Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 1 year ago

76) #ExponentialInsights: Digital Transformation Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint ft. Hunter Young

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

COVID-19 taught us all to be agile, nimble, and pivot on a dime, right?

But when it comes to digital transformation, you need to be ready for more than a sprint.

Digital transformation is a marathon.

That’s one of the key insights Hunter Young has learned as Founder & President at HIFI Agency. He joins the show today to share the lessons he’s learned from COVID-19 and how you can use them to transform your financial brand.

We discuss:

- Where financial brands get culture wrong

- Why true transformation takes years, not months

- How to embrace failure and keep moving forward

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.
 

So on the marketing front, I tell people it's a tough pill to swallow, but it takes 3 to 5 years to truly transform that area of your bank. And so I want you to think about that because think also about the average tenure of a marketing director or kind of movement of the marketing position. There's a lot of turn. Mhm, yeah, 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 Exponential Insight series, where James Robert interviews the industry's top marketing sales and fintech leaders sharing practical wisdom to exponentially elevate you and your team. Let's get into the show Greetings in Hello, I am James Robert Ley and welcome to the 76 episode of the Banking on Digital Growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the Exponential Insight series, and I'm excited to welcome Hunter Young to the show. Hunter is a former banker bringing marketing clarity to financial services in Fintech through the work that he's doing and really the good work that he's doing at hi fi, along with the insights he's sharing through the financial experience podcast that he host. Welcome to the show Hunter James Roberts. Great to be here. Good to be number 76. And, uh, thanks for having me, man. I'm so excited for you with everything that you have just going on in your world, in your realm right now. A lot of good things that have come out recently. I'm seeing falling, and it's been great to get to know you two over the past year. I think when I think back on covid all the amazing relationships, then I think probably would not have been formed if we had been doing this in the old way. And so it's just need to look at all of...

...the positive things that have come out of this. What about you? What's good for you right now, personally or professionally? Yeah, quite a few things. I mean, this year has shaken out all kinds of stuff for a lot of people. And so for me, I mean, personally, I rediscovered a bunch of old passions that I, you know, I kind of resurrected one of those being music and guitar and and and kind of re taught myself a lot of those things. Training for a half marathon, reading a bunch of books that I wanted to get a chance to read. I'm a big history buff, and so just rediscovering a lot of that stuff. I feel like it's made me a better leader in my company. It's made me a better husband, better Father, all these things. It's just a better person all around. You know that idea we we we hear a lot about like Covid is. It's resetting a lot of things, but I like your perspective. It's almost rediscovering. You know who we were. But then also through that reflection and through that rediscovery it it's who we can continue to be and who we can even become. So you talked about on the music front. I have to ask, you know, being I would say, a former musician with four kids. There's just not a lot of time on that, and my last real job was was playing in a punk rock band before starting this. So what's the music front like? What genre are we talking about? here. Oh, man, my tastes are eclectic. I will say that. So I literally range everything and I love different decades. But I range from big band jazz all the way to modern day reggae and everything in between. And honestly, I can't say my experimentation has led to anything really, I'm willing to put out into the world yet, but, uh, I've covered a lot of musical ground throughout this period, man, that's that's so much fun. And it is. I think music is something. It brings us together. It's a universal language, and I'm like you. I got a wide, you know, repertoire of you know what I like and how that inspires even the work. I think that that I'm doing...

...today and and to that point, not only is their music, but there's running training for a half marathon, having run multiple haves and in a couple of fools, I have to ask, How is that going? Well, as you know, getting started is the hardest part, and, uh, I'm gaining momentum. But truthfully, one of the things that's most exciting about being a runner is getting to that event and being surrounded by people and all that energy of that day and finishing a race, and covid has obviously prevented that type of experience for me. So I'm really kind of had to motivate myself in different ways. And obviously, when it's winter time, I've got a treadmill in the house and you do it. It's a it's a battle of will. But I'm getting there and I can't wait to actually run with people and kind of feel that feeling again. We're kindred spirits in that sense, because I've felt that lack of community, that running community and and there's a lot of parallels between running a marathon and digital growth in maximizing an institution's digital growth potential. It's it's not a sprint, and it's more probably mindset than anything, and you can train. But it does require community. It's very hard to run this alone, and you've been running alongside some institutions over the over the years and and how did we get to this point today for you personally, let's just go back briefly and let's catch everyone up to speed because you you have a lot of insight and perspective to share. If we could go back on that personal journey what have been some of those key insights that you've gained that are really probably more relevant now than ever before. Yeah. Look, I'm very fortunate that I've had accidental journeys, like many people, but they've all converged in a really nice way. I didn't plan to be a banker. I became a banker from the agency world and did, uh, got heavily involved in both a big bank as well as...

