How Wells Fargo Is Reaching The Digital Customer by Knowledge@Wharton
Wells Fargo CMO Jamie Moldafsky talks about digital transformation
Banks today are seeing their businesses disrupted by fintech – startups offering mobile payments, loans, virtual currencies and the like. To compete with digital startups and meet the heightened expectations of customers who want 24/7 access, engagement and security, Wells Fargo is actively bridging the gap between its cyber and physical operations. Jamie Moldafsky, the bank’s chief marketing officer, spoke about the company’s digital efforts on the Knowledge@Wharton show on Wharton Business Radio, which aired on SiriusXM channel 111.
She said the bank is changing to meet the needs of the digital customer, such as rethinking its marketing approach from straight-out selling to customer engagement. Wells Fargo also is interested in using biometrics tools like retina scanning to boost the security of customer information.
[drizzle]An edited transcript of the conversation appears below.
Knowledge@Wharton: What’s the most amazing thing for you in the banking sector right now?
Jamie Moldafsky: It’s astounding when you think about historically what a very paper-based business banking used to be, and today you don’t even say checkbook to a millennial because they don’t know what that is. We still produce checks because grandma still sends a check to her grandson or her granddaughter that has to get deposited. But all of our branches and all of our systems are digitized now. It’s been a real focus of ours, not just because it’s more efficient but because it’s really more effective in dealing with customers who expect it to be immediate and easy. That’s certainly one of the biggest changes. The other is the challenges from a regulatory standpoint that require us to do what we want to do anyway, which is be on the side of the customer and do the right things. But that level of scrutiny certainly is significantly higher than it had been in the past.
Knowledge@Wharton: When many consumers think about the banking industry, that view is still probably not as good as you would like it to be. Is that a main point you have to think about?
Moldafsky: Absolutely, because trust is so core to what we do. If you’re going to entrust a company with your money and trust that it’s going to be there when you need it and that it’s going to grow as much as you need it to, that’s really important. Trust is the underpinning of that. We spend a lot of time letting our customers know that we’re on their side and helping them be smarter and more in control of their own financial futures so that they can do the things that they want to do. But you’re right, trust was really eroded. We enjoy probably the highest trust of the large banks but nowhere near the trust levels of a Google or an Amazon or some of the other institutions that really set that bar.
Knowledge@Wharton: How do you build that trust from where it is now?
Moldafsky: For us, a lot of it is about our culture. We have a very strong culture around doing the right thing, putting the customer at the center of everything we do. It’s making that more visible. A lot of the work we’re doing is to show our customers the things that we’re doing to help them and to be as transparent as we can be. I think transparency is at the core of it. Certainly, the digital revolution has enabled that, which is people feel like they can and should be able to see everything every minute of the day if they want to. Our job is to give them access to alerts or anything that helps them know where they stand. That’s something that’s going to both engender trust and make their lives better.
“We enjoy probably the highest trust of the large banks but nowhere near the trust levels of a Google or an Amazon.”
Knowledge@Wharton: But that also means banking institutions have to make a huge investment in the security around all of these systems.
Moldafsky: Because people do entrust us with their financial future, job No. 1 today is around security and cyber security. We certainly have doubled and tripled down on that. We’ve been around 160-plus years. I think we’re known for being judicious and prudent with our customers’ trust in us, so we spend a lot of money on that.
The other thing that’s really important is we’re also trying to innovate around what’s the most secure, convenient way for people to validate and verify who they are. Biometrics is becoming an increasingly big part of what we do, so the days of having to recite all those different passwords and remember what your third transaction was last Tuesday are probably going to go away.
Ultimately, many would like us to do facial recognition or voice recognition or retina scanning or fingerprint scanning. All of those are viable options. Any two of those in combination provide an incredibly high level of security but also make so much more sense for us to say, “We know you. You don’t have to give us numbers. We actually know you.” It’s better for everybody because it is more secure, faster and easier. Over 40% of our employees, or team members as we call them, are millennials. The way we do business is not only how our customers want us to do business but how our team members want us to do business.
Knowledge@Wharton: What about the mobile payment platform that is engulfing what we do? Do the banks want to get into this realm more and just not leave it to Apple or Google or any of those companies to do it?
Moldafsky: Yes, and I think Wells Fargo is a great example where, we play with everybody. We’ll support everybody because we’ll support our customers and be where our customers want us to be.
If they want Samsung Pay or Google Pay or Android Pay, we’ll be there for them. But at the same time we feel that people don’t necessarily want to have all of those different platforms and is there a way that those can come together that’s simpler and easier for our customer?
We are working on our own solutions because we do believe that having all of the ecosystem of your financial life — whether it’s deposits or loans and a mortgage – [and bring those] together with your payments actually makes things a lot better and a lot easier. Today, they’re sort of being forced by all these different players to keep all that separate. We do believe there’s a great opportunity to bring that together in a better way in the future.
“Biometrics is becoming an increasingly big part of what we do.”
Knowledge@Wharton: One of the things that we’ve talked a lot about has been the gender inequality issue. As a woman in the C-suite with a major bank, how do you view the problem and correction over the next 20 years or so?
Moldafsky: I’m proud to say Wells has, I believe, the most diverse board in the Fortune 500. We have an extremely diverse board that we’ve put together very consciously. We believe that because we serve everybody, we