Leaders in Lending
Leaders in Lending

Episode · 1 year ago

Consultative Conversations: Bringing Humanity Back to Banking w/ Robert Perrelli


Let’s face it. For being an industry that hits people so close to home, the banking and lending industry isn’t one that’s known for its ability to build genuine connections with customers. Not a lot of people seem to have feel-good stories about how someone in the banking industry made their day.

But that can change.

In a world where more and more people are turning to digital banking products and services, it’s becoming more important than ever before to dial in the customer service. The personal human touch that really makes all the difference.

On this episode of Leaders in Lending, we sit down with Robert Perrelli. Rob is a Senior Vice President, and Head of Product and Consumer Lending at TCF Bank. Our conversation on this episode centered around, among other things:

- The importance of “consultative conversations.”

- How to shift your mindset from being “product centric” to “consumer centric”

- How a relentless focus customer service changes the branch employee interactions

- Getting buy in from bankers on digital products

To hear more from Leaders in Lending, check us out on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or on our website.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Leaders in Lending on your favorite podcast player.

It's a journeyman right. Put you stoff in the customers shoes. Start with a blank slate reimagine how the business can meet those customers and needs. You're listening to leaders and lending from upstart a podcast dedicated to helping consumer lenders grow their programs and improve their product offerings. Each week here, decision makers in the finance industry offer insights into the future of the lending industry, Best Practices around digital transformation. In more let's get into the show. Hi and welcome to leaders in lending. I'm your host, Jeff Keltner, and I'm joined today by Rob Perelli, who's ahead of product for consumer lending at TCF. Rob, thanks for joining us. Hey, thanks, Jeff, for having me this afternoon. Always a pleasure. You wanted to start off by giving our listeners a little bit of background on, you know, tcf. Where the consumer lending business fits inside at Tcif and then what you do there? Yeah, absolutely so. Rob Probably had a product for TCF. Been in this role for last couple of years. Previously rank corporate strategy on the consumer side, but I've been with TCF almost twelve years. Jeff. Can you imagine that it's a long time. been a long time, but the TCF is a midwest premier regional bank with headquarters in Detroit, Michigan. We're close to fifty billion in assets and we've recently announced a major merger that will further our presence throughout the Midwest. So really excited about the the few true. Yeah, well, right, I know you're supposed to tell us about how everything you say is not to be held against your employer. You know you have something you want to tell us before we get going, just to get that out of the way. Yeah, definitely, Jeff, these words and all the words that I use this afternoon are my words and my words only. All right, duly noted. I'll keep that in mind. You know, you and I were talking before we click the record button here started going and you kind of it mentioned something about, you know, how you think banks need to shift their focus and how they think about products and consumers, and I just wanted to give your chance to kind of to talk to that there, because I thought it was a really interesting point you're making. Yeah, absolutely. I have a longstanding principle around how we approached the space and serve our customer needs, and it begins with the customer. At the end of the day, all decisions that we make in our group specifically start off with identifying how our customers like to interact with us, what types of customers we have, what needs they have, etc. And really focus the conversation on meeting their expectations and helping them along their pntil joinings. So when you think about consumer lending and traditionally in the space itself in financial services, very product centric. Right, yeah, very much, and in my area specifically, we've got the kitchen sink of solutions. Outside of mortgage and home equity. The consumer lending group manages close to a dozen different products, whether it's auto loans, marine loans, are V loans, on secure installment loans, lines of credit, etc. So we have all types of different tools on our belt that allow us to satisfy our customers needs. Often those needs have been very product centric and very distinct, let's say, solutions or go to market strategies that sometimes intersect and sometimes don't. So you know, it creates gaps and inefficiencies. How you offer the product, how you originate the product, service the product, you name me and you kind of just shift perspective a little bit and and put yourself in the shoes of the customer. It opens your eyes to it's all different types of, you know, let's call them nuggets of opportunities that you can capitalize on that, at the end of the day, benefits your customer most importantly, and benefits the organization right, and technology is a critical component to doing so. You know, we talked about this briefly a couple minutes ago as we're sitting up for the PODCAST, and you know, it's all about over the the let's say, history of banking, it's been very transaction, very processor or data entry type work.

