential by generating 10 times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part of the Digital Growth Journeys series, where James Robert uncovers and explores some of the industry's biggest digital marketing and sales stories of success. Let's get into the show, Greetings and Hello, I am James Robert Ley and welcome to the 73rd episode of the Banking on Digital Growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the Digital Growth Journey series, and I'm excited to welcome Corey Low Block to the show. Corey is the co founder of a soon to launch Fintech, bringing over 20 years of diverse information technology experience in roles such as C T, O. V. P. Of I T and director of Infrastructure and Security. He's also on the MX Client advisory board, and he is the recipient of the 20 under 40 by banking Exchange magazine. Welcome to the show, Corey. Hey, thanks for having me, James. Robert. Well, I'm looking forward to talking about what you have going on a little bit right now behind the scenes. But before we get there, I want to I want to lead up to this point and how you got to where you're at on just your own digital growth journey to to educate others to really, I think even inspire others. Because you've you've had such an amazing journey and in a short period of time. And when you reflect back on that journey, what has been the biggest lesson that you've learned along the way that might be helpful to teach others. Yeah, I think for me, you know, personally, it kind...

...of sits down with Don't sit back on anything, right? You know, if you have this thought or this idea of something that really you have a passion for you, you got to just drive with it. You've got to step outside of your comfort zone. Really, You know, have the conversations, ask the questions and really push. And I think you know even more specifically for me personally. You know, 2020 in itself has led to some some really serious introspection. Man, it really kind of pushed me to kind of look at, you know, what was it that I was actually doing day to day, right? You know, what does it mean to my contribution to the space that, you know, we kind of all operate in right now, which is, you know, this world of digital banking and banking technology. And as you can imagine, you know, 2020 shifted a ton of stuff, right? And, you know, I had a lot to think about, but and I want to be clear, you know, we were doing some really positive things that my previous organization and I have no doubt right, that Origin Bank is going to continue to serve the community. They operate in a really meaningful way. However, as I was kind of looking at what I was doing and the challenges and then certainly that kind of was, you know, sitting in front of us, you know, I knew that I really kind of had a step outside of what you know, my day to day was if I was going to accomplish anything significant So that was what I was saying. If there's something out there right that you aspire to do, you just got to really push and go do it because, you know, for me to do that thing, that's gonna be significant both professionally and personally. I need an ability to really kind of go back to the basics, Right? Really? Look at things more from that first principle concept idea instead of looking at things from a digitization standpoint, but looking at a true digital capacity of what we can and can't do and at the end of the day, you're right. I had to decide. Was it time for me to take a leap? And for me, it was. And it was to leave this really comfortable position, working with people that I respect, and I call...

...friends to this day and try something a bit different. But look, you know, the last 45 days and since leaving this 14 year role behind me, you know, I've been going, like, 100 miles an hour every single day. We're talking about this a little bit ago, but I'm having a ton of fine. I look forward to you. know, doing some of the really good stuff this year that we have in front of us. And I think you know, if I had to say that, you know, kind of sum it all up, it's Let's go after that, right? Go after the thing that you really can, you know, get excited about every single day you talk about taking the leap. And I think, you know, if you reflect back on just your own personal journey of growth and you move from A to B C to D. E to F and and sometimes you've had to make some pretty big leaps looking behind you, You and I were talking about this before, is this idea of of confidence and speaking the truth? How can others maybe gain that sense of confidence and and and really be empowered to speak the truth? I think because when I think about transformation, transformation really must begin by telling the truth first and foremost to ourselves, right? Yeah, you know, it really does. It starts with honesty, right? And being honest with with who we are and what our role is and what we want to accomplish, You know, we were talking about being in a room full of executives are room full of people with certain responsibilities or rolls. It may seem senior to you, right? And for me that I was never the case, right? I never felt like anyone was above me, necessarily. It was always they may have a role that was more important to the organization than mine was, you know, on paper. But that my role I could be amazing at right if I put every single ounce of effort that I had into doing the best I could in, you know, research and preparation. And that way, when I showed up to the media room or the boardroom or of the table for conversation, that I was prepared...

