Banking on Digital Growth
Banking on Digital Growth

Episode · 2 years ago

48) #DigitalGrowthJourneys: Building a Bigger, Better, and Brighter Future w/ Mina Worthington


Are you stuck in the cave of complacency? It may feel safe and secure. But it's a deadly place to hide especially given the exponential factors we're dealing with in this new, post-COVID world. No matter what happens in the world, you have to keep making progress along your digital growth journey.

In this episode of Banking on Digital Growth, I talk with Mina Worthington, President/CEO at Solarity Credit Union, about building a bigger, better, and brighter future in banking.

Mina and I discuss:

  • How vision sets the tone for any financial brand on a digital journey
  • Mastering the lead conversion ecosystem
  • The way to get results without spending a fortune on digital marketing strategies

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

...when disruption happens, great change. Innovation happens more even quickly. You're listening to banking on digital growth with James Robert Ley Ah, 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 Siri's, where James Robert uncovers and Explorers some of the industry's biggest digital marketing and sales stories of success. Let's get into the show Greetings in Hello, I Am James Robert Ley and welcome to another episode of the Banking on digital growth podcast. Today's episode is part of the digital growth journey. Siri's and I'm excited to welcome Meena Worthington to the show. Mina is the president and CEO of Celerity Credit Union. Hello, Meena. Hello. It is good to have you here today. As always, I like to start these conversations off on a positive note. What is exciting for you right now, whether it be personally or professionally to something that has you feeling good, you know, there's several things to be honest with you, and you would think in sort of the state of the world. Right now, there's not a lot to be excited about, but I actually see a lot of opportunity in the disruption. So I think the thing that I'm most excited about is that when disruption happens, great change, innovation happens more even quickly. So I'm really excited about that. E. I get that perspective when disruption happens. It's an accelerant for change. It's so easy to get stuck in the cave of complacency because it's safe. It's secure. But complacency can be deadly, particularly with the exponential factors that we're dealing with in this kind of new post Covad world. And that's one of the things that you know watching you and your team from afar. Over the years, you've continued to make progress along your digital growth journey. As you noted when we were just doing the pre interview, it is a journey, and it's something that takes time. But there's something that has given you at least a sense of focus, a sense of purpose yourself, the credit union, and that's your vision. Can you unpack that? Because I think this sets the tone for any financial brand on a digital journey. Yeah, so the vision is everyone has a place of their own to call home. And while Celerity does do a lot of home loan lending, home here refers more to a feeling and emotion. We've all been spending a lot of time at home lately, given this unprecedented environment that we're in. And one of the positive things that I've heard over and over again from people is that they have been forced to sort of spend more time at home to take it down a notch. Thio enjoy their home environment to make improvements on their home. They've had the time and the energy to do that and that, you know, actually, being at home with our family and working on the house and making that even more comfortable for ourselves is not such a bad thing after all. So you know life is busy and messy and unpredictable, and and we wanna make at celebrity conducting financial transactions as seamless as possible for for our members so that they can spend more time doing the things that they love with the people that they love in their homes. I'm right there with you, spending time at home, spending time with the family, my wife, four kids. She's talking about putting a pulling this summer. So because she's like if we're gonna be here, we might as well enjoy it and do some of the things that were like, I don't know, Are we going to stay or we're gonna move because it's just one of them. So I got a lot of connection with that, and I think you you hit on something. It's about the emotion I find that is, uh, it's sometimes a new area of conflict when talking with other financial brand leaders because, like they don't necessarily want to lean into that emotive feeling when it comes toe money and finances number one as a follow up. Why do you feel that is from...

