Leaders in Lending
Leaders in Lending

Episode 86 · 1 month ago

Expanding Digital Service to Members


Delivering the best member service at credit unions was once totally dependent on face-to-face relationships, and while that is still important today, the digital transformation has upended what constitutes personalized service. The balance between a human high-touch level of service and digital ease is now table stakes in lending.

Cherly Purrington, Chief Lending Officer at ACFCU, shares her experience in building new digital systems that bring both high touch, security and ease of use to members.

Join us as Jeff and Cheryl discuss:

  • The model of ITMs (Interactive Teller Machines) in bringing high touch service to members, but also being digitally accessible from multiple locations
  • The elements that go into driving your institution through a digital transformation
  • How you find the right leadership staff to motivate and manage teams to deliver high quality of service in the digital space

Want to learn more about how Upstart partners with credit unions? Check out this case study mentioned in the episode.

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, and more. Let's get into the show. Welcome to Leaders and Lending. I'm your host, Jeff Keltner. This week's episode features my conversation with Cheryl Purrington, the chief lending officer at a c f c U, a credit union in Amarillo, Texas. I really enjoyed this conversation with Cheryl. We got into some of the discussions of digital transformation and build a little bit into their deployment of I t M s, which I wasn't even aware word of thing. So I learned a lot what they are, what it takes to support them, how it can change your level of service in the customer experience. We really dove into leadership teams people, how you find the right people, motivate and manage teams have to liver high qualities of service or I thought a lot of great experiences and bits of wisdom Cheryl gave I really learned a lot from the discussion. I'm sure you will as well. Please enjoy this conversation with Cheryl. Cheryl, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for making the time to join us today. I appreciate you for having me jastics a lot. Yeah. I always started with this question for my uh my guest now, which is kind of like most of my guests do not describe themselves as intentional bankers. They kind of did not. Did not grow up dreaming of being a credit union banking executive when they were a kid. Tell me a little about your career path, what what brought you here? Wow, that's kind of an interesting question, though, I did not dream about being a credit alien professional most of us right when we're kids, and yet here we um. I just really, I mean I started out as a teller. I mean I just dided a part time job. It was kind of interesting situation. I was kind of working in some missionary work in the church, and I was at the time, so I was doing some kind of full time missionary work and I needed a part time job. So hey, you know, something came across as a part time teller. So I applied as a part time teller and it kind of just spent up from there, and I've had almost every kind of position that I could have in a credit ulil sits there, and except a county, I've never been interested aunt never got I love. I love that you spent spent the whole career that the credit you even never did accounting. That's kind of my CFO is not gonna like that too much. But you know, yeah, which we have accounts and we have not. It's kind of funny. It's like I spent my entire six years at Google. I never touched search or advertising. People go, what else does Google do? How do you google search or advertising? You're like, what, so, you know, um, kind of funny but true. But you know, it's interesting that you started that level because I know one of the central themes for how you think about, you know, the business and what you need to deliver is quality of service. And you kind of started on the front lines of delivering service. So we would love to just start with the question how do you think about defining what good services and measuring whether or not you're delivering because I feel like we all feel that that reality that like if we're delivering good service that produces good results. But but how do you think about really understanding what that means and how you can tell if you're living up to that promise or not. I mean services where it's at, I mean outthink services ever going to go away? If if we don't have good service somewhere, we're not gonna go you know, we're thinking about coming out less podcast. I was thinking about service and kind of how passionate about service and it in itself, and you know, I was doing a little bit of research about, you know, how we retail our current membership or if we work really hard, I'll getting new membership. And it talked about how, you know, fifty seven percent of people will spend more on stuff that they're loyal to, and I was thinking a lot of that in regards to my own experience with just service in general. Like I recently, I have a pharmacist that I go and every time I go to get my prescription, I get credit service. I mean it's just horrible, so service they could care less? Really...

