Leaders in Lending
Leaders in Lending

Episode · 1 year ago

How to Serve Customers with Strategic Diversity w/ Nate Longfellow

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Changing company culture and implementing technology to better align with emerging digital preferences can be challenging but essential to staying ahead of the curve.

Nate Longfellow, Head of Digital, Product Strategy and Change Delivery - Home Lending at Wells Fargo, works with business partners and customers to provide them with the right capabilities to succeed. This involves implementing technology, new ways of conducting business, and strategic initiatives working in tandem to produce the best outcome.

Nate shares the challenges, strategies, and advice of his experience in four key aspects:

- Implementing change within a company using top-down goals

- Adjusting company behavior to be more accepting of failure

- When to partner, buy, or build internally

- Advice and predictions: empowering customers to self-direct


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Connect with Nate at https://www.linkedin.com/in/natelongfellow/.

If it's high complex, high differentiation, go partner, go find some money who's best of breed and doing that thing that you need to do, who then can compliment what you're doing and your point of view around it. But don't try to reinvent something that's fundamentally there but just not there for your specific 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 Kelner, and today I'm joined by Nate Longfellow, who leads product strategy and transformation at Wells Fargo. Nate, first of all, thanks so much for taking the time and joining us here. Thanks you for having appreciate the time. Can you tell me a little bit about what product strategy and transformation means? That it's a pretty broad topic, I would think, for a job responsibility. Yeah, there's a lot. There's a lot of words that get passed around a lot digital and transformation and product management in product strategy and I think the best way that to sum it up is, you know, our organizations responsibility is really working with our business partners to in our customers just to determine what are the right capability that drive the highest value for our customer and our organization and that may include new ways of doing business. So we look at things also from the technology and the customer engagement perspective and digital, but all the way through how do we fulfill bill our mortgages and other services behind the scene. So we have a very broad lend into what the solutions landscape is and we don't really constrain the thinking to just a customer experience the team umber experience, but we go into the process as well with our business partners and really try to reimagine a better way of doing engagement for with our customers or to serve our customers. I like that evening. As a technologist in the Silicon Valley space, we so often start with the consumers experience, the customers experience, and how do you deliver? That really has to be the thing that informs everything you do and I think so often we see technology siload into the UX team that does the web interface for the consumer and the internal team that manages the operations and they're just totally separated and you end up with this disjointed experience. So I think it's really fascinating that you've got all of that under your per view. I'm curious when you think about it, the seems show up in your work like the deltas between internal teams and systems. Is that become a large part of how you think about delivering a system or an experience the consumer? How do you think about that when you're running across different functions and technology stacks and things like that? And it's great question. In fact, I bring it up all the time and you've sort of characterized, I think, how a lot of traditional firms or silicon value firms or others, just my think of what a product is. Is an example, and that's what gets to be a lost in that. A lot you know well what is the product and a lot of firms will look at the product as being the experience, the customer experience. I'll say this is you know, and I know that at some some colleagues of mine, to talk about different you know airline companies who who think of their product as the you know, the as by product, the fly product and the arrive product and and and for me, I don't think. I think that puts them overly simplistic appreciation for it. I think it focuses our attention too much on just the superficial experience that I've been not to downplay it's really, really important, but I like to call it it's a layer cake right. It's a layer cake of not just the experience layer but all the enabling capabilities that make that experience really happen and meaningful. And if you don't plan and look across all those layers, then you're just constraining yourself to how things are done today. That's why you see me characterize things about including new ways of doing business. It's all sorts of other technology, all sorts of other processes that line up to it. And to make all that really effective it takes a lot of really great collaboration and handholding with a ride, especially in the organization the size of Wells Fargo, sure for a lot of great partners that own various parts of that layer cake to go after it. So it's definitely a challenging task for company like ours, but it's definitely something we're well we're well suited do dress. Do you have any particular advice on how you do navigate that layer cake? Because I see the same thing and I see so many digital transformation efforts at lender's being let's put a better web front end on. We won't change the...

