As part of Banking Transformation Week 2020, Jane Barratt, Chief Advocacy Officer at MX, led a panel featuring:


Liz Wolverton, Chief Strategy and Customer Experience Officer at Synovus Bank, shares that she hasn’t seen anything like the past few weeks during her entire career. “The velocity at which things are changing is unprecedented,” she says. She adds that her bank has adopted a “get-it-done mentality” and had to convert all their branches to drive-thru only in a 48-hour time period, which required new messaging, new signs, new training, new schedules, and much more. “Our focus has been in three areas: teams, customers, and community,” Wolverton says. “Our customers are saying, ‘I need you to be here. I need access to my funds.’ So we’re taking our communication streams very seriously.”


Josh Rowland, CEO at Lead Bank in Kansas City echoes Liz Wolverton’s concern for the customer. He says, “Because we’re a community bank, we have a lot of pride in the personal relationships we have with our customers. We’ve prioritized connecting with those customers.” He adds, “At its heart, this is about a human relationship.” To deepen the relationship with these customers now, they’re making use of digital chat and video conferencing. “We want to make sure they see our faces and hear our voices during this time.”


And Ramona Ortega, Founder & CEO at My Money, My Future, says, “The silver lining in all of this for us is that there’s an increased interest in personal finance and interest rates.” Her company is using digital channels to offer advice. “We help people — particularly millennials — know how to manage their money, how to find answers to their questions. We’re using all of our social media channels to do that.”


[Read the MX resource library on Covid-19]


This webinar aired on March 25th, 2020. See the full transcript, with highlights in bold below.


Jane Barratt:

Hi all, and welcome to Banking Transformation Week. I am Jane Barratt, Chief Advocacy Officer at MX. I’m thrilled to be joined by a panel of experts: Josh Rowland, President of Lead Bank in Kansas City; Liz Wolverton, Chief Strategy and Customer Experience Officer at Synovus; and Ramona Ortega, the CEO of My Money, My Future a fintech platform for millennials of color.


Welcome all.


Liz Wolverton:

Thanks. Glad to be here.


Jane Barratt:

It is kind of an extraordinary time for us to be together. It's an extraordinary time for the economy. It's an extraordinary time for the financial services industry. Really appreciate your thoughts today. Just so you know, and the audience knows, we're going to be talking amongst ourselves for about 20, 25 minutes and then opening it up to questions. So first question from me and Liz, I'm going to direct this to you. How has your organization rallied in the past few weeks to meet the needs of customers, especially those customers who maybe hadn't been digitally engaged previously?


Liz Wolverton:

Oh, we were talking earlier, Jane, I think the word rally is extremely appropriate because that's really all we could do, right? The velocity of which things changed, situations changed on a daily basis was something I've never seen. I mean, I've been in banking for almost two decades and through the crisis. And so you've seen tough times, but the velocity at which things have been changing is just unprecedented. So I think banks in general haven't adopted agility and I would say this is an acceleration of that. So from a rallying standpoint, I would say from the top down, making the decisions fast then forming SWAT teams at lower levels, territories, sort of territorial positions kind of evaporating away and just kind of having a get it done mentality.


So the rallying has been inspiring from a team standpoint, but how that really affected the customers within 48 hours after making a decision for the safety of our key members and customers to go to drive through only, we converted almost all of our 300 branches to drive through only over five states, which is a massive undertaking. When you think about the fact that that's just not a tactical switch. That's communicating it to customers, getting signage up, making sure that the services that weren't really operationalized at the window could be done at the windows. So that's a massive move in itself, but then making decisions to enable at home banking easier. So whether that's increasing deposit limits for remote deposits or increasing ATM capabilities, all of that stuff that if you think about normal circumstances, you put in a queue and it takes a long time, happened within 48 hours.


