We’re watching as the financial industry is changing at a rapid pace. As the world goes digital, the effectiveness of these technological advances will depend on leadership, one-to-one interaction, and your bank’s approach to risk and corporate culture.
In this session, Jim Marous, Co-Publisher of The Financial Brand, will discuss how adding a human element to your digital interactions and technological advances will keep your customers and your employees happy. He’ll share how to continue to drive authenticity within your culture, despite the ever-changing landscape.
Marous: Charles dickens said it is the best of times. It's the worst of times. It's the age of wisdom. The age of foolishness. Doesn't that pretty much describe where we are in banking today? There's never been a time where we have been in a situation where the industry has changed so much, where our jobs have been as exciting or frightening. I've been in the banking industry my entire career in one form or another, I started as a teller at national city bank, which is now PNC, which just shows you the kind of change that can happen. I left the bank as a head of marketing for a 50 branch network. To say the least, they've grown a little bit, unfortunately, I have as well. But what's interesting is as much as things have changed, things have stayed the same.
In 1982, I did a presentation to the corporate board and to the management committee on the targeting of consumers for better financial services. We talked about one to one. We talked about CRM. We talked about the experience a customer would have. We talked about technology. At that time was the introduction of ATMs. We talked about the importance of branches. That's changed a little bit. We talked about the importance of growth, the importance of reaching out to the consumers and doing the best we can.
What's interesting, in 1982, we had a legacy system that I believe is still in place there. So at one point, while we're changing every day, we are somewhat hampered by having a foot in the past. That's not just with the legacy systems we have, but sometimes it's our mindsets. When I got hired out of college, one of the reasons why I was told I should go into banking was because it was a stable industry. It was an industry with very little change. It was an industry that you could move up the ranks based on your tenure and by doing a good job. You're respecting the community and it was a safe position.
Those are not the kind of people that we're hiring today. The last thing we want is somebody that says, you know what, I'm looking for stability, I'm looking for a lifetime job. I'm looking for something that I can have for the rest of my life and that won't change very much. Unfortunately, in many cases, we have a lot of those people in management today, so we sometimes have to fight against ourselves and as one of my Kenyan banker friends said, the biggest challenge bankers have is we can't get out of our own way.
So what I'm going to be talking about today is not only the humanization of digital banking but of getting out of your comfort zone. I'm going to bring it up over and over again. Whatever you're good at today, whatever you think in the corporate world, in the business world that you're the very best at, you've got to stop thinking that that's what you're going to be best at tomorrow. I was really good at financial marketing. I was really good at direct marketing, which was my next career change, which was in charge of direct marketing, selling direct marketing to banks. Direct mail. Kind of changed a bit. I then was in digital marketing. I then transformed myself again to be a writer, a publisher and an author. And doing it all on digital channels.
My job today did not exist five years ago. Your job may not exist three years from now because overall, the change in this industry has never been greater. The speed of change has never been greater. What we're comfortable with today, we may not be comfortable with tomorrow because overall, the industry is changing based on the amount of data we have, by analytics, by digital transformation. The tools we use, the technology we use, the items we use to communicate will all change. We have to realize that we're not in an evolutionary time, we're in a revolutionary time. We're at a time where everything is changing both on the commercial lending side, the banking side and our personal side in a way that we've never seen before.
We not only have devices we can talk into, we have devices that we that listened to us. The technology that we have today can help us make decisions that we don't even know we would make and they can make them better than us. When we reach out to our clients and our customers, they're expecting the type of interactions that they get on a personal base and we have to remember that. When I talked to Carl a while ago now, I remember saying, while most of my speeches not all about commercial lending and the commercial side of the business, the reality is, we're all consumers and our business lives are being driven by what is happening on the personal side.
An example I told him this morning was, it is unacceptable that my dry cleaner knows more about me than my bank. I went to the dry cleaners three weeks ago, picked up some laundry, and my dry cleaner said, "Jim, have you become a doctor?." Far From it. I said, "Why?" She goes, "Well, in your laundry this week was a doctor's smock" Completely blew me away. I said, "obviously something got in my laundry that wasn't supposed to be there because I don't dry clean a doctor's smock since I'm not a doctor." But what it was is my whole family got in doctor's smocks since my niece became a doctor. But it was interesting that my dry cleaner asked me if I had become a doctor because of something in my laundry. I would hazard a guess that if I change my title from Mr. to Dr. in my bank, they would never reach out to me and say, by the way, how have your needs changed?