LASS, we won't change the workflow. But, like we that's all quote unquote working. But we need like we need a weblify it right, and that's like the extent of their digital transformation and I think there's so much value in extending down to layer cake. But to your point, there's a lot of other, you know, constituent stakeholders inside the institution that have to get on board with that. How do you think about managing that set of relationships, set of processes as you go through an effort, because it is maybe the hardest part of not doing its full sack, as you don't own the whole stack right, you end up having to work with people who across the institution who different priorities and our owning different pieces of that Pie. Well, you're touching on a really key factor of success, right. So if I have my own objectives and goals to go move some needle from our customer are for our organization, and those aren't shared goals throughout the organization, it really doesn't matter what what my goals are, right, yeah, so. So I think that's a that is a key part and I think it's really easy for organizations to say okay, so and so, this is what you need to go after and this is your goals and objectives. But if they're not shared objectives from the from the top down of the organization, you're really creating a really challenging opportunity to environment for your team members to be successful. We've done a really good job of it at Wells Fargo and dressing that really from the top down. You know, we have Mike, my backer, runs all of consumer lending here and Wells Fargo we have Christy Ferco, who's my leader, who runs the home lending organization, and they've done a great job of setting that tone and setting well we use OK are. So for us it's it's hard to dispute or hard to get disconnected on what are we trying to accomplish. We literally have very specific measures that were trying to go after and for those who aren't familiar with the acronymics, you know objectives and key results. Also, they're setting those objectives and key results for us at consumer lending let level and at the home landing level. So all the leaders that I work with and partner with we're all going after the same thing and so I think that's really, really key. If I'm going after something very different than I'm struggling. They're struggling and at the end of the day we won't move the deal for our customer. I'm okay ours. I mean that's we. We brought that into upstart from the Google days. We're kind of famously took holes and is how the company is really run. Is that, I've been a new thing for wells Fargo. Is it done company wide? Ok Ours are a fascinating way to get a lineman across teams and there's a whole podcast worth of a notch an episode, little whole I think, show where the the use of Bolk Hares, but I'm curious how recent that is. And then you know kind of how the process runs. Is that a top down processes and a bottoms up process? For you guys, it Wills Fargo and how do you kind of align across, you know, sometimes aligneman across teams of the same objectives. Appointing the same direction as one of the bigger challenges there and key to what you're talking about. So I'm just kind of curious how yet actually execute that. Yeah, so it is relatively new. But you know, Mike wine back and Christie joined last year and took over the range here, and so it's a fairly fairly new concept that we practice and we really started. We define our okay ours for two thousand and twenty one and we're executing against them. So it's fairly new. And so what we are going through that exercise. I shouldn't the extras. We went through exercise at the end of last year to define those OK ours. It's been a lot of time debating, having good conversations on what they should be, what they shouldn't be, what should really be our focus what shouldn't be, which that the exercise alone is worth. It's you know, wait in gold, if you will, but as we come in and execute against it, what Chris, he's in a great job at is pretty a lot of great execution frameworks around it. So once a week we literally had leadership team meet and we provide updates on how our achieving our OK ours. And it's not just reading out stats, it's trying to identify one of those key indicators and underneath supporting those OK ours that we're making progress on and what are the efforts were pursuing to achieve them, and and just be very, you know, measured about it, just, you know, being really focused on what outcomes were really going after. But it's part of the culture. So been in the environments before where we've used something similar and they just become like a reference point. At the beginning of the year, like this year we're going to do x, Y and Z and the we're going to put it up on the on the board and will send some great inspirational posters around, but it doesn't become something that's institutionalized in the way you work and how you worked every day. And and it's it's great now we have we still are in a I think, continue with learning exercise around Ok ours when in the sense of it causes us, in a good way, to question what are our priorities, what should be going after and not going after, but it really creates...

...the level of focus that we need at it. We need to really be successful for our customers in it, for organization. I like that. I've always thought okay ores are at their best when they're about focus. They have to tell you not only what you're doing but in some extent, what you're not doing, because you know why there's you have too many priorities, you don't have any, and I think OK cares are great way to define one of the things that really matter and and highlight them. And it's your point. You've got to be holding yourself to him. Otherwise just become platitudes and the culture develops around them being platitudes and that's not good. But that's right. That's saying to hear. I've I know a lot of technology companies are running no cares. I haven't heard of banks using them as much, so that we're not trying to be about my tense to with that. Yeah, I think that's that's part of the transformation that we're going through. Is, you know, banking and mortgage, you know, is definitely behind the times when it comes to some of these concepts and we're trying to leverage those better concepts, trying to find different paths forward. So you've been in the digital side of banking and lending. I was looking through your resume and that we're digital came up a lot, which I imagine if the last three or four years, in particularly the last two years, it's become one of the hottest topics in banking, is digital transformation. But you've been doing it for a little bit, a little bit longer than I think everybody's been thinking about it. Or there mistakes or misconceptions you see commonly held that people are kind of maybe walking down the wrong path, thinking about something the wrong way. That you think is useful to point out here. Yeah, I think one of the misconcessions, that it's some of misconceptions is sort of like missteps. I think I see often is folks start with a solution. They don't start with a problem, but I don't start with the opportunity or the problem. They start with a solution and we is as maybe humans, we fall in love with solutions versus falling in love with the problem. And this is where I you know, I see a lot of things that you know, folks will share their wares on. You know, hey, ai and machine learning and in all these great buzz words that sound really great and and don't get me wrong, they are great, but you can't start there. You can't start with the solution like that's like finding the hammer and saying great, I find a hammer, now let me go find the nail or turn everything into a nail, right. That kind of old adage that I think that's still very pervasive and I think it's honestly, I think a lot of it's just human nature. It's how we were very, you know, solution oriented as a society and we think we have you know, we want to jump to the answer, if you will, and anything wrong with being quick and, you know, an expeditious about things, but you really really have to fall in love with the problem and I see a lot of that some solutions, especially years ago, especially in the mortgage space, where where I'd spend most of my time, where, you know, we're pushing for a solution that sounds good versus really really understanding the problem in the details of it. And we've done a pretty good job, you know. You know, I guess, repositioning the way we look at environment and really getting our culture to really focus on the problem of the opportunity and less so much the solution, but because what happens is then you come up with these really, especially in the mortgage industry, just an Eke, a massive ecosystem are I can even know if it's I call on an ecosystem. It is just a massive landscape a very pointed solutions right that are very pointed around all sorts of different pain points throughout the industry and it becomes, it comes really challenging because they're really fantastic solutions, if you will, but they're completely disconnected from one another and so they become as a large company like wellth far or any any large lender for that matter, it's really hard to consume the best of what's out there when they're so disjointed, so fragmented or or so isolated. And the problems that they solve. Well, I'm really curious. It's it's an interesting take. Solutions are the old hammer and nail addage always gets me. But what do you see is the major problems? I mean when you say you got to fall in love with the problem. What are the problems you're seeing front of mind in terms of what you need to change or or that are causing pain points for your internal customers or your consumer customers. Like, what are those problems that you're focused on? Well, it's a pretty it's pretty broad said, I think I'll start at the root, if I really you know, which is we all, we always should put the customer at the center of everything that we do, and so I don't think banking as a whole has had the opportunity to do a the best job and really realizing that right and that what I mean by that is, you know, I we spend a lot of time and doing no wrong to our customer, making sure we have the right controls in place so that they have the right products and services that they need. That's not what I'm referred to. Whatever referring to is the notion that a this use mortgage is an example. Nobody in this universe wants a mortgage like I'm sure, I hope you don't. I don't have one. I didn't, but it's one. Yeah, you don't want one. Right,...

