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Last to Close, First to Open: How Hancock Whitney Innovates and Drives Better Outcomes

Hancock Whitneys Emory Mayfield shares how the financial provider constantly innovates and listens to its customers to drive better outcomes.

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Well, we have covered a lot of ground this morning, the importance of community, what's happening with transformation, and especially bringing humanity to financial services. And I'm absolutely thrilled to have Emory Mayfield on the stage today. He's the Head of Consumer Bank at Hancock Whitney. So thank you for joining us here.

Yep. Thank you. Good morning. Welcome, uh, privilege to be here.

Thank you. Well, if you wanna just start us off with tell us a little about Hancock Whitney and where you are on your digital journey right now.

Yeah, absolutely. So, Hancock Whitney, we're, uh, about 125 years old. we're $36 billion asset size bank. We operate along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Alabama. Um, we've got a very strong culture. Uh, we strive to really be there for the people in the communities that we serve. We've got about 450,000 consumer clients, about a hundred thousand commercial clients.

I mentioned our culture. Probably the best way to understand our company is for me just to tell a quick story on how we try to be a pillar of strength for our communities. Hurricane Katrina came in in 2005 at the time we had about a hundred financial centers across the, uh, across the Gulf. Um, and 90% of them were either destroyed or damaged. We have a mantra when hurricanes come, which unfortunately they do all too often where we're located. it's the, we're supposed to be the last to close and the first to open.

So the next day, our associates came out, um, set up card tables, and we went to work. We got we opened up ATMs that had been flooded, bank vaults that had been flooded, got generators plugged in dryers to them, and literally laundered money and dried the cash.

And then our client, whether you were a client or not, you could come and we would give you $500. And we wrote it down on a post-it note, name, date of birth, social security number, phone number. And, uh, through that process, we lent out $43 million. Uh, we got all but 300,000 of it back. But that's just one example of what we try to really walk the walk when we say we're there for our community.

Um, as for our digital journey you know, our goal is to get into the top quartile, uh, of our peer banks. Uh, we're not there yet, but we have a plan to get there. Um, I remind everybody of, a couple of classic disruption stories. Um, you know, Blockbuster, they had at their peak, I think 9,000 stores or something like that. They served over a hundred million, uh, Americans. And then all of a sudden, you know, what happened, what did they do or not do that allowed Netflix to become the a hundred billion dollar, um, you know, gorilla that it is today.

Uh, same with Blackberry, you know, 2009, they've got over 50% of the smartphone, industry market share. Um, you know, everybody called it CrackBerry. I mean, it was synonymous. I think I had five of 'em. Um, and, uh, that made you a crack head, right?

What's that?

That made you a crack head.

Yes, exactly. So, um, so what did they do or not do that allowed, Apple and Google and the others to, to gain all the market share? Well, you know, we could, we could spend all morning talking about that, but I think there was really two things. One, um, both of them failed to listen to their clients. And two, they failed to innovate. And, that's really at the heart of our digital journey is making sure that we're delivering to our clients what they want, and that we're constantly innovating and trying to, uh, continuously improve.

Well, thank you for sharing. I love the story of Hurricane Katrina. It's like such an incredible, uh, example.

It's our finest hour. Yep. Mm-hmm.

So, like many people in this room, you have a very broad remit, balancing obviously innovation. How do you prioritize, like, what's most important?

Yeah, I don't know. I mean, how do any of us do it? It's, um, it's, uh, it's tough. I mean, do you focus on strategy, execution, culture, um, regulatory issues? I mean, the list goes, goes on and on. Um, you know, for me it actually starts with controlling, uh, the one thing that I control, which is my morning. So my wife and I get up real early, and I've got a real, uh, religious, uh, morning routine. And after that I kind of lose control of things. But, I go back to working my list and I always, uh, have my priorities on my list.

I know what, um, our board, what our CEO, what our COO, uh, what their priorities are as it relates to, uh, to my area. But probably the most important thing for me is that when I came into this role, um, I spent a lot of time working with my team, developing, our vision for what we really thought we could be and the consumer experience that we wanted to provide to our clients. And so that really, um, provides the insight to me to figure out which priorities I'm gonna focus on.

And, you know, I'll tell you, it's not just, it's not just me. It's our team. Um, we, uh, they don't need me telling them what to do. Um, you know, they are, uh, very good at what they do. We're very aligned. We know what we're trying to achieve. Um, and they take initiative.

Um, you know, it reminds me of, uh, this, uh, interview I heard from, from Sully when he, when he landed, you know, the, the jet liner in the Hudson River. And he said that one of the biggest reasons he was able to be successful was because his co-pilot immediately went into action. He didn't have to tell 'em what to do. His co-pilot just took initiative.