We've got to remember that, that the consumer, our clients, our commercial clients are banks. We're being measured based on what's available in the marketplace, what's happening in our personal lives. My Bank is Wells Fargo, one of two banks that I use. I like Wells Fargo. However, I had fraud on my debit card about a year ago now. I was out of the country and they said, you have fraud in your debit card. I said, probably not. It's probably that I went overseas and you didn't recognize it and I had a transaction. Actually, I was in Toronto, not overseas. And I said, "Can you tell me what happened?" They said, "Well, there's been 225 transactions in the last hour with you buying things in Dayton, Ohio." I said, "Okay, I can assure you that I did not do that," and that's happened once before on my way to Hong Kong where they said you had like 350 transactions. I said, I've been in the plane. I spend on the Wifi but I don't spend that much.
But what's interesting is they said, I said, could you give me the list of my people that I pay on a regular basis, [card not present 00:07:24] and things that would most likely be things that are automatically taken on my debit card? They go, no, we really can't. I said, well, Geez. This is a customer service person so I'm trying to be nice but I'm the banker I know yeah, you can. You have that data. You have that information. You know about me but you don't want to share with me yet I'm sharing with you. What was interesting at the end of the conversation she goes, "But I do have good news for you. We have connected your brand new debit card to your Apple Pay account."
So immediately, I'm a visually prompted person, I realize that this is a bank. On one side are all the traditional bankers. The head of checking accounts, the head of debit cards, the head of overdraft protection. The head of ATMs that are all fighting for a position but are not working together for my best solution. This happens across the entire bank. This happens in commercial lending, this happens in mortgage lending. This happens in checking accounts, everywhere. But what was interesting on the other side was the people that are from Apple Pay Group that realized that what I really want is access to my money.
We are facing a revolution. A time of which we've never seen before. It is exciting, it is challenging. You either are on the boat or on this train or the train's left the station. Oh, and by the way, the train is not going to stop. It's not going to wait for you. It's not going to let you get on the train. You're gonna have to do one of those old fashioned, what is it, Jim Brown and I think Paul Newman I can't remember who it was, running after the train during World War Two. You're gonna have to catch up to the train that's already moving.
Our clients are doing transactions differently today than they ever have. They want action, they want accessibility. They have expectations of what you can provide them that are greater than what you're able to provide them. It doesn't matter what they're looking for. They're using the technology today that we only talk about. They want their lives to be made easier. You want your life to be made easier. But everything that we do, every action we take, every innovation we implement, I think what's important to remember is what they want is one thing that is a non negotiable item in their day, time. They want ways for you to save them time. It has never been more important in every aspect of life to say I want fewer touches, I want fewer clicks, I want my life, business and personal be made easier.
There are now organizations that are allowing a person to apply for and get a mortgage loan with simply a mobile device. I'm sorry, my organization isn't quite there yet. I got three quarters the way through the process, had given them this much paper only to find out, and this was two years ago, only to find out that at that point they told me, "I'm sorry Mr. Marous, you have a small business. We need four years of your tax returns." Really? That may be something you need but is unacceptable and why did you tell me now.
I get on the phone with Rocket Mortgage and not only are they able to do it all over the phone and through digital devices, but they actually help me find the best possible rate. They tell me, oh by the way, if you do this on your personal finances, we'll be able to lower your rate. Oh, and by the way, we don't have to meet with you at all. Is this the way we want to do banking? It is. How can we take what we do, how can we build partnerships, how can we build integration? How can we take insight to make the integration, the communication, the relationship with our customers better and their lives easier?
How many of you have been frustrated recently by the cumbersomeness of some transaction and you say, I know it's easier than this? Raise your hand. And then, on the other hand, I'm sitting here and I'm sitting at my desk and I mentioned to my sister-in-law who lives with us, I'm talking to her about how much I've just fallen in love with avocados, in the morning, noon and night. It just tastes good, there's so many different ways to prepare them, thinngs to put them in. It was great. Two days later I'm going through Facebook and I get something free, a little added inserted for a avocado slicer. It not only takes the peel off, it takes the pit out and it slices it. I go, that's cheap, $9. I bought three of them because when I see something great, I'll buy it for my sister and my brother as well. I push it.
I went down my sister-in-law, I said, "I just bought this great avocado slicer." And she looks at me like, "I've never been challenged by the ability to peel an avocado before. It's a knife, it's a spoon. It's a very easy process." I'm sitting here feeling pretty dog on stupid, and she goes, "Why?" I said, "It's [inaudible 00:13:01], I was so excited." All of a sudden it hit me. I had talked to her about Avocados in my office. I have multiple digital assistance on me in my office. I have an Apple device, I have an Alexa. I have an Alexa Dot. I have a Google device. One of them or all of them were listening and said he likes avocados. Let's give him an avocado slicer.
