Women in FinTech: “The Ability to Serve Customers in the Best Manner Possible is Where I Draw Energy.”

As part of our #WomeninFinTech series, we sat down with Kristin Marcuccilli, executive vice president and chief operating officer at STAR Financial Bank.

We talked about her transition from the world of college football to the world of banking and finance, what technology she thinks will lead the way, and why it is important to work with like-minded individuals to drive a business forward.

Finovate: How did you start your career?

Kristin Marcuccilli: STAR Financial Bank is a privately-owned family bank that’s been around for more than 75 years; in fact, my grandfather’s name is the “T” (Thomas) in STAR. Despite this family history, I didn’t always aspire to become a banker. I earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and pre-medicine from the University of Notre Dame, and my student work in football operations and player development ultimately led me to my first job in the Notre Dame Football office for three years.  It wasn’t until later that I decided to pursue a master’s degree in business administration and management from Indiana University.

While working toward my master’s degree, I asked my dad about potential opportunities with the bank – though I still was unsure if this was the right path, I became more curious as I progressed in my studies and job experiences. When an opportunity to join the bank arose, I had to follow the same process as anyone else. Our bank has strict rules about family employees: we must work somewhere else for five years first; new positions won’t be created just for family members; and we must pursue an MBA or banking certification to even be considered for a senior management role.

In 2008, I joined the bank as a project manager, and haven’t looked back since. Over the past 11 years, I have worked my way up to chief operating officer, and I now help oversee our technology partnerships, project management efforts, bank operations and strategic direction. During my time at the bank, I’ve helped establish a strategic vision, oversaw a website redesign, helped implement 55 Interactive Teller Machines and have enhanced our digital banking strategy.

Finovate: What sparked your interest in fintech?

Marcuccilli:My interest in fintech stems from the reason I choose to work in community banking – it’s a relationship business, and our team’s involvement in creative thinking that will ultimately help change and influence the way people and businesses interact with their bank is an ever-present and ever-evolving challenge. A passion for fintech calls for an entrepreneurial spirit and the ability to embrace failure and change nearly every day. For me, that’s an exciting challenge.

Finovate: What technologies have you seen lately that have excited you?

Marcuccilli: New technology seems to appear overnight. Years from now, we expect that real-time payments will be the norm – no more waiting for money to move overnight or over the course of several days via check. The application of biometrics and advanced analytics for enhanced security will continue to expand and evolve, and artificial intelligence will support personalized customer experience through digital channels. Electronic delivery of documents, signatures and account opening will also likely be dominating a once paper-intensive banking environment. Self-service kiosks will also have advanced to replace much of the standard transaction activity both as in-branch and as standalone options. All of this excites me, as the ability to serve our customers in the best manner possible is where I draw energy.

Finovate: Why is it important for banks to embrace new tech? How is Star Financial Bank doing this?

Marcuccilli: In our rapidly changing industry, banks that are slow to adapt risk falling behind and losing critical business. Bankers have a significant advantage when it comes to building valuable relationships and supporting their local communities, but they must also add modern technology to remain nimble and relevant.

At STAR, we place a strong emphasis on maintaining our community focus while optimizing delivery channels and meeting customers where they are on their financial journey. We take a collaborative approach when evaluating and implementing new technology, starting at the top with our CEO who encourages the team to embrace change.

I am proud to be part of a powerhouse team, working alongside innovators and leaders who dedicate significant time and effort toward studying technology and client behavior to best meet our community’s needs. We have a group of smart, data-driven individuals who ensure our technology and services align with our business and customer demands.

Finovate: Where do you think the future of fintech is heading?

Marcuccilli: Delivery channel optimization (to ensure convenient and engaging customer experience), security threats and payments are all rapidly evolving and will continue to be a major focus in the fintech space. To effectively address these trends, there will be a growing demand and emphasis on the selection of third-party partnerships.  Finding the right technology partner – both a technical and cultural fit – will be important in facilitating the best experience for customers.

Finovate: Why is the #WomeininTech movement important?

Marcuccilli: There is a general lack of female representation in financial services, especially when it comes to the technology side of the house.  As industry professionals, we can help influence this by supporting and encouraging women to join and contribute to the field. Series like these are a powerful way to highlight how women are innovating and making a difference in their local communities through financial services and technology.

Finovate: What piece of advice would you give women starting out their career in finance/ fintech?

Marcuccilli: My advice is to be open to different possibilities within the financial services and fintech space as there are no shortage of opportunities. It’s important to surround yourself with strategic and smart individuals who help build up the team, supporting professional goals and development. I’d also encourage women to become involved in their local communities. Learning and growing from individuals outside of your organization can also be key to professional success. When we commit to staying attuned to business and industry trends and recent developments, we’re able to better support an ecosystem of entrepreneurship and growth in our local communities.