...then became a marketing leader, the CMO of a community bank. And so I got to see, I got to see the Brokenness. I got to see the cultural challenges. I got to see the transformation challenges and the strategic challenges and get a full feel for the technical makeup and the disparate data and all these things we talk about, you know, you talk about them all the time, and so that great that that was just a fantastic experience that led me to ultimately pursue my ultimate passion, which would start my own company and help from the outside back in. And And we're doing that now at hi fi. And you've got a lot of I think Here's the key word. It's empathy. It's because you have seen the other side. If you can look back on, you know, the other side of the table you mentioned culture. What are some of those big lessons that we could transfer to the dear listener through just your own experience and what you've seen both on the other side and even working with with just different institutions, you know, guiding them through this post covid experience? Yeah. I mean, a lot of times, and I was the young guy in the meeting when I was the marketing leader at the bank and they would often default to me. As all the young guy knows, digital. Let's give him a digital banking project and give him the Internet project and this project, and that's fine. But what I often said to them was giving the Internet project to the young guy culturally is is maybe not the right way to go. You know, we kind of just assume certain things based on loose demographics and stereotypes and typecast and and as a data driven person that I am. I've learned over the years that it is incorrect to just, uh to assume that is, that is one of the most true things and in the entire world, and that applies to culture more than more than anything. So I think banks for a long time struggled with defining what that means. I don't I don't think there's a good definition around. Culture is culture. Our latest product and solution is that do we get...

...it from some software? Do we do we Do we build a culture because we have a CRM that it quote enhances things. It's a very, very difficult thing to define, and I know I've experienced that both in my role inside a bank as well as kind of talking to people from the outside as well. It's interesting to hear you talk about everyone, defines culture differently, just like everyone defines this perspective of digital growth differently. And And what drives those definitions has been the experiences that got us to this point where even culturally, I had to come up with a definition and I just pull this up. Culture is the result of alignment around a shared purpose, further unified by common values that spreads throughout all departments in the organization, resulting in either a positive or a negative emotion for both internal and external stakeholders. Yeah, and so the thing about that definition and I think we we don't elevate these statements to that level to what you just read. We dilute things by falling back on safe words, things like we want to be the best in the community. We want to deliver great financial solutions, those kind of things which, if you look up 75 85 95% of bank statements now around culture and mission, you're gonna see some semblance of maybe 5 to 10 of those words, and it actually kind of dilute its the response and the feeling that you're trying to create. I like those safe words, and I would look at them and and we see this. We see this with the diagnostic work that we do. You know, we have great rates, like and and the question is framed like this. Why should I open an account or apply for a loan at your financial brand? And it's an open ended question. It's something that someone can type in. And when you put these into a word, a word cloud, things bubble up. We have great rates. We have amazing service. We have...

...history, it's our people. But I think when you start leaning into the emotion and you can begin to communicate that internally and externally and elevate that conversation, that's where the real magic happens of attracting like minds. What holds financial brands back from leaning into maybe some of those difficult conversations? And why do they result of of falling back on those safe words that that you and I both know? Look, I'll be honest. I have grappled with this for a long time as to why banks operationally can't connect the emotion of money and decisions around money back to how they talk about their own business. And it's almost like, Yes, there is some fear there, but again, the people, families, the business owners, they're just not thinking about money in the way banks, credit unions, even somethin text. Although Fintech are doing a little bit better at connecting with emotion from what I've seen lately, but a lot of the incumbents, they're just not talking about money the way we do in our homes and our businesses. There's a great article from the Atlantic coming back to April 19th, 2016, and The title of this is called The Cost of Financial Isolation. And the subhead is when people don't talk about their money troubles, their troubles get worse. And I find that historically F a s Financial Advisors cf P Certified financial planners naturally are able to have more of these conversations than a traditional financial brand. But that's where I look at the opportunities. Let's lean into this emotion and maybe even lean into the pain. Poke on that pain, see where it hurts a little bit, because as a financial brand, as a community bank, as a credit union as a regional, you...