So it's been pretty amazing to see what the team has done. But what I would say is even more impressive is that our focus has been on three areas really, teams, customers and then community. So making the process and policy changes to allow team members to work remotely and the technology capabilities and functionality that had to do with that as well as putting the policies in place to make team members feel safe. Whether that is if you don't come to work, we still are going to get you paid or if you do come to work, we're going to make sure that we enable you to take care of the things at home through extra compensation. So it's mind blowing to think about all that happening within a very short span of time. I really hope we embrace and adopt this as a strategy officer from here forward.



Jane Barratt:

It is a great shift, but it's interesting that you raised that because so many of the things that we focus on everyday are sort of rational and logistics and managing process. But you also have to accommodate for real, like fear and emotion. And at the end of the day, that's what people are worried about. Do I have a job? Am I going to get paid? So that's great to hear you address that from both sides. So, Josh, what about you from a Kansas city perspective, what are you seeing in terms of your team rallying?


Josh Rowland:

Well, because we're a community bank, we have a lot of pride in the personal relationships that we have with our customers. As I say that, there's another transformation that's happened in our bank over the last couple of years. So with our local customers and going to drive through, what we've been able to do is just prioritize the ongoing communication that we have with them. And make calls and make sure that what they see is that the faces, literally the faces of the people that they've depended on to create their banking relationships are still there for them. So what we try to make sure is happening is that we're enabling people to see each other and to hear each other's voices and to be able to project that the relationship is strong, that we are still present and that we still have the same kind of sense of our commitment to our customers.


Whether it's happening in a drive through, whether it's happening on phone or whether it's happening in say an online chat. A few years ago, we started the chat function and video conferencing among our staff. So essentially I think what's happening is that a lot of our staff members who've been kind of training themselves to use these technological tools for digital connection, they're seeing that start to really pay off both in terms of their internal communication and in terms of our communication with our clients. Because we have opened multiple doors to create, to really try to bring home that we are connected to you and that we have a commitment to our relationship with you.


So in all of that, I think you're absolutely right Jane. As bankers and people that deal with money, we can oftentimes think that it's ... we can get carried away with the kind of process and those kinds of things. But at its heart, it's a human relationship. And if we need, if we can do anything, it's to project the stability and confidence that with the backing of the Fed and backing of the FDIC and other kinds of governmental and agency institutions, we're going to be fine. And we're projecting that through our relationships with our customers and they value that.


Jane Barratt:

That's great. So Ramona, you work with both institutions and have customers where you white label software and content, but you also have direct customers as well on your FinTech platform. What are they asking of you right now? What are you seeing from that sort of frontline in terms of help required questions being asked?


Ramona Ortega:

Absolutely. This is the silver lining in all of this for us is that there is an increased sort of interest in personal finance, in interest rates, in money generally. Everyone's worried and as they're seeing things on the news, they're coming to us as a trusted partner. And I think what Josh was alluding to in terms of that relationship is something that we really value as a FinTech platform as particularly for millennials who might not have anyone else to turn to in terms of what does this mean for my money? Should I be pulling money out of my 401k? Should I be investing right now? We have to forget that millennials are just as concerned with our money as anyone else. They may not have as much in the bank as other folks, but they're absolutely concerned with that. We have a lot of people who are new business owners who are freelancers that are part of the gig economy. Perhaps they're creatives.


And so what we've been doing is really leveraging our relationship with them and that sort of underlying trust to bring them the information that they need in terms of transparency, in terms of facts. And so we are using all of our social media channels to do that communication. We've been talking to people directly in our DMs. So people are sliding into our DMs, money questions. We have been doing strategic partnerships with other organizations, particularly organizations that work with women and doing webinars jointly with them. So we've had a number of them so far. We've been doing our own Instagram live. So we've just been really utilizing the opportunity to connect with personally our users and our community. And a lot of the questions that you're seeing are really about what is it that's going to happen to my money? Where am I going to be in the next few weeks?


I think it's really important we distinguish that the market's going to sort of get better and rally before main street, right? So at the end of the day, the bottom line is that we are going to have a lot of people on the ground who are going to be hurting from this for a while. Even though the market is going to recover, the economy is still going to take a while.