Finovate: And what piece of advice do you have for other banks to attract and retain more star female talent?

Marcuccilli: At STAR, we prioritize collaboration and innovation, and that’s been very attractive to top talent. Showing potential employees that the bank cares about exploring new ideas from all levels of the institution, not just from management or the C-suite, can be a powerful differentiator. Institutions that break down silos, encourage cross department collaboration and transparency, and embrace change will find more success in attracting and retaining star female talent.

Webinar: Don’t Disrupt – Avoiding the Dangers of Transformation

Webinar: Don’t Disrupt – Avoiding the Dangers of Transformation

Challenger banks shouldn’t stand a chance. Incumbent banks have tens of millions of customer relationships, decades of risk-management experience, and petabytes of data.


Yet incumbent banks struggle to adapt to rising customer expectations quickly enough. This has encouraged well-funded, design-led, new market entrants to pose serious competitive threats. Incumbents struggle with rapid change because of the legacy systems, silos, and data volumes that exceed human capacity to analyze them.


In pursuit of disruptive innovations, banks have embarked on digital transformation programs and big data projects. But the low odds for success for these initiatives make them dangerous. Seventy percent of digital transformations fail, according to McKinsey. And 60% of big data projects fail, according to Gartner. These are investments with high risks and mostly uncertain return.


Watch this webinar, to learn about a new approach. You will learn how to:
• Leverage legacy systems and understand data across systems and silos
• Turn inhuman amounts of data into information for human decision-makers
• Reduce the cognitive burden on employees so they can use their unique skills
• Increase revenue and cost productivity while reducing risk
• Scale solutions with natural language processing and machine learning

Featuring:

John Finneran
Senior Product Marketing Manager, Financial Services
Sinequa

Finneran is the Senior Product Marketing Manager, Financial Services at Sinequa. He is responsible for go-to-market strategy and designing industry-specific use cases and solutions. Sinequa helps financial institutions become information driven. The platform extracts real-time relevant information and insights from large amounts of data across all formats. R

Analyst All-Stars – Global Fintech: What’s Hot & What’s Not…

At every Finovate, we welcome four leading fintech research analysts to take the stage for seven minutes each to present key opportunities for the future. Take a look back on our most recent set from FinovateSpring 2019 featuring Michelle Evans, Global Head of Digital Consumer Research at Euromonitor International; Jacob Jegher, Senior Vice President, Banking Head of Strategy, Javelin Strategy and Research; Dan Latimore, Senior Vice President, Banking Group, Celent; and Paul Berg, Senior Managing Consultant, Gallup.

Early booking for FinovateSpring 2020 is also now open! Book your tickets now at the lowest possible price!

FinovateSpring 2019: “You have to be at Finovate if you want to be an innovator”

1100+ attendees. 60+ demoers. 120+ speakers. Only at Finovate.

Across 3 main days and one specialist summit day during FinovateSpring 2019, we were joined by hundreds of senior financial and banking executives, venture capitalists, press, industry analysts, bloggers, regulators and entrepreneurs from the Bay Area and beyond to explore fintech’s real-world solutions and share cutting edge insight.

Early booking for FinovateSpring 2020 is now open!  Book your tickets now at the lowest possible price!

Webinar: Digital, Data and Disinformation – Modern Banking

Webinar: Digital, Data and Disinformation – Modern Banking

Take a look back on the latest FinTech Futures and Finovate webinar, Digital, Data and Disinformation: Modern Banking with Jon Deutsch, from Information Builders; and Dave Birch, Global Ambassador at Consult Hyperion.

Technology and increasing competition have rendered the financial services sector very much under pressure. Banking is not what it used to be, and it’s becoming clear that new players are appearing by the minute, who will take a seemingly marginal share.

However, these changes are not as bad as they seem. If we focus on the potential of fintech disintermediation, digital transformation, and data proliferation, it’s easy to see that the industry is ripe for disruption.

Future growth and success belong to those institutions who align on strategy to marshal these forces to build and retain market share through superior products, service, and customer outcomes.

Banking and financial services industry leaders must now look to push the boundaries of innovation even further and question exactly how the implementation of emerging technology enablers can help them to truly redefine the customer experience.I

Is There a Role for the Branch in The Digital World?

Alex Jimenez, Vice President Senior Strategist, Zions Bancorporation, will be joining the Leaders Debate on the new platforms and technologies transforming banking at FinovateSpring, coming to San Francisco in two weeks. Here, he considers the role of physical bank branches in the digital world.

