How Culture is Key for Innovation at Today’s Banks

Posted by: AmberRoberts in: Financial Services -

Just a few years ago we were pondering if, when and how banks will answer to consumer desires for simplification, speed and integration when it comes to everyday money matters. Today, technology is table stakes in the world of banking, and the new question being asked is how banks can shift their organizations to be successful in a tech-driven world.

At this year’s Digital Banking conference, a common theme across financial institutions of all sizes was the importance of culture in our rapidly shifting, tech-forward environment. Here are cultural best practices from the banks who are truly embracing technology:

  1. Overcommunicate: If the entire organization feels they are part of new technologies, there will be more internal buy-in. Explain what the organization is doing and why. Talk to all levels of staff and update them regularly.
  2. Create digital ambassadors: Financial institutions have created digital ambassadors successfully and stand behind the approach. The “ambassadors” can range from digital natives to novices; what’s important is that they are trained to understand new tech inside and out, and they are capable of encouraging their colleagues and customers to embrace the advancements. Ambassadors can engage in the field, at the branch level and in the back office.

Digital Banking 2018: Making Customer Experiences Better

Posted by: AmberRoberts in: Financial Services -

Coming off another year at Digital Banking 2018 in Austin, Texas, there were some clear differences worth highlighting from previous years.

First, Artificial intelligence is not just being talked about, it’s happening. Most sessions and conversations touched on AI in some way, and we’ve seen banks make tangible moves, pointing to BofA’s Erica as just one example.

AI is expected to drive most interactions with customers soon, and it is forcing banks to retrain and hire employees with new skills.

The overall technology and banking conversation has also shifted. It seems that financial institutions have moved past trying to create new/better/cooler products and services, and instead, they are focusing on solving problems of customers and making customer experiences better.

What’s coming? A bank as we know it today will not be leading banking in the next 15 years, a technology company will. That prediction comes from futurist and author Brett King.

Banks could be challenged and surpassed by technology companies already playing in the payments space (Apple, Alibaba) or by another disruptor. Time will tell.


Private Equity Forum 2018 Highlights Part II: Top 5 from PE US Forum

Posted by: AmberRoberts in: Financial Services -

This year’s gathering of elite private equity players at MarketsGroup’s 7th Annual Private Equity US Forum covered a lot of ground, from the impact of tax reform on valuations to the best ways to find non-correlated PE investments. Here are our top 5 takeaways:


  1. Despite SEC leadership changes, PE is not getting a break. While new faces are steering the ship at the SEC, it hasn’t led to fewer exams or less interest in PE firms. However, enforcement staff seem to be more open to discussions as opposed to fast tracking to the settlement stage.
  2. Conflicts of interest can’t always be solved with a “wall”: Conflict of interest is a timely issue, particularly for PE that is expanding into new areas of business, such as credit or REITs. A “wall” is an increasingly popular solution, but it does not work for all and may cause a silo effect that prevents critical collaboration and information sharing internally.
  3. Due diligence is taking new forms: New “non-traditional” types of due diligence are emerging, including anti-money laundering and know-your-customer due diligence. Such due diligence covers traditional and social media reputation, political affiliations and exposure, trading exposure and other critical pieces of intel.
  4. Organic growth a priority for portfolio companies: While add-on acquisitions remain desirable for a host of reasons, organic growth is highly coveted and still a focus for PE owners. Both artificial intelligence and predictive analytics are increasingly enabling companies to be more agile, make better decisions and expedite growth.
  5. Economic downturn inevitable, but we still have time: We should be prepared for an eventual slowdown. However, with job rates up, interest rates still relatively low and banks in good standing, the U.S. economy should be fine in 2018 and 2019.

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