Jane Barratt:

So Liz is then true for what you're hearing as well from your customers in terms of what they're asking of you, what their expectations are of you right now?


Liz Wolverton:

Yeah, I think a couple of things that we hear or a few things that we hear, A is I just need you to be here. I need access. I'm anxious. I need to make sure that I have just that basic access to my funds. Two, communicate. And we have done that rapidly to both of the points that Josh and Ramona have made, we pride ourselves from a personal relationship standpoint. And so we take that communication stream very seriously. And so we've been very upfront with our customers, both on a banker to client basis, so one-on-one, to how we're using the other communication tools. They just want to be constantly aware. So along with how they can interact with us, we're continually providing them updates on what they're seeing in the market.


And I think Josh mentioned this. A lot of questions about him are protected. So we're giving them education materials on FTSE insurance. And of course with what we just heard today, there's going to be some expansion of that. So making sure they're informed about that to lower those anxiety levels, help them feel more confident. And then for the more complex clients with more complex financial situations, providing them very real time market updates. So how should they be reacting? How should they perhaps not be too unsettled given short term or long term views. So we're hearing a lot from our customers. We need you from an advisory capacity in a big way. And make sure that you have that constant communication. And so those are clearly top of mind for us.


And then of course they have a lot of very specific questions about what's going to happen for me and what's going to happen with the loan that I have. What's going to happen in my business or my personal life. And we are literally taking those and making sure that from a communication perspective, we're providing them sort of an umbrella of comfort. That here are some things globally that, holistically that we're doing. But we're doing that rabid one by one reach out to our customers to help them talk through that situation and enable them at this point in time. We have customers that haven't done a lot digitally and they're being forced to remote.


So how do we orient you and get you set up quickly, being careful that it's being advisory, not opportunistic because that's the number one focus for us. It's helping you get to the other side of this because there will be another side. And making sure that when you come out of it, you're on from footing. So it's I would echo, it's the communication and it's that ... it really solidifies that you're more than transactional to them. They're looking to us as a bank to be really advisory and to stay side by side with them and help them navigate through. And that's, I think we're stepping up big time there.



Jane Barratt:

That's great. I think this idea of being an advisor and a trusted advisor versus being opportunistic.


Liz Wolverton:

Yes it is. One of the things, one of the areas, and I don't know if Josh and Ramona have seen this as well or how you're addressing it, but right now unfortunately is the time that criminals really take advantage of a situation. And we were talking about that before the call with an interesting situation. But apart from that, they're really targeting both infrastructures and our clients. So we're providing a lot of caution very explicitly to our clients about how to look for fraud, how to look for it differently today versus yesterday and to be on high alert. So that's one of the areas that's one of the types of things we're making sure to stay very in front of our clients about.


Josh Rowland:

Yeah, it's really important. I think you have to start the communication strategy early and very strong in terms of making sure that they have the facts from us, from a trusted source is really important. And knowing that they can ... that we still have all the traditional mechanisms of reaching, that you can reach us. You could still call us, you can still email your banker. You can still, you can now add chat and you can now check with us through your online, through the app.


Ramona Ortega:

One thing that I would add to this is that we're taking advantage of this opportunity to really educate our users. One of the main missions of our platform is to really explain the things that people are seeing in the news and really being able to show them the sort of the difference between fact and fiction. And being able to be a resource where they're learning about markets, they're learning about what's happening in real time and explaining those things as we go. So again, we had a lot of questions about what does it mean that the Feds had slashed interest rates? Like what does that mean for me?


And so it's a great opportunity to also reinforce a lot of the financial education real time. And I'm sure a lot of people are interested in that. Even with our content, I know we had a question come up around how you're adjusting your marketing campaigns. And I know that that's something that we've been able to do. Again, we're a tech company. So it's a lot easier for us to realign and be agile. But we've been able to do that and respond in our content to really focus on updates in real time around the stimulus package, around unemployment. Some of the things that are happening day to day.


Jane Barratt:

That's great.