I often hear people ask if there is a role for the bank branch. This question consists of several components:

  • In this increasingly digital world, customers still go to bank branches, why?
  • How do digital technologies affect in-person experiences?
  • How do digital technologies change the setting where those experiences happen?

I’d like to tackle each of them separately.

Why do customers still use branches?

In the past few years several opinion surveys have come back with similar responses to this question. Americans surveyed say that they still want bank branches for when they have issues with the bank, or because they still frequent the bank for their everyday banking activities. These two reasons don’t make much sense in the aggregate. 

Bank call center metrics indicate that when people have an issue with a bank, they call the bank rather than visit the branch. In addition, branch transactions are down across all types of customers and FIs. People use digital channels for everyday transactions, like checking balances, transferring funds, and depositing checks.

The gap between survey responses and data indicates that a vast difference exists between how people respond to these questions and how they behave

How do digital technologies affect in-person experiences?

The main concern that branch traditionalists describe is the inability for a customer to reach a person. Do digital technologies potentially eliminate the banker, or can they help them?

As noted earlier, digital technologies have impacted rote branch transactions. There is still a need to visit branches to deposit checks and cash, but the use of both is also diminishing. 

Customers still use branches to open new accounts, apply for loans, and get advice. Account opening and application can be done digitally, and are slowly being impacted. The pace of the decline has more to do with banks’ clumsy technology or policies than the actual availability of technology.

If rote transactions and account opening move to digital channels, advice and selling remain the activities most often cited as reasons for a physical branch. Digital technologies, however, can augment advice, selling, and even in-person account opening very simply. Yet, many banks have not extended digital capabilities to today’s branch. Many years ago at a previous organization, my team deployed a self-service tool on our website that allowed a small business customer to answer questions and receive offers to address their specific needs. The service relied on a simple algorithm that helped the customer navigate through a 15-minute session. The tool did not succeed online. However, we deployed it at the branch where it became successful. Apparently, the combination of the human touch, and the algorithm, resulted in a better experience. Previously, the branches had used paper pamphlets to help them highlight services. 

Call centers have knowledgebases at their disposal, yet they are not often offered to branch staff. Similarly, sales teams have access to CRM dashboards that are used sparingly by branch staff. Branch staff can use these technologies to enable themselves to provide better experiences.

How do digital technologies change the settings of where those experiences happen?

If banks provide branch staff with digital tools to optimize all person-to-person customer experiences, do they need the physical real estate? Probably not, in the longer term. 

Many banks have begun and continue to transform and consolidate branches because of the changes that digital technologies bring. The industry has focused on rote transactions and their impact on the branch, but the reality is that people perform most transactions remotely. 

Many years ago, various FIs like Coastal Credit Union in North Carolina rolled out video ATMs which allow for video conversations with bankers sitting in their call center. Aside from cash transactions it doesn’t take much to allow those same video bankers to be able to have video chats with customers through any internet-connected device. As more and more people become accustomed to having video chats with others, these channels will naturally become more popular than the local branch.

So, is there a role for the branch in the digital world? It depends on how branch is defined. In the short-term the branch as it is configured today will continue to slowly decline. Future branches will not bear much resemblance to the branch of today. The branch of the future may not be a location at all. I expect it to be sets of experiences, some of which will be facilitated by bankers with access to digital tools, on various delivery methods many of which aren’t available yet.

The Human Side of Digital Transformation

This is a guest post written by Dave Jones, VP of Product Marketing at Nuxeo, a Silver Sponsor of FinovateSpring. Jones is a strategic marketing leader and information management expert with 20+ years of experience in the technology space.

Today, consumers embrace a willingness to experiment with new ways of doing things. This, in turn, is driving the need for financial services companies to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives in order to compete and remain relevant to customers.

But digital transformation should not mean customers never talk to a human being. A digital business should look to exploit technology to create new sources of value for customers above and beyond their products and services. They should also look to increase operational agility in the service of those customers—and that service does not always have to be digital. It can, and often should, be a human interaction.

Many describe this human element within an organization as the culture – but what is culture?

It’s a shared set of values and beliefs that drive behavior. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do. It’s how people behave when no one is looking and when no one is telling them what to do that will pave the way for great innovation.