...exactly. Nobody wants one. But and so the realization that the customers at the at the center of all this and they're not on a mortgage journey. That's a means to an end. They're on a home ownership journey, and that's what we need to you know, that's one of the things that we need to realize and take more more care into of really driving more value with what those cut with the customers, going through what they need and and and doing that, you'll think we'll realize that will have a much less of a transactional relationship with our customer because when we only give them an experience, it's about applying for a product or a service and getting that outcome at the end. It's helpful, it's useful, it's where we're at in for a lot of us, in the maturity of who we are, but at the end of the day it's transactional and I think, you know, the more and more we can kind of expand our value proposition to be around with the customers trying to solve for then I think that's what I think we're going to be our much better place from you know, sort of what needs to change, if you will. That's interesting. How do you see that playing out day to day? Like what do you when you go from the the product centric to the kind of customer centric? What does that cause you to rethink or change, and how does that really you know, exhibit itself in the way you build a product or interact with a consumer. Yeah, I think the biggest thing in my experience that needs to change his behaviors, not necessarily perspectives. I think anytime, what I just share with you is nothing new, right. I think a lot of folks that are in my seat have a very similar perspective and in might be newer to this industry that I serve, but it might be, you know, old hat and many other you know, especially in the in the in the more of the technology space. I think that the the the biggest, you know challenge is typically the behaviors needed to change. I think it's pretty easy for folks, especially the you know, partners that you work with to serve your customer, to kind of agree with that, like yeah, that makes tons of sense, let's do that. But it's hard as the behaviors, because it gets back to we're very solution oriented and so we like to think we have all the right answers. Even you know, it goes for me to write. We're all wired to think we have all the right answers and jumping to those answers. So what really needs to be more systemic around that. If you truly do care about the customer, then let's go first understand our customer. Who are they? What do they need? Realize they're not all the same. Usually they all come from very, you know, diverse backgrounds and experiences and needs and all sorts of different behaviors, and really understand that and build a discipline about understanding your customer, being able to use that understanding and then go ideate for the solutions that solve for them. But go develop those ideas, those hypothesis, if you will, go test them, go validate them, select the right ones and then go execute, but being in and then, more importantly, test and learn all along the way and being very open to do to doing that. I think all of that you'll see. You I refer to is their behavior changes. Ideology is pretty easy for folks get up board like everything I just said. Most people like yeah, makes total sense. Why? Why wouldn't everyone do that? Not Everybody does. Right, because the behaviors don't change or the urgency is so urgent. No, I don't need to do all that. I just need to go and already know the answers. Just go get it done and there's you know, there's a there's a happy medium in there in a lot of cases to doesn't. That doesn't mean when I talk through those types of design thinking principles by always reference to the hey could take five minutes, because take five months. It's okay, right. Doesn't mean it has to be bloated to go through this that type of exercise. But the culture needs to believe in it. The culture needs to be to be just as excited as discovering an idea didn't work as discovering an idea did work. And that's where I keep getting back to the behaviors and cultures, because it's pretty easy as as an organization to say hey, NY, it's kind an idea and you know, is this hammer's the solution. Let's go, you know, build a hammer and then it doesn't preserve provide the results that we were expecting. Well, then I go and try to defend the solution and I try to make the solution bigger or better or whatever, because I don't want to be wrong right. And I think that's the behavior and culture changes that really really need. The also be the center of it all is we have to truly lean in and believe that we don't have all the answers, but let the information drive the outcomes and let's be super excited when those ideas are wrong, because we get we learned. We learned. If it was wrong or not quite perfect, we learned just as much as we were right, and that should be just as excited to know that. Oh, you know, we thought we're going to improve the customer experience by doing this, we're going to improve it from from this level. So, you know, level at a level be and guess what? We got...