Liz Wolverton:

I think it's a great point, Jane, that Ramona makes there that a part of your communications plan is not just getting out in front of customers with what they need to see, but removing the distraction of what's not relevant right now. So campaigns turned off immediately, even if it pertained to deposits that you want to continue to drive through this time, campaigns turned off immediately. Other distracting noises and content, making sure your content that may have been scheduled over the next two weeks, is relevant. And is it the perception of what you're putting out now, even though you thought about it a month ago is extremely important. So I woke up at 1:00 in the morning and sent something out to my team. I said, "Oh, scrub content, scrub content. Now make sure that it's relevant and not disconcerting to the customer," not knowing every single detail of what was going out.


But the one thing that was a little bit of a question for us is do we maintain our listening post? Do we continue to send out surveys right now? So we have an algorithm when people transact less in certain ways, we select a portion of them to have to receive a survey. And there was a lot of debate. People are getting inundated, excuse me, with emails. Do you really want to put that in their inbox? But we ended up reorienting the way the survey was because we thought we're changing so many things about how we're interacting. There's so much anxiety out there. We actually do want to hear.


And when we see the engagement drop we may reassess. But actually seeing the engagement levels and response rates stay the same 10 to 12%, which is a decent, a very good person engagement. So we are watching that daily to see if we have a negative reaction, to see if things drop. But I think maintaining, not only as we've said, the direct open lines, but making sure that you're listening and getting feedback in other ways too is important. But it's hard. Like you said, it's a tough needle to thread.


Jane Barratt:

Yeah. Sure. So Josh, Ramona, have there been any surprises that you've seen in terms of that you have your platforms, your apps, your tools. I think Ramona, you'd said you're seeing people slide into your DMS, which is interesting for customers to communicate. But any other surprises that you're seeing in terms of how people are engaging with your digital tools?


Ramona Ortega:

There's been a wide range of interest and I think for us, one of the things that we're taking note of are what are the kinds of questions coming in? I think it's not surprising, we forget when we talk about millennials generally, they're not as young as they're not Gen Z, right? And so there are a lot more concerns now about things that you would historically think that millennials aren't necessarily thinking about. Should I be moving money? What's a rollover? How should I be taking care of my parents? So there's a lot more activity in our inbox of an array of questions around personal finance. So that's exciting for us. I think the other thing that we're noticing, and this is more of a general marketing takeaway is that people are being very diligent about whether or not financial institutions are being tone deaf to what's happening.


To Liz's point, you have to be very careful about what you're putting out in front of your clients or your customers, particularly given the sort of, where are they fitting in into the matrix, right? Because I've seen some comments on different channels that are like, you're giving me advice that is not relevant right now. I'm in a really dire situation. How dare you tell me X, Y, and Z. And so I think that people are being really hypervigilant about what advice is being given out. And so I would just caution that look at your social media, what are you posting? Making sure that you're really listening to what your customers need and being open to all of those channels, where that sort of input is coming in.


Again, most of our customers, our users are on Instagram. It makes it very easy for us to react. But we're using all of those channels and giving people different snippets. I think that's the surprising thing too, is that some people don't want to watch a webinar where they just want a two-minute Instagram video or they just want to post. Or some people are really looking to want information from other people. So other communities sort of like a community. So I think it's just making sure that you're tapping into all of those different channels for people because they're all going to want information in different ways.


[Read the MX resource library on Covid-19]


Jane Barratt:

That's great. What about you Josh?


Josh Rowland:

Well, I think one of the good things is adoption of our digital wallet and digital payment tools like Zelle. I think we're seeing people turn to those and recognize that they're available to them. And generally I think we're seeing more adoption of our chat and other services so that people can come in any door, so to speak, into the branch, even though that's a virtual branch and in some ways for most people. I guess I think it's kind of not really a surprise to me being a community banker and a zealous community banker. But I think the fact that people reach out to us and want to hear our voice and want to hear us explain that, yeah, we understand what the SBA's put out. We understand what they're thinking about in terms of their payroll and what they're going to need.