...know, even as a fintech, we offer the solutions and the cures to these people's pains. But if we're not even addressing them, are we missing something in in this larger narrative that we tell whether that be digitally or culturally? Yeah, I think it's a good question. And and really, when you talk about solution, think about what falls under that today. It is, you know, we lean on advice and kind of this partnership style of solution, which we can debate all day whether we live up to that in a lot of our communities in a lot of these branches, settings and banking center settings. We can argue that then the other side of solutions is product. So what does product mean? A lot of people have looked at product lately as front in more pretty digital experience. And that's kind of been the narrative the last 5 to 10 years, finally starting to see a shift where people are saying, All right, let's go a level deeper. Let's actually think about what people are craving in terms of more productive use of their money. We're in a, you know, a rough savings rate environment. But we're still leaning on the fact that because we're in that environment, you should bank local because we care about the community and and we're local. And so I'm not seeing enough, especially on the incumbent side, the community, banks and credit unions side not seeing enough yet and want to see more of that deeper, harder work around product and unlocking some of those more innovative money amplifiers that we need today. Yeah, I like that perspective of the money amplifier looking out at the landscape and just the experiences that you've had on both sides. of the table. What might be some of the biggest roadblocks that stands in a financial brands away when it comes to moving forward, making progress on their digital growth journey. And I think, really maximizing the potential that's available for them to just capture What's what are some of those...

...roadblocks that they need to be aware of? Yeah, it's so I typically break these kind of things into three areas. You have the technology product roadblocks, and I put technology and product together purposefully because they often go hand in hand. Nowadays you have marketing roadblocks, and then you have the investment roadblock as kind of a third area. So if you go to technology and product, you've got the emergence of all these next Gen. Fin tex and there. There's kind of a new emergence of tension between fintech and financial services, which I think is healthy, and you've got some, maybe a push for deeper thinking beyond. Just make the experience of logging in and what you see when you log in a little bit better, deeper push to to really think harder about contextual finance, and then you've got also on the technology and product front. A lot of this evolution of niche offerings. People are talking about more niches to specific audiences. And what I tell a lot of folks is I think that's fantastic thinking like I love the idea of focus. I love the idea of giving someone underbanked, you know, unbanked and or just not with a proper solution in the marketplace. A better solution. However, creativity is going to be your greatest limiter there. So as creative as you can be, that is what's gonna be your your biggest opportunity when you start doing that. So that's technology and product marketing front I look at as rethinking reactive campaign style thoughts. You know, that's a kind of a classic, timeless issue in the financial world. We still have to move away from campaign style thinking. And, uh, not everybody needs a heel lock in the spring. F. Y. I didn't know if you if you know that I'm gonna stop you, it's the It's the old adage of, you know, catch a falling rate, you know in the fall and then spring into savings or spring into home improvement or whatever it might be. It's it's playing on on what is the old tongue in cheek,...

...and I like what you're saying. It's not campaign it doesn't need to be. Campaign based 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. What are the opportunities if we're going to move away from that mindset. Where do we go? Yeah, yeah, So on the marketing front, I tell people, and it's a tough pill to swallow, but it takes 3 to 5 years to truly transform that area of your bank. And so I want you to think about that because think also about the average tenure of a marketing director or kind of movement of the marketing position. There's a lot of turn. Oftentimes it's like, you know, you have enough time to do a website redesign and then you're gone and onto the next thing. So it takes 3 to 5 years to transform things like becoming more data driven. Installing marketing, automation program, setting up lead, nurturing programs, building a truly responsive, segmented onboarding program. Those kind of things take a lot of time, a lot of testing and learning and optimizing, and you have...

...to give yourself and respect the amount of time it takes. You know, I'm right there with you on that 3 to 5 year horizon line. There are small winds in like low hanging fruit that we can grab, and that puts some wind in the sail. But whenever I hear 3 to 5 years, I'm gonna I'm gonna step back. I'm gonna be on the other side of the table now, Manhunter, you've just you've just given me a gut punch like it's 2021. 3 to 5 years puts us at 2024 2026. I don't like Is there even any hope? Like, why should we even go down this path if it's 3 to 5 years? Because I just you just man, you just you just you just Mike Tyson me, man. You just scared me. Yeah, it hurts, and it's in direct conflict. What I just said is in direct conflict with all the noise today about well, covid enhanced speed Flexibility. You gotta go. You gotta move. You got to keep it going. 90 days to do this, 120 days to do this. Spend it up, get it done. All those things are true. You can, to your point, achieve meaningful milestones along the way that are actually leading to growth. But I am talking about the word. If you want to use the word transformation in your organization, you better respect the amount of time it takes to transform and I I think you know, you and I just in this conversation you're on to something because I 60 to 80% of transformation projects fail at a macro level, and that's like that's vertical independent. It doesn't matter what vertical, how much of that is because unrealistic expectations are being set. And it's not from, uh, an angle of harm. It's they're sending these expectations because they just don't have the knowledge and the awareness of what that future could even look like yet alone what it's gonna take to get to this new reality. Yeah, I think a lot about vision I used to. I used to kind...