Right, you walk into a branch and you know, I've got this issue. All Right, let me help you out and to you know, punch a few keys, whether it's, you know, on a computer puter or some other way, and kind of go about your business. You know, by leveraging technology and understanding what our customers need and what they're, let's call them opportunities, are along their financial journey, it opens the door to look at, you know, all the services and products that the bank has to offer and it begins creating opportunities across different business units. Right, you know, most organizations are very focused on, you know, structures that are centered around products or asset classes to service those customers. And you know, the the winning ingredient is is really melding all those together from a customers Lens. How do you think about do it? I think it's a great point and I remember, you know, when I was at Google, one of the things of leadership there would always say is we kind of started the same thing. Start with the consumer and if you're solving the consumers needs, if you're providing value, ultimately the rest of the business issues, you'll find a way to work them out because you're creating value and you're really solving the customers problem, helping them with the thing they need. But how do you think about shifting that mindset, you know, and where does a bank is interested and said Hey, this makes sense to me. How do you start? Do you think about technology? Do you think about process? Do you think about what banks are, the branch employees are doing, or how do you kind of actually dig into what is someone who's who agrees with that start doing to try and, you know, organize that that customer focus, not only in the way they think but in the way the banks actually operating. Yeah, that's I mean that it's a great question. I've led one of our business units previous Lee, our inventory finance business, a tcf, through a total let's call it. At the time. It was a digital transformation and you know, one of the coolest things when we kicked off that effort was to start with a blank sheet of paper, right, remove all biases, all preconceived notions of how the business is run today, and really take a moment step back, right, put yourself in the customer shoes and says I have a need. Right, how can somebody or some organization fulfill that need and what's the best way to fill a need? And you know, simply put, it's a journeyman, right. But you stop the customers shoes, start with a blank slate, reimagine how the business can meet those customers needs. And our cases is digitally centered and many cases is right, as that natural progression, right, as we see in business life cycle at the moment and financial services, and understand, you know, this is the most streamlined, effective way to do it. And your spot out in the sense, Jeff, that you know all the other things kind of shake out right, and you learn a lot along that journey, no pun intended, but it solves itself over time and really it's not to get to the end state, it's to write the next chapter, right, and as you write that next chapter, it naturally leads to places and solutions that you probably we haven't thought of in a moment, right. Yeah, so that's really what's cool about, you know, transformation, number one from a digital perspective, but number two just staying, you know, relentlessly focused on the custom yeah, I think it's a great point that it's not a one and done part of Your Strategy and digital transformations are an interesting moment where you can take a little more of a blank slate, where that can be harder to do with existing processes and branch. I'm curious how you think of this to in the context of the branch. Like how does this shift how you want branch employees operating, what you want their interactions to look like, maybe how the branches are actually designed? Do you think those things shift as you move towards a mindset of helping a customer along their journey versus being more product oriented, and how you approach that customer in the branch as well? Yeah, absolutely great point. Jeff, we did some pretty cool things over the last couple of years centered around the branch itself, and it's you know, we coined the term, you know, consultative conversations, right, less transaction or into where, you know,...