...if I cover your goal or that's the approachon I get right, perception is the reality exactly, and so why do I keep going back? There's plenty of pharmacies around here. I don't know. I've just always been loyal to that one, So you know, I keep thinking about that. You know, it's gonna take a lot for me for somewhere to get me to come over to them, just because I feel for some reason that I'm loyal. So I think about that in regards to my credit union. And if we are a lot spilling a left time and energy on our current members, sowler later, someone's gonna get them, you know, I mean, and they're they're gonna There's plenty of institutions around here and just around the block that somebody could go to and get service. So I think, how do you how do you engage that? I mean, that's a good question. I don't know if I have the answered that job. Well, yeah, I love your pharmacy example. I actually had the maybe you'll you'll find something in this. But last time, my my my oldest son was sick yesterday and I went out to pick up medications for the pharmacy my site. We're gonna try that CVS that has a drive through, and you know, in three minutes I pulled up, they put the meds in a bin. I gave him my credit card and I was all my way out and I went, I call away, why why have we ever gone anywhere else? And please me to another pharmacy ever again? Because like I text us, I'm on my home with medication. She goes already, How is that possible? Yeah, but you know, now I'm kind of one. I will be there again. It's not the closest, but man, was at a convenient, convenient quality of service that that, you know, I think probably will earn my loyalty. And that's, um, I think kind of the kind of thing you're talking about. Yeah, they got you as soon as they got you. Now you're like, why did I never go there before? Now I've always going there? Right? Yeah, how do you think about And we'll talk about this later, but um, we'll talk about people later because I really want to get into that. I think it's a key part of how we deliver service. But how do you think about service in the context of the transformation to digital. I know you guys are doing some digital transformations. It's kind of like, how we deliver service used to be relationships of person you knew, and I feel like that's still important, but there's also this element of like, can I do what in my pajamas on my couch when i'm you know, when I don't want to come in, I don't want to talk to somebody, just want to transfer money from my savings to my checking to pay a big bill or something like this. How do you think about the kind of combination of the balance between that human, high touch level of service that I kind of feel this really and that ease in digital and the investments you have to make to make that a reality. Well, I mean, you know, since COVID, I think everybody's mindset has changed, right, I mean, and we're not going back. I think we all know that, or I think we've settled into that back then. We're not going back to the way things were before. We pretty much have transitioned into a new era of the way we're going to provide things. And you know, some places were more prepared for that than others. Um, and I feel like this is really um. Where we are now is that we don't want to be unprepared again. And even though we loaded a lot of members, probably we're never gonna be able to help to make everybody happy, right, we never care nobody ever can make everybody happy. So you're still gonna have people that don't like that. They want that face to face and so we will still provide a little face to face. But you're right, we are going into a more digital transformation. We're going to have i TM s interactive teller machines where they still will be able to have face to face with their favorite tellers, so those ones that they did get to know and they have relationships with them so private I TM to me because you were using this phrase and I kind of went, I was starting to google, going, what is that? What an a t M is? What's an i TM al TM? It's just an interactive teller machine. So basically, you look at a TM, it's just digital. It's just gonna tell you a screen you're gonna get back. An i TM is you're gonna be actually having a conversation with that person. So I don't know if you've ever been really where it says if you want to speak to a person on an a TM and it gives up a digital image, and I don't know if you've ever had...