...your sense of the world because you're already doing it? Number two. What could be done? Or what could you recommend to those who might be a limit little timid about leaning into emotion of money? Well, I think that we've been telling ourselves for a long time that that our products and services are commodities and that we've been differentiating for a long time now on price, and I think that the world has changed and consumers expectations has changed. You know, it's not a These are the products and services we offer at the prices that we offer, and now you choose between mind and the one down the street. Now it's about where can I do business that my values resonate with the values of the organization? Where can I do business where I feel like I have value? Or that I'm I'm valued and I get value in return? And And that's not about price, right? And so, um, I think the consumer mindset has changed a lot and that we used to say, Oh, we need to have, you know, competitive pricing and good service Service isn't isn't the key anymore. Experience is now the key. And you know, that started changing with Starbucks a number of years ago, right? I mean, they made a $6 cup of coffee into an experience, and lo and behold, you know, look what they've done and I love what you're thinking is with that, because academically, we define experience here as well defined systems and processes that have been defined applied, and the secret is to optimize those systems and processes over a period of time because one of two things is gonna happen. Ah, positive emotion or a negative emotion. And so Starbucks is a really good example of taking the commodity but building a brand around experience, which in reality as a bunch of systems and processes I think Disney is another great example of that that has taken a time. But they continued to make it better year after year after year. And we see that now with co vid the ability to really focus on a digital first experience. You know, one of the things that that you shared with me is a challenge or a roadblock that inspired you to take action. What was that challenge for you that you had to eliminate when it came to mastering the lead conversion ecosystem? Yeah, we have, uh, mastering the lead conversion ecosystem is is quite the journey. After all, we we've learned that to be able to produce quality home loan leads our quality home loans, rather from the leads that we generated took the entire ecosystem and that doing business digitally against some of the biggest digital players, like rocket mortgage and better mortgage, takes a very sort of niche approach, right and so originated home loans digitally with any scale, starts with the seamless experience. That is a simple search that ends with a member who is completely satisfied, closed alone and is willing to refer their friends and family s Oh, it's very much still a work in process for us. We have yet to overcome it entirely, and we certainly have not mastered it. We do think it is definitely a literate process, but you know, it's an example one of the major projects will work on that has been a pivot with Cove. It is this closing eso now all across the country. We've got legislation passed that's allowing us to actually do the notary, you know, the E vault and actually go through the entire mortgage loan closing process. Elektronik Lee. And so we're really jumping on that opportunity to make those experiences happened from members, and they're they're loving it. There were doing a hybrid approach right now because we're not fully implemented, but they're even loving our hybrid approach, their loving, the signing, the documents electronically. They're loving the fact that the loan officer gets on the phone with them ahead of time and explains it to them that when they come into the facility to sign the documents that still Rick wire a wet signature, you know that we're very being very cautious and careful about their the cleanliness and their safety. But it's really been a great catalyst for a really complicated transaction, a mortgage loan. Just imagine the other types of transactions that we do in financial services that this could be a catalyst for, you know, having them...