...halfway there. We shouldn't just be like, oh, that's failed. Why? Let's go find out why and let's really understand that and be just as happy and satisfy with that. And that's hard. A lot of cultures view that as failure and failure is is a really bad word and it should be fattic. Should be learning. How do you get past that mentality? I'm how do you get past that? I mean it is I agree. Yeah, you know, I often I hate the silicon valley mantra like fail fast. I think feel fast as a stupid way to say. Were you really saying learn fast? And it's some a lot of you, frankly, learn more from things that don't work than things that do many times, because things that do work you don't always know why they work. They just kind of did. And when you fail, you you do lot more introspection. When then it'll work out right. But how do you drive the culture that's accepting of, you know, ideas, hypotheses, tests that don't work, because that has to come through a lot of different parts of how the company actually, you know, reflects on those experiences. I will have any tips or advice or experience on how you actually drive that kind of culture, then I have a few more questions on this topic, but I that was much east one. Yeah, sure. Well, I mean, well, we're kind of in that journey right now actually, because it's okay, cares are very new. Being objective oriented is fairly newer. I have a great set of, you know, really smart, really thoughtful of leaders that I work with, but it's still something that I think we're we navigate through and we continue to kind of keep ourselves in check about. I think the best way, I hate to say it, but it's the truth, the best way to get folks to appreciate it is to have successes and do it and show the successes in it and then, you know, and not, you know, crucify the perception of failures. Right. There's meant many times there's been, you know, big capabilities that didn't quite meet the expectations that our organization or here in a past life had, and literally there'll be folks that will come out and say, yeah, let's kill it, let's get rid of it, and you know, and that for me if I don't, I didn't like it the first place, you know, but let's not kill it. We just it just told us a whole plethora of information about what could have been better. Let's go make it better. And if they pursuit is still the same pursuit that we're trying to go after. But I think, I think that's the way people can really gravitate to it more as when they see it actually work and they check their own, you know, preconceived ideas at the door over time to say, yeah, you know it, I would have done it this way, but now I see that the way that's coming together is really moving the needle and it's it's self learning, if you will, the models continually self pursuing these things. That's what's also cool about it too, is that you're not just finishing a project, you're pursuing some movement of some key measure for our customer to move forward. And you'll let doesn't stop with one release of a product or a second release. It's a continual and so I think what it's folks to see that in action and see the maturity and see the metrics move. I think that's when folks start to adopt the model on really the behavior start to change. And then my second question on this is how do you get the bank on board, particularly an institution like a bank, with the idea of testimony, because now I've been through a number of now, coming from the technology world, now you know selling technology and the banks, the valuation cycle, the amount of pre work and and Oh sign off and just the process that goes into making even timually small changes could often be so daunting you go we better have this thing really perfectly because we're not doing it twice. So I'm curious. There's a how do you get people accepting a failure? But there's also how do you get the institution accepting of moving quickly and iterating without overly burden some processes and approvals and reviews, because you can't learn quickly if you take two years to make a decision on the product. So how do you think about that that side of the equation of getting the institution, that governance, the oversy groups, comfortable with a more rapid iteration and learning process? That's a great question and it's a it's a often misunderstanding within with, you know, with a lot of organizations, but especially ones that are in the financial services. So the test and learn and mentality that I speak of, it doesn't mean that we release things into production that were non certain of right or that provide any any extra any added risk to our customers. The testing and learning is through the validation that we do before we actually then take something further into production. And I think that's usually a misconception that a lot of folks have when they think a test and learn like, oh, you're just pulling and stuff out in the production and hoping it works out now, see what I know means. Yeah,...