Now, for me, it didn't feel creepy because basically to me at that moment until my sister-in-law made it very clear to me that it's not that hard of a process, I thought, you're making my life easier. That's what we have to do. As commercial lenders, we have to realize that the people we're serving have very busy days where. Whether they're a major, a manufacturing plant or a farmer, they have very busy days and the last thing they really want to do is banking. Certainly don't want to go to a bank. I don't know if any people in the room probably who say, you know what, I can't wait to get home in a couple of days and be able to go to the bank. However, you may be doing banking over the next couple of days.
Now, when people ask you, do you want the branches or your personal commercial loan officer to not be there? No, no, don't take anything away, but I don't always need them. We have to realize that they are using technologies that didn't exist five years ago. The iPhone is not all but 10 years old and we don't know what we'd do without it. I'll tell you that 10 years from now the device is going to be much different and not just say the phone. The digital device, the tools that people use to interact are going to be different. We have to be prepared to not get stuck where we were. We have to be prepared to get out of our comfort zone. We have to be prepared to say, are we willing to deliver what we have in different ways than we ever have before because the technology is changing.
Most banks realize now they cannot build for the mobile device. They have to build for devices, whatever it may be. We also have to take out of our mind the way we build things. I'm sorry, but when we first had mobile banking, while we said we did it for a better customer experience, why did we really do it? To save money/ Well, in the past, the consumer would say, well, this is pretty cool, you did this for me. But now they're aware of the fact that what you've built for them is not the best thing in the world and that you really didn't build it for them, you build it for you.
So when you look at your loan processes, is it really with the customer in mind or is it to save money? Are you simply changing the way the devices interacted with or are you changing the back office so the entire process has been rethought?
There are organizations now that can deliver a consumer loan in 30 seconds. 30 seconds, approval, compliance, in your checking account. There are organizations that on the mobile phone they will continually tell you how much money you have available to borrow by pushing one button. Now, it may take more than that on the commercial side but the reality is we know most of the information on our customers. Why don't we have something that says here's how much money you have available at all times. When you need it simply push here. It will take you just seconds to get the money you need. Because in the end of the day, your clients are not looking for a long, long process. They're not even looking for interaction. They need money. And usually when somebody needs money, they've played out their options. And because they've played out their options, speed and simplicity are most important. But that does not mean they want to eliminate the humanization of that digital transaction.
When I start looking at examples, the easy examples are Uber, Amazon, Tesla, Airbnb, Apple. How many of you have taken an Uber ride? Everybody. It's funny, just three years ago, I was in San Francisco, the heart of Uber and they asked the same question and you had maybe 10 people in the room that had done it. Now, Uber did not invent the ability to take a person from point A to point B. They simplified the process. Do you remember the first time you took an Uber ride? That you put in the location you were. You immediately got a response back as to not only who the driver was going to be but where they were. You got to track them which was pretty doggone cool. I still do it. I go where is he. It's pretty cool. Watch somebody just coming. And then the stunning moment when you get out of the car and realize you just get out of the car.
At the beginning there wasn't the cumbersome of deciding to tip. Now you have to rate them and give them a tip. But when you look at Uber overall, what you're looking at is an integrated relationship. This is important as bankers. Think about this. How do we build an integrated transaction that takes care of everything in new ways? Uber makes it so that you no longer have to worry about a smelly driver. You no longer have to worry about what, I'm sorry …
Marous: You no longer have to worry about what … I'm sorry I just went back. I went forward when I should have gone backwards. Okay, let me see if I can do this back again. You no longer had to worry about tips. You no longer had to worry about they were going to get there, and in fact the first time I took it I was in Boston, I was in my hotel room. I said, "I'm going to do an Uber to the event." I clicked on the app, I ordered a car, went downstairs, and I'm watching the car and I'm going, "Okay he stopped. He's only one minute away, he's not getting there. Why not?" I called him. They give you the phone number to make sure that you have a way to make the integration even better. I called him and said, "Where are you?" He goes, "I'm behind the hotel." All of a sudden it dawned on me. Where's my room? It was in the back of the hotel.
Sometimes the best transactions can go awry. On the other hand, I went to New Orleans a year and a half ago. In New Orleans when I signed up for Hilton Hotel they connected with me and said, "Would you like to have a digital key card? We can also arrange to have an Uber pick you up at the airport." Now I've never found Uber to be a difficult thing to integrate but I thought, "This is kind of cool." If nothing else it's going to end up in one of my presentations so I said, "Sure."