...happen electronically. History. And this is a proving ground. This is almost like considered a pilot program where covert was a forcing function toe. I think a lot of financial brands like Yeah, that could be on the road map. But it's like no, like like we were able to, for example, go remote, bring in some of these new technologies, these new systems and now you're right. What happens when we pilot it on just this one product line and they can extend that type of thinking, transfer that knowledge over into the other product lines, and that's a transformative experience both for the credit union, but also for the people that you're serving because it's helping make their lives. Even that much better than they were before. You talk to hear a bit of Ah, we'll call it a learning lesson. When it comes to your digital growth journey and it's around, you can spend a lot of money with very little result. I think this is one that I'd love to hear what you say, because I see this all the time at financial brands specifically on the marketing side. I'd love to get into your head with this for a moment. Oh, yeah. You know, when this was first when digital marketing was first introduced to me by our marketing team, Um, you know, for no. Well, gosh, I'm gonna say 78 years ago now it was just this new thing, and then we're gonna do this and we're gonna do this, you know, Google searches and you know where that it was S E O. And S E M. I think was probably extent of what the acronyms were at that point. And I said, Well, what? You know why for what's what's gonna be the result, right? And, you know, during the headlights. So, you know, we kind of ventured into this attempting to create this this ecosystem in this funnel, Andi ended up spending a lot of money with very little result. The level of Brokenness was really allow me to use the word Brokenness was really revealed to me when we implemented our CRM sells force. And once we got the visibility into this, the ecosystem that sells force provided I found that the major gap was actually at the top of the funnel where we seem to be able to attract leads. But we were not unable to attract the right leads and therefore they didn't lead to convert loan conversions. And so the amount of money you can spend in general please, could be massive. And unless some decent portion of them could convert too closely and you're totally wasting your money. So yeah, I mean, if I had to do it over again, honestly, what I would do is I would I would hire internally somebody with a proven track record, which probably didn't exist much seven or eight years ago, but does now that z other thing is, if you're just now getting into this and getting serious about it, there are people out there who know what they're doing and and hire them. Hire those people. They at least need Thio Have somebody internally. He knows how toe manage the external vendors that you also using the process. I agree 100%. I can tell you the dozens of times that we have gone in and have diagnosed of financial brands, digital marketing efforts and they're working with a third party, and there's nothing wrong with that. But if you don't have that core competency internally to at least oversight, you're in a big risk for, you know, getting sold. Hey, well, we get you this much audience reach, and we got you this many clicks and we Okay, great. Well, how many conversions and out of that how how many conversions did we pull through and actually fund and why did we not fund them? So I think on the flip side of the equation, though, if you have that and you you touched on this, it wasn't all failure because you were able to realize where the Brokenness waas and then take action to fix. How can you transform that conversation? Because I've seen other the flip side of the equation like, Oh, we've dabbled in digital this stuff. We've done these ads, but it just didn't work. And you know what? We're not going to do it and again, and they look at it as a negative experience and not a learning experience. How do you transform that conversation for another leader? You know, I'm just going to say that the future business is a digital business and that you're gonna have to pay some tuition to figure out how to run that digital business. And that's the cost of doing business. Is the tuition you pay to figure that stuff out and running back to the old way is not going to move your organization into the future the way it needs to be moved.

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 thio 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. Don't go back into the Cave of Complacency. Have the courage to continue to venture out, knowing that they're gonna be some lessons you learn. And I love that. It's just the tuition that we have to pay to gain the capability and competency and the confidence even s so that we can continue forward with courage. You know so much is changing. It's happening faster and faster. You talked about the acronym of the Alphabet soup of S, E. O and ECM and PPC, and now it just It's like every we got marketing automation and CRM. It's just every every month. It seems like there's something new that we could do. But you shared that. There's a trait for yourself and others on your team that have been almost an exponential factor. It's just one word. It's focus. Talk to me about how do you tone down all of the digital noise and all of the digital distraction to help you gain clarity to focus on just a few things. But be the best at those few things, right? Um, you know, first, I think you have Thio create sort of that compelling vision around that one thing that the why that engages your team emotionally and gets them behind the effort. So there are a lot of things going on, and there are a lot of things that we could be working on at any given time. We have had to make some hard choices, and I have had toe help our board make some hard choices about how the Reese out finite resource is get spent, right, And one of the first things we had to do was to create the the technological infrastructure to support the interfaces that we wanted for the digital journeys and engagements. We had to create the technological support for how salesforce, right? We're able to integrate sales worth with Scimitar, which is a very common creating new core, and not a lot of other people have been able to do that. And so we just put the focus on making sure theme underlying foundation of technology was there and all about that is all of that was done because of the compelling vision that we will falsely execute on these experiences for our members and a digital environ you mentioned. And you you almost brought it back to the beginning of the conversation around vision or what we call here purpose. Purpose is at the heart of the digital growth blueprint, the model that we teach and advise around. Is it possible for a financial brand to make progress on their digital growth journey if they do not have that well defined vision, as you call it, or purposes we call it that's bought in throughout the entire organization? Is that even? Can you skip that step? I'm just curious from your perspective, not from my perspective, because if you do, in fact, skip that on a digital journey, if you do, in fact skip the the vision and the purpose creation and getting everybody sort of engaged emotionally on that. Then what you will end up doing is you will end up just sort of being what everybody else is, which is a financial...