...that before, but never never, I don't use. Yeah, it's it's really awesome because they could really they could still do things the way they what to as an A t M if they want to, but if they actually want to have actual conversation with with their tellers, they could still do that. And so those tellers have to have special skills. They have to be able to have a conversation with that person in the whole entire time. We have certain branches already that just our tellers are already behind screens, they're in the back of back roomless, so they're already kind of doing that. But with the I T of you have to be on the screen the whole entire time. You don't turn off the camera. You're having that conversation the whole entire time, and you're helping them through the transaction. And yeah, when you when you're using an I TM, is that I mean, it seems like then the teller that I'm speaking to does not need to be I mean, I can use the tellers in one location to serve multiple That's exactly, yeah, which is it's kind of like a con center, but but not and in person sort of virtually. Yeah, it's it's exactly what it is, and that's exactly what we're going to use it for. We actually are remodeling our whole entire headquarters. We have a third level that we have totally rebuilt, and on one side of it we have a whole bunch what we call pods. Uh there's twili eight of them and they're a tall glass and our I T OF tellers are going to be in there and they're gonna be servicing all of our different branches. So of course it helps with staffy. Somebody's out at another branch somewhere, This this I t M teller over here in our mail headquarters can fill in with, you know, and take care of them. So it helps with a lot of things like that. Yeah, do you change how you I mean, it's a really interesting model, and it seems like the best efficiency parts of like the call center with the more human parts of interactions. I'm wondering two things. Really, is there any ability to access that same capability like from not an I TM but from my phone or my computer when I'm at home. They don't have to be in your physical location in some sense to access that teller. I'm curious is that's something you've thought about? And secondly, do you do change the physical layout of branches or where you put a T M S at all because mostly, you know, we all get this and we kind of like hiding the PINpad when you put it in because the next person is like four ft from you, and it's uncomfortable enough with the you know, the screen transaction when I'm sorry to have a conversation, I feel like that's even less comfortable. And I'm curious if you're changing the physical layout of where the I t M s are to support a more holistic conversation with the tower in the individual. Yeah, you're you're right on with that. I mean, you have to be secure. You have to your members have to feel secure in their transactions. So when when they walk in our lobby, it's going to be completely different. We're actually gonna have I t M rooms where the i TM s will be a lot real rooms, but I mean they're glassed off. They could go in, they could actually close the door if they want to. They're all glass and so they're they're free to have a very open and honest conversation. Our drive throughs are pretty spaced out, so they'd still it would just be like a typical drive through situation where people are talking over you know. I think it'll even be a little bit more secure than what our current current ones are. So I think that we're gonna of course, this is all trial there. So if we haven't even launched it yet, we're probably about a couple two months out about to totally launch it. So uh and let me ask that trial and airpoint to me is really interesting because I feel like I'm hearing more and more from the you know, the finance financial services executive I talked to the same kind of feedback I hear from Silicon Valley folks, which is like, we're not quite sure how it will work. We're gonna launch and then we're gonna like test and we're gonna learn and change. And I'm curious how you think about I mean, that's I think, very different than the cultural history of most financial institutions that are kind of like, you know, we got the process, the process changes once every couple of years. It's a little more stable of the environment. We're talking about, Hey, we're gonna go out and try something that might not work, and we're gonna learn and change it. And how do you get people on board with that different way of thinking? That's like a very different operating rhythm in like an expectation of how awesome you've prepped to launch. You kinda go, hey, we're gonna lunch. We're not sure it's right. Um where more...

We're like, we had to be totally sure it was right before we put out the door. So I'm curious how you manage the cultural element of getting your your teams on board with that and comfortable taking the risks involved in putting something out there where you are not as sure that if you have all the answers when you're putting it out the door. Yeah, I think lumber one is having your whole executive team on board. We have a very strong cohesive executive team and we all work very very closely together. We're all on listen, we all have the same vision in mind. We all are very We started this probably i would say, about almost two years ago, really getting the vision of mine of what we wanted. We actually went to a few different credit unions in different areas, one down in Houston, one about a couple hours away love like Texas. Uh, and they have the same model and so thankfully, you know, with credit aliens, and you know, I'm sure with sub bings too. You know, they're very open a lotless and a lot of times they'll share things with you and and Kila just skilleraire and say, hey, what works for you guys? What did work for you guys. And so we did a lot of tweaks already in the way that we saw the model that they were doing and how we've changed it and already made some changes. And I'm sure we'll have to make changes stars, and we're gonna be very open and honest to anybody that wants to come, and we'll share with them also. So I love it. It's uh, it's a fascinating time to see these kinds of changes. Hey there, I'm David brand, s VP of Lending Operations at Share and View Federal Credit Union. When we saw our members turn to personal loans to consolidate and pay down their debt, we knew we needed to improve our digital process. We were able to launch with upstart in just sixty six days without any heavy lifting or hiring any additional staff. Best of all, we've been able to work with our account manager to adjust our loan volume and returns given the current economic environment. If you want to learn more about how we've been able to scale to ten million dollars a month in personal loan volume and acquire over fit teen hundred new members to expand relationships with. You can check out our case study on upstart dot com slash lenders. That's Upstart dot com slash Lenders. Thanks for your time. Now back to the show. I kind of wanted to continue on with the theme of people for a minute because you made a comment to me an earlier conversation that in some ways it's all about who you hire, and that that that left to me many questions because I think it's an insightful point but also a challenging thing to implement. So let me start at the Maybe I'll just go through the funnel, But how do you think about finding the right people? I mean, you know, they're the books are full of here's how to interview in the company histories are full of like, hey, we didn't manage to hire the right people. Um, And I'm curious how you think about what you're looking for in an interview process to find that that right fit um for the team there. Um. You know, I always say that hierings like a crop shot, because it kind of is. I've you never know what you're gonna get because you could get people who are totally prepared for me to really coming in the first day of work and they're like, who are you? You are not the personal interview, but I think it all goes back to just really being prepared on what we want, knowing completely knowing what our vision is and what kind of employees we want, you know, do we what we want those people that have the all in attitude. We have a very our CEO, Scott Rose, has a very very servant like UM leadership role and he's very very active with all of our employees and he teaches, you know, on a regular basis to all of our employees. He does classes. So we're very into educating our all of our employees UM. We want them to be passionate, we want them to see the same vision and so we have started way out of avance and just kept telling them and I think not keeping secrets about what our goals are was a big thing that we wanted to do. Uh. We weren't always like...