I landed. I landed late. As soon as I landed Uber connected with me and said, "We're waiting for you. We'll be there when you want us." I said, "I want you there." It was right there. I thought, "Okay, about the same integration up to that point." I was on my way to the event, the Hilton, and Hilton connects with me and said, "By the way here's your digital key card. Simply take this, take it to your room, here's your room number, use your phone to get in the room. When you want to check out just hit check out. We'll take care of everything, you don't have to stop by the desk. Now I'm thinking, "There's not a lot of friction in that relationship but it's pretty cool that you've now made it easier for me."
I went another 10 miles and then I was surprised. I got a text by Uber Eats, which is basically Open Table on steroids. It said, "Here are three restaurants near the Hilton Hotel that you're staying at similar to what you've liked in the past. Would you like to make a reservation at one of them right now? They're all available." What they've done is they've taken everything from the car ride to my meal and checkout and make it all integrated under Uber in an ecosystem. I'm going to talk about this later because this is what banking has to do. We've got to look at the overall ecosystem and say, "How can we bring more things into this ecosystem?" Because what's now happening is Uber owns the relationship.
Amazon, we all have our Amazon stories but basically they've made a living using data for the benefit of the ecommerce transaction. They've made it so simple. So simple that many organizations partnered with Amazon saying, "We want to integrate, we want to build an ecosystem that includes Amazon because it'll make our process easier." One of them, five years ago, was Toys R Us. Toys R Us decided you know what, Amazon started [inaudible 00:22:09]. If we put our store app within Amazon and let them serve our toys up we're going to increase sales and that did well, very well. The next two years Toys R Us sales went way up. Their margin shrunk a little bit because they had to give a discount to Amazon but what did they do?
In this partnership they basically educated the consumer that they didn't need to go to the stores. Five years ago was the beginning of Toys R Us' demise because they helped educate the consumer that there was an easier way to do things. Now there's banks right now that are talking about possibly partnering with Amazon and one of them is Capital One, the other one is Chase. I'm not too worried about them losing contact with the customer, those are two of the best organizations, but it's other organizations so it's about partnerships in lending and commercial, in credit cards, whatever it may be. Remember, if there's a better way that can allow you to keep the relationship, to keep the engagement, how do you make it so that your digital transactions stay human?
When we're looking at, we're looking at the fact that the future banking ecosystem will include more than banking. We're seeing examples where some banks overseas have an ecosystem that include car sales companies, rental car companies, car repair companies, that include a lot of agricultural expertise from outside the bank. What they're doing is they're bringing these entities together to make a stronger ecosystem that's better for their clients. They're looking beyond banking. On the consumer side we're going to be looking at ways to say, "How can we keep the relationship, the knowledge that we have about our customers, about our clients, and build a better solution?" Think of things on the perspective of your customers, your clients. How can we combine all the elements of what they do and offer them through our portal?
If we don't somebody else will. On the commercial side it may not be Amazon but it may be Google. It may be a much bigger player. What we're looking at, we've always heard the term fintech, but what we're really talking about here is techfin. Technology will drive the engagement, with financial services being a lower level, an integrated level. We can't put this all with financial services at the top and everything else falls off of it, we should be the center. With all the integrated things that we can offer our clients, be they a manufacturer, a small business, a farmer, we've got to bring all these together and say, "How can we provide everything that a customer or client may need in one place with us helping them with their decision process?" Very much the same way as Facebook helped me with my avocado slicer. How can we listen and predict what our clients are going to need next and have it ready for them before they know they need it? How are we going to provide the GPS of financial services as opposed to the rear view mirror?
As bankers we do a great job of applying knowledge to tell our customers what has already happened. I'm not really enthralled with the overdraft notice or NSF notice. I'd probably be much happier if my bank, that knows everything about me, said, "Based on your history, based on the transaction flow you usually have, you may not want to buy that big screen TV because while you have the money now, in two weeks you have a payment due on mortgage. You're not going to have that money."
We do great at using our data for reports and for telling people what has already happened. We need to take the GPS view of financial services and say, "How can we tell our clients and our customers what they may need?" Maybe the price of lending is going up and we should tell our manufacturing clients, "By the way, this is something you're going to have." Maybe they use steel and you have steel prices. You can bring together a lot of advocates that will say, "Now's the time to do this." Maybe you have a farmer that you look at the weather predictions and you look at what's going on with crops and you say, "You may want to borrow today for what may be a difficult future or you may want to pay down your loan." How can we tell them, advise them, help them do what they aren't able to do themselves? Nobody wants budgeting, everybody wants insight.