...by no means that's how it works. So you still have to put up quality software that does no harm to your customer and moves the needle for for them and for the organization. That is a requirement. It means those are points in time within your process you're testing and learning all the way up until you know as you are ideating great in the right solutions than defining them, building them, taking them through all the testing and risk controls that you have to to then migrate the conversion of that in a technology very effectively. So that means that milestone means we have something very sound in production that does what you expect it to do and under an highly a compliant way, which is verily really key to to organization and most hittering and banking and financial services. It doesn't mean you're you all your learning was prior to that. That means you did a lot of learning, a lot of testing, a lot of validation with customers and others, and then you went after it and put it into production in a very controlled way. Now you're also learning and you're not. You're not learning from a sense of well, that I did. I miss a compliance aspect right, I missed that or the other. It's more of are you learning? How the customers adopting it? How are they getting value from it? How what can we continue to tweak and improve from there and then refine those learning you know as you go forward to to and most folks don't appreciate to that road maps are living documents. They think that, oh no, this is your six quarter plan. If you better execute against it. If you don't, it's failure, like no, we might discover that the thing we thought it was going to do miss the mark or maybe didn't quite get the value we thought but we learned so much now we're going to reshape our road map. So it takes a lot of the throwing failure out the window and really doesn't mean, you know, you want to just keep prolonging things like that's a part people get caught up. It's not this binary thing that's like either it's planned or unplanned. Now you can still plan. You plan for value. You plan for this is the value when I achieve and this quarter or this release, this is the value. So you know next one be razor focused on that. And it doesn't mean you you can't keep pursuiting like you can't move off from one release to the next and not go after the value of that next release. You go after the value of the next release, but you show her up and you continue to improve the value delivered in the prior releases and I think that's the part that that just people need to get a little bit more accustomed to that aren't used to this type of model. Yeah, yess, I agree. I actually it's one of the things I've been thinking about a lot recently is this. You know, we spend a lot of time thinking about the funnel of our borrow or and the the friction points and in the interaction points and how we like every little stuff. It's like we want to move this one five percent of this one two percent. I think there's an under appreciation many times of the value improve moving every step of the funnel. And to your point, if projects are evaluated and defined on I want to move this step of the funnel from a to be my number of people who start this process and finish it or whatever it might be, then you have a very clear metric for success. But I just think that the compounding benefit of if it's a ten step funnel and you make every step two percent better, I mean that's a that's a huge, important improvement for the process. I can seem like a lot of little stuff. So I'm curse you guys use like a funnel metric that way or like a funnel analysis, when you're looking at the processes and think about the stages in the funnel, that your current effort like we're going to try and get this whole part here a little better, in this part better. Is that kind of the approach you take when you're thinking about the software you're building and how you actually are approaching what you want to do in a given release or a part of a release? Yeah, I know. I think that type of mindset is absolutely at the core of our you know, we're operating and adopting you know, if you will, from a from a methodology perspective, and you know, in this kind of business that we're all in, you know, retention, capture, pull through are easily key measures or as success for us. Right. So it's something like pull through was a key measure of success, which it should be. You don't just jump to the solution, right. The next question would be great. You know, to your to your point, right, one of those various stages of the funnel and where do I think I might have the biggest opportunity to focus on? First, second or third? You know, to your point, you really want to focus on all of them. If you can't, you can still focus on more targeted areas that you think you're going to wear your measures and tell you you have the largest opportunity, biggest fall out, you know, those types of things, and let it guide the way. So it's absolutely the the way. You know that the model that we're adopting, which is just it's all about it is just design, thinking principles. Let's just go understand, you understand the problem before you go, you know, solve for it and really go after the real problem that you're trying to go after. And if you're really, I guess, scientific about it or, you know, thoughtful about it'll guide you there. You you will,...