...institution that has a mobile banking and online banking. And we can open accounts online and we can apply for car loan online. And so what, You're what you're ultimately do it is your Maintaining yourself is a financial institution that has has solutions through technology. What I really think the future businesses is like a set of future digital business, and that we need to more so think of ourselves as a technology company that offers financial services versus the other way around. Because again the future of businesses is digital. I don't really care necessarily what it is we've. We've kind of convinced ourselves, Oh, well, commercial banking will ever get there because it's about relationship. I think it's a relationship. Is is it's still about relationship. I'm not. I'm not discounting the relationship at all. It's just about how you have the relationship, what format you engage to have the relationship. What does community mean when all of your members open their accounts online and do all of their transactions. With you, online community becomes something different and still relationship. It's still community is just different. It's two sides of the equation of what we what I write about the book and I talked about a lot, and it sounds like you're already thinking through its digital experience. Plus human experience and technology is nothing more than the tool, the catalyst to channel the medium into which we use to bring two people together for good, whether that be on the mortgage side, the consumer side community. Yet community has been redefined. It's not necessarily a physical place with borders that almost might be more of like, ideological of, like do. And you mentioned this, like, do people believe in what we believe? And if so, that makes conducting business quote unquote just that much more simple on both sides of the equation. I wanna talk here, um, and it really falls right in line with with where you've been on your journey, tying it back to vision, tying it back to purpose. But culture, the internal, the human side of the business, what has been your greatest win, our focus there because you mentioned you must hire people who are technology competent and focused on technology. Is that easier said than done? You know, I don't think that's hard. I think what's hard Thio do is really assess their their depth of what they're telling you their depth of belief and what they're telling you when they're interviewing with you. But I think it starts with who you hire. Cultural always starts with who you hire right s. So if you hire people who are who understand that future businesses is a technology business and you can prove that out to the interview process and then they're gonna buy into all of the of this huge cultural shifts that it takes to go digital. I've said for some time, and I don't I don't think it's my quote. And I can remember who's quoted is but, you know, culture, each strategy for breakfast, right? So you could have this fantastic digital strategy if you culturally cannot adapt to that digital strategy. If you go in and create a digital strategy for a client and they're not all bought in and they're gonna give up a soon as they see that they're not making money right away. You're gonna have a really hard time. So time and time again. Sure, sure. And the longer I live, the more it becomes visible. Becomes visible to me that this is this indeed culture. It's tragic for breakfast. So the shift, you know, of a credit union becoming a technology company that offers financial services is, no doubt a huge cultural shift, this industry. And so I think, the first foundational pieces. Your people must believe that the future business is a digital business, and then you must communicate, communicate, communicate, communicate as the changes were made to adapt to that new business. And once again, there's that cave of complacency coming back up in the conversation because I think my mind goes toe the fears and the anxieties of those who are traditionally on the front line of this, the the M. S. R is the loan officers who are used to conducting that face to face business. People come into the branch, but that might not be the case. It doesn't mean that their role is obsolete. I think it actually has more visibility because we can do it more efficiently conducted digital you're seeing that post covert. Everyone's once again being forced to go into the remote, but it has to all come down to the alignment Digital first. I love that where a technology company that just happens to offer financial services mean this has been such a...

