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?
I think the biggest opportunity is to meet customer demand for faster payments in all channels. This is equally important on the retail side as it is on the business side. Customers expect everything instantaneously; for example, some fast food restaurants are now offering their employees the option to be paid the same day they work.
The pace of change will continue to accelerate. Our customers deserve to have best-in-class products and services, and our challenge is to deliver solutions that meet their needs.
Where do you predict the industry will be in five years? How can FIs prepare in a rapidly accelerating financial services environment?
I think it is an exciting time. Banks have opportunities to thrive in one or more payment spaces (ACH, cards, digital wallet, even digital currency!). And bank payment teams who have most likely served in back room functions are finding themselves called upon to discuss strategy, which is welcome. New career paths are opening: Teams can be ready by using NEACH’s training programs.
For anyone who doesn’t believe that the game has already changed, just ask a group of people under the age of 30 how they manage their money. Banks need to understand what non-bank services our customers use, all of which use a checking account as the base of their success. Think about how many PayPal, Venmo, etc. transactions you’re processing for your customers.
Why is it critical for C-Level decision makers to be actively engaged with NEACH and the work that it does?
Payments is one of our major revenue streams, and banks need to prioritize payment strategies, ASAP.
Customer loyalty only goes so far; for example, when “Venmo-ing” became a verb, that should have gotten our attention.
What other business topics keep you up at night?
Cybersecurity. Without a doubt. Financial institutions have the highest level of security among U.S. industries and we all work diligently to protect customer information. We are all very successful in applying cybersecurity measures.
Unfortunately cyber criminals come up with a new scam daily. While we’ve been fortunate to block the majority of fraudulent transactions at the bank level, we’ve had a few customers hit with serious B2B fraud. We have to be ever-vigilant. We can never stop educating our customers.
What does it mean to you personally and professionally to serve on NEACH’s Board of Directors? In addition to serving on the Board, how do you participate in NEACH?
I’m a returning board member. When I was a board member a dozen years ago, I managed an operations area and could speak the language of payments. I’m honored that I was asked to return to the Board.
Now, as a bank CEO, I’m removed from daily operations but find NEACH is even more important to me. I trust NEACH to be a thought leader in the changing payments world. NEACH leads conversations around payments and brings ideas to the table. Their Payments Innovation conference was eye-opening, and we are looking forward to future meetings like this.
NEACH has been a longstanding partner of BankNewport. We use them internally for education, certifying team members, risk assessments, and for compliance. We also use NPG for audits of our ACH function.
Complete this sentence: Without NEACH, I (or my organization) would be _____
Less aware of how important a dynamic payment strategy is, or how to go about developing one.
What excites you most about the industry and your role in it?
Community banking is all about developing and sustaining relationships. Our impact shows in the communities we serve, the jobs we create, the non-profits we support financially and through volunteer hours. When we are successful our communities thrive. It’s exciting to be a part of this.
The future is bright. There are so many new opportunities for banks to develop viable partnerships to help us in serving our customers changing needs.
How do you keep learning and growing as an industry leader?
Committing to lifelong learning is so important: It can be achieved formally or informally. In addition to reading trade publications and listening to podcasts, I recommend people just be curious. Ask questions, listen well, and pay attention to what is happening. Everything in the financial world could be an episode on the Science Channel’s “How It’s Made.” Nothing stands alone but is a part of a dynamic process. As a banking nerd, I find this fascinating!
Who has been your biggest role model and why?
They are too numerous to count. I continue to identify new role models every day. They are people who act with integrity, honesty, compassion, and passion, who show respect and concern for others regardless of title or position.
What books are you currently reading?
For business I’m reading Next is Now by Lior Arussy. I’ve always said that I enjoyed change but I have to admit that the pace of change can sometimes feel overwhelming. Next is Now discusses how to not only be open and adaptive but to build a change resilience culture.
For pleasure I’m working through the Donna Leon Commissario Guido Brunetti series. Brunetti is a detective in Venice and he deals with crimes that have a social aspect. Not much blood and guts, which I don’t like, but plenty of thought provoking questions.
Published: September 9, 2019.