I have a 14 year relationship with Wells Fargo. To me, because I make a mortgage payment by check, I could explain that in another story, every month and I have regular transactions and they see that I write a check, every month to deposit it in Wells Fargo through a remote deposit capture you'd think they'd come to me and say, "You know what, we can probably lower your price on lending or let's help you through this whole transfer from one institution to another of funds." Instead of using 14 years of relationship, it feels like 28 times six month relationships. Now in a personal relationship you would not accept that. You expect the relationship to grow over time, to get better, for insight to happen. Oh I want to avoid this thing because my wife really hates it, or she wants to not push that little button that sets me off for both her and my benefit. You learn, yet my bank has never learned.
I would say that in a normal relationship you get out of that relationship, especially seeing that mine is a long distance relationship. I live in Ohio, my bank lives in California. They have no branches in Ohio, which is no problem for me, but there's every reason in the world to unwind that relationship as are many reasons in the world for commercial clients to unwind their relationship. However, we have these interesting financial services prenups, which makes it virtually impossible to unwind things. But as digital technology takes over we're going to find that the ability to unwind is going to get easier and easier, and our relationships will be put more at risk.
How do we build partnerships and cooperation with other organizations to build better solutions? Let's think outside the box or the block in this case. How do we build relationships, how do we build partnerships, how do we build cooperative relationships with other organizations that say we got to bring these things together? We got to bring a better solution than either of us can do on our own. Many organizations are dying for the scalability that you have, for the size of your organization, the relationship numbers you have. They're dying for capital. They're dying for their innovations to be able to break through because of your customer base, your client base. On the other hand, in many organizations we see innovation, say Lisa's lagging. We do iterative steps instead of innovative steps. We look at evolution instead of revolution. We may need to find partners that have that mentality, that are not encumbered by legacy systems, not uncovered by the bankers mindset.
We can help them because the bankers mindset is still needed, especially when you talk about regulations, compliance, all the different things we have to go through, but we have to be able to say, "How can we get the best of both worlds together through cooperation?" This is the future of banking. A brand new banking ecosystem that goes well beyond banking. The future of banking is not in financial services, it's in solving problems, saving time, building relationships, and answering our clients questions before they ask them.
The winners, the winners in the future will be driven by data, insights, technology, and analytics. They will also be driven by design. I use this example because how many of you own an Apple device? Those who don't hate Apple, those who do are living by Apple. One of the things that Apple owners really like is design. I like the fact that despite the fact that built phones the size of a house they still keep phones an option where I can have something that feels like a phone. Now what's interesting is recently I started to think pretty cumbersome device. I got to have everywhere, I use it all the time, but there's got to be a better way and there will be.
What we have to look at is saying, "Are the design of our apps, is the design of our process simplified and streamlined to the bare bones, to the point where it's sleek and easy?" Think of what's on your front page of your mobile device. Think of the transactions that you do the most, the applications you like the most. They're the simplest. You don't look for those things that you can say, "God I'm dying to get into that app so I can push 15 times to get something done."
I have a son in university, in college I'm sorry, I've been talking overseas too much. I have a son in college and when he needs money he says, "Can you send money?" Now when I was in college no they didn't send it by stage coach but I'd have to wait for the check, if I had my account in my college town. Today I Venmo it. By the way, I don't hear many people say I'll Zelle it, just so you know. Certainly with millennials I'll Venmo it. He has the money within seconds. I almost find it fun so I send a little extra. I have no clue why, but I do put funny reasons as to why I do it because it's public. I'll give all kinds of reasons that will raise his friends questions. $100 for that really urgent doctor's appointment so it gets all kinds of communication going for him. New underwear or something that will make it so that he has to think twice about asking for money.
It's all in design. We look for ways, how can we design something that's intuitive? How do we design something that already has the information that we know about a customer rather than having them have to type it all in all the time? How do we make it so that it can be accessed through any device they want? We need to apply big data, analytics, and digital technologies for the future. Another example of my son, he was going back to school last winter after a visit home. He left early in the morning and he got in a accident. He hit the back of a semi. Not the best place to stop for water I realize. Everybody was okay. He had a passenger in the car, it hit that side of the car, took out the entire side. He was driving a 2006 Toyota.