...we could sit down with our clients, our customers, and better understand. Hey, you don't. You came into the branch today to fulfill, you know, very specific need. You know, let's say, is an issue with a debit card, right. But you know, we've done a lot of work internally to understand our customers better through segmentation, how they transact, how they interact with the bank, and and better understand through through discussion around you know, what makes up the story. We all have a store, Jeff, and you have to capture that story and understand. Hey, this is kind of just walked in. The last time they were here, we sat down, we talked about, you know, their daughter, you know, is in high school and saving up money to buy a car and you know, it's really exciting time. Little nervous because I've got to I've got to teach my daughter how to drive a car. Right, never done that. It's my firstborn. I'm I'm freaking out. Etc. Right, but understanding that the story around it right, and you know a lot of these stories. They have, you know, intersection points with your financial journey, right. They're closely tied some cases, and knowing, you know, the best way to help them along that journey right and kind of bringing all the different, you know, solutions at the bank has the offer to support them. Yeah, this is, I think, such a great point and in the one that I you know, I is a new be if you will. I mean I guess I've been up start almost ten years, so I'm nine years now, so I'm coming up on a decent amount of time in the financial services industry. But the lack of understanding of the suite of products it's available the most consumers have and we asked them to kind of tell us what they want and they really come in more with a need than that an understanding of what the right product is. I think the idea of a consultative conversation that helps them go from where they're at and what their needs might be to the right product or offering that the bank has to solve that need is is really important, because the belief that they'll understand that or have the right answer, I think, is it can be a little bit misguided. For at least me, as a consumer and a relatively, I think, savvy consumer, that was true. So I imagine it's true for the broader public. Right, let's push it more engaging. All right, let's push. But they say first seek first to be, to understand and then to be understood. You first got understand what your which customers, really asking for and then you can talk about you how you do that. So I do ask you. Guys launched into a, you know, an unsecure product and a kind of new way. Not Down long ago, I remember a partnership with with up here us here it up start. But I kind of want to start off with like, why was that something you wanted to do? If does that fit into the story about understanding your consumers deeds? And why was unsecured lending something you wanted to add to the bank? Great Point, Jeff, to raise that topic. So here we were. It was a summer of two thousand and eighteen. I remember fondly because we just finished the large work set around redefining our organizations values, purpose, right overall holistic strategy, how we want to go to market. And you know, the one of the first major steps, and in the spring of eighteen was a major segmentation analysis and understanding. You know, our customers, or who they are, how they interact and what their needs are and, more importantly, to the banks purpose, where they fulfilling their needs? Right, if it's with TCF or with others? Right, M so, I remember. Finally, like that works that completed. Just returned from an epic vacation to Italy the family, as my son's first trip, as fantastic we were. Rome had a chance to be blessed by the Poe. Wow, it's pretty amazing. That's a great trip. But we came back then, set a prayer on the way hall. Came back and, you know, we learned some really interesting things about our customers. Number one, they had a very, very large need. You know, I'll step back. A second segmentation analysis told us two major groups at the organization. Let's call them promising families and the maintainers. Right. So we've got these two large sets of types of customers that are, let's say, generally engaged with the bank. However, they have needs that were unmet and they were fulfilling those needs elsewhere. We believed that we can create a greater benefit for those customers if we already fulfilled some...

...of their needs from a depository. That can say things perspective. However, it would combine those those other needs being met elsewhere. There should be additional benefit to those customers by offering types of products like the unsecured install program. So we're really psyched to launch that with upstart and two thousand and nineteen. Tremendous results throughout the launch itself and PS scores eighty plus. I mean yeah, high is that TCF ever achieved specific to any product, and at the bank our customers loved it. They were going elsewhere previously to fulfill those needs and we were able to enter the space provide that solution to those customers, leveraging our existing relationship with those customers to to eliminate origination fees meet them in the channels that they wanted to be met. However, had a pretty holistic approach to it, right. So we go back to that branch engagement center topic, and what was really cool was, you know, the upstair product that we white label is offered digitally, right, and we knew early on that those two customer sets still find extreme value, high value and coming into a branch to talk to our bankers. So we wanted the ability to naturally fit this solution as part of the conversation. One needs were identified. So it's very needs focused. That allowed our bankers to leverage tag right to create what we called offered solutions that could then be met in any channel anyway. Our customers wanted to interact with us, so they could sit down on the spot and apply, check their rates. All right, for a personal loan number one or number two that they found interest. But they want to learn a little bit more about the product, no problem. We're able to easily create connection points that allowed us to engage with them via email, right. So it was really cool in the sense of all this train of information being shared across all parties was created and the infrastructure was created from day one, right. So we had awesome amount of visibility into the problem, right, and engagement was bar none. Our bankers loved engaging with our clients around this product and as they identify those needs, and it's very natural, right. So it was less about selling and more about needs fulfilment, which just we knocked it out the part. Yeah, I'm really curious about this point because I think you're, in my experience, a bit unique and how well the branch experience tied to a primarily digital product. And that's, I think, not a guarantee. It's something I hear many bankers worried about. If I have a digitally oriented origination process, like, how does my branch employee work with that? A they comfortable with that? How do I get them ready to talk about maybe a new product? That's really you know well my experiences, most banks have an unsecure P product. I've never really talked about it with consumers. Right it's kind of a pawn request. We figure out there's a piece of paper somewhere that they can get this thing approved, but it's not something that's invested in. And you had, you know, bankers both actually talking to a good number of clients about this and happy about the results of using a digitally oriented origination process. I'm curious how you got them both comfortable with the product and how to position it and talk to customers about it where it fit, and then how you got them comfortable with the kind of non branch or at least a digital nature of the origination process. Yeah, absolutely, this goes back to what we talked about earlier. Eliminate let's call it the non value and at a processing right. And you know, I had the opportunity, as we were launching the product throughout the network, to visit right each of our geographies in the Midwest and spend time with folks and and really helping our bankers understand that you want to put all the effort into the customer, right, and it's around having those engaging discussions, around and fulfilling, identifying and fulfilling needs right, and less time typing, checking,...