...on my end right, and that way when the conversation went to those uncomfortable places or those, you know, situations where maybe there's conflict, I was I was pretty sure of where I was. Right now that doesn't mean that I was right all the time. Absolutely not, right. I was wrong, quite a pit. But I was confident in what it was that I was going to speak to, and that also helped open the door for some pretty interesting, interesting paths and conversations. Yeah, you know, it is about doing the work and and really thinking about where you've been, where you're at and where you can go next, both personally, professionally as a team, as an organization, I think it's so easy just to get caught up into doing. And you mentioned 2020 being a year of reflection and introspection. How can us, as leaders create that space and time to escape the doing of digital, if you will, to review where we've been to gain learnings from that and and really think about where we can go next? Because otherwise we just get in this continuous cycle of just doing for the sake of of doing. And I think that's a big problem, right? You know, when we talk about specifically in banking and some of the more, you know, I guess the industries where technology has not really been embraced as well as some others I retail in some of these other spaces. They're a little bit further ahead, but you look at banking. You look at, you know, the all in gas or electrical fields, and you start to see. You know, these companies who have some pretty old systems right in place. And so the way that they look at technology is this inevitable thing that I have to invest time and effort into. They don't really know what that means, right? And so they're having a conversation around technology when in reality they need to be having a conversation around the business, right? What the value add to adding technology is, and how can we...

...utilize technology to better structure our companies to meet that goal? Right? And that's where I think the conversation is often missed, that we look at it. It's investment into Softwares or hardware's and not into the investment in the business. And how do we start to restructure? Yeah, Ron Shevlin has shared a report. I think it was around the technology success bias to where we we adopt this technology, thinking it's going to be the cure to all of our pain points and problems. But that's a very dangerous place to be. Have you experienced that? Maybe not yourself, but just others that you've worked with this historically of how you know, we think this technology is the cure but But we have to set the proper expectations, right? We definitely have a sense of proper expectations. And another problem with that, you know, more specifically is that we in a very, I guess risk adverse space. Like banking we look at Okay, what's the known right? What's what's the probability of default? Right? And so we want known outcomes and the things that we do. And the problem with technology is, if there's a clear known outcome were probably too late to the game, right? Really? To get the maximum value of the investment in that technology. And so what you end up seeing is these companies that almost go about it like they're selecting from and I say this all the time, like a takeout menu right where they're saying. Okay, well, I need some p two p. So I need to go grab the seller. I need I need this other service. So I'm gonna go add this feature into my vocal. Thank you. Because I see that everybody else is saying that it's awesome and they need it as opposed to looking at What is it that we do? And what is it that we want to do exceptionally well. And how does that? How does that align to the technology that we need to put in place to to get there? Oh, wow. I love that I love the takeout analogy. I also have talked about it as their self diagnosing, and then they're prescribing their own solution but their self diagnosing incorrectly. And so they're getting the incorrect...

...solution to the bigger problem. And I want to transition to the conversation because you're continuing down this path of growth, your own journey of growth. As you move further into 2021 you've launched a digital first de Novo Community Banker co founder that's going to be focusing on the SNB market coming back to Ron Shevlin. That was something that he shared to end Episode 58 he said. The S and the market is going to get very hot for financial brands, and I even made S and B s one of my top 12 opportunities in 2021 during Episode 55. Why was launching a digital first Novo so appealing for you just to go down This this new path of of your own personal digital growth journey right? Yeah. So, uh, you know, we're an organization right now, so we haven't launched yet. We're still trying to design and orchestrate the layers that are going to kind of get this thing rolling for us. But, I mean, seriously, right? It was appealing to me for all the reasons that you were just talking about, right? So the reasons why you made it a top priority on one of your list Why? Ron was noting that the substantial value in this on your podcast and then, you know, he also worked with corners as cornerstone with auto books to write, do some surveys and some reports on the value that's out there around the SNB space. And then you can look at the report from the surveys 11 fs started doing at the end of 2019. And this was a conversation right? I was having with with Sam Mall when he was over at 11 fs. And we're talking about trying to give some of our customers from origin to them to to kind of survey to see Well, what is it that the customers see as these underserved needs? Right or what is the opportunity for us to really utilize technology or align it right. We're talking about alignment, two things. But a lot of that started coming out at the beginning of two. There are 2020 and but it was really kind of working on the backside of this even before that There. You know, there's just this tremendous opportunity to create significant change in that space, but it's been...