...that at the Credit Bullion. It used to be, you know, certain members of executive team new certain things, and everybody else just kind of waiting around to see what they were told to do. But that's not the way it is anymore. We want our staff to know everything. We want them to know every step of the way. We want them to get their input. We want them to see that it's actually been listen to. It's not just by word only, you know. We want them to see that they have to stay in it. And so we're putting people on teams, so people that would not necessarily be taking that they're the ones making the decisions. They're the ones that were putting the latiems making the decisions, and so it really helps to play a part in it, and it helps them have buy an attitude towards it all. I love it. I love the transparency is fantastic. And your point about hiring for attitude is really interesting because that I feel like so often people fall into what I think it as a mistake of hiring for experience, and at certain levels you want that, but you know, kind of attitude beats experience in my in my experience, in my experience, it's wrong. Yeah, how I am curious how you are there questions or things you find helpful and trying to find that right attitude, because it's it's a very different thing than like it's easy and an interview to go, oh, let me look at the resume. Have you done the thing I'm asking you to do before for three to five years? And then like that seems like a pretty good bar. And hiring prattitudes like a different kind of process that you're how you find that to hard? Do you have any tips on how to find attitude in the employees as you're looking at it up? I mean, if I had the golden ticket to that, I'd probably be a lot working right now. But other than that, I mean, I think we um, we look at you know, it's funny because these I t M s we have to hire for special skills for that. I mean, you really to be able to have that interactive conversation and for that person to think that you're really interested in talking to them, you have to add that skill. And so what we did is for even our in house tellers, they had to apply to be interactive to our even though we're going to all transition to that, at some point we hired, you know, we interviewed out for that, and we they had to interview through this through this kind of medium. Yes, they had to interview through a zoom meeting they had to get on there. We gave them some different stuff that would kind of distract them during the interview. Um and so just kind of thing many instant messaging them in the middle of the interview to see how they gave us some crossword puzzles that they had to do. We gave him a couple of different things. Yeah, just some kind of we have a very interesting training team. They come up with some really really good ideas, but they really had to be able to bring that excitement. And I mean, these people are going to be the ambassadors for this program, right, We're not going to be you know, we're just making some of the decisions. They're going to be the ones that are presently to our members and they have to get them excited. And so yeah, so I think just really seeing that, I mean, we can teach people our processes, right, I mean, we could see each time how to how to do our programs and what we teach at a CFCU and different things, but I can't teach you to be a very you know they say that sometimes people have that charisma or they have that thing, you know that draws people into them. I think personality personal is something that either you can learn. But I think you see that and that's something that you know, we've really just kind of trying to get as much people. You know, different people do interviews looking at it thinking the givular ideas. I mean, that's real realities. I mean, that's fast. I'm glad I didn't have to interview there because I struggle with the crossbord without trying to do an interview at the same time. Yeah, I'm glad I didn't have these believe me. Yeah that sounds hard. Let me ask you a slightly different take on it, which is, you know, you talked about what you really get being a crapshoot, and that is also a large part of my experience. It's like, you don't you do your best to screen and ultimately not everybody is is what you thought they would be. And there's kind of two schools of thought on this. I find. One...

