This is the first of a two-part installment from Q2’s Industry Insights Executive Perspective series with First United Bank. Q2 Chief Strategy Officer Will Furrer sat down with two of the bank’s leaders at their company headquarters in Durant, Oklahoma. Established in 1900, First United Bank operates more than 85 banks, mortgage and insurance locations throughout Oklahoma and Texas. Its assets exceed $12 billion.
Furrer talks with CEO and Chairman Greg Massey and learns about the bank’s purpose-driven mindset, Spend Life Wisely®, and the importance of data and the role of technology in banking.
What follows is a transcript of the first conversation, with Greg Massey, edited for flow and conciseness:
Will Furrer (WF): Thanks for being with us, Greg. So, when you think about First United Bank, and you think about how you are a purpose-built organization, can you share with us some of that purpose and some of those pillars?
Greg Massey (GM) Absolutely. As we continue to watch what's going on in the financial service industry, I wonder if we really realize how fast technology is changing our industry. Are we actually moving fast enough? That's my fear-base equation of our industry, along with wondering if we’re focused enough on the customer experience, what experience they really want and how do we actually serve them in a better way.
Today, we see – especially the mid-size banks, and this is our space – they seem to be more focused on mergers and acquisitions than the customer experience. For us, we continue to focus on the customer. When we talk about our purpose and intention of being in business and how to actually have a higher purpose.
We talk about, how do we inspire and empower stakeholders and customers to Spend Life Wisely®. How do we allow our communities to spend life wisely? How do we allow our partners, like you guys, to spend life wisely, and what does that look like? Our belief is, if we can actually focus on the experience of our employees and customers, we can actually change the behaviors of our community.
WF: That's really great. And when you think about some of the pillars, in Spending Life Wisely®, do you mind unpacking a few of those pillars? Because I think they're really meaningful and I know that they inform your strategy.
GM: So, I'll tell you a story: When we actually started Spend Life Wisely®, being a financial institution, we were really focused on the financial well-being of our customers and creating a customer base that has great financial well-being. Internally, faith was a big part of our company from day one. Personal growth also became a big deal as we started growing the company, and just our own physical and mental well-being. Internally, I had a Board member say, ‘Greg, if we're really a stakeholder company, why would you not give that to all of your stakeholders?’ That's why Spend Life Wisely® includes each of these areas as our four pillars (faith, financial well-being, health and wellness and personal growth).
WF: Can you speak to the role that technology is actually playing in the industry, and how that is accelerating?
GM: So, I'll start out with toilet paper. People today, they go online and order their toilet paper and it shows up at their house. Who would've imagined that 20 years ago? Growing up, we all went to the store to buy whatever we needed. Now, the store comes to us. I think financial services is the same thing. I think the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) actually forced the issue faster because everybody was remote, and we had to figure out a remote solution to allow people to answer questions like, how do I apply? How do I get my money?
As an organization, we did about $1 billion of PPP loans, which was a significant amount for our size, and it had a huge impact in our communities and for our customers, but we had to move fast. So, from an organizational skill perspective, we really learned this thing of speed. We had a deadline, a tight deadline. We had to get it up and running.
We were one of the first banks in the United States that was able to get those out, which was very important for our customers. The shift we're seeing now is, how consumers want things to be delivered. It might be financial services, it might be toilet paper, but they want it delivered in a different way.
WF: When you think about how you plan for the future from a technology standpoint, where are you going to be spending the vast majority of your time when you think about changing the experience and offering more services digitally?
GM: We think the customer-facing technology has to be able to do everything that someone could historically do in our lobby. That could be getting a mortgage line, a consumer loan, a business line or an advance on that business line. For all these things, we ask, how would we do it with a technology solution? How do we make it easier?
Data is a big part of this as well. We know so much about our customers from a data perspective, so if you've been a customer here for 20 years, why do we still need an application (for new services) from you? We know everything there is to know about you. We just need to say yes, no or maybe, and figure out how to actually do that. It's really interesting when we take that data and ask, how do we actually improve your financial health and how do we actually help you with that journey?
WF: I think that's really what the next frontier is going to be all about, at least with our technology roadmap as well. When you think about how Q2 has been as a partner, and you think about how you’ve grown as a business, with some M&A folded into other organic growth, could you tell the story about how you partnered with Q2? Also, how you made an acquisition and moved some of those customers to a non-Q2 platform, and then moved them back to Q2?
GM: So, we actually acquired a bank in Dallas five years ago, and their customers were on the Q2 platform. During that time, with the platform we had, we were not able to use the Q2 platform, so we ended up pushing their customers over to the platform we had. A year or so later, we were able to work out the solutions with Q2 and moved everybody back onto the Q2 platform, which has been great for our customers.
WF: As you think about the ability to continue to do M&A, selectively and strategically, does it feel like the Q2 solution puts you in a position to actually maximize those acquisitions, because of the technology platform?
GM: Yes. What I like about Q2 is you continue to innovate and continue to focus on the customer experience, just as we are. You’re a good partner to really be creative and thoughtful and say, okay, what does that customer experience need to look like in the future? Here we are today and that's only one spot in the road, and we’ve got a lot further to go.
If we continue to focus, together with Q2, on elevating the customer experience, then it could be a company acquisition or even just another customer acquisition. My dream is, it doesn't matter how that customer ends up being online with us, we have to improve their financial health and their financial well-being.
WF: And when you think about the future, from a technology investment standpoint, do you feel like you’ll continue spending the same amount on technology, or will your technology investment accelerate?
GM: I think it's a 10x deal. I really do. I think what we spent in the past is not even close to what we're going to have to spend in the future. And that's what we're spending on the actual technology, the people running the technology, how we administer the technology, and the learning from the technology. It’s a broad word, right?
Take data, for instance. What can we learn from our data? Data science going to be a huge area for our organization, long term. Then you take that data and say, okay, now what do we do with that? Then, how do we inform and educate our customers to improve their financial health? And then, how do we actually make it easy for them to improve their financial health by maybe opening a savings account or maybe a mutual fund, or retirement fund, or maybe creating a will or trust? How do we actually inform and educate customers from the data we have all the way to the end where we actually create a solution for that customer? We use technology all the way through that roadmap.
WF: That means a change in the culture. It means a change in the talent. It means a change in how the bank and those that work here think about success, think about failure, think about testing. All of those things. You're going to have to change a lot.
GM: If you think about key performance indicators (KPIs) used by other industries, we have a different set of KPIs called key purpose indicators. We’re always asking, are we really having a big impact? For instance, we know the number one reason for divorce in this country is finances. If we're doing our job, divorce rates in our communities are going to go down. Saving rates are going to go up. Credit scores are going to go up. The amount of debt people actually hold is going to go down.
We're not only tracking that from a community perspective, but also from the individual customer perspective. And then, we're making sure those things actually happen through the system, but we’ve got to allow technology to help us move that along in a faster way.
WF: That's really great. I really appreciate you spending a few minutes with us to talk about the industry, the bank, your purpose and the role that technology is going to play.
Read part two of this interview next week. For more information on Q2, visit Q2.com.