...pretty underwhelming. Li served, I think, through digital financial services, even prior to this year, right? So you spend a lot of time in consumer or it's almost white label at this point, a lot of senses. There's a lot of work that we can do. But for the most part, a lot of the stuffs are being met somewhere. It's just simply orchestrating or layering into technologies, right to to do what it is that you want to do in consumer. And you look to the Treasury or more larger enterprise businesses. And and that services has has a good bit more, you know, stuff offered from that's a community banks for the smaller banks space. But you get into this middle section, right? This this s and B section, uh, and you see this insane amount of stress and adversity and uncertainty and everything that's kind of been layered in over this past year has been created for these small businesses. And let's be honest, right? These are the soul of the communities that we 100% and they will be 100% right, And they're gonna be instrumental right in the success of our recovery as a country. And it was it was a pretty easy decision for me and for some of my founding partners. And investors are working with us now. We just have a lot of work ahead of us as a team, right? My fellow founders in the end, But we're waking up every day and asking ourselves, you know, the tough questions And but the cool part is that we get to truly go out there and get answers and then try to solve them and really put something into the space to do that, you know, we're not checking boxes anymore, and so we're building and orchestrating what we believe is going to be something significant. Technology has transformed our world, and digital has changed the way consumers shop for and buy financial services forever. Now consumers make purchase decisions long before they walk into a branch if they walk into a branch at all. But your financial brand still wants to grow loans and deposits. We get it. Digital growth can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming for any financial brand marketing and sales leader. But it doesn't have to because James Robert wrote the book that guides you every step of the way along your digital...

...growth journey. Visit www dot digital growth dot com to get a preview of his best selling book, Banking on Digital Growth, or order a copy right Now for you and your team from Amazon. Inside you'll find a strategic marketing manifesto that was written to transform financial brands, and it is packed full of practical and proven insights you can start using today to confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits. Now back to the show. Yeah, it's It's one of the things Jeffrey Kendall I had on the podcast a couple episodes ago. We were talking about the old JFK quote of We choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy, but because it is hard and you know why I wake up here at the Digital Growth Institute is it's really the bigger purpose of what I call one bxb tr, which is to get a billion people beyond their financial stress towards a bigger, better, brighter future. I'm just 11 guy. I you know, I've got visions in my head, and all I can do is transfer this knowledge outside of my head and two others and and really just elevate this industry as a whole. But you're right about the small business and really the community bank, the community institution, the community banks, community institution falls. The small business has really at that point no one to really turn to, because if you think about like p p p who stepped up who who bridged that gap, it was the community institutions who who came to the rescue of small business. Yeah, look, p p p wasn't the main contributing factor, right to what we why we did this. But it definitely, you know, accelerated some of the conversations with investors because it was very clear right where there's this disconnect existed. And if you go look at and I mentioned 11 fs research on this space and you look at 51% of small businesses. Call one of the top five financial institutions in the US their bank, right. And then so 49% are relying on this small, smaller regional...

...community banks right to really kind of run their businesses. But I think it was like 67% or 60 high. 60% of them utilize one of the top five fintech platforms as well. So what you see right from the studies from the research from actually talking to small businesses is in order for them to run their businesses there happen to go to multiple places to get the job done. And so when P. P. P. Came around and the larger financial institutions maybe didn't meet the needs of these businesses and they were starting to falter, they really did have to rely on the regional community bank space. And so whether that was through technology or whether that was through just a ton of people putting in a massive effort to get funds out to these people, it matters, right? And so for us, this whole idea doesn't really, you know, concern us on the ending size or the scale that we can get to. It's more about this greater contribution of things for us, right? We want to make an impact. However, however, that works out, and that is, You know, it's been really fun for me and my team, and I can honestly tell you I've never been good at sitting on my hands. We were talking about this a while ago. I'm also not very good at having a lot of walls around me, and neither have my partners. And and neither are most small, medium size business owners, right. They need access to capital. They need access to good financial services. But they needed to come to them. Yes, and let's talk about the you know what are maybe one of the two top opportunities that you're seeing as you're going down this path very practically for the SMB market when it comes to just digital banking as a whole. Yeah, I think I think holistically right. I think there's this really huge opportunity that we all get right to reimagine the way community banks can serve decline or the small business. And we get to scrap all these things that don't make sense because of the ways of thinking now are different, right? We get to not only build something value, huge government. We also get to kind of help contribute to the again that larger ecosystem that, you know, ultimately get small...

