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FinTEx Forum Recap: Corporate Innovators Get Real

In discussions about fintech, the topic is often framed as a confrontation between established, old-school incumbents and emerging, disruptive start-ups, so it was fitting that FinTEx Forum kicked off with a panel that examined the intersections and conflicts between the old and new. In a session titled “Corporate Innovators Get Real” the panel detailed the factors that lead to fintech success and how to best apply them whether within an incumbent leader or an emerging startup.

The panel was moderated by Randy Rivera of Keen Advisors and featured Maven Wave’s Andrew Dunmore, John Fisher of Northern Trust, National Equity Fund’s Matt Reilein and Elizabeth Spenko from Northern Trust. In a lively and informative hour, the panelists detailed the methods and principles that they apply in order to achieve success.

Reilein brought an interesting perspective between his corporate past at JP Morgan and future at the National Equity Fund, where he ascends to the CEO role in June 2019. At JPM, he learned early on to orient his projects toward one of three metrics: lowering risk, increasing operational efficiency, or enhancing the customer experience. This ensured that he both had his projects funded and delivered meaningful value for the bank. Such simple and direct metrics are far too easy to overlook.

Fisher and Spenko revealed a breadth and depth of experience with customer-centric, technology-driven innovation that might not be expected at a seemingly conservative and risk-averse institution like Northern Trust. Perception doesn’t match reality, however, as Northern Trust has made significant investments in emerging technologies and cutting-edge best practices. Both Fisher and Spenko have impressive resumes – with a long stint for Spenko at IDEO and VSA Partners for Fisher – and are driving change from within. This isn’t as much of a stretch as it may appear as Northern Trust has always been focused on superior customer interactions and the application of new approaches is driven by this metric. Spenko noted that the chief IT risk officer is a big advocate for their efforts and Fisher commented focusing on issues as opportunities instead of problems drives them to deliver real value for both the customer and the business.

A third perspective came from Maven Wave’s own Andrew Dunmore. As service providers, Maven Wave is only successful when a strong partnership is developed and fostered. There are several important factors that enable success, including buy-in and active support from management, deliberate inclusion of all important stakeholders including security and infrastructure from the inception of the engagement, and finding a manageable vertical slice that can deliver measurable value to the business in a short time frame. From there, the rigorous application of agile principles will lead to expanding positive results with an increasing cadence. Success begets success.

Rivera had the final word as he distilled key takeaways from the panel. He noted the importance of buy-in to drive progress, a focus on de-risking with protection driving the change engine, and a culture of collaboration and partnership as central to helping grow and expand success.

FinTEx has been instrumental in helping to establish Chicago and the Midwest as a cradle of fintech innovation and FinTEx Forum is yet another example of how this non-profit is helping to grow that culture of innovation and success. Maven Wave was honored to be a part of this great event!

About the Author

Chuck Mackie
Chuck Mackie is a consultant with Maven Wave focusing on creating cutting-edge content and thought leadership articles in the areas of financial services, healthcare, and technology. He joined Maven Wave in 2010 and prior work experiences include stints at IntercontinentalExchange (ICE), Trading Technologies, and the CME Group. He has a Masters degree in marketing from Kellogg/Northwestern and a BA in Economics and Humanities from Coe College.
May 16th, 2019

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