...really, really good conversation. I appreciate you sharing just a little bit about where you've been on your journey. I wanna look ahead into the future. Two years, you're in a really good place. But let's look back. What is one thing that has toe happen for you to feel good about the continued progress that you make along your digital growth journey over the next 12, 18, 24 months? Well, we need to grow outside of our current markets. Eso so success to me. First foremost looks like, you know, we're succeeding in expanding into markets where our brand was previously unknown. That business is being conducted through those digital channels. I don't know yet where physical plays into that. I kind of think of physical as the new marketing expense. You know that potentially there needs to be some sort of physical location so that people feel comfortable that if something goes wrong, there's there's there's a place I could go on bringing neck because we're still talking about people's money and I do equate oftentimes financial services, the health care and that everything is good and dandy until I have health care problem. Same thing with financial services. Everything is fine until my money is missing and now I'm not fine. So they need a sense of safety and security and potentially physical places in and provides that I'm not quite sure where I stand on that. But we need to be able to resonate with people online, and we need to be able to have our brand resonate with them and to be able to do business with us that way first and foremost and then provide the safety and security of the physical location, which I think Long Depot is a good example. Somebody who's done that right. So, yeah, I think that that's gonna be the one thing that that shows me that we can actually do this digital thing successfully is that we're able to grow and expand without the classic hub and spoke branching model that financial services has has favorite for someone here Yeah, I'm not completely down and out. I'm not as bullish is like, say, the Brett Kings of the world are you know, he wrote the book branch today, Gone Tomorrow. I'm Maybe it's a 500 square foot micro footprint that is almost like a, uh, the quick er type of a perspective. It's just enough to go in, and you brought up uninterested point, the correlation between a person's financial well being or finances and health care. Is there an opportunity to maybe down the road, start toe, consolidate the data that we have and maybe branch in tow? I don't know some type of a hybrid between financial health and well being and physical health, and I don't know what that looks like, but it's something that's always in the back of my mind, my reading, my research, my writing, because to me it's we know the connection between a person's financial well being and their physical well being. We know the connection between a person's financial well being and their mental well being. Is there an opportunity for that in the future of financial services? Maybe not next year. Maybe it's five years. I don't know I'm just future thinking once again with this next to to you know, I don't know. What I do know is that unfortunately, a lot of times people aren't as concerned about their health. And until they, they're feeling the loss of their health, right, they're going to keep it in the hot Cheetos and drinking the beers until something happens and they can't do that anymore, you know? And I feel like they're the same way with financial service to sometimes that, you know, everything's fine until there's a there's a financial trouble, right? So I don't know if, um, I don't know what connection there could be. One of the things that I thought about, though in terms of the future for us would be some sort of a vaulting of information like think safe deposit box, right? We usedto used to walk in the door, and you put all of your you put your health records and your will and your this and your that. And then I feel like there might be a way for financial institutions to use, um, the trust that we have and the technology that we have to maybe create sort of a center fault of information which could include your health records as an example, eso that's been where my mind is gone with. I would make a parallel in terms of record keeping, an identity keeping and that sort of thing between health care and financial services. But in terms of helping people, you know, there's gotta be the willingness, you know, there and you know yes, I don't know. I don't know. The desire to change has to be...

...greater than the person's desire to remain the same and whatever that might be, whether it be financially, whether it be physical well being so you know, you're you're you're 100% correct. It's just one of those things that e stay up at night. I think about the future and what the because that's kind of where I live is in the future and try to, like, transfer knowledge back into the present so that people just don't get stuck in this moment and we can keep moving forward and elevate this entire industry together on guide people. Beyond the stress that I think a lot of people feel towards that bigger, better, brighter, future e mean it's been a really, really positive conversation. I thank you for that. If someone wants to continue this, this discussion, this dialogue with you, what's the best way that they could just connect and say hello? Oh, I forgot to have anybody sent me an email in Mornington at celerity see you dot org's That's S O l a r i t Y c u dot org. That's probably one of the best ways to just reach out initially. And, yeah, I think, like, have a conversation. Meena, thank you so much. And thanks again for joining me on another episode of Banking on Digital Growth. All right, thank you, James Robert. 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 Podcast or Spotify and subscribe while you're there to get even. Mawr Practical and proven insights. Visit www dot digital growth dot com to grab a preview of James Roberts bestselling 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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