And so I think it doesn't really surprise me. I think it might suggest that we're as industry leaders and industry thinkers about how we're going to use digital transformation, we still have some ways to go to think that we could replicate what people are getting personally. And so how do we take the stuff that we're going to learn from this and that is, and make digital even more personal, make it more, even more reliable in terms of conveying to people that we are human beings and we are here for them and that we're responsive and in a compassionate way. I mean those are our values. Our core values are compassion, openness, being nimble and being imaginative. And somehow we have to make sure that we can express those things, those very human values through our digital experience. And although there's a lot of great there, I don't think we're nearly quite where we need to be to communicate our values digitally.


Liz Wolverton:

Jane, I think that is so spot on and I'm not even sure Josh at some point, there's just a barrier we may never break. I mean, as good as we are, at the end of the day, when people, when there's a crisis there, you cannot substitute that human contact. So I think it's recognition of that. And how you use digital as a tool, but understand that this is a time that people want to talk to people at the end of the day. You've got to enable both.


Josh Rowland:

Right. They want to be seen and they want to be heard. And there's nothing like the human voice to convey that you've been seen and heard.


Jane Barratt:

So we're going to pose for audience questions in just a second. So one last question and acknowledging that both Josh and Ramona are attorneys themselves. So as well as bankers and financial services experts. What are your expectations in terms of the support being provided by law makers, by regulators right now? I see one, I guess unintended consequence on the upside is that people will be a lot more attuned to the impacts of interest rates, the impacts of moratoriums. Because now it's really going to be very, very real. But how do you see in terms of federal and state level support the government and law makers, regulators rallying?


Ramona Ortega:

I think it's going to be hard actually. I think that this is where actually community banks are going to play an important role. Organizations that are doing oversight because I mean we're already seeing the Twitter chat, the Instagram chat about the stimulus package. And there's a lot of anger that somehow people are getting bailed out. So I think even at that level, this sort of transparency issue is really important. I would hope that we are seeing a lot more FAQ coming from the government, coming from financial institutions and the regulatory bodies around this.


I think it's going to be up to all of us to make sure that there are real eyeballs on this. Making sure that people aren't getting pulled into fraudulent teams, especially with the rollout of the stimulus package in terms of access to loans, access to that money and the pool of funds that will be available. This is going to be really important. People are going to get a lot of misinformation. And so I think it's going to be up to all of us, especially folks who are keeping an eye out and working with the CFPB, to inform people. I hope that they're going to be doing more. I actually feel like they've been pretty quiet lately considering the financial impact.


Josh Rowland:

I happen to be a little bit more sanguine about the near term response and a little bit more interested in the long-term response. That is I think that kind of effort, aside from the question of whether we should ... how long we need to keep the social distancing going. But in terms of the financial elements, I think that it reflects at least from the FDIC and the Fed a really I think good understanding of needing to maximize the tools that are being made available. So I think that's good in the short term. I think the fundamental question though that concerns me and I think on behalf of our clients, many of whom are under-banked nationally, is what are we going to do and how does this crisis change thinking in Washington around what kind of support lower and moderate income people need in this country. And what kind of changes are necessary to really confront the wealth gap that's been perpetuated for the last 20 or 30 years and the rising income inequality and the lack of opportunity.


So my hope or my drive is to say, we shouldn't lose the opportunity that is provided by a good crisis to get us to rethink the way that we think about either the social safety net or federal minimum wage, other student education, student loan debt. Those are the kinds of things that I think are really going to need to be activated right now because what is being revealed here even in the conversation about the fact that there exists in this country under-banked and unbanked people. Those fundamentally I think those two facts belie the idea of an American dream. And that if we are just complacent about what societal changes are necessary, what governmental changes, what a different calculation of social benefits and the needs of the middle-class are in this country, I think we will really have really missed an opportunity that we need to take on and to reset our priorities in the country.