...you will go through all levels of the funnel and that example you give or, worst case, you'll focus first on the biggest opportunities that funnel, because your measure of success is is pulled for it. And that example, yeah, you measuring very clearly. So I wanted to ask you made a comment earlier that I made another I wanted to come back to, which is kind of lots of disconnected solutions that can you know people are grabbing solutions, but there's lots of things that are good in a point but maybe don't fit into the more holistic picture and I'm curious how you think about finding external solutions, how that influences your build by decision. Right when you're thinking about there's all these different solutions. You know, I see some thanks are like we're going to buy one thing and it's going to do everything and we're just going to be that thing. And obviously there's another end which is we're going to buy lots of little pieces and parts and put it all together and hope. But there's huge challenge there too, from a software development and engineering time point of view. How do you think about finding the balance of when you build, when you buy and how you manage that kind of universe of maybe really good at one thing, but is that thing important enough for me to take an external party? Or do I want to build something that's not quite as good but maybe, you know, easier or more integrated? How do you navigate that landscape, because it's, I think, something a lot of people, and it's in the digital transformation stakes, are struggling with right like how do I when do I buy, when I build, how do I put it together and how do I how do I trade off those kind of different competing resource constraints? Yeah, I wish we had a whiteboard. I could, I could draw a picture for you, but imagine this visual. The way we kind of look at it is I think of it in a quadrant or across two axises, one being differentiation and one access being differentiation and one access being complexity. That's just the easiest way to kind of wrap your mind around, you know, what you should be going after. And we're a little bit different. You know, we're a big financial institution, and big financial institutions are not, you know, large software companies, right, so they're not, you know, accustomed to building publicly available software and those types of things. So our encouragement is, you know, we kind of start with some basic principles to we don't build anything undifferentiated, like why? Why would we build anything that's that's undifferentiated? So it's kind of like a like that the standard principle, and then when we think of, you know, things in a much more rich way, will look at it in that quadrant to say great, you know, if it's high differentiation, low complexity, maybe that is something we should we should build if you think that's the higher end of the quadrant. You know, and typically what you'll find in that area is probably things more around experience. Yep, not really complex, but super differentiated on what you know well. Fargoes an example unique experience we can provide our customers because of how you know the depth of their relationship. We can do something much more differentiated than if we were like a monoligne product, if you will. So that might be an areas, an example that you know where we might live and say, yeah, let's go build there, where you see it. I'll go to the last top Quadron at the end where it's, you know, low complexity and and low differentiation, like go partner all day long. You know, go partner all they long. Those note. There's no reason for us to be there. I think the part that people in this is my just of my opinion. They treat them as more of a horizontal line and it's just two segments of it. If it's, you know, high differentiation, go build it. If it's not, don't build it. I draw a line in the middle of that with complexity. If it's high complex high differentiation, go partner, go find some money. WHO's best of breed and doing that thing that you need to do. Who then can compliment what you're doing and your point of view around it, but don't try to reinvent something that's fundamentally there but just not there for your specific need. And so that's kind of way I look at it. Is there's very little that we want to build. It's going to be the hot, low complex of the high differentiation we want to really partner a lot with, and partners by the best word. I don't know what I would call down below, if you will, if I think about it, that Quadrin, because I call everyone's a partner. But I think really, really part if you will, and that top quadrant and really folk let their experience and expertise make that differentiation even better without the risk of, you know, you're trying to learn a technology or advance of technology that is table stakes for some organizations or some companies and would be more complex for us. Yeah, it's I like it. Will have to get the notes myself talk to produce about getting your visual build so we can provide that along with the linked in the show notes when we get the thing live. But I think it's agree with you and I think I'm curious your thought on why you think others in this space, because I do see this as well, feel the need to build much more than really make sense for them to build. There's a lot of that...

...like well, we're just going to we're not going to partner something and that that's too important for us. I'm going yeah, but you're not differentiated at providing it. It's highly complex. You know, there's places where that's the only thing they do and you probably can partner well. And I'm curious why you think there is that mentality among many financial institutions that they ought to be building. I think often in their minds more than then I think would make sense to build and I'm just curious, like his particular to your point, like they're not large software shops. When I see them trying to build a lot of software, I go I mean, is that really what your organizationally set up to do? And certain instances you should, but in many instances I question if that's the right path for despite what I see many doing. And I'm curious if you've got a thought on why, why there's that mentality kind of broadly in the industry. The definitely been a problem in the orige industry for for quite some time. It's hard to characterize why I think the core, I would say, belief system that folks have, and I've seen in my career in a morrige industry more specifically, is you know, no, no, our problems are unique. You know, what we're trying to do is unique. And there's this and they'll try to talk themselves into looking at some problems statement and in a unique way to them rather than just sort of normalizing what it really means. Right, and then that happens a lot. That happens a lot where it's like none, no, we're unique, our process is unique. Are This is unique and the reality of this is probably isn't that unique at all. And I think that's where a lot of us get caught up sometimes, is really trying to separate what's unique. And I think it's also human nature. I think we love building things right. You want to create something right. I love to build things that are as fair so I write. So I think it's human nature that we have to sort of check ourselves because, and that's the that's the game we play with ourselves to say, well, my problems are unique and I'm uniquely qualified to solve them, and that's you know. I think part of that you know underpinnings of what drives that sort of behavior. And so, as the advices, you got to just check yourself, right, you got to really just to still, what are you going after? And I think gets back to that top quadrant, that high complexity, high differentiation. It really requires a lot of checking yourself to say, well, what am I really trying to do here? Is it some rich data sciences? It's some rich you know orchestration, whatever it might be. Okay, great, maybe it's unique to my industry, but it's not unique from a capability perspective. So who can I work with that can partner there, because maybe you know and to go after it. It just takes a lot of honesty with yourself and a lot of de mystification on what makes us so special, because that thing too is when you are super unique and super different, are you really going to be effective and efficient and predictable and provide really great, praticable experiences for your customer where it's so special and so unique to us? And so that's just kind of my opinion on it. Who knows a run right or wrong? Huh? We're here to give your opinions. I have for today is just say I've always found. The mentality that I like is like, if I don't have to build that, what can I build? Right? It's kind of like if I'm starting from scratch, I have you know, my time to deliver is huge and if I can find pieces and parts to get me fifty percent of the way, then I can do a much better job on a fifty percent and I can, to your point, accelerate my time to value my learning speed because I'm not having to reinvent things that maybe your else ur S. I was like to think of it as speed, but speed overall. Like what am I what's the big thing? I can build and I can make that better if I don't have to. You know, I'm not make my own nails when I work in my backyard with my kids. Right, I'm like going to we're going to buy the nails for yeah, you get a melts and metal down, like, let's go get those, and that will help me, you know, build something faster than I could the other way. So I'm going to pull the Lens back a little. I mean, I know you've been in mortgage for long time and that's kind of your key focus, but do you see certain parts of the consumer lending ecosystem that are kind of more ready for the digital shift or even that are more impacted, let's say, by the by the shift to kind of digital preferences by the consumer. Mortgage seems to me to be one that's in some ways the hardest. I mean it is, to your point, tied to an inherently offline experience. Right like I'm buying a house, usually going to see the house, there's inspections and appraisals, it in pieces that make a purely digital experience hard versus other kinds of lending. So I'm curious how you're seeing the digital kind of experience play out across different kinds of lending, you know, where there's different needs and different you know, kind of complexities to doing that. Yeah, no, it's definitely in the mortgage space it's, by by the nature of it, much more of a complex transaction. You know, I have a belief system and that the more you empower I think it's...

