Connie Loveland is an accomplished Finance & Operations Executive with extensive leadership experience in strategic planning, treasury management, financial operations, data management, and accounting, which she uses to creatively transform organizations.
Her collaborative leadership style and ability to build strong teams have served her teams well, enabling them to maximize financial performance within constraints established by strategic or business plans while exploring opportunities for improvement. Known for success in her ability to communicate clear objectives and direction, she also mentors teams to drive consensus and effectively implements departmental and organizational goals.
A superior blend of finance, operations, and data management expertise plus an innate ability to develop and manage relationships with executives, clients, and teams, Connie believes organizations thrive when employees are engaged and everybody’s opinion matters.
NEACH: What does it mean to you personally and professionally to serve on NEACH’s Board of Directors? What is your primary role?
I’m proud to serve on the NEACH Board. I’ve been on the board for approximately three years, and I just recently took the vice chair position. The vice chair position is part of the executive committee, and the executive committee assists management to craft appropriate discussions and provides leadership oversight to management.
NEACH: As you see it, what is the biggest opportunity for financial institutions over the next three-to-five years? For businesses? What is the greatest challenge?
The industry is changing so rapidly, and technology is the biggest driver of this change. For financial institutions, there’s an opportunity here to help our customers. Branches are not going to go away. We have to be able to deliver technology and also that caring, personal customer approach. NEACH’s role in that is to help financial institutions navigate these challenging times of keeping up with the technology and where the payment world is going.
I think some of the greatest challenges we face as an industry are how to implement technology while keeping customer data secure. Keeping our customers’ data secure is an area where banks are stronger than the FinTechs. Because we are under so much regulatory scrutiny, we already have that infrastructure in place.
The other challenge is balancing technology with a personal touch; people still want that personal touch.
NEACH: Where do you predict the industry will be in five years? How can FI’s prepare in a rapidly accelerating financial services environment?
Technology will be much more significant in banking in the next five years. Look at where we’ve come from over the last ten years. Ten years ago, we didn’t have cellular devices that could transfer money from one place to another. We couldn’t issue ACH at the click of a button. It’s going to be interesting to watch where technology will go in the next five years, but banks have to be a part of that conversation. In the next five years, I think we’re going to see a lot of banks partner with FinTech companies to achieve what our customers are requesting.
NEACH: Why is it important for an organization to have a payments strategy in place in this environment? What does this mean practically for FIs today?
It’s my opinion that if we don’t have a payments strategy in place, we won’t be around in five years. We need to keep up with the outside influences, which are the FinTech companies, and we need to be able to provide safe, fast ways to make payments. I don’t think there’s been a time in history when banking has been under so much rapid change, so it’s going to be interesting to watch it evolve.
NEACH: What business topics keep you up at night?
As a smaller financial institution, how do we adapt to these changes when we don’t have the same resources as larger institutions? How do we navigate the waters? What can we do?
Part of what keeps me up and thinking about this are some of the technologies that aren’t around anymore today. I mean look at home phones. Five years ago, everyone had a home phone. Today, I would probably say that less than 20 percent of Americans have or utilize home phones because everything is off of their cellular devices. Pay phones are another example.
The biggest opportunity is to continue to serve the communities. We must deliver both technological solutions as well as a personal caring approach to educating and protecting the interest of those who bank with us. We don’t want to be the financial institution who is no longer around or no longer needed. So we have to figure out what steps we need to take to thrive in this new reality.
NEACH: In addition to serving on the Board, how do you participate in NEACH?
NEACH is a partner to the bank, and they come in and educate our folks on payments. They do all of our compliance and audits around ACH. We send several folks to their payments conference. These are key individuals in the bank thinking about strategy and leveraging all of the information that comes out of these conferences, and they bring it back to the table with suggestions for our institutions to implement. Our bank is fully invested in partnership with NEACH.
NEACH: What do you see as NEACH’s biggest contribution to the industry? How important is NEACH to the industry as a whole?
I’d say that NEACH’s greatest contribution to the industry is their knowledge and bringing people together to have conversations around payments and helping guide those conversations through the changing landscape.
NEACH: Complete this sentence: Without NEACH, I (or my organization) would be _______________.
Without NEACH, I would be navigating a rapidly changing landscape without a GPS. From someone who is directionally challenged, I can tell you I don’t know how I’d do it.
NEACH: What excites you most about the industry and your role in it?
You know, it’s a scary time in the industry with so much change. At the same time, all of this change is exciting, because we get to help decide what the future is going to look like and help to shape the future.
NEACH: How do you keep learning and growing as an industry leader?
It’s a combination of things—reading and listening to what others are doing. Having a network of peer-level individuals, and again, this is where NEACH comes in and bridges the gap. They bring these people together at conferences or meetings…that’s how you learn, listening to what everyone else is thinking or saying. You bring all that information back to your institution, analyze it, and decide what’s the best direction for your organization.
NEACH: Who has been your biggest role model and why?
I’ve been fortunate in my career to have worked for some very great and knowledgeable industry leaders who have helped mold me and make me who I am today. I can’t pick just one person because I respect them all. I’m grateful they took the time to mentor me in the industry, and I hope I’m mentoring the next generation in the same way they mentored me.