At Nuxeo, we believe that a digital culture is critical to the success of a digital transformation project. Below are four ways that culture can play a pivotal role in digital transformation projects:

  1. To drive digital experiences, strive for a culture that fosters customer empathy and that values a deep understanding of customers’ needs and ecosystems.
  2. To drive digital operations, focus on things that customers value, and reward digital experimentation and collaboration. Nurture a culture that embeds metrics (customer metrics) into the scorecard of every employee. And foster customer empathy and customer-led decision making.
  3. To leverage digital ecosystems for broadening platforms and partnerships, nurture a culture that promotes internal and external collaboration.
  4. To place digital innovation at the intersection of experiences and operations, support a culture that encourages speed instead of perfection. Develop a healthy tolerance for risk, and a willingness to fail fast and learn from failures.

In order to become a digital business and move up the digital maturity curve, no financial institute can ignore culture because it impacts everything. The traits found in strong digital and customer-focused cultures include:

• Customer Obsession

• Empathy

• Speed & Agility

• Collaboration

• Experimentation

These are the traits that successful digital businesses have in common, and they’re the traits that allow organizations to drive their digital transformation to the highest level. However, these traits are missing from many digital transformation programs, despite assertions by many who say “Yeah, we’re doing that.” This is a problem.

Most organizations are still addressing digital transformation as a tactical, short-term savings focused exercise. Some are getting some cost savings and functional agility, but very few are creating end-to-end digital businesses with a sustainable and long-term competitive advantage. What we have are organizations that think they are done with digital transformation who were never truly on the journey, and never addressed the human and cultural piece of the puzzle.

To those organizations, we implore you to rethink your strategy and to factor culture into your digital transformation journey. But to those organizations who are using empathy, collaboration, and the natural human instinct to help others as a way to deliver a stronger and more sustainable offering to their customers – bravo. You are in the enviable position of having all the right pieces in place for your digital transformation journey – all that remains is for you to push ahead, build on the strength of your new human-digital culture and enjoy the trip.

To learn more about the trends driving digital transformation and strategies for success, download this complimentary Digital Business Playbook for Financial Services. Nuxeo is a Silver Sponsor of FinovateSpring, coming to San Francisco in less than one month! Find out how you can get involved with FinovateSpring here >>

PayTech Awards 2019: Celebrating Innovative Projects and Inspirational People

PayTech Awards 2019: Celebrating Innovative Projects and Inspirational People

PayTech Awards, brought to you by FinTech Futures, are exciting awards in their second year that recognize excellence and innovation in the use of IT in the finance and payment industry worldwide, and the people who make it happen.

The 2019 Awards are now open for entries in the following categories:

Judged awards

  • Best Consumer Payments Initiative
  • Best Corporate Payments Initiative
  • Best Mobile Payments Initiative
  • Best Use of Biometrics in Payments
  • Best Prepaid Initiative
  • Best Cards Initiative
  • Top Paytech Innovation
  • Best E-commerce Initiative
  • Best Paytech Partnership
  • Paytech for Good

Leadership awards

  • Rising Paytech Star Award – free to enter
  • Woman in Paytech Award – free to enter
  • Paytech Leadership Award – free to enter
  • Paytech Team of the Year

OVUM Payments Innovation awards

  • Best Real-Time Payments Solution Provider
  • Best Open Banking Solution Provider
  • Best Solution Provider for Payment Systems in the Cloud

Think your project deserves to win this year? Or do you know someone that should receive special recognition? The deadline has now been extended to the 19th April, so get nominating >> 

Last year attendees of the PayTech Awards enjoyed the hospitality of a luxurious Silver Sturgeon yacht as it cruised along the river Thames. This year the awards will be announced on 5 July, and will be hosted at the HAC (Honourable Artillery Company), a historic 18th Century mansion accompanied by a six acre garden in London’s Moorgate. Check out last year’s highlights and see what’s in-store:

For more information or to enquire about sponsorship opportunities, please visit the PayTech Awards website or get in touch with Jon Robson via email jon.robson@knect365.com.

The Evolution of the Third Era of Commerce

During FinovateEurope 2019, Giulio Montemagno – Head of Europe, Amazon Pay took to the stage to discuss the ripples of change we’re seeing in payments and e-commerce, and how voice commerce will redefine the ideal customer experience. In the third era of commerce, only early adopters win.

“Since the emergence of digital, commerce has been in a state of transformation, first with e-commerce and then with the rise of mobile came m-commerce. Today, we are in the very early stages of the third era – voice commerce – a powerful medium that will transform our day-to-day lives and how we purchase.”