It was interesting because once I thought about it … First of all very happy he was okay, but I thought about the fact that as I was driving to Wilmington, Ohio, the middle of nowhere last week, and I took a rental car because I had my car in the service, I realized the car I was driving told me when I was outside the lane, told me when I didn't put the turn signal on. Actually in auto pilot or in remote control it actually spaced out the vehicle in front of me and said, "Oh by the way, that vehicle is going slower, we're going to slow you down and then we'll put you back to the speed you wanted." It kept me in the lane. It also would turn on its own.
I could feel it and I'm saying, "Jesus this is really happening." I take my hand off the wheel a little bit and it's doing that. Then the car told me, "Put your hands back on the wheel," which it's really, really scary and you're looking around going, "Okay this is pretty interesting." It's got bells and whistles all the time if you're ever going to hit anything just like most cars do. Then on the way home I was going through areas that I was not as familiar with and I had to do some multiple turns on the exit ramps and everything else. I was a little bit shaky in it because I wasn't sure exactly, I'm looking to see what sign, and you can't rely on your directions by Google because sometimes they tell you just a little bit late that you've missed something. I didn't want to miss the turnoff but I got through that and immediately I look on my dashboard and there's a coffee cup. It says, "Stop for coffee." I realized that was because I had done some things that were not showing great capability of being able to drive maybe.
I said, "Okay, now this is a mans way of dealing with things like this." For the next 33 miles I'm driving really carefully. I got ten and two, I'm driving down the lane, I'm showing it I'm okay because I can get away with that with family members going I'm okay but the car's not buying it. I realize the only way to get rid of that coffee cup is to actually stop, turn off the car, and come back to the car. I'm sure they don't watch to see if I bought a coffee but I did buy a diet cola. I got back in the car and it was okay.
What this tells me is we now have the technology, the intelligence, the capabilities to help avoid errors. If my son was driving a 2016 Toyota instead of the 2006 Toyota he would have not gotten in the accident. It would have warned him, it would have told him it's getting too close, it would say you're out of your lane, it would maybe tell him he has to get a cup of coffee. The reality is that's what we need in financial services. The customer wants us to help them avoid financial mistakes, to make-
Marous: … to help them avoid financial mistakes, to make the best decision. And we have the technology, the data, the capabilities, the analytics now to help customers do that. And what's interesting is this whole conference is about those solutions. This is a conference that interestingly, I have probably only asked to present at three conferences in the last two years. This is one of them. Some friends of mine presented last year. I heard such amazing things about it. I said, "You know what, this is something I want to be a part of," because they're talking the way that I talk. I talked to Kyle before the presentation. I said, "Okay. I'm gonna have to get the video of your presentation because you're talking my language, but you're saying some things better than I say them." So, I'm gonna actually steal some of the stuff from him.
I think what we have to realize, it's still in the digital world. We need humans. We have to realize that we're no longer talking about stores. We may not even be talking about humans all the time. But that doesn't mean we don't want humanization. That doesn't mean we don't want the engagement. Apple does an amazing job. They don't need stores to have people know about Apple. But what an engaging experience. Why do they have huge windows on their stores? Because there's always people in them. Why do we have windows in branches? Because in the old days, it helped prevent robberies because you can look inside. Now if you have windows in a branch, it's able to be able to see how much space is available to a commercial buyer that may want extra space because it's not being used. The only people in there are branch employees, and they're dying for the next transaction that goes to the ATM. They kid about the fact that ATM lines sometimes are 10 or 12 cars long and there's nobody in the branch, but nobody wants to come in.
We're gonna be looking at new forms of engagement. Forms of engagement we've never seen before. This is an example of VR glasses. Now, I'm not saying we're gonna get to the world of VR glasses, but let's think about, let's say an agricultural loan. Let's say we have a calling officer that calls on a farm. That farm is 25 miles away. We're not talking about convenience factor from the standpoint of the branch or the location. In many cases, the loan officer probably is regional and may even go farther instances than that. But we understand the importance of that one-to-one engagement. What if, though, that farmer could sit in their living room, and maybe not VR glasses, but on their TV could have an interaction with not only an agricultural lender, but with a team of people that know everything about his business, and are specialists. So, he's not just getting an agricultural lender, but he's getting an agricultural lender that knows everything about wheat or corn or soybeans, whatever it may be. And the team is gonna work on his behalf.
And they don't all have to come to his farm. He doesn't have to go to some central location. This is all in his living room. Let's take it a step further. In Cleveland, they now teach anatomy classes with holograms. Basically, things that you see, you can feel, you can interact with, but they're not there. How about if you have the group of bankers around your living room, sitting down as holograms, looking as real as you and I, and interacting, because they're still in their offices, but they're interacting with you. That's personalized digital engagement. This sounds sci-fi, but didn't talking to an Alexa device and asking questions and getting answers sound like sci-fi four years ago?