And, one of the examples that he gave was that they were falling outta the sky so fast that he had to look down at the water to figure out at what point he had to put the tail down so that it could glide into the, into the river. And that, as he was doing that, without being told, the copilot just starts calling out the altitude a thousand feet, 900, 800, 700. And so, you know, I'm not trying to compare banking to saving hundreds of lives in a jetliner, but I think you'll probably get the principle there that, that it's a, uh, it's, it's a team, uh, it's a team game. And, and that's how we tackle our priorities. So you and your team are working on a number of really interesting initiatives to both increase engagement and improve outcomes.

Can you share some of those projects?

Yeah, I'd love to. Um, so, we've got a lot of projects going on, and if we do them right, it will totally transform our company, which is really exciting. Um, and it, uh, makes me think about, you know, Disney and what they did, um, and how they transformed their company. Um, and so for a number of years, if not decades, they were a cartoon company, a theme park, you know, Cinderella, Snow White, um, and, uh, then all of a sudden around the nineties, it was a huge strategic shift. And they go out and they buy Miramax and ABC and ESPN, Hulu, uh, Pixar, Lucas Films, I'm forgetting a bunch of 'em, but you get the point that they completely, uh, transformed their company.

And I think the reason that they did that was because they knew that in order for them to grow, they had to expand their customer base. They couldn't just keep catering to the same customers. And so when I think about the technology and the projects that we're doing, that's kind of how I look at it on a much different scale. Um, if we're able to successfully implement some of these projects that it's going to expand, um, our customer base, 'cause we're gonna become attractive to more people.

Um, and so in terms of the projects, the first big one, our biggest priority is our new mobile app that we're doing with mx. Um, this is gonna be a game changer for us. 70% of our clients that visit us in the digital space, visit us through our mobile apps. So we operate with a mobile first mindset. Um, and we think that with the experience that MX will be able to provide to us both through the enhanced user experience, as well as the data insights that's gonna allow us to leapfrog our peers and really get into that top quartile that I was talking about. Um, so that's number one.

You can't have an app like we're gonna have with MX, which we'll launch next year and have an antiquated browser. So we're gonna be focused on doing that. Um, small businesses, that's a huge opportunity for us where we have, we, we see considerable growth. So we're working on that platform to cater to more to small businesses to give us a leg up, and provide value to that clientele. Um, payments, we've heard a lot about payments and data today. Um, very focused on payments and, and that's a big, uh, making sure we're listening to our clients and delivering what they want.

Laura Sullivan, our chief marketing officer, is here today. She's really working on data. Some of you have may have heard her presentation yesterday. Um, but, really kind of harnessing the data that we have coupled with the insights we're gonna get from MX, loading those into Salesforce, disseminating them out to our bankers so that we can deepen our relationships. So, you know, mortgage, we're building our own version of Rocket Mortgage, um, where we combine, you know, great technology with great marketing to become much more efficient. Um, it's, uh, I could go on and on, but, if we're successful at doing this 'cause the execution is tough, um, then, uh, then it will really be a game changer for us.

So this morning Jim talked about sort of again, the importance of humanizing, um, and that no two customers are truly alike. So how are you thinking about your audience and how are you, like, who are you engaging with?

Not necessarily just the how, who are we trying to target and adopt? And, you know, I think that, um, I'll start by just reminding everybody, like what the one example of the best company that I can come up with that has done digital adoption, uh, is, uh, is Amazon. I mean, at some point everyone in this room, you know, made the conscious decision and no longer get in our car and drive to the store and buy our product. And instead, we got online and we got on our app and we, and we ordered it. And, um, and so, you know, I, Amazon has, you know, essentially eliminated the American Mall. The American Mall is on life support because Amazon has been so good adopting clients to the digital channel.

And so when we think about it, and kind of who we're targeting, it's really, um, you know, we, the Baby Boomers have been a big, uh, have helped us build our bank problem is, um, you know, they're getting older and even though we've done a great job banking them, we've got to start focusing on, on new generations.

And so where our head is in terms of who we're targeting, it's really, first it's on Gen X and it's getting current with Gen X. Right now, 23% of our clients are Gen X. They represent 30% of the nation's wealth, and that will grow tremendously, over the next decade as they start to inherit money from their Boomer parents. And as they continue to earn more and more money, um, every day we kiss our lucky stars that the millennials only have 10% of the nation's, uh, wealth because they're not interested in us right now. Uh, but they will be, but they will be if we're successful doing a lot of this. And so, um, so, you know, really, you know, we want to get current with Gen X and we want to get in position with the Millennials, as our boomer clients continue to age.