...is like, you know, when you've got an employee that's not working out the way you thought that, you train and move around and find a role, and the others like, you know, if you accept that that's true, you need to get good at hiring and you need to get good at you know, letting people um, go that aren't that aren't working out the way you thought, because you can end up just holding on people for I'm curious your thought on how you manage that employee that comes into like isn't exactly what you thought, and how you deal with that, you know, particularly Silicon Valley, I hear all sorts of different like higher fast, fire fast is one of the phrases I've heard. I'm not sure I love that one. But how do you think about dealing with that reality that like as as well as you can do during the interviews, at some point you're gonna say, hey, this is not what we thought, um and we need to do something to maintain the level of service we want for our customers. We've got to make a change here. How do you think about managing that part of the process, not part of the experience of hiring a great team. Oh, it's crucial. It's funny you would say that, because I mean, we have really worked that into the way we do things are out here in the last few years too. I mean getting out of the whole thing of you know, doing things because we used to do in that way, or keeping people on staff because they've always worked here. And try to figure out places. But we're all about finding that right seat on the bus if there's a lot of seat that that person fits in. And we've thought about it, we've talked about it. We've had two such discussions with them. Yeah, it's time. I mean, my CEO said that, you know, he'll help you find a new address. I mean, because you know, you've got to like what you do, okay, and it goes both ways. You know, on my linked In profile, I have the thing that's on my vision on my linked In profiles, do what you love. And I totally believe that because if you're not doing what you love, it is going to come through everything you do. And so if that person is not being able to be on that right seat at the bus, having that right vision of mind thanking, if they're not moving forward. We always say, if you guys aren't on this bus, or you're not on, you're gonna be left behind. And that's just the way it's gonna be. And so we've had to make of really hard decisions over the last few years. We've had to kind of let people go that we just knew that they weren't going on the same track as us. Yeah, it's Fascinatingly as around the the comparison, a lot of people compare their companies to family. Want to feel like a family, and they say it's a terrible analogy because like you can't you know, you're you're crazy on is you're crazy on or your crazy uncle, and like you know, you don't get a fire them because they're not a fit. And the analogy I've heard, I'm curious you're take on this is more like a high performing sports team, like if there's a better person to play starting picture for the Dodgers of an L, I guess I think, you know, like if there's a better picture, then it's like it's the general manager's duty to go find that person, to put them in the spot and make the team the best they can know the specific duty to the individuals, you have a duty to the organization of the team. And I think setting that expectation is really important because when you tell people it's like a family that then they feel hurt when you're like, hey, you don't really fit in here, Like yeah, I can't tell my kids that not that, but like you know, that would be hurtful. So I feel like setting that expectation and finding the right verbiage for how we even talk about the roles we play and what kind of organization want to be is really critical to setting the expectations that like, yeah, you gotta you kind of gotta earn your spot every year. You kind of gotta keep earning it right if you're not. That's very true, and in fact, I mean I've had to have discussions with certain employees that I really want them to be on that. I want them to be on the same wavelength with that too. I want them to be able to see it. I mean, sometimes it doesn't always go that way. We have to kind of help them see it, but I want them to visual if I'm going to be a good leader, I think I could kind of coach them into realizing that they're really loud in the right seat, and eventually they're you know, they've come back to me and said, you know, thanks for showing me that because I really wasn't I was a little the right place. And even people who have actually left the Credit Union, you know, if if they get somewhere where they're in a better place, I'm happy for you know. Yeah, that's a great point that like as much as it's uncomfortable as a leader to have people who under performing, it's equally uncomfortable to be an underperformer because like you know it.