...of laugh at that term. I was like, Oh, yeah, Steve Jobs. He's a visionary. This guy is a visionary. This woman is a great visionary CEO. And I thought, You know what? What is it that gives someone good vision? You know what? What is it that makes someone see out five years but not just see out? Then see all the pieces and parts that lead up to that and kind of went along the way, and I don't see enough of that. I don't see enough of that at the top of banks and credit unions, I don't see enough real, uh, thoughtful planning about how the year moves from one year to another. I don't see, you know, let's not let's take 2020 off the table. Let's go back to 2019 when things were normal. Plan Strategic Planning Project 140 projects on a spreadsheet trying to tick through all these roadmap style projects. I hate to say this, but that's probably what is going to go back to for a lot of people. It's going to be that it's going to be some more of that post covid when things are quote more normal and I don't want it to be. I don't want it to be that way. I want people to really think hard about what's next and what it takes to get there. Why the lack of vision? Because I agree with you and and I want to hear from you of what has got us into this place to begin with to where we're not vision casting. We're not looking out 3 to 5 years as to what the future could be. Why are we so heads down focused on the present moment. Yeah, I mean, part of it goes into kind of my third big roadblock, which is kind of around our investment mindset and actually the structure of how we think about acquisition, retention and all these kind of things, like literally, how how do we spend money to get customers? So this year, you've heard a lot of maybe older financial institutions look at chime and say, Well, I want some of that or they look at step and say, Well, why can't we be that? And the reality is when you show them, Here's what time spent on marketing Here's kind of what...

...a traditional software company might look at in terms of marketing to revenue ratios. When you start having that conversation shut down completely shut down and I get it. And I understand why. Because they are fundamentally different business models, fundamentally different economic models, and that again is a enormous cultural strategic mindset challenge for people. That's a great point, you know? I mean, even it was J. P. Morgan Chase. I think they spent $2.5 billion just on marketing alone in 2019. If my memory serves correct of that year, and that's greater than the vast majority of assets here stateside. So when we're looking at some of these roadblocks, what might be some of the greatest opportunities to flip this around that a financial brand could either create something new could capture something that's available that they're not doing or the third see that I think about capitalize on meaning. It's a strength that they have today, that they could double down on and do even more of. Yeah, and your your last one is exactly right. That is the solution, your flexibility, your local nous. Your nimbleness has always been a strength. It always will be so lean into it. Keep using it. Don't get scared by reading the latest article that comes out about chime or how much money you know JP Morgan Chase spent. Don't be fearful of that. Lean into your strength, and so there's actually countless examples of this today. I just had a conversation on my podcast with a bank who ultimately had one little insight from a small data research project that they did discovered a commercial real estate pain point in their marketplace. Had a...

...kind of conversation with their customers. Discovered additional technology opportunity, pain points, build a solution around it. A payment solution essentially for kind of h O A. And those kind of areas. And, uh, it boomed boom to the point where they spun out the technology company into something else. I know exactly you're talking about, they're doing great work. I mean, amazing, fantastic work. But it comes back to what? The point that you made before. It's all about niche in being focused, and I think really having the courage to commit, lean into that and follow through and not get pulled off, not get distracted, not fall back on the past. And don't get me wrong. I have incredible empathy and full understanding of how hard that is to do, how hard it is to commit. And I I get it. Trust me, I would. I would hate to be a CEO sitting there trying to make that choice in a moment relative to all the other things that I'm already balancing. I get it. So let me ask, because that idea of commitment it is a scary one, and we can really dive into the conversation on the four fears the fear of the unknown, the fear of change, the fear of failure and the fear of success. How might pilot programs experimenting, testing, even possibly failing but transforming the conversation of failure? Not as a bad thing, but it's a learning opportunity of either. These are the things that we're just not going to do or these lessons that we've learned. We can apply it into the next iteration and do it even that much better. How might pilot programs experimentation play into this larger narrative of moving towards this 3 to 5 year horizon line? Yes, sometimes abject failure is one of the greatest gifts ever, and the reason for that is because it actually prevents kind of the slow trickle the...