Ramona Ortega:

I would add to that Jane as well. I think this is really going to highlight how many people are in the gig economy and the lack of protections for those who are freelancers, contract workers and this movement towards this kind of employment, which by the way also means that thousands, hundreds and thousands of people don't have access to a 401k. So I think we're hedging up against this very big question of a retirement crisis and are we protected? So I think like Josh was saying, I think this is a really great opportunity for us to rethink how we talk about finance, how we close the gap and what are the needs of the next generation to build wealth.


Liz Wolverton:

I mean, the only thing that I would add is I share the hope and optimism. I am a little bit of a realist to say we do really good when the house is completely on fire. We're acting relatively quickly. So maybe holding on to that burning platform. As Josh, we try to get into the deeper issues from an economic standpoint, I hold onto that hope. I think that that's not going to be done without nudging. So I think we probably play a part in that. Jane and I know you stay out in front of regulators with some of the data and some of that cause, so I don't think that that's going to happen as easily as some of these fast actions that we're seeing. One thing I would say that's just outside of the broad kind of legislation and stimulus package is maybe just the temperature with our regulators right now kind of bank to regulator.


And it's been very, very good meaning there's a check and balance system and they are who they are. But we got clear signals early last week that we need you to take care of your customers. That's job number one. We're taking appointments off your calendars. Exams are going to happen, but they're not the priority. We want you to continue to make smart decisions, but your role in this right now is to make sure that your customers come out on the other side. So yeah, there's different relationships across different banks and different regulators. But what I can say is ours have been very strong and very appropriate for what you would hope to see right now.


Jane Barratt:

That's great. So I'm going to go to a couple of audience questions. One from Miguel who was asking about closing the cash gap for small. I'm not going to throw it to this panel because we're actually having the same time tomorrow, an entire session on small business with representatives from Regions Bank, TAB Bank, Kabbage, and Autobooks. So tune in at the same time tomorrow for the small business discussion. But I think to all of your points right now, there's been a number of questions around financial health. So this one was from Mimi saying, when you're surveying customers, are you actually measuring financial health right now? And a follow up, is there anything that you're doing differently because of it?


Ramona Ortega:

I could jump in really quick on what we do. We actually do take a temperature on our onboarding for our app and we ask them what kind of financial sort of products that they're using. And we are in the middle ... We had actually just before this happened, we had launched a $1,000 savings challenge, which is still continuing, but we will probably extend that out and really help people save $1,000 for emergency savings and get them into a high interest savings account. And sort of using that as a referral mechanism. So we're still focused on that. I think that one of the things that we're seeing across the board is that people are saying, "Oh, that's why an emergency savings account is so important." And we always say the worst time to prepare for an emergency is really when you're in a crisis. But I do think that we're going to raise that awareness and that's something that's going to be really important. Getting lots of questions around credit card consolidation. So there is a long-term horizon that I think people are more aware of nowadays than they've ever been.


Josh Rowland:

Yeah. For our part, we're members of the Financial Health Network which used to be called the Center For Financial Services Innovation and we've taken advantage of their financial literacy tools and to start to try to map what the thinking and the state of mind of our clients is. And I think it's still too early to say that we have enough data to act on, more than to change anything specific in terms of product or service that we offer. But yeah, we want to deploy that and make sure that we're listening. I'm really jealous of Liz's system, her listening posts. Because I think that's absolutely something that we need to find a way to hear from people about what's really happening to them and the ways that we could then evolve the bank to be better.


Liz Wolverton:

And from our standpoint Jane, we early on put out, that was one of the first priorities is to make sure to remind people that if you're not thinking about it or if you're thinking about it and don't know what to be worried about, here are the things that you need to be thinking about in times of crisis as far as the sort of fundamentals of making sure your house is in order. And now, as we move past this week, how do we turn to that next step of what is the left foot in front of the right foot going forward and what are the next things you need to do? So we can leverage that with some of our clients with more sophisticated financial needs through some of the planning tools that we work with them on. But we can also scale that down as well. So that's sort of the ... we took care of the maybe immediate concerns and needs and put the house in order and now we'll turn to how we look at the days ahead.


