Embracing A Fully Digital Bank: A CEO's Journey to Being Future-Ready

July 26, 2023

Carey Ransom

Carey Ransom is an SaaS entrepreneur, executive, investor and advisor, and has started, grown and/or led 8 B2B and consumer SaaS companies during startup and growth phases. He is currently the Managing Director of BankTech Ventures, a venture fund focused on compelling technologies for community banks, and founded and funded by leaders in the community bank ecosystem. Carey's 25-year career spans executive roles in product, marketing, business development, strategy and corporate development.

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If I Were a Bank CEO...

Embracing A Fully Digital Bank: A CEO's Journey to Being Future-Ready

I have the privilege of meeting and speaking with many community bank CEOs, and it’s caused me to empathize with their situation, and also reflect back on my time as a CEO and the transformative turnaround I led. I think most banks today could be well-served to think of themselves in a state of transformation, so I’ve imagined what I might do if I were in their shoes. Here’s my first attempt to share some thoughts and ideas.

If I were a bank CEO, I’d feel an undeniable urgency to propel my bank into the digital age. To successfully navigate this transformation, I envision several key steps that will enable us to reimagine customer experiences, streamline internal operations, revamp supporting systems, and establish the necessary organizational structure. Bold changes lie ahead, but they are essential for our continued relevance and future success.

First and foremost, we must lay out a new vision and version of the bank. This requires a comprehensive understanding of the digital landscape, industry trends, and customer expectations. With a clear vision in mind, we can articulate a compelling digital business strategy that aligns our offerings with evolving market demands and lays out the team and partners needed to execute it.

Next, we must prioritize customer-centricity. We need to thoroughly analyze customer journeys, identify pain points and unmet needs, and design seamless digital experiences that cater to our ideal customers. This work involves describing technologies such as APIs, data infrastructure and architecture, as well as mobile-first and embedded banking, digital payments, and personalized financial solutions. By fostering a consistent, exceptional digital customer experience across every interaction, we can strengthen customer loyalty and compete for new customers.

Simultaneously, we must evaluate our internal operations, teams and systems to support these customer journeys. Automating manual processes, investing in robust digital infrastructure, leveraging data analytics and training the team on automation and data-informed decisions will enhance operational efficiency and agility. These steps ensure that our bank can deliver a seamless and world-class end-to-end digital experience while optimizing resources and costs.

And while we will focus on our future and the required changes, I need to be cognizant of the common obstacles that CEOs face when undertaking such a transformation.

Firstly, a resistance to change within the organization can hinder progress. Overcoming it requires fostering a culture of innovation, effective change management, and investing in employee training and upskilling.

Secondly, legacy systems and outdated technology infrastructure can present significant challenges. We must allocate resources to upgrade or replace these systems, ensuring compatibility, scalability, and security in the digital landscape.

Lastly, fear of disruption and competition can hold CEOs back from embracing opportunities from bold changes and playing defense instead of offense. It is crucial to recognize the urgency and be proactive in shaping our future rather than just being reactive to market forces. This entails embracing partnerships with fintechs, exploring collaboration opportunities, and demanding experimentation and adaptation.

By following these steps and addressing these challenges head-on, we can successfully embark on our bank’s transformation journey. With the right team and strategy, we can position our community bank as a forward-thinking, digitally-enabled institution, ready to meet the evolving needs of our customers and thrive in the years to come.

The future is within our grasp; let us seize it with determination and confidence.