I think it's a get. It's going to happen. It's a given right that. But the more you, for you know, provide the right capabilities to the customer, they will become more selfdirective and they will guide themselves. And I've seen that play out in in so many industries over decades, right. You know, look ALD travel, look at, you know, airlines and brokerage and all sorts of different things that have completely changed the way consumers engage and get work done. And and for me, I for I to see it as we've given them the capabilities that allow them to be empowered. And I think that's the real kind of like, you know, path forward that we should all be kind of running towards is how can we empower our customers? So if kind of following that at that kind of, you know, belief system. You know, I don't want to minimize, you know, some consumer lending products, but but some of them are a lot more simplistic to have to deliver than a mortgage, right, and so I think those are really great opportunities. You know, they're I think the trick is, you know, in my again, it's sort of the things that that we follow and mainly because we have a much more rich relationship with our customer, it will we have many more connection points to them. As I'd still just don't a believer that it has to be an extension of their life right. Otherwise it just becomes a transactional thing for them and sometimes those transactional things there's nothing wrong with the people, you know, discover that they need a solution for something. They go pursue that transactional solution, whether that's cheaper insurance or whatever it might be. But I think we have a good opportunity as Fintech, you know, companies, to really embrace going after adding more value to our what our customers serve for. So I think, you know, when you look at more simplistic decisions around those things, we have a really great opportunity to serve our customers well, whether, you know, in whether it's credit card or, you know, auto or personal ending, things that are are that take place in a shorter period of time, but also, you know, require you know, Les Complex Decision Points. Those are really really great opportunities to kind of empower those customers by any grading it into their life right whether they're looking for, you know, whether that's shopping for furniture or shopping for, you know, a car or a boat or some other life experience that they're going through, making that as an ex making those products and services and extension of that experience that's going to be, I think, for the key and I think those are easier places to tackle right now, especially on a more simplistic transactions right especially when customers are much more open to about you. But I get by PHYCO from three or four different companies every month. I love it and it was great and and and so that I think we're much more open to sharing information and being in having ourselves the and they be exposed, but just being more open to getting access information. So the more we kind of lean into that, the more we're going to power our customers and they'll be able to kind of take those products and services and a rate them into their shopping experience versus having it be a separate transactional experience. I like that. So you've mentioned a couple times the concept of kind of providing more value by having a holistic picture of the customer or holistic relationship with them that encompasses different kind offerings and products. How do you think about what it takes to to really deliver on that promise, because one of the things I see are either data silos within institutions preventing the intelligent use of and even had you know, I've talked to institutions that show or main nameless at want to use their depository information and a credit decision and have to use third party because they can't wire up the two internally. So they oh, there's a third party aggregator we can just plug in and they're going through a third party to get data from one silo in the company to another to assist with the decision in the second part of that is data, data silos, but also institutional sitals. Right like we often have products centric teams are working on this product, in this product and and to your point, some of the value comes being able to look across them. So what have you seen the effective and helping kind of both make the data and the objectives or the team operations kind of uniform and consistent across those products, as you can actually deliver that value of being a multiproduct experience is opposed to so coming up like five different transactional products that a consumer can interact books. I think there's a lot of power in that, but I think my assessments right now many institutions are not delivering that well on it. So I'm curious. You've mentioned a couple times. What do you see as the way you really get to the point of being able to deliver on that kind of value. Yeah, it's kind of like, okay, ours right, it has to start from the top town and and we have that starting here really, really well. So here...