...1000 cuts style that we often see in financial institutions and in other businesses. But the willingness to try the willingness Let's let's say you go and define a niche and get a few 100 customers, and the model just doesn't work out and it's a failure. But within that experiment you discovered three other pain points and potentially three other avenues that you had not yet considered. Is it a failure? I don't think so. And that then unlocks new opportunities to come back to create capture further. Capitalize on that. You didn't have the contextual awareness that they were even there in the first place. Like, for example, you might have gone down this path. This niche market segment and your knowledge that you had at that point said, Here's the ideal market. Here's the target that we're going to go after. But once you bring this to bear in the marketplace, then you have more knowledge saying, Well, now we can pivot And I think it's the idea of pivot and maybe giving the permission to pivot. Um, because that's a different idea in financial services because it's like once the decision is made, we just keep going forward. When you look at technology and fintech, pivots are kind of a natural cultural operating model. It's much easier to pivot based upon new insights, new data that we can learn from Yeah, and I do hope, and I think I've heard some. We're talking at the highest level. Leaders begin to use a little bit more of that in their vernacular, and that's progress. That's big time progress, and it's a byproduct of this past year, and so there. There is a lot of hope that if everyone always says it comes from the top, But the top is actually talking like that at some financial institutions, and and that is a that is one of my positive, hopeful things to look forward to. And I like this idea of of of hope because right now I think...

...so many leaders are just They're looking for hope in the darkness that has come from covid. I think there's It's just so much coming on so fast, so hard that it's like, Let's distill this down. What are the few things that we can focus on that could create the greatest value versus coming back to your point that 140 you know, checklist, action item. That's where some overwhelm whelming comes from. But, you know, the only way to reduce complexity is through a journey of simplicity. So you've identified a couple of roadblocks what might be the one or two, maybe three things that we should just begin to focus on at the leadership level so that we're not getting distracted by all of the noise and the chaos. Yeah, well, let's start with the fact that if you are spending a tremendous amount of money to send someone to a broken experience, stop. Stop spending that money just like stop it. I don't care what agency told you to do it. This is coming from an agency person who would love to have your money and all these things. And I'm telling you, I would tell you to stop it because that doesn't help anybody at all. So stop sending people to broken places. That's number one, and and that's as simple as I can say it. And I realized there's a lot underneath that, but I can't say it any clearer than that. So I could just in the podcast on that and just say, Stop sending people to broken places and paying for it. But there are a couple other things, too, so I do think that you need to take not just a harder look at your data, but take a harder look at whoever you identified as your best customer. You may have done market research over the years and kind of said, this is our best customer. Take a harder look at and redefine what that is for yourself, and then see if around the peripherals of that there is kind of the next best customer for you and see if you can...

...carve out opportunities for that group. That's a marketing tactic as old as time, and it still works, by the way, don't stop doing that. And the last thing I would say with all the data and automation and AI and all these things that everyone is floating around and buying and acquiring tools install checks and balances, install checks and balances against those things human checks and balances against those things to make sure that you actually aren't making something you thought was more personal, impersonal. It's interesting you talk about this idea of automation and ai inhuman, humanizing that whole experience. There was an institution that I've been teaching and advising. They talked about how they brought in an automated phone system, and that's created more complexity for the client experience. The customer experience, because typically when someone was calling it was because they were already frustrated and they just wanted to talk to talk to someone they don't want to have to go through this. This phone tree and these loops and hoops. And and so I love that idea of checks and balances. And if I could frame that up, it would be v. O C. Voice of the customer. Have an internal advocate who plays the devil's advocate of like, Hey, I'm going to fight back because I'm fighting for the customer and really being that empathetic ear internally to bring the external perspective inside. Hunter. This has been such a fantastic conversation. Thank you so much for all of the knowledge of the wisdom that you have shared today. If someone wants to continue this conversation with you, Hunter, what's the best way for them to reach out and say hello? You can always shoot me an email at Hunter at hi fi agency dot com. You can find me on LinkedIn pretty active there and and certainly go to hi fi agency dot com to check out our agency to and also check out the podcast as well. Where could where can someone find the podcast? Um, and continue to learn from you? Yes, thank you for the plug. You can...

...actually go to financial experience podcast dot com and all our episodes are on that website. Find it, subscribe to it. Listen to it. Learn from it. Once again. Hunter thank you again for joining me on another episode of Banking on Digital Growth. Thanks, James Roberts. Great talking to you, man. Good work, as always. Then, until next time 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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