This will be here faster than you know. Phones will not be the transaction device going forward. In fact, computers are already being phased out. Why did computers start to get lighter and lighter and more and more like phones? Because that's where the phones are going. For a little while there, phones were getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and looked like computers. But the reality is, we're looking for ways of engagement that are simplified. That may be holograms. It may be VR glasses. It may be contact lenses. But the reality is, everything we knew today is gonna be different tomorrow, will be different in the future. We have to look at the fact that we may be looking and talking to something in air. Because it'll be easier. We can do it anywhere we want it. We can use robotics and define the future of banking by the way we interact and maybe not the people we are.
There will be jobs lost because of robotics and AI. There will be jobs gained because of people that can out of their comfort zone and do business differently. Each one of you, I know, has something in your business that you do really well. That you're an expert at. That you feel, I can nail this. Are you ready to get out of that comfort zone and say, "What's my next thing?" I'm a banker. I got out of my comfort zone … Well, you may not think I got out of my comfort zone and got into sales. But then I really got out of my comfort zone and got into digital publishing. Now I'm getting out of my comfort zone because our digital model of the financial brand is based on ad sales, and because of ad blockers, we have to look and say, "How do we reinvent our company to take advantage of what's happening in the marketplace about ad blockers?"
How do we still give value to our customers, which are the advertisers. Oh, and by the way, how do we feed content to our readers in a way that's more proactive and less reactive? How do we categorize readers and say, "Here's the latest on what you're most interested in?" The first thing I did when I bought the digital banking report, which was called The Online banking Report, I thought, "Look at that. Revolutionary. Moving to the word digital instead of online." I no longer did printed publications. It was all digital. Nobody cared. Nobody said, "I've got to stop my subscription because it's now digital." But we're looking and saying, "How can we do this better?" How can we reinvent ourselves before we're reinvented?
I challenge each of you to do the same. What is the next phase? Don't look a year down the road, look five years down the road. Try to guess where it's gonna be and try to be there. The challenge is, the entire environment, the entire ecosystem is running faster than it ever has before. So, it's hard to predict. You need to disrupt yourself. You need to humanize banking. Don't lose the ability to bring the human element, but understand that everything you're comfortable with today is going to change. And what is your role in that? What are you gonna expect from your partners? People like PrecisionLender. How are you going to ask them to step up their game to answer the questions of the future? That's a big challenge, especially for legacy bankers. The older you are, the less comfortable it's gonna be.
But, look at me. I'm not the youngest person. I would consider myself a digital consumer. I would consider myself to be on digital much more than any other technology. As we've mentioned, I'm on Twitter, I'm on Facebook, I'm on LinkedIn all the time. It is part of my business model. It's just part of that. But the reality is, I communicate with my son on a regular basis. Once a week, we send each other a, wow, couldn't believe that. And sending him something about what's gonna happen in the future, from automated cars to everything else. But I think we have to look and say, just because it's machines doesn't mean it's not human. Where do we move forward? More than ever, the value of leadership, culture, data, are all gonna have to come together with teamwork to bring solutions.
Now, this is not rocket science. This is not something new, but we have to make sure that the entire organization is rowing in the same direction. We have to make sure that whatever innovations we come back with at a conference like this, that we have the support of senior management to move forward. When organizations ask, what is the most innovative bank that you know out there, which is asked often, I say, "Within the US or worldwide?" If you want really the most innovative, they're usually overseas. They're in Asia. They're in Australia. They're in Europe in some cases. Certainly, Eastern Europe in less developed countries. They're in Africa. But the most innovative organizations tend to be foreign owned US organizations who have a culture built on innovation and technology. BBVA, their last CEO, who's about to leave, was a CEO that was an engineer and a technologist. Their next one's gonna be a technology person. They're not bankers. That's the kind of culture we're talking about. That's the kind of leadership we're talking about.
It makes it so everybody's rowing in the same direction. And overall, what we have to look at is when we're talking about the fourth industrial revolution, we're talking about the overcoming and development of more technology solutions in the marketplace without forgetting the importance of things like virtual reality, AI, automation, and making things human. Why does Alexa have a voice? To make it human.
