Birthday Complainers, Next Gen Hires and Hungry AI

Boston Tradeshow Takeaways

What are the bankers and financial futurists talking about this summer?

Earlier this month, attended two conferences in Boston – Future Branches and CXFS/NGCX. Attendees and vendors alike were excited to get back in person to discuss (read: vent and commiserate about) what we’ve professionally endured, adapted to, and have yet to do after these last ~900 days. Over the course of these two tradeshows, there were some common threads that stood out to us.

During the keynotes, panels, and breakouts, some sincere stories were shared – including AHA! moments in HR and outside-the-box thinking on AI.’s Co-Founder and CAO, Mark Ryan, also had some great conversations onstage with the other speakers. Here is the tech-related tea we collected from our business trip to Boston. 

On the Dangers of Personalized Messaging 

One message does not fit all.

There were some great general sessions and panels about employee engagement during CXFS/NGCX, and one of them included the CMO of a very large credit union. During the pandemic, Pam Piligian of Navy FCU, set out to be more intentional about employee recognition, so the marketing team started sending an email whenever a birthday came around. For most employees the message was welcomed, but there were also “Birthday Complainers.” Pam’s team found that those who reacted adversely to a Happy Birthday email were highly risk averse. The message came across as a security threat, demonstrating that the personal touch can sometimes miss its mark – but can also improve over time with more data and analysis.   

Hiring the Next Gen of Fintech Pros 

Several open discussions at the conferences focused on how HR managers were measuring up against the Great Resignation.  Many felt it was an uphill battle.

“You shouldn’t tell people not to leave to double their salary, so stop doing that.” Nationwide’s Amy Shore joked during a panel. Key employees were leaving for a lot of money without having to move, so retention methods such as “stay interviews” and “boomerang hires” started trending. 
Rich Dorfman of Eastern Bank offered a quantitative perspective. “During the pandemic, leadership leaned into employee engagement, measuring stats by asking questions like ‘Do you prefer to work onsite or remotely?’ every so often. Although they all have different reasons, 94% in the last cycle wanted to be mostly remote.”

“These days, I feel like I am the one being interviewed; it’s a candidate’s market.” Alex Misiaszek – Truist 
A large-sized bank is now competing with companies like Meta, Amazon, and Google for candidates who can lead projects for ‘bot training, data analysis, intense utterances, Gui design, and managing multi-modal services (such as keyboard, voice assistance, chatbots, etc.).

There’s also been renewed investment in training for existing staff.  
One panelist volunteered that he’d shifted his entire budget to training, citing the old exchange “What if we train them and they leave? Well, what if we don’t, and they stay?” 

That AHA! Moment – Show Some Humanity 

While some executives were implementing biodegradable debit cards, and hosting ice cream socials and BBQ cookouts to attract customers, one panelist’s biggest “Aha!” moment during the pandemic came when management and employees began to focus on mutual respect by culture building, encouraging human contact, and celebrating wins together. Once everyone felt that they were operating in such an environment, employee (and management) satisfaction went up. 

AI is Eating the World 

AI is eating the world. To us, it’s not a question of if, but when.  

At both conferences, there were questions about audience segmentation including how to build a digital strategy to be flexible to age groups, lifestyles, and personal preferences. Our answer is to offer a digital experience with an adaptive, personalized touch.  
Mark Ryan, Chief Analytics Officer at made the case for AI-augmented customer service and real-time data feeds as the way to deliver the credit union “touch” to digital channels.  According to Ryan and early adopters of the platform, investing in these tools pays for itself in six months. 

Parting Thoughts 

At both conferences, there was a prevailing strong sense of renewed and now constant urgency to stay ahead of the technology curve. The SVP of Customer Experience at a mid-sized Midwestern Bank expressed it thus: “Be alert, we can’t afford to wait and see anymore. You can’t close on revenue; you have to reinvest.”  

This challenge has always been a part of banking, but it has intensified of late. There is a sense that new technology will change the game for some, but the question of who will embrace it is still unanswered.  

To summarize, when connecting with a customer or engaging with an employee, if you act with mutual respect, you can combine people and technology to create personalized experiences – without getting too personal. 
For more information about how provides segment-of-one user experiences, contact us for a demo.