...that is, moving paper around, that kind of stuff. It's unnecessary. Right. The value is in the customer having a need, right, I need x for Y, and being able to do that most effectively and efficiently as possible. And the bankers understood that right. It gave them more time to help those customers or help other customers, right, rather than, you know, doing that processing or or data entry type work. More consultative conversations, less it entered. And I love the part of this where you took it the ROB Pereli road show out and talk to the bankers. I think that that human connection is so critical to getting, you know, those employees on board and understanding and really engage with the process. I thought that was a great engagement strategy to use. It seems to really paid dividends for you. Yeah, definitely. I mean there's nothing like being able to sit down and share a coffee with folks and talk about, you know, what they live and breathe daytoday, right. Ye, like we talked about earlier, are on that visual transformation journey, mapping. I also want to spend time, instead of being cooped up in an office and making guesses around or bankers, want to interact with our clients. I made it, I made it a top priority spend time with the bankers themselves and understand how they want interact with their customers. Yeah, I love that part of the source. When I ask one more thing about this project, which is a little bit of changing gears here, but you guys launched a new product, arguably one of the riskier products and consumer lending, which many banks have been hesitant to to have its scale because of the level of us and the level of comfort, let's say Risk Committees, credit committees have with it. And you did it with a Fintech partnership which I think also many banks are nervous about. How do I do due diligence? How do I get boord so you navigated that, I think, pretty well at TCF in terms of getting everybody on board, and I'd love for you kind of talk about what you found to be effective and bringing the organization along with the desire to do something that is, in at least two different ways, kind of on the edge of the comfort zone of many banks, and how you were able to navigate the kind of multiple stakeholders in the process at the banks. I think it's a it's something I think a lot of the bankers I talk to struggle with as a maybe see a vision for what their consumer needs, how they could get it done, but then how do I get my organization aligned to actually deliver on that? So it's a different challenge. Yeah, definitely. You know, I don't want to call it dumb luck, but there's some magic to the process right very early on, you know, and it was more from from my own personal perspective of fear of not knowing me, you know, fear of not knowing the unknown. I don't know how the saying goes. I screwed up at the time. Unknown, unknowns yeah, the unknown, unknowns. But you know, something catching me a blind side because you hit it on the mark. Riskier asset class number one. Number two, Finn Tech Partnership, relatively new to banks. All right, yeah, and number three, a more innovative, creative approach to you know, the modeling, right, and pricing, risk based pricing. So you know, there's definitely for me there was value and engaging early and often right, and I've used this all the time. No, it's not just because I'm from Chicago and you know, you know the voting, voting early and often right. Yeah, that's rights, let's say. That's it was more in the sense of I want to bring everybody along, right, you know, having mutual respect for variety of experts throughout our all of our risk perspectives at the bank was extremely valuable to me in the sense of partnering with them, collaborating with them from day one, when when this was this concept and this go to market strategy was in its infancy. So I placed a lot of emphasis around that. Due Diligent and those folks had equals say, strong say, and we're key stakeholders and deciding how we go to mark. Right. So they played into girl role. Not to say that there were there were challenges, no doubt, but with mutual understanding of hey, we we identify these challenges early in the process, as we look across the landscape, can we solve these challenges?...