I leave you with a list, things that we're gonna have to do. We're gonna have to have a cultural shift. Most organizations, we're still banks. We're not technology companies. We've got to move from a Fintech to a tech fin. We have to think outside the organization for solutions, but still keep client centricity. We have bring solutions to the client that are responsive and proactive. We want to apply analytics and have contextual engagement, which means real time, in advance, tell me what's gonna happen, not what has already happened. The digital design matters. We're gonna have the human eyes and we're gonna have an expanded ecosystem.
I'm gonna give you a little example. Hopefully this works. This'll be the first time I've done this on stage, but I've done it in the hotel room a few times. What I want to do is give you an example of how technology may go forward. I'm just gonna use Alexa. Alexa, what does the day look like today in Austin?
Alexa: It will be nice today in Austin. If you are going to show me off to this many bankers though, you will need to show them what I could do in the future when we expand the ecosystem of financial services beyond banking products. Instead of asking me questions, I will be like a personal concierge who makes your entire day easier based on previous behavior and preferences.
Marous: Alexa, please update me on my finances.
Alexa: Your checking balance is $1325 and your savings is $10242. There are also advisor recommendations on your security holdings. In the future, I will be able to provide advisor recommendations myself, instead of only looking back in the past. I will be able to help manage all of your finances based on past activity. I will also be able to store all of your important documents, like wills, insurance policies and contracts, searching them upon request.
Marous: Alexa, could you send the recommendations to my email?
Alexa: I will do that, Jim. Do you want to know about your day ahead?
Marous: Alexa, please review the calendar for today.
Alexa: I don't see a calendar set up. To link your calendar, visit the calendar settings in your Alexa app.
Marous: It doesn't always work the way I want it to. Alexa, please review my calendar for today.
Alexa: You have a call with Bob at 10:00 and a lunch with Tom Brown at noon. You also have to write an article for The Financial Brand and finish the digital banking report you have started. Would you like me to send updates on the people you will be talking to today?
Marous: Yes, Alexa. Please send updates on both people. Alexa, please send updates on both people.
Alexa: I will send you updates on Bob and Tom from Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and any news on these people. Can I make your lunch reservation?
Marous: Alexa, where should I take Tom to lunch in Austin?
Alexa: Sorry. I don't know that one.
Marous: Alexa, where should I take Tom to lunch in Austin?
Alexa: According to Open Table, Tom likes tacos. I will make a reservation at Austin Taco Project in your hotel for two at noon. Tom liked this restaurant in the past. I will also provide payment information to the restaurant, so you won't need to do that yourself. I will let them know you want to charge this to your room.
Marous: Alexa, do I need groceries at home?
Alexa: Yes. You are running low on milk, lettuce, sugar, and bottled water, and Froot Loops. You also are scheduled for more razor blades and shampoo. I can have these all delivered on Friday when you arrive back home. They will be paid for using your Amazon account information.
Marous: Alexa, please order everything but the Froot Loops.
Alexa: I will have them delivered on Friday at 6:00 PM. Can I have anything else delivered at the same time?
Marous: Yes, Alexa. Please order the ingredients for lasagna.
Alexa: I will have all of the ingredients for the lasagna you liked last time from the Food Network. I will also text you the recipe to your phone. I will also order you the red wine you enjoyed last time. Should I order flowers for your wife since you have been gone all week?
Marous: Yes, Alexa. Please order the flowers.
Alexa: I will order an assortment of tropical flowers your wife likes in the $60 price range from the florist you have used in the past. I will have them delivered late in the day on Friday and have them paid for with your card on file at the florist. Is there anything else?
Marous: Alexa, that is it for now in Austin.
Alexa: I hope your presentation at Bank on Purpose went well. This is the first time we have worked together to show off how voice skills combined with artificial intelligence could make life easier in the future, by expanding beyond just financial services. Banks and credit unions could use the date they have on file to be at the center of the future of banking ecosystem. Unfortunately, if the banking industry does not use data and analytics and new digital technologies to deliver improved experiences, other Fintech and big tech companies will. Does it look like the audience liked how I described the future of bank technology?
Marous: Yeah, they do. The reality is all the information is available today. Everything from groceries that are needed to connections and what their history looks like, what the news is. We just haven't developed ways to seamlessly integrate with voice devices yet. The future also will not be driven by me asking questions. When I wake up in the morning, I'll have to just say, "Good morning, Alexa." Because she'll start responding. And the device will go through a personal concierge and help me with my services. We need to become part of that ecosystem. We need to become part of that conversation. We have to think of how our clients can better use our services in new ways that we have never thought of before. We need to restructure from the inside out, instead of the outside in. Restructuring every way we do things, and the way we're gonna be doing things in the future.