Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 3 months ago

174) #ExponentialInsights - Innovation: Common Ground for Financial Brands & Fintechs


Future growth begins with new ideas.

It begins with taking new insights and turning them into transformational action.

Another word for it: Innovation.

That’s something my guest, Andrew Witherbee, CEO at Engage Partners Group, has been talking about a lot recently—specifically in relation to how financial brands and fintechs can find more innovative ways of working together.

In this episode, he tells me what’s new in that world.

Join us as we discuss:

  • Top trends in fintech and financial brand partnerships
  • Interesting things fintechs are doing from a B2B tech standpoint
  • How to inspire a culture that values innovation
  • Advice for the RFP process with fintechs      

Check out these resources we mentioned during the podcast:

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.

Greetings and hello. I am James Robert Laigh and welcome to the one hundred and seventy four episode of the banking on digital growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series and I'm excited to welcome Andrew Witherby to the show. Andrew is the CEO add engage partner group and is a former senior digital banker who is fueled by innovation and technology that propels regional and community financial brands to modernized platforms that elevate operational efficiencies while accelerating growth. Welcome to the show, Andrew. You're listening to banking on digital growth with James Robert Leigh, a podcast that empowers financial brand marketing, sales and leadership teams to maximize their digital growth potential by generating ten times more loans and deposits. Today's episode is part of the exponential insight series, where James Robert Lay 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. Welcome to the show, Andrew. It is so good to have you on today and I appreciate the time and really appreciate having me joining your conversation. Well, before we get into a conversation about collaboration, about innovation and the opportunities that are available for really both thin texts as well as financial brands, what's going well for you right now? Let's start on a positive know what's good in your world, personally, professionally, it's always your pick to get started. All right. Well, I'm personally, I'm just happy I'm located up in a new an area, that there's been some snow in the grounds allowed me to venture after the week day to recharge the batteries go on Skian and it's always a good thing when I happened. So I guess we put a sharper point on my next day. Yes, that's all good. Professionally, you know, I'm having some really relevant conversations with both vintext and financial situations around innovation and, more specifically, how to begin or better aligned those two organizations with each other.

So that's good. It's there's some men momentum there. There was a law because of covid but I think middle of last year. You know, some deeper, more relevant conversations are happening and at actually execution is happening. So that's a that's a it's a good thing. Can talk about it for a long time, but if you don't execute on that's a different story exactly. Turning insight into action, and it is these conversations that you've been having that I want to have a conversation around here, because I think there's a lot to learn, because all transformation that leads to future growth begins with new ideas, it begins with new insights and then be able to take those to sell them down turn them into action. What are some of the top trends that's you're seeing right here, that that we should be paying attention to, that the dear listener should be paying attention to? When it comes to Fintech and and financial brand partnerships? Well, I think they're, for the most part, holistically. Looking at the innovasions index space. There's been rightly so. There's been a lot of attention on the BC side kind of the screen forward, yes, a realast to it. Are we delivering a seamless as best we can, digitally, a customer expect journey that's meaningful and needed at the moment. It really depends on where they are in the customer life cycle and that's something that's, you know, certainly not a not necessarily a big surprise, because a lot of contact out there are getting funded that are serving the BEC space. One of the things that I spent a fair amount of my time just economic research chunky myself, is the beat of B side. There are significant momentum in not only capital being available to pure play be to beef and tax out there that see something in the community financial space that needs... be elevated in regards to improving back office efficiency. Yes, but at the same time it's a it's a win win. They can pass that value out through their customers. Yes, because we know that small business owners occupy a good chunk of our economy and that maybe the ten employers are lower and that's really the sweet spot for a lot of the community banks serving those folks. ABOVE MEA just providing the capital of war equipment and such. So it is a space I think there's massive opportunities for, both at Thein Tech and in the accuting brands. It's interesting that you say that. I remember last year in two thousand and twenty one to start off the year, so right about a year ago I did a top twelve prediction of order, the top twelve trends going to be that are going to plan over the next three to five years. The SMB space was one of them. Ron Chevelin came on, we had a conversation, he said the same thing and they were starting to see that pattern, that that that speed pick up more and more. WHO, in your mind, should you know from a from a technology standpoint, should we be paying attention to? Who's doing some interesting things on the on the B Tob Front, well, you know, I'm in their backyard. So numerated is one. Yep, that can be brought up to the front center. There's are a bunch of folks, I mean auto books is another one that really do look at holistically, you know, look at the small business owner and saying where can we fit in? Yes, how do we fit in with a technology? So do we fully integrate or do we just plug in? And I'm a big believer in on the BBF INTEX space and innovation spaces. You know, you know, these small mini wins are great. Don't look at it. Don't look at it and say, okay, we're this bank, we're in midsize bank we have some large, demanding customers. But you know what about if we're going down this path for the first time internally, what can we do to achieve a mini win where it might not a full integration but the time of market is in months, not...