...businesses and the people behind them. The best shot of being successful in realizing their true potential. You know, Trust me, I'm not crazy enough to believe that I can fix all things or we can fix all things for everyone. But we can't do something significant. And maybe that makes me a little crazy by comparison. But I think the opportunities that really need to be realized from these these s and B s are the access to consistent, reliable data right across the board. Three full. We talk about 3 60 views of the customer from the bank side. But the customers should have a 3 60 view of their entire business and their finances all the way down to the personal level, and they shouldn't have to go all over the place to get it. It shouldn't be broken. You shouldn't have a balance sitting on one system that is different from one or the other because we're talking about a screen scrape, That baby is broken, I think, utilizing the technology, utilizing the open banking system, utilizing you know, proper regulatory, you know, focus. We can create a secure but consistent and reliable environment to help these businesses actually do what they do best. And it's run their businesses while we help guide them. On the financial side, when you think about the relationship between just financial brands historically and the S and D market, what is a common belief that this industry has that you just passionately disagree with, uh, you know what I think? I think the common belief is that this is one that I think kind of bugs me right. Is that to have a meaningful And this is really, I guess, more prevalent in the community banking space, but in order to have meaningful relationships, but you have to rely on physical channels like branch or in person meetings to be successful. And I think this this kind of thinking is just completely wrong, right? For a lot of people, a lot of businesses, the reality is that we're not. They don't won't necessarily just physical relationships. They want personal relationships and for that...

...matter, right the physical interaction is playing a much smaller role today than it has ever before. 2020 accelerated, but this was happening before 2020. So this isn't a behavioural trend that's going to go away with the pandemic, right? This is the reality of the world that we live in. So if you look at today's preferred experience is in retail and entertainment and even baking right there moving towards this digital first in a lot of cases and and and since beginning of 2020 digital only channels, you know, you look at and we talk about banking services, people just want to be successful in their personal lives and in their businesses. And, you know, as financial institutions, it's really is our responsibility just to be excellent providers, sound guides, you know, just good. Stewart's with the trust these customers are giving us as a community banks, we have to realize that that's going to be that we have to step outside of the businesses or day to day of the finances, and we have to make it simple and we have to look at ways that we can go to them and not the other way around, like quit making them come to us, go to them and provide them the service they need to be successful. And that's going to start, you know, with digital. Yeah, be proactive, not reactive. And I really liked your point of, you know, people obviously want a relationship, but that relationship does not have to be conducted in the physical manner. I even think about just myself and all of the relationships, the personal relationships that I have with so many people literally around the world, that would not be possible if it worked for digital and if it was just limited to the physical world. I don't think my life would be as as full as it would be otherwise, because there's just there's an abundance of of opportunities to connect and create value and learn from so many others around us, right? Exactly. And look, this doesn't mean...

...that the physical channel is completely dead. I disagree with that thought process as well, but there's this combination of the two that needs to exist, and for some it's going to be much closer to digital only, and then for some they're gonna want more physical interactions. But making them choose based on what we offer is just the wrong, wrong, wrong thought process. Yeah, and And you mentioned first principles thinking before and almost kind of going down to zero and rebuilding from the ground up. It's It's really where I just personally live. And, you know, instead of looking at what's not possible, I think that's, uh, you start off with limitations there. It's okay. We'll just what is possible. And then you build from the ground up when when you go back to just thinking about just your own growth journey. You know, one of the things that you mentioned this before, you know, having dialogue with with leadership teams around innovation, strategy, driving, cultural transformation, aligning, you know, different key stakeholders, customers, employees internally, externally, think back on all those lessons. How do you drive innovation and manage a culture of change, especially when everyone might not be on board? Because this is something that I'm continuously seeing even in this post covid world. Yeah, no. And in some instances in some channels, has gotten worse. Right? Is that now, now that they feel even more threatened if you will. And so I'm gonna look at it personally. Write some things that I've seen where I could have done better. So hindsight is 2020 right? And I think where I could have done a much better job at the very beginning. And so I think that if you're getting started, this this might help, is the focus for me was on innovation first, and we talked in the past about how you know, if you look at technology as the path right, you're probably not going to have as much sex because we know everything done right with an organization really starts with alignment, right alignment to the business alignment to the personnel...

...alignment to the existing text act, you know? But it's about getting this by in for not just the products or services that were kind of expecting to deliver, but on the whole purpose for even proposing them in the first place. And so the times where we started to build things or we started to get introduced technologies for the sake of trying to improve through technology without aligning to the business. We struggled right to get that buy in, so you start to get this resistance both out of fear of change and maybe this thought of reduction of responsibility which completely misses the real concept, right, Which is should be this augmentation with automation instead of them. Thinking of the technology is just this automation for who they are, what they do, you know, which should be, You know, this whole primary value and adding technology in the first place. So, you know, some of the best successes. I think that, you know, we we had an origin bank before I left was when the business lines when we got the business lines involved in the process from the very beginning. And they helped drive this idea of innovation in their areas of expertise instead of for us asking them to trust us after the fact right, that it's gonna work. So after 20 plus years of you know, this enterprise technology experience, I'd say I get technology, but no one knows the customer like the bankers do, right? So when we combine those two, you get something very different than adding, you know, software graphics. So if I could rewind things, I would say I'd go back 56 years I want to make sure we started there a lot more. It's an inclusive conversation framed around what I call asking one of the there's There's two very important questions that that that I always ask when advising financial brands. And the first one is this. How do you want to grow? What are your goals? What are the roadblocks? And then one of the opportunities that you want to create or capture and you put those up. If you get three goals, three roadblocks,...