Don’t miss more cutting-edge insights like this at the upcoming FinovateSpring event in San Francisco, May 7-10. Find out more >>

Easy Come, Easy Go: The Disruption of Loyalty

Customers are more in control than ever before. Digital has transformed the purchase journey and market saturation is common. Even legislative changes are encouraging customers to shop around. With competition just a scroll, click or voice command away customer retention has never been more important. As a result, the Financial Services industry needs to establish new value amongst their audiences in order to drive loyalty. But what is deemed ‘value’ in this environment and how can new technologies help? In this talk from FinovateEurope 2019, Russell Pert, UK Head of Industry, Financial Services at Facebook, discusses how technology is augmenting relationships between brands and customers and why the future of loyalty is centred around relevant and meaningful one to one interactions, at scale.

Hear it from the Experts: The Future of Fintech and Inclusivity

Throughout Finovate Live, we’ve heard from experts on a whole host of fintech hot topics, including new technology like AI and robotics, as well as analysis on what is happening in retail banking and trends driving innovation at such a fast pace. What can often be lacking are the voices exploring the moral and ethical justifications around technology deployments, and the consideration around how we can ensure that all the advancements in the finance industry will benefit everyone. Here, we bring you conversations centering around the future of fintech and why it is so important to have these conversations now. 

 Tan Le, Founder and CEO at EMOTIV on why its important to ensure new technology is inclusive

Olga Miler, former MD and Global Programme Architect at UBS Wealth Management on improving women’s customer experience within finance

Giulio Montemagno, Head of Europe at Amazon Pay on deviceless transactions and the future of voice technology

Harrie Vollard, Head of Rabo Frontier Ventures at Rabobank on what start-ups in accelerators need to focus on to be successful

Women in FinTech: It’s Time to Jump Right In

As part of Finovate Live, and our #WomeninFinTech series, we sat down with Mary Wisniewski, Consumer Banking and Fintech Reporter at Bankrate, to get her take on the fintech industry, looking from the outside in, and what she thinks can be done to help close the gap and get more women into the sector.

Mary will be chairing the Digital Banking stream at FinovateSpring in San Francisco this May. Find out more about how you can get involved.

Finovate: How did you start your career?

Mary Wisniewski: I started my journalism career by writing about high-end jewelry for a business audience. Then I stumbled into writing about tech that debt collectors use to collect arrears. After that, I found myself blogging about fintech for Bank Innovation. Since then (and + 10 years), I haven’t parted ways with the fintech and digital banking beat.

Finovate: Why is fintech an exciting industry to be a part of in 2019?

Wisniewski: Because of the possibilities. There’s so much promise for fintech to help improve traditional banking products and services for consumers – including by revamping the credit score system. That’s huge. As a reporter, I find the industry fascinating to cover. Banking is in the middle of an existential crisis, and the story possibilities are endless.

Finovate: What is your prediction for fintech over the next 5 years?

Wisniewski: The way consumers share their data to use fintech services – and/or get products – will continue to move away from requiring them to hand over their bank user names and passwords. As the model evolves and banks use APIs over screen scraping, we must all stay tuned to the risk of banks calling the shots of what data they share or don’t share. We also need to pay attention to how inclusive the new data-sharing model is.

While there are a lot of headlines about banks and fintech companies working as partners more than ever, I believe it’s not quite so cheery as that. There are a lot of battles ahead.

Finovate: Do you think we see too few women in fintech?

Wisniewski: Yes. There is a gender imbalance. Just look at the empty women’s bathroom lines at conferences as evidence. In fact, this issue is something I blogged about in 2015 for American Banker. I could re-post this again today – my points remain the same.

Finovate: How can businesses better attract and retain female talent?

Wisniewski: This question is a hard one to answer, so I also sought input from a pro and my pal, Bonnie McGeer, the executive editor of American Banker. What follows are some actionable ideas – some from her and a couple from me – all of which I support:

  • Make sure women feel respected in the workplace – and that includes with raises. It also includes supporting their ideas with budget.
  • Avoid “bro club” vibes, including by not making women the butt of jokes. Comments like “you’re a lot better looking than the last guy sitting here” need to stop, too.
  • Require all those in leadership to be an official mentor/sponsor for one year to at least two employees (one male, one female) who are relatively new hires.
  • Go beyond golf for networking opportunities.
  • Make diverse hiring/promotions a component of annual evaluations for every manager that does hiring, and make poor performers on this component ineligible for raises/promotions that year. If women are at 10% overall of hiring/promotions for a particular group, that’s not acceptable.

Finovate: What advice would you have for women starting their career in fintech?

Wisniewski: Jump right in. You’ll get annoyed at times. But there are so many wonderful people in this industry – connect with them, at events and on Twitter. Also, don’t feel intimidated. Yes, there are people who have worked in fintech for a long time. But you’ll have something to offer they might not. You’ll feel in your zone soon enough. If you do get nervous, don’t underestimate what a power song can do before speaking to someone.