And it was less centered on, hey, we want to launch a product get it to market by Jun Right, Yep, which is a totally different approach than then typically undertake. So it afforded us the ability to solve those challenges as we went through the process and the result was mutually identified and benefited from by all parties. Right. So, you know the old saying I'm going to screw this one up. To Jeff, I always screw these up. You know, there's we can all be fathers of this, this child, of this product, right, and and we know that at the end of the day the mother is the bank, right, but we can all take ownership right of this solution. And you know, the result at the end of the day was was a lot better than any of US anticipated from the beginning. That's G I think the early engagement with all the stakeholders was this critical. It's a great piece of advice and how you do this and I think the part that was true about the way you've described the story. To me is the focus on the consumer being the animate you brought people along with why this was important and not just hey, there's this project I got to get done. Can you sign off on the thing so we can get it out the door? It's more like, Hey, we want to do this to solve our customers problems. Are Challenges to there's an opportunity to here. This is why it matters. Help me find the path to making this thing work. there. I think that's you know, it was a great style of engagement while and it did help that you know, person alone is as a variety of different use cases and kind of can touch all of us personally. So some of the magic was, you know, interacting with some of these folks what I want and saying, Hey, see how this could have helped you? All right. So I always did a little background and everybody right. So it's on my own personal dude deal. It's good selling strategy. Gotta have here. You got they called a fine find the right way to approach you stake older. I love it. Will Rob. Thanks for your time today. I always in this podcast with the same three questions and kind of a lightning round format. So I'm going to subject you to the lightning round now and get your answers all. But the first one is what's the best piece of career advice you've ever gotten? This one's great. I love this question, Jeff. Very early in my career I was told, you know, I was working on a key project and it was my first big project for the organization and I'm freaking out and you know, a senior leader at the organization came to me, put his hand, I show you say hey, listen, you can't mess this up bad enough that we can't fix it. So just relax, right, and it gave me the confidence to know that, hey, it's okay to fail right. It just fail. Often fails. In short, you know junk Itts, so to speak, and move on right, keep fixing and reiterating and move on right. Don't let it tear you apart. I like that way. I assume he was a little more colorful than where with anywhere on the podcast. That's okay. Colorful colorful anchors a lot of it. Second, what's the best piece of the device you've gotten around consumer lending, specifically in your career and consumer lending, consumer lending. Them relatively young and consumer lending only being a couple of years in this area. But the best piece of vice is, you know, especially within our organization, is find allies, all right, partners across, up and down, you name it. It's critical because so many different parts of the organization have to come together to make consumer lending work. All right, so, partner, partner, partner right, internally, externally, any which way you can. I like it. He's like that all. We're going to use one more saying so we can see that a lot of sangles. If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together, right, you gotta if you want to make a difference really in the long term, you got to have lots of people on board. Totally SPATA. I think that's an old African proverb. Is How I've seen a position, all right, and my last one. Can you give me a bold prediction for each I'm going to bring you back in a year. You're going to you'n have to stand up next to this one, but like, what's your bold prediction for the future and banking lending are in general? I'm hoping that we see the light at the end of the tunnel and we'll have a repeat of the roaring S. Jeff Roaring s prediction. I like that. Yeah, they be. Wouldn't that be fun? And imagine all the different needs that we could satisfy from a financial services perspective. and Go have to read my have Scott Fitzgerald, to figure out what the next twenty years hold of roaring twenties coming back, but I like it all right. Rob Pereli from TCF, thanks for joining us...

...today. I really appreciate your taking the time. Jeff, you're the best. Had A blast. will do it against soon. Rob Up for an upstart partners with banks and credit unions to help grow their consumer loan portfolios and deliver a modern, all digital lending experience. As the average consumer becomes more digitally savvy, it only makes sense that their bank does to. UPSTARTS AI landing platform uses sophisticated machine learning models to more accurately identify risk and approve more applicants than traditional credit models. With fraud rates near zero. Upstarts all digital experience reduces manual processing for banks and offers a simple and convenient experience for consumers. Whether you're looking to grow and enhance your existing personal and auto lenning programs, or you're just getting started. Upstart can help. Upstart offers an into in solution that can help you find more credit worthy borrowers within your risk profile, with all digital underwriting, onboarding, loan closing and servicing. It's all possible with upstart in your corner. Learn more about finding new borrowers, enhancing your credit decisioning process and growing your business by visiting UPSTARTCOM Ford Banks. That's UPSTARTCOM for banks. You've been listening to leaders and lending from upstart. Make sure you never miss an episode. Subscribe to leaders and lending in your favorite podcast player, using apple podcast. Leave us a quick rating by tapping the number of stars you think the show deserves. Thanks for listening. Until next time,.

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