A whole different conversation: Wells Fargo’s head of wholesale Internet solutions, Secil Watson, believes that while the “magic” of fintech is in new customer interfaces, that’s just the tip of an iceberg. What lies beneath the surface are all the cultural and technological changes required inside an organization to facilitate that. “The large-dollar investments in culture change, process change, tools change, system change happens in the back end, so the investment needs to go to the bottom of the pyramid,” Watson said. By making those changes, banks can improve the customer conversation instead of merely offering a prettier interface. “We can say things like, ‘Hey, based on what we know about you, we would pre-qualify you for a home equity line of credit of this much; give us two more pieces of information or consent for us to get that information and we’ll put together a deal for you, and it’s up to you to take it or not.’ It’s different than what we currently do, where we say ‘Apply now!’ and then we’re like, ‘Who are you? What do you do?’”

Secil Watson, Wells Fargo's head of wholesale Internet solutions.
Secil Watson, Wells Fargo's head of wholesale Internet solutions.

Trends in business banking: Technology is having as much impact on business banking as it is on consumer banking. For example, mobile is becoming a more important channel for business customers, and in response Bank of America upgraded its app this year to let small business customers apply for loan. “It’s important that we’re giving clients the opportunity to bank how they want, where they want, when they want,” said B of A head of small business banking Sharon Miller. At the same time, artificial intelligence and other data analyzing and processing technology is allowing banks to make faster but equally (if not more) considered decisions. “In the past, it could take weeks if not over a month for decisioning, and we’ve taken that down to near real-time decisioning,” said Julie Kimmerling, head of Chase Business Quick Capital and a senior manager on the business banking strategy and business development team. “They don’t have to submit any additional documentation.” Banks also are shifting the focus from transactions to customers as people, maintaining engagement before and after the actual transaction and offering financial literacy tools. “We call people that get declined and walk them through what happened, why they got declined and what they need to do to get approved,” said Lisa Stevens, Wells Fargo’s president of regional banking for the western region. “When small business owners get declined for a line of credit or loan, they often don’t know why.”

Here comes Zelle: The bank-powered P-to-P app Zelle has launched a multimillion-dollar marketing campaign targeting consumers between 18 and 54. “The competition is cash and check,” said Rose Corvo, chief administrative officer at Early Warning. “We’re helping consumers understand that there’s an alternative that’s fast, safe and easy.” Zelle is now featured in digital ads, including banners, audio and video segments, and paid placements on Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram; as well as on Hulu, Vevo, Buzzfeed, Vox, YouTube and Pandora.

Warning: There’s been a shift in feminism from women’s individual power to their collective power, writes Ellevest Chief Executive Sallie Krawcheck. “In 2017, women are over it. We’re over playing by the rules that clearly never worked for most of us,” writes Krawcheck, referring to the myriad of ways women are told they need to behave in order to succeed — being empowered, leaning in, defining their worth. “What we were doing simply wasn’t effective.” Now women are showing strength in numbers by speaking out and supporting other women. She cites as an example the downfall of former movie studio chairman Harvey Weinstein after women went public with their stories of sexual harassment. There are hundreds of women in history whose stories have been silenced — as recent as the goings on inside Uber — but this new collective will bring an end to such isolation and control, in Krawcheck’s view. “If you sexually harass women, your time is up,” she warns.

Battle ready: Community bank executives gathered in Washington this week to discuss regulatory issues at an American Bankers’ Association meeting. At least seven bankers, including Cheryl Sorensen, chief operations officer at Ireland Bank, shared concerns about partisan gridlock in Congress that is keeping community banks from getting any relief from what they consider to be unduly burdensome regulation. “We face the same challenges as the mom-and-pop shops do in the communities we’re in,” Sorensen said. “They’re fighting the Walmarts of the world and the Amazons on the internet.”

Time to get serious: Even as women make up an increasing share of potential clients in the private wealth sector, only a small percentage of financial institutions are reaching out to them, D. Bryan Jordan, the chairman, president and CEO of First Horizon, writes in an op-ed.

Role call

Bank of the West has named Beth Hale head of product and payment solutions in its retail banking group. Hale has worked at Bank of the West for four years in various roles, most recently as chief administrative officer within the consumer banking division. One of her initiatives helped Bank of the West earn a Top Team award this year as part of the Most Powerful Women program.

Beth Hale, head of product and payments solutions in Bank of the West's retail banking group.
Beth Hale, head of product and payments solutions in Bank of the West's retail banking group.

Beyond banking

Platform for greater good: The 23 contestants of the Miss Peru beauty pageant Sunday used the competition to spotlight the issue of violence against women in their country. During the portion of the contest in which they would normally step forward and recite their bust, waist and hip measurements, they instead offered statistics about violence. “My name is Karen Cueto and I represent Lima and my measurements are: 82 femicides and 156 attempted femicides so far this year,” Cueto said. “Greetings from Almendra Marroquin. I represent Cañete, and my measurements are: more than 25% of girls and teenagers are abused in their schools,” another said. Romina Lozano declared that “3,114 female victims of trafficking have been registered since 2014.” The competition concluded by asking each woman what laws they would change to combat violence against women.

Advice from Michelle: One reason men tend to be entitled and self-righteous is the women that raise them are perhaps too protective, according to former First Lady Michelle Obama. The onus is partly on mothers, who tend to nurture boys and pressure girls to be perfect. “It’s like the problem in the world today is we love our boys and we raise our girls,” she said this week at the Obama Foundation Summit in Chicago. Children should be raised to be independent, well-meaning, kind and compassionate — regardless of their gender, their background and what they have ahead of them, Obama said.

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Tina Snieder contributed to this report.

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