...point a lot of large banks can come across as as. I say this all the time to people internally. I used to say this before, I before I worked at Wells Fargo, is you go to any banks website, what the bank is basically telling you but not telling you just buy. The implied way that they're engaging with you is, you know, Jeff, I don't know who you are, I don't know what you're going through in your life, I don't know how I can help you, but here's a bunch of products and services. I sure hope you figure it out. And that's what I think we're basically saying as a large institution when we have those types of experiences with our customer, and I think with with Charlie Sharf's leadership and definitely with you know, Mike wineback and Mary and then with Christie as well. There's this deeper notion of one customer, for sure, and we're organizing our ourselves to support that notion really, really well. So large companies like ours we have to have enterprise and enterprise understanding the last bitter phrase of our customer. And to your point, it can't just be a well, go get your products and services and, you know, I hope it all works out for you. We're really leaning on that reality for the future of us, for us and hiring some really great leaders, as Sundre newdleman and you know, Michelle Moore and a thro's learn a lot of great leaders that they brought in recently that it's helping pave the way for this common appreciation. So that's how it's going to be successful. Is it' Stop Down? We have to have first acknowledge that it's one thing to say you have one customer across many different products and services, then the whole other thing to align to an organizational constructs and technology constructs and execution constructs that allow those things to happen. So we have really great, deep partnerships with our enterprise partners. We're starting to create notions of how we, you know, navigate our longer term experiences our customer across what they're trying to do, not when we're not the way we see them, but the way they see them. But that's where it starts. So we're still very new on the journey. We're still still taking care of some some of the really good basics first, but there's such a great alignment on where we're going. That's foundation. If you don't have that, then then who's Naking to work with? You know, to integrate that mortgage product with someone's financial life experience, you need that connective tissue and and that's it starts with the top connective tissue and the joint objective that that's really an important thing that you got to do. Well then, I appreciate your thoughts that. I have three questions. I've ended every episode of this podcast with sw I'm going to throw the match down before I run out of time and these. Yeah, I'm excited to hear your answer. So the first one is what's the single best piece of career advice you've ever got? Well, I would say well, I don't know about a career advice, but I think once and it's always I just never forget. As Gentleman, I had no idea of same as Eric Stewart and was a consultant. Here's a guy. I was a kid, but he's to he kind of mentored me it for a little bit and he got me wired to really think about what are the problems you everything should be addressed on what probably trying to solve and you know, what is the true problem you're trying to solve and and what is the outcoming you're trying to pursue? I think most of us that sounds very simple. It's actually I think it sounds like common sense. Common Sense is not very common right. So that, to me, is has always served me well because they help get me wired in the and to focus on what's right, the right things, to focus the important things. That served me well my career. Focus on the important things. I like that. So my second question is, what's the single best piece of vice you've gotten about the consumer lending space? Yeah, I think for me it's sort of, you know, aligned to what I've been sharing with you. It's really heaping the customer at the center of everything that we do and I think what I think what people don't always realize is the customers always at the center of everything we do and they should be. And I've had examples where folkus. They will hold on you know, the crm solution is for our team members to convert leads and do all these other kind of things. My Ah, nope, it's for the customer, right. We're trying, you know, we're trying to help them on their journey, and if you lose side of that, you don't really you're never you're not going to build the right capabilities that are really going to solve the right problems and such. So that's another one. I think it's really important and I think missed. I think people think sometimes there's customers related, sometimes there's not. In my belief system, there's always a customer at the middle and I think if you really understand your customer, understand what they're going through, you will create even better capabilities for the things that are much more, I would say, perceived as adjacent to the customer versus core of the customer. Yeah, everything really starts from that, right, and then you gotta how does that plan into this for that or the other? Because my lastt question, what's one bold prediction for the...

...future? Gotten all sorts of answers to this, but I always enjoy the and I think it's sort of like what I was mentioned earlier. I think customers will rule, and I mean that. We've seen it in so many every case I'd I would probably challenge someone to tell me show me a case where we've advanced in the customer isn't driving more and more of their own destination and the way. I gave some examples with travel. You know, you sat always need an expert or someone to sharepar you through the process, and now it's like you would never go to travel asi as an example, I think, and I could repeat that example for so many industries and so many different services. I think it just tells us the more we empower our customers, and we're really focused on empowering them, the more they will selfdirect and that could be really frightening for some companies. If you don't see that or you don't solve for it right, then you're you're focusing on come, you know, on the past, and not necessarily the future. The future is about empowerment. Yeah, if you're building a future that set of technologies or capabilities or products, it assumes the customers is not want to drive themselves. Well, you're probably setting yourself up. That's all your yeah, well made. I appreciate it's been a really interesting conversation. I didn't think I would get to talk about OK ares in the context of banking, but I appreciate you breaking them here and I loved your comment on focusing on the problem versus getting too fixated on solutions. I think that's a thread that's will then through our conversation, along with this idea of consumer selfdirecting, empowering the consumer to kind of be in control. I will make sure we come up with it a version that you appreciate of the complexity versus differentiation prons. I think that's a really useful framework when thinking about some of these partner versus build decisions and then where you really frank, we also where you spend your time, what's going to drive the most value for the effort you put in. I think it's a really useful framework and a big fan of frameworks. Thanks again for taking the time to joinment day. I really appreciate it. Yeah, Jeff, I appreciate you have me and great talking to you. 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 learning programs or you're just getting started, upstart can help. Upstart offers an into end 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 forward banks. That's upstartcom forward 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 as a quick rating by tapping the number of stars you think the show deserves. Thanks for listening. Until next time,.

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