Jane Barratt:

That's great. Yeah. I think the data that we're seeing at MX is fascinating even just from a transaction level, like just the precipitous drop in things like hotel category, travel category, the increase in certain grocery stores. We can see people's real time behavior just in terms of how they are transacting. So I think that is testament A to the safety and soundness of the industry is that people can continue to transact in the world, which is great. Are there any other things that you're seeing in your data? I think Ramona, you had mentioned things about an uptick in requests around credit card or debt consolidation loans for credit cards. Anything else that you're seeing that really does point to behavioral change right now? Or is it too early to tell?



Ramona Ortega:

I think it's still too early to tell, but there definitely is an increase also in oh, I should have a 401k. I should have an IRA. Where do I open one? Should I be getting into the market right now? What should I do with rolling over? What we're starting to see are people losing their jobs. Again, a lot of our users are millennials who have jobs in social media and content marketing. So a lot of the media corporations are starting to lay off writers, starting to lay off the community personnel. So what we're starting to get is like I'm concerned about what I do if I roll over? Where should I go? It's such a terrible time in the market. And then how do I get access to unemployment benefits?


Again, that sort of question of small businesses or I'm a freelancer, I have a small agency, do I get access to those benefits? And then how do I get in line for the money that's going to be available for small businesses? So I think there's a lot of interesting education around who's going to qualify as a small business. What does that really mean? Especially in light of so many sole proprietors. Right. Are you a business or you're not a business? Is it only going to be LLCs? So I would say that a lot of the banks and community credit should be really aware that people are going to be concerned as small business owners how to access and leverage this funding.


Jane Barratt:

That's great. Thanks, Ramona.


Liz Wolverton:

I think Jane, I think it really is early on a lot of the kind of the granular data around this. We're seeing the things you would expect to see within the first five to 10 days of this type of situation. So as Ramona mentioned, debt consolidation requests, we're certainly seeing liquidity concerns and let's take care of the most, what's on top of the mind and in the greatest urgency. And that is how do I pay my bills immediately? And so we're seeing a lot of requests for deferrals and that sort of thing, which is going to be consistent and which will care for and a lot of them on a case by case basis. But that's kind of what's coming first.


We have been juxtaposing branch data and digital data to see if we're seeing a lot of trending there. And again, I think it's early. We haven't seen a huge flip at this point as far as that's concerned. I expect that the duration of quarantine and the more intensified that is, we expect to see more of a shift and try to learn exactly is the engagement changing specifically by how they're engaging with digital so we can direct that differently. But those are the things we've got our finger on the pulse on, but we're not seeing big shifts immediately.


Jane Barratt:

That's great. Anything from your perspective, Josh? You're on mute by the way.


Josh Rowland:

No, I just, I think with only about a week, we're at our stay at home order for day two. I think we have a lot still to learn. I think it all goes back to, I think there's going to be help in the near term and then the question is what do we do with it? What do we do with what we learn over the long-term in terms of everything, in terms of process, in terms of branch locations, in terms of branch viability, in terms of all of those things. And then we have to think about the policy implications of our work. And I think we're still at the beginning of the beginning I think here.


Jane Barratt:

No, I 100% agree. I have a question from Stephanie which is what are some ways that you're engaging your workforce while you're remote? And I know Josh has said it's like brand, brand new. I can say from an MX perspective, we have a daily podcast, like a good morning MX with people from all different departments. So it's not just you talking to your team all day, which is a very fun way to start the day. But this is likely to be a longer hold than maybe what we're anticipating. So what are some good practices to engage your remote workforce?


Liz Wolverton:

I think this is going to be, if there is a silver lining as Ramona said earlier, one of those is going to be just the amenability to working differently for banks that have really held tight to, if you're not in person, even in non customer facing roles, that you just can't do the job and that it won't work. So that's been great. So I think the engagement that we're having and the natural things that you would expect, making it protocol to have your face on the webcam, which is scary right now. I see a lot of, Gillette is probably losing in stock. I see a lot of facial hair growing, but that is important to retain that. But the creativity from teams is just that has emerged probably after the initial dealing with customers and making sure everything was in order has been great. I mean, we've got step challenges. We've got dress up days. It's really interesting to see how people are taking it and making it creative and engaging. So really fun.