...not years, correct? And that's a really convincing conversation had internally at the financial brand because when they think about technology, theyonomatically found out to it, which sometimes is a good thing. Sometimes I'm just I'm a former banker myself. I witnesses and experience it sometimes that you know, delays on the action resources behind it for full execution. So I think that some of the differentiating trends out there are in the BDB space. That doesn't require a really heavy lift to get up and run, not only for the bank to use but to pass that technology under their customers to make their rock business one more efficiently. Yes, I've had Derek from numerated and Tarik from auto books both as guests on the pot podcasts here and you know it's interesting. You talked about that idea of going into it, but that might not necessarily be the best path internally and I'm want to get your take on this. was just having a conversation yesterday with with a Peer Group coaching session, and one of the things that we were talking about they were launching a new fintech internally at this community organization and the adoption wasn't there and I said it sounds more like a marketing or positioning thing, and they're like will we marketed it? And I said, well, it sounds like you created a lot of awareness, but then there's that pull through, you know, for adoption. And one of the things that I was thinking about is it's almost like, you know, the the idea of running pilot programs and, you know, turning over insights more rapidly, you know, back to your point of you know, going from you know, years two months and shortening that that cycled down to learn, you know, at an exponential speed. Where's where's the opportunity to transform, because I think there's a lot of cultural elements that go into this. A culture of innovation stemming from a culture of collaboration. What are some of the ways that that we can inspire a culture that values innovation, because it... different than, say, what has been done historically over the last fifty, hundred, hundred fifty years in banking. Yeah, I totally agree. I mean there's there's certain elements that make up a monitoring for thinking bank culture, and it starts with people, people and people. Yeah, so leadership first needs to clearly communicate the why, you know, and then champion the value. So I'm not sure where the study was, but I recently read that studies show that only seven percent of employees fully understand their company's business strategies. So, you know, you have to have the people before the technology. Curly articulate boy, you know, this is something that we've been talking about internally and one of our open up the lens internally and say, let's get your feedback. I mean you talked about the adoption peece and how sometimes organizations struggle there before you even go down and do a deployment. Why don't you kind of turn the glove inside out see kind of some times it doesn't look pretty, but at their stitching it's pretty well made, and ask your customers and as your employees, you know, to get their engagement level about yeah, you know what, in the back office this has been a problem for ours to we have to touch it x amount of times to close alone as an example. What can we do to, you know, minimize that so it's easier for our job to provide that great customer experience and, at the at the same time, you know, allow for our customers to adapt that technology? So, you know, there's there are a couple different things that you can kind of bounce back and forth in regards to taking the right steps out of the gates. But you often hear about taking an agile approach innovation. HMM, right, and I was lucky enough to work for a bank that actually embraced that type of innovation and culture. Yeah, and at the time we were using, you know, the lean method, where you know the adishers don't know. It's a basically kind of a holistic look of how to look at a project holistically and create a standard of way, a...

...way of working to increase efficiency and a limiting waste along the way. And there's other frameworks out there. Okay, are be another one that was developed inside of Intel. Yeah, so I would recommend to if you're fine that you don't have, you know, a solid project management model internally, is to look at up some sort of approach that will help guide the the initiative. They'll have hiccuffs along the way and some unexpected but you know, and holp provide, keep people accountable and hit your marks and our should go to market. Yeah, one of the things that we teaches what we call the ninety day growth method and its cycles through these four exponential growth environments of learning, thinking, doing and then reviewing, and then you just repeat that process going forward. I like what you said about people, people, people, when it comes to creating a culture of innovation, has nothing to do about technology. I think we need to probably put more of a focus on people first. Human Transformation must precede digital transformation because when you think digital transformation, we almost kind of forget the people who have to deploy that thinking on the other side. And there's two books that I recommend on this subject. One is humanocracy and then the other is called open strategy, subtitle mastering disruption from outside the Seas Suite, and it you know, we talked a lot about open banking right, but I think it's this this idea of open strategy. Back to your point, Ninety was it ninety? Ninety three percent of team members don't know the corporate strategy to begin with in the first place, and I think if we can, you know, communicate back to your point the why, then we can talk about the what and, ultimately, the how. When you think about innovation, it's that word. It's a word like experience, you know, it kind of gets thrown around a lot. Customer experience. We're talking innovation here. It can mean a lot of different things... a lot of different people. How would you define innovation? Well, going back to I guess it's just my training and, you know, the hands on experience I had through the years consulting with banks and prior to that I worked in the text based software space here in Boston and one of the things I heard over and over again from my direct report at a software company was the word value, and that is sometimes an overlooked word as it relates to you know, how to define innovation, and value jumps off the page with me emotionally and also just professionally. You know, you have to first ask yourself the team holistically, looking at what value would this bring to us as our organization and our custom relationships, and then you take those baby step and say, okay, let's throw up another thing on the white board. What what opportunity or pay are you trying to meet and solve and why? So those basic questions need to come out out of the gates as it relates to what innovation looks like and how it kind of behaves here at our organization. And then identify. Is this meaning technology aligned with our core values, our strengths, our vision, and will it how will it meet our desired outcomes? Be It shorter long term? So those it's a lot, a mouthful, but at the same time it reverts back to the value word. Yes, and and it's that idea of value, I think, is one that we should think about because, particularly when it comes to product design, when it comes to technology selections, I see financial brands, you know, thinking from an internal to the external world, where the external should drive the internal decisionmaking process. It's it's the that's the key thesis of Human Centered Growth. In essence, and I want to keep on this idea of innovation a...

