In his Money Experience Summit discussion, Ron Shevlin — Director of Research at Cornerstone Advisors & Sr. Contributor at Forbes — gives insights into which industry players and technologies have and have not done particularly well in 2020. We’ve included a few of the many examples he cites of those who have done well. To see the fails, register and watch the full presentation.

1. Community Banks

Shevlin praises community banks that “pulled through and delivered during the PPP process.” He says, “Most community banks were working day and night to get those applications in.” 

However, he adds that community banks can’t rest on their laurels. “They've got a big opportunity right now to gain some share in the small business market,” he says, and he cites research he’s done that shows that 30-40% of small businesses say they’re open to a new banking relationship. To bring in these potential customers, community banks need to have the right technology — technology that can reduce “the friction points that small businesses are faced with.”

2. Fintech Collaborators

Shevlin talks about the shift in the discourse when it comes to financial institutions and fintechs. “If you look back a couple years,” he says, “fintechs were coming into the market, beating their chest about how superior they were going to be in putting the big banks and the existing institutions out of business.”

“You roll the clock forward,” he continues, “and it's really more about collaboration.” He sees “a collaborative atmosphere right now between financial institutions and fintechs.” He adds that at the same time many financial institutions are falling short of where they need to be, saying, “I don't think that a lot of financial institutions are necessarily institutionalizing that partnership and collaborative capability.”

3. The Financial Feed

“There's a large percentage of people who want and need help with managing their financial lives,” he says. While traditional PFM never had the promised adoption, Shevlin is bullish on the concept of the financial feed, a concept he got from MX. “I'll give you guys the credit for this idea of the financial feed,” he says. “We all have our Twitter feed or LinkedIn feed or Instagram feed, and we need a financial feed.” 

“The challenge is that the feed can't just come from one financial institution,” he says. “It's not about my bank just throwing messages at me. It's also about bringing in external data and allowing me to interact just like I do in my Twitter feed with whoever I choose to bring into that feed.”

“There's not going to be a short-term silver bullet for any of this stuff, but for the longer term I think financial institutions need to be working with their vendors, working with partners and building out an ecosystem by which they are really transforming the financial experience or the money experience.”

4. Organizations That Build a Foundation of Data for AI

Shevlin says that it’s essential to build a foundation of data before implementing AI solutions. “I keep hearing all my fellow pundits and influencers and experts talking about how AI is going to transform the world and make it better,” he says, “But absolutely none of that's going to happen unless there is a good quantity and quality of data feeding that. And that's why all this stuff falls so short today.” 

“It's going to take collaboration. It's going to take financial institutions creating an ecosystem by which there's all other sources of that data, because they're simply not going to have enough of it internally.” 

5. USAA, for Knowing Their Audience 

Shevlin talks about USAA as a good example of an institution that met the needs of a niche audience, which he sees as critical when it comes to standing out in a competitive landscape. “I don't think they describe their approach this way,” he says, “but as I look at it from the outside, they have a bullseye and in the center of their bulls-eye is the active deployed military member. They design everything about their operations around the active deployed military member. That persona doesn't represent a particularly large percentage of their members, but it doesn't matter because if they can serve that segment really well, then they can also serve the act of non-deployed military members really well.”

6. Relationships Beyond the Branch

When he’s asked about what causes institutions to struggle to successfully make the transition to digital, Shevlin says the issue is cultural. “It comes down to a single source,” he says, “which tends to be cultural in the institution and mindset from the executive base.” 

“It's understandable,” Shevlin says. “If you've spent 30, 40 years in this industry, then it's likely that you are a strong believer that branches are important, face-to-face communication is important, and personal relationships are important. But two out of three are not true. What is true is that personal relationships can still be very important, but those personal relationships don't necessarily have to be strengthened or executed in the same room.” In short, people don’t need branches to have relationships.

“The challenge that a lot of institutions have is a management mindset — senior and mid-level leaders who still believe that physical presence is important.”