...three opportunities to put them up on a three by three matrix, that really gives you a clear path of operationally. And then you can get the business lines involved in that conversation and it becomes inclusive. They're part of it, part of the conversation, because, I mean, if you think about it, I mean you and I, we both have kids, and every time you tell your kid I want you to do something versus you include them in that discussion. As much as I want to tell them to do something, it doesn't always happen. The positive behavior actually comes when we're having that dialogue, and we're having that discussion, and there included because they're able to take ownership of whatever behavior modification might be. No, absolutely. And and the thing is, also, you end up having some better ideas on the way that you get there that are brought to the table right from the very beginning, instead of trying to fix those later, which is the absolute wrong time to do it. And so when we start to build out these ideas again, some of the best ideas that we had to utilize technology truly in a more unique or proprietary way didn't come from me. It didn't come from the I t department. It came from our chief retail officer, David Helms, over at Origin. You know, it came from Nick Marassi, who was over our mortgage team over there. I mean, those guys were the ones who I would say, Hey, what if we could do this right? Or and they didn't think about it from a technological, you know, implementation or capability? They thought about it. If I could reach out to the customer, if I could offer this to the customer at this way, in this way, this would be better and was like Okay, well, I can do that right. I can go find technology and we could find a way to align that. And let's see if it works and that's where you start to see with through. Digital transformation should be and it does. It starts and you hear it all the time. Whether it's Jim Baru, it's it's spread keen. Whether it's you who are Ron Shevlin, you name them right that talks about this stuff, you know, it all comes down to it really does start at the top, and it really does start with the business alignment. I'm going to...

...keep going back to that because I think that that's just missed by so many organizations that are really early to this digital transformation. You know, space. Yeah, you've got to align the business internally and then align it externally. And really, it's about putting people at the center of all of your thinking all of your doing. Corey, This has been such a fantastic conversation. I appreciate the perspective, the inside the knowledge that you shared for someone that's listening and they're on their own personal digital growth journey. What is one specific recommendation that you could make to them so that they can continue to move forward with courage and with confidence. Start now, you know, don't Don't wait for things to become easy, right? If you're waiting for things to become easy, that's gonna be too late. Start now, start having the conversations and bring the ideas to the table. Even if you think they're crazy, right, Bring the idea to the table. Look at your mission and vision statements of your organization. If if you don't know what those are, they're not clear. They're very broad work with your teams to adjust those things, to create something that's realistic and honest, and then start bringing anything and everything possible to the table that fits our aligns with. That doesn't mean you're going to go forward with everything. Doesn't mean everything is going to work out. But if everything fits that, then at least you're being honest, right? But again, just get moving, started having conversations. I mean, if there's there's concerns or thoughts on how you can kind of get started, you know, I'm on LinkedIn. I'm on Twitter. Active banker reach out to me, paying me or do a quick Google search. I mean, there's a ton of people in this industry that have been very welcoming to me. And, uh, you know, I couldn't have done half of what I've done or we'll do right without without this ecosystem of people. And it's amazing group. And but just join us and get started. Get started. Don't wait. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it and it all comes down. It all comes down to putting. I think really other people before you use use the...

...other people use the customer as the impetus as the fuel to make their lives even that much better. And as a result, you will make your life that much better. 100% love it. Corey, thank you so much for joining me on another episode of banking on digital growth. This has been great today. I appreciate it, brother. As always, be well, do good and wash your hands. Thank you for listening to another episode of banking on Digital Growth with James Robert Ley. Like what you hear? Tell a friend about the podcast and leave us a review on apple podcasts, Google podcasts or Spotify and subscribe while you're there to get even more practical improvement insights. Visit www dot digital growth dot com to grab a preview of James Roberts. Best selling book Banking on Digital Growth or order a copy right now for you and your team from Amazon. Inside, you'll find a strategic marketing and sales blueprint framed around 12 key areas of focus that empower you to confidently generate 10 times more loans and deposits until next time, be well and do good.

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