...bit. What is a common belief that others might have in financial services around this idea of innovation that you would just disagree with them one? Well, I don't know if I have really super strong feelings regards to what others and other beliefs are about innovation. As long as they're talking about it. That is is on topic. If you well, I'm all for you know, I think that the word innovation is, lack of a better work, is a cross functional term. Yes, it lives and Breis in so many different industries right. So it's not specific to financial situations. It's a it's a word that has different means of different organizations and people. So I think that once the organization in s gage financial brand start talking about ways to kind of shift or kind of operate and behave, if you will, differently from what they've done in a kind of a transactional world as they live in, then they start they can talk, they can call it whatever they want. They call it our way, you know, or it's just the way we do business type of thing. But, you know, I think that often, you know, it kind of reverse back to my core marketing strategy skill set, and I've kind of touched upon this a little bit early in a conversation, is, you know, yeah, we might think we're becoming more innovated, but are we? Yeah, and you know, it starts with asking your costumers, your team members. You know, what does that what does that word mean to you? You know, it's like that. As you well know, in the branding world, you know when you think of a brand name, what emotional things surface? Correct what how do you respond? What colors of the logo? How does it make you feel? But really asking that internal questions first, because we know that. You know there's an external brand and there's an also an internal ran, and is that organization actually managing that brand differently from the external? Digital growth is a journey from good to great, but sometimes this journey can feel confusing, frustrating and overwhelming.

The good news is you don't have to take this journey alone, because now you can join a community of growth minded marketing and sales leaders from financial brands and Finn text who are all learning, collaborating and growing together. Visit Digital growthcom slash insider to learn more about how you can join the digital growth insider community to maximize your future digital growth potential. Now back to the show. Yeah, one of the things that that I would say, it kind of gets under my skin a bit when it comes to innovation, is people were like, I'm just not that innovative, I'm not that creative, and I'm like, yes, you are, it's just we gotta figure out a way to to break free from that mental block, because I think a lot of a lot of times people think about innovation, they think about exponential innovation. It's like the big idea, something revolutionary. But I'm like no, if we can maybe create some incremental innovation and over time that then ultimately leads to the exponential innovation. It's the big ideas that, I think, that hold us back from even having some innovative like conversations to where when you can think incrementally to begin with, that creates some progress, that creates some some momentum that ultimately than leads to some conference like yeah, yeah, we can do this. What's your take on that? Like, you know, big ideas versus. Let's just get the ball rolling and start moving forward and then that could become a future big idea there. Yeah, I applaud that approach regards to those. You know, let's take those mini wins, if you will, as I said before, that don't require a lot of internal resources. And I'll just stop there because you know, many of the listeners today on the banking side, you know, they know they have to shift and and and what that looks for them like it's maybe been answered or they're still searching,...

...but I think that the resources and talent, the people. I think that's the key ingredient here is, you know, are we aligned? Do we have a team in place? Or if we don't have a team in place, how do we go find that talent? Yes, see it an individual because, as you wellknown and everyone listening, there's a talent challenge out there right nurse are, you know, recruitment and retention. So and it's not specific to it's all across all industries and set in verticles. So that's a that challenge in itself. But to answer your question, I think that, you know, there are there's a fair amount of complace in its seas complacency still out there. And try not to automatical. Look at the big picture, the big wins, the big projects, the big technology start out with the working together, taking that framework. If you well reach those outcomes and if it could be just a tool that plugs into York's online banking that helps manage cash flow for small business, great, that's that many win. I mean, you know it. There's going to be some involvement with it. Obviously they're going to have to go through their reballeen in process and they can sure that in Tech Partners has is compliant and provides all the the do deals and docks to kind of have them check their box and say, okay, these guys are they've got their game together, so that it minimizes the risk which stays compliant. So I'm I'm a big cheerleader, if you will, looking at ways to take those baby steps in those many wins and in theory, not only the financial organizations could be happy, but the fintast going to be, you know, pumped. They're going to be aligned and I wouldn't necessarily a kind of throw out the red flag for the bank treat the Fintech a little bit different than your typical larger scale it project, likely the...