I mean, it's not like you don't know You're around the team going. I know, I'm not the strongest player here, and that doesn't feel great either, And sometimes a better fit can can change that dynamic for the individual and for the for the better for them, you know. If that's not necessarily how that conversation is perceived on day one, but it's uh, yeah, everybody, what's the best piece of career advice you've ever gotten? Listen to my gut because a lot of times I have found that my gut is right and I don't listen to it, and a year down the road, I wish I would have. And I know that that's very cliche, you know, but it really is that I have failed that a lot of times my instincts are right, and so as old as I am, I think I should just keep going with that. Listen to you. I like that it is true that sometimes we get so caught up in thinking about you know you. You kind of like this happened to me. It worked really recently where I was like, this is clearly the answer the question, and people started debating with me sort of like making this overly complicated thing, and it come bax to me like isn't this the answer? I went no, that was my initial reaction. I don't know why I gave up obviously, like that's like the thing. And sometimes you get caught up in the little edges and the what about this and what about that? And sometimes you just kind of like we make it too hard on ourselves. We always trust seem to make it too hard. Trust the gun, all right, that the person is good. Second questions, what's the best piece of advice you've gotten or or give people about the general consumer banking, consumer lending space. I would just have to say, be honest with yourself and know what you want to go for It seems like a second set of good career advice to be honest with yourself, know what you want, and go for it. Can you give me an example that or or when that? What makes you think of that? Because we have a lot of people right now that are we have a lot of low opportunities that are covered about right now with our organization transforming the way it is and we're openly loved blue positions, and we're openly love different things. Just almost weekly, it seems like we're forming new positions and people who made a lot of I mean, at one point of my career, my CEO want it be to be the collections manager. I would have never thought that I could be in collections. Okay, I was over collections like twelve years and I ended up being a pretty successful in that position. But I think sometimes people are our training compliance person, she would have never thought that, and now she's in her dream role because our CEO said, you know what I see that you and it starts you to to really think about it, and literally you think maybe I could do that, you know. And so if anybody has ever told you that they see something that you think about it. The other thing I take away from your story that I love is I think the best opportunities often feel all of my best opportunities allpen it this way. They've always felt like a little bit like I don't know if I'm ready for that, you know, like they felt a little outside the comfort zone. But sometimes the best ones they don't. They don't feel comfortable. And if you're always in the comfort zone, you're probably not reaching for the thing that could really take you to the next the next place. Uh. And so I think a lot of people see that thing, they covered zone, and they back away and they go, hey, I'm not I'm not comfortable that not. I don't know. I just tell you, like everybody that you look up to felt that way at some point. So feel that way, snack up, lean in because if if someone else sees it in you, you ought to take a step back and see if it's if you can see it in yourself and take that leap. That's perfect. Yep, I agree. I love it. And my last last one is the hardest, so I apologize for that. But it is very general, which is what's one bold prediction for the future can be about, you know, this space in general. I've had everything from super Bowl predictions to drones in agricultural underwriting for loans, which was an interesting one, but just anything that's you know, I'm just trying to open the doors for areas of one bold prediction. I mean a bold prediction for like us is that we're gonna be like the Credit Ilarillo because we're coming up with these lee technologies that nobody here does and let everybody's going to accept it and it's gonna be this huge revolution and we're gonna be where we already feel like we are number one.

So I love that. That's a great poll prediction. I hope you're telling that to the team all the time, as they kind of thing people love to hear. And I agree with the you know, I think there's I think there are financial institutions that are waiting to see what wins, and there are those who are out there trying to define it. And I think there's a lot of opportunity for those who are willing to define what the future looks like to to really take a leadership position um in a way that I you know, being a followers I don't think it to play as well as being a leader right now. So I love that at the ambition of that, and that's I think a great place to end it. So, Cheryl, I appreciate your coming on and sharing your thoughts and perspectives. This was a great conversation. I appreciate it. I've really enjoyed it. Thanks so much. Up Start 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 too. Up Starts AI lending platform uses sophisticated machine learning models to more accurately identify risk and approve more applicants than traditional credit models. With fraud rates near zero, up Starts 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 end to 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 decision ing process, and growing your business by visiting upstart dot com Slash four dash Banks. That's upstart dot com Slash four dash Banks. You've been listening to Leaders in Lending from Upstart, make sure you never miss an episode. Subscribe to Leaders and Lending in your favorite podcast player using Apple podcasts 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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