What Happened at BAI Retail Delivery in Las Vegas

October 19, 2015 at 3:00 PM

BAI put on a first class conference at the Venetian in Las Vegas last week.  A big shout out to the team at BAI for doing such a great job organizing and hosting this event. 

The BAI Retail Delivery conference kicked off Tuesday morning with a general session with Barbara Corcoran and Robert Herjavec, two Sharks from ABC’s Shark Tank.  They were very entertaining, but were their comments relevant to a banking audience?  You bet.  You can find a terrific summary by Lisa Valentine in Banking Exchange titled “7 Lessons from Shark Tank”.  We found particularly compelling what both Sharks had to say about what they look for when choosing to invest or not, and it most often comes down to the person pitching the idea, not the idea itself.  Do they have a sense that they can trust this person?  Does the person have a passion for what he or she is doing?  Think about this the next time you are pitching a new idea or making your pitch for budget dollars to invest in your business.

We couldn’t get to all sessions, so below is a summary of insights from just a few of the sessions we were able to attend and the Expo.

At the “Banking on Transformation” session, Chris Skinner argued that the recent fintech revolution is changing the way banks do business, rather than disrupting the industry as a whole.  To date, fintech companies have only been able to take a component of banking (such as peer-to-peer payments) to create a unique value proposition to customers through low-cost business models.  These fintech companies cannot deliver the same product and service coverage as banks.  Banks cannot remain idle in today’s rapidly evolving environment, however.  Banks should strategically leverage partnerships with fintech companies to enhance the current value propositions while also capitalizing on the fintech company’s cost advantages. 

Rosemary Gaidos of Santander Bank and Brian Haney of JP Morgan Chase shared important insights into obtaining and cultivating profitable small business relationships during their “People, Product, & Profitability – Key Factors to Drive Small Business Success” session.  According to Gaidos, a successfully designed incentive program for business bankers will lead to a lift in productivity even in the presence of other shortcomings of a bank’s small business program.  Additionally, good incentive programs should focus on growing profitable relationships rather than overall growth.  Haney emphasized the need for a simplified small business deposit product offering that is designed to meet the needs of the bank’s ideal small business customer segments.  He importantly noted that product design, not pricing, will shape a customer’s behavior.

At the “Leveraging Innovative Technology to Transform the Branch” presentation, the panelists, including Chris Zaske, global vice president of strategic operations at Verint Systems; Bernie Schramm, senior vice president of channel strategy at FIS; Joe Gnorski, vice president of Glory Global Solutions; and Jim Cook, industry principal at Kronos Inc. made a really important point: branch transformation should entail a balance between lower costs (to deliver non-value added, transactional services) and increasing engagement (to drive cross-sell and relationship profitability).  In fact, the former is necessary to invest in the latter, and most banks need to make big investments (in frontline skills; customer-facing information technology; branch design; etc.) to improve engagement.  Banks need a customer engagement plan just as much as they need a delivery transformation plan.

My friend and sometimes collaborator, Nick Miller, President of Clarity Advantage, hosted a session titled “Expanding Small Business Services and Revenue”,  a focal point for all of our clients these days.  Chip Higgins from Pinnacle Financial Partners in TN and Betty Uribe from California Business Bank made a number of critical observations about success with small business clients including: the importance of the payments cycle for these clients and how mastering conversations around this can differentiate the retail business; how building personal networks with clients – and hiring people who are good at this – can drive growth through client referrals; and, how a broad product set enables each bank to target the full wallet potential for both business and personal banking needs.

The panelists during the “Deeping Customer Relationships” session noted that the first step to building meaningful customer relationships is to identify the bank’s best customers and potentially best customers.  Once identified, these customers should be effectively cross-sold into sticky products to increase retention in a banking environment with rapidly changing technology and customer preferences.  They agreed that the biggest challenge for bank’s today and in the future will be to replicate the customer experience in the digital space.  Banks should be careful in their approach to digital customer experience and identify areas where it makes sense to invest.

Cam Marston, Author and Generational Expert, presented our favorite general session of the conference, “Generational Insights”.  He really understands how to think about generational differences to shape business practices but also because his delivery is very entertaining (we were in Vegas, remember?  Entertain us!).  We’ve heard a lot about the differences across the generations, but Cam helped to clarify how those differences really play out in the workplace.  See his Humorous Snippets video for a sample of his work – it’s fascinating and fun.

A highlight at the conference each year is the announcement of the BAI-Infosys Finacle Global Innovation Awards.  Fidor Bank’s Smart Current account won two of nine awards: Product and Service Innovation and Most Disruptive Innovation.  The Bank of East Asia (BEA) was recognized as the most innovative bank of the year.  A full write-up on the awards can be found here (you may have to log into BAI to view): BAI-Infosys Finacle Global Innovation Awards.

We also explored the BAI vendor expo, which was home to more than 200 vendor solutions – more than we could ever hope to cover.  One solution that jumped out at us was D3 Banking’s digital platform for small businesses – perhaps because so many of our clients are working to improve their capabilities to serve and grow this important segment.  D3’s solution consolidates personal and business accounts and provides small business owners access to the tools required to manage their day-to-day business activities.  The solution includes analytical tools that allow the user to easily generate pro forma cash flow reports, income statements, and balance sheets as well as predictive cash flow analytics.  We were able to view a demo of the solution and were impressed by the user-friendliness and helpful visuals.  It’s amazing that there remain so few solutions really designed with small business customers as the primary target. 

ActivePath’s interactive estatement and bills solution also caught our attention.  While estatements are becoming ubiquitous, adoption remains low and most of those who have adopted don’t open the statements.  ActivePath turns estatements into an interactive and engaging analytical tool that helps customers better understand transaction activity and balance levels.  The estatements are loaded with a variety of interactive analytical charts and graphs that are both eye-catching and useful.  There were other estatement solutions at the Expo, but, for us, ActivePath’s was the best.

There was much, much more to the conference.  Our short summary really doesn’t do it justice.  If you missed the conference, you missed a lot.  Be there in 2016 in Chicago!

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