...old RFP model. That's probably not going to work. And Know Asia No, and that's a great point because I think you know, when it comes to innovation, in incremental innovation for that matter, it's so easy to get stuck thinking, oh my gosh, that's a great idea, but how are we going to do that? Back to your point of like the the resourcing piece of this, and and that's where I recommend putting the WHO before the how and add a great conversation with Dan Soul of an episode number sixty nine. Why? Exponential technologies demand exponential team work, which is where I think the work that you're doing is fascinating, because you're almost curating and facilitating these relationships to bridge the the gap. You you are a WHO finder to people's how and when you think about that, is it's a it's a model that I teach called growth ability, and growth ability is made up of three key elements. It's where you feel capable, it's where you feel confident and it's where you have capacity. And you can be you can be capable but lack confidence. You can be capable but lack capacity, you can be confidence and lack both. And I think the idea is you can bridge capability and capacity gaps by looking externally to external who's, through collaboration, to find the hoop, to put the WHO before the how, and that becomes an exponential growth cycle right there going forward. You mentioned this idea of complacency, and complacency is something that I also speak a lot about. I use an analogy, the Cave of complacency. What happens? We get stuck there and and and we don't move forward, we don't feel like we're making any progress. What's your recommendation to help financial brands that might feel like they're trapped in the Cave...

...of complacency get out, get unstuck and keep moving forward with innovation? Good question. I think that, you know, I try not to over engineer it, I guess whenever that what what process you're trying to improve, not only for the Organization and improve internal operational efficiencies, but to deepen those relationships that because you have now offered a different way of applying for a loan. I mean as simple as that, right, and I have a terminology is kind of like I'm not myself, but I would advocate that organization to stick to their knitting, you know, really focus on the market they play and if you're commercial bank and not to go off Haywire and say we're going to go chase retail dollars and reefives and car loans. Your Commercial Bank, that's your DNA, right, then look at ways to play upon those strengths with innovation that leads to elevated technology that helps both parties, both the organization and the and the bank, because at the end of the day. There's a fine line that that bank is walking as it relates to what else they had can bring to the customer relationship. Right on the BDB side. Plenty of products on the Commuser, commune consumer side, but most not. This is not a sweeping statement, but a lot of banks typically walk in above beyond brought in that moral or that capital and that reputation of service. Yep, there's they're carrying the same bag with the same tools. Yeah, so if you can provide a different tool that might serve a niche market that you've never marketed before or you've done it kind of, you know, we kind of have to have those accounts because by law we have to you know, management the compliance and taxes, etc. But what about maybe looking and putting some more resource behind that vertical or multiple verticals that not only help us internally offset all the manual steps that are involved to manage that was accounts, yes,...

...but at the same time add that pass root value, going back to that word value, to that relationship. And as a small business, my owner myself, I will kind of you know, I have multiple banking relationships, not on common but when that happens that typically puts a flag in the ground saying, you know, I'm looking to expand my business, I'm going to probably look at that grouping or that few banks that are really looking after me. Yeah, and they're giving this technology that helped me for on my business. Yeah, I think that that I did. You touched on niche and you we were talking before about the whole smb space. I mean that's a massive space. Just when you say smb, it's a huge space and within the SMB space there's multiple niches that can get, you know, moved underneath that a you know, I'd so interesting to see what the the team over nerve is doing around like the musician space. Then you've got, you know, the idea of the GIG economy. I think another very unique space in the SMB spaces family business. That those you know, there's opportunity and challenges there. One are the things that you touched them before. I'm want to come back to was the idea of the RFP. This, you know, the the vetting process when it comes to searching for and selecting a relationship for a financial brand to collaborate with a fintech. What's the best path forward there, because it might not look like it has historically when it comes to selecting technology. Any thoughts on that? Yeah, I mean I think that you know above me on what we've talked about regards outline the right resources in totally having some sort of model or framework in place or, you know, you're in the process of uncovering a different way of partnering with a Third Party. Yeah, is what I recommend is not to take a reactive approach. HMM, that's something that a lot of financial situations had a history with regards to.