Josh Rowland:

Yeah, I think that's kind of a ... sometimes I feel a little bit nervous about it because we are trying to have fun with it. And I know that it's a deadly, this is a deadly crisis that we're in and people are really exposed and fearful. And so I don't want to make light of that, but I do want to make sure that our staff feels that they don't feel burdened and overwhelmed. And so reaching them and trying to create things like a step challenge or like a dress up day or those are great ideas. I'm going to take those to our team. And I've been sending out little videos. Videos of me in the house and using props in the house to illustrate the strength of our liquidity and various things like that.


Josh Rowland:

So anything to kind of combine a serious message to our team about what we do, but also to try to acknowledge that we're in really strange circumstances and it requires some levity and I think that there are a lot of our clients who appreciate that too when we engage with them on Instagram or in other ways. So we're trying to be serious but lighthearted about it.


Jane Barratt:

That's great. Well, look, I've only got a few minutes left, so lightning round. Last question. The true currency of financial institutions and FinTechs, you're dealing with people's money and people's livelihoods. So the true currency really is trust. I think a lot of the things that we've talked about today have been ways to engage to ensure that you're meeting needs now. Is there anything else that advice that you can give in terms of building trust like right now in the short term as well as building for the long term?


Liz Wolverton:

I think we've said it to some extent, Jane, but everything's bananas for our customers right now. And I think us being there and being that point of stability really builds that trust. It's just being there. It's the communication, it's the transparency that's huge for our customers. So it sounds basic, but I think that's sort of the core element. And in times like this, you got to go back to the core. So I think communication and transparency that we've kind of re-emphasized time and time again are just the fundamentals.


Ramona Ortega:

I think for us again, part of our mission is to really be that trusted partner for those who don't have someone else to really rely on for financial advice and guidance. So one of the key things is making sure that we are committed to that and bringing people the information they need and really doing a lot of the education and explaining about what is happening in their financial lives right now. And making sure that they have an open door to us so that they feel like they can get the information that they need to make the best decision. And then there's the financial institutional trust.


And I think one of the things that we see ourselves as really is a bridge where we are working with different other financial institutions. And because we have that relationship, we can say to our users, "This is a trusted financial institution." And we're keeping an eye out, making sure that they're not predatory. Really understanding fees if there are any, so that we can walk them through that process and give them confidence to really engage with financial institutions, which as you may know from the 2008 crisis has plummeted. So I think that this is a really important time for financial institutions to really partner with organizations and fintech companies like ours to really gain that trust with their sort of a new market.


Josh Rowland:

I completely agree with Liz and Ramona on those. In some ways it's showing up. We have a tremendous responsibility in this country to behave as financial leaders. And I think most people don't understand any of this stuff. They enter into a loan agreement, but they don't really understand the effect of a floor interest rate. Only when it comes up now do they understand it. And we have to be true to our word and just show up and be there and accountable for what we do. And I think that that's the key thing in trust. I think that's the key thing in trust is that we ... and we'll benefit a little bit because I think there's so much integration between the FDIC, the Fed and banks around how we're going to handle loan deferments and the like. That I think it really calls upon us to say we shouldn't be afraid. We've got to go talk to our customers. We've got to show up, be counted as financial leaders in this country.


[Read the MX resource library on Covid-19]


Jane Barratt:

That's great. I think that's a wonderful note to end on. If we had a real time audience with us, I'm sure there'd be a giant round of applause. So I'm giving on behalf of everyone, thank you very much for your time today. For everybody watching this, things that came up that we've explored in other videos in banking transformation weeks. So feel free to stick around. But please join us at the same time tomorrow to have a small business discussion. But again, thank you so much to the panelists and thanks everyone for joining us.