Boy, we have a gap, that bank down the street, or the one we don't even see yes, is offering and what we're hearing from our sales team, our want lenders, is this information, and it's kind of like that. Okay, let's forget the shallow and let's just jump at the demand right and you know, we're not going to use the diamond board, we're just going to jump off the side. So I would really, you know, recommend to not to take a step back, a deep breath and say, okay, you know, we do in this trickment competitive reasons or without having a clear understanding of what resources are involved. Correct, and now that's the key thing, is those questions need to be kind of bopped over there with a hammer and say, okay, yeah, we can, we can handle it. Or maybe that's not really our that's not our niche, that's not a market that we want to chase because that doesn't know a fun online who we are. So I first recommend that is not to be be proactive and in an authentic way. Pause. Yeah, pause and reflect, learn think, because this is where R and D can be deadly. And what I mean by that it's that research and development. That's when you're ripping off and duplicating something else that you're seeing, because I think you're right, it's comparison, and comparison can be a killer because it's like, oh, well, they have it. Will we needed that to do you really? Do? You Really? This comes up all the time because you know, as you well know, in the FI space or insurance, it's commodity. So you know it's very tricky and challenging to really flip a switch and try to, you know, look and behave differently, and unless that customer really knows the culture and can really speak to it outside of, you know, the bank, and then that's your best advocate right there. You know, it's a bank, it's keeping my money safe. Now I trust those folks. You know, they're my friends. That goes a long way. No doubt. I'm not. I'm not caught down it at all, but...'s a tricky thing to you know, Speakin to shift and the banks that I've seen a shift there both. I mean they're pure play digital startups, right, know, the NEO banks, and are few out there that actually are. Have Transition, not totally out of the normal business of mutual savings, fact, because still got the bricks and mortar and things like that and it's still lending, but it had to deal with the people going back to that and shifting and say, you know what, we're going to be less depending on our traditional commercial estate loans or C and I we're going to dampen that a little bit and focus on trying to be future ready today. Yes, whatever that looks like. And now I say that term because I've happened to be my bank, bank proud here in Massachusetts. Give them a plug, because they had transition and again it's just wasn't like a light switch. It took about seven day years, right, but but during that period there was really deep conversations with customers, employees, of all stakeholders from board on down, and saying, okay, let's this is why we're heading down this direction. So let's talk about future, future ready. As we wrap up, and it's been a great conversation around innovation, what's a recommendation, something small, something practical, tangible, that the deer listener can do next to keep moving forward on their own journey of growth? When it comes to will just say building a culture of innovation so that they are future ready. What would that one small, practical next best step be for them? Well, I guess I look at it a kind of a at this point of it, as of today, that the after around time to day and Super Bowl Sunday is is that we're one to three years away from that future. Yeah, you know, and you know without question, I'll just kind of to the Horn a little bit on the BB side and you know, going, going, taking the approach of not not having to, you know, lift...

...the thousand pounds. Let's just go over to that fifty pound down bell and say, okay, let's let's tackle now that we have our internal research and we've done our due diligence, there is a need out there. It's going to add value, etc. And increase our growth opportunities. You know, let's focus on it doesn't have to be massive. Let's focus on those many wins and we'll just check off one minute, one win at a time. That will lead to being looked upon internally and externally. Hey, these these folks are changing there, being a bit more nimble to make place based upon the technology in this case, or in combination people and technology, because you said earlier the importance of adapting technology is critical, not for the customer, but also is that the team members as well, so they're comfortable with using the technology. And see a boy, this is really going to be easier for us to process alone. Oh, by the way, it's going to help our folks not have to go to our website and download a pdf to send my financials. Yes, you know, it's as simple as that those. Let's just start there. Let's just take a mini step and say, well, you know, let's let's try to think of ways to, you know, not allow or not half require our customers to go through those steps. Let's just make it one step, not for and this is where incremental innovation leads to exponential innovation over time, resulting in improved experiences that yield positive feelings and emotions. Great Point to wrap this up. Andrew. What's the best way for someone to connect with you and continue to the discussion that we started here today? Your you know, through liked in, Andrew Wetherby. Engage Partners Group on linked in as well, and then engage partners Groupcom on our website. Connect with Andrew, learn from Andrew, grow with Andrew. Andrew, thank you for joining me for another episode of banking on digital growth. This has been a lot of fun today. My pressure are great day... 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 Leigh. To get even more practical and proven insights, along with coaching and guidance. This it digital growthcom slash insider to join a community of growth minded marketing and sales leaders from financial brands and Bentex. Until next time, be well and do good.

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