Hmm. So talk a little around the, again, so much focus on increasing engagement, bringing people into, uh, digital channels, and a lot of that is about improving outcomes. Like what are you and your team seeing in terms of outcomes?

Yeah, it's pretty, uh, it's pretty exciting. 'cause, just to give you some numbers, um, 18 months ago, our digital adoption rate was 45%. Today it's 55%, and ultimately we wanna be north of 70%. Pam Heel, who's our digital strategy director, that's somewhere out here, lights are kind of bright, so I can't see. Um, one of her biggest things was she was, she was very persuasive in saying, we have got to bring in a team that focuses only on digital adoption. Like all they do is they persuade our clients to use our digital tools.

And so we did that, and it was a, it was a wonderful decision because, you know, it, this is, uh, these teams, or they're going out to all of our financial centers, that's what we call branches. And, um, and they are working with our associates to train them on how to teach our clients to use the digital tools.

Um, for example, we, each financial center gets just stacks of these $5 checks. And, then with each $5 check, they're trying to get a client, they're saying, here's $5, just deposit it on your phone. you'd be shocked at how many people don't do this. And, um, and so, you know, this year we have done thousands of those, and that's how, it's just small little things like that. And then, you know, each week, whichever financial center has the most number of digital demos, they get a pizza party. I mean, the power of a pizza party, it's still strong all these years later.

So, I mean, this is not rocket science. It's having a process and a program and, what we've learned is that we can spend millions of dollars on technology, but if we're not teaching our associates how to teach our clients to use it, then it doesn't matter. And so, um, some of you may remember the movie Field of Dreams, if you build it, you know, they will come. That's not true with, with the digital channel. It's, um, it's, uh, if you build it, you still gotta teach them and then, and then they may come. Um, so, uh, so yeah, the end goal, just move the bad traffic outta the financial centers. The bad traffic is what we could do with technology so that our bankers can focus on the good traffic and really add value to the client.

What have been some of the lessons learned? And again, these are, you're in a large organization. How are those lessons both sort of observed and then adopted interchange?

Right. Yeah. So it's, uh, you know, I think when we started out, we didn't know any of this, and you don't know what you don't know. Mm-hmm and now that we've been through it, we've learned, number one, you gotta have a process and a plan that, like you can't kid yourself. I mean, it's really hard doing this. Um, uh, and the key for us, the game changer was realizing that it all starts with our associates.

If we get our associates to buy in, then they will go and teach our clients how to do it, and they'll get passionate about it. But first you gotta train them and they've gotta get confident. Um, then you have to, uh, realize that, you know, don't assume that that you know everything because like we went into it, we had no idea that so many of our clients wouldn't know how to use their phone. Um, they don't know how to download an app. Um, and then you get into Apple user IDs and passwords, and what do you do when you had to reset that?

We actually had to go to Apple and we worked out a deal with them where Apple trains our associates on the iPhone so that we can then go to our clients and show them how to do it on their phone. Um, so that was one, uh, had no idea that, customers that are going through the drive-through are, are much more likely to be interested in digital adoption than ones that are coming into our financial centers. Um, uh, we kind of assumed that that, you know, for the segment 75 and older, that there's no way we'll be able to teach them, well, we were wrong about that cause we've seen an 18% increase, in digital adoption from our clients who are 75 and older.


Um, so it's lots of, uh, lots of things like that. and one of the biggest that we've learned is, you know, follow the money. Um, when we changed our incentive plan and we started incentivizing the bankers, you know, for every time they did a digital demo, then, um, then the numbers just went through the roof. So, that's some of the lessons learned.

Great. Yeah. Yeah. Well, my mom was one of those people over 75, and she's like, are you sure this is safe? And I was like, I think you're good.

Mm-hmm. It's great.

So any, uh, any last thoughts for the audience today?

Yeah, sure. Um, okay, let's go back to Disney for a second. Um, why did Disney not buy, uh, SeaWorld? Why have they not bought SeaWorld? Um, I would tell you that it's because it's just more of the same. It's a bigger theme park. And so, you know, relate that to us Hancock Whitney, we can't just continue building more and more financial centers.

We need to do that, and we will do that, but we've also gotta do more. And we've gotta understand that the client that we're now trying to attract, um, they really don't want to come into our financial centers. They really don't want to hold cash, and they are increasingly comfortable, you know, living life by their phone. Um, and that we have to have a mindset of, you know, our bank is now our app. Um, which is really why it was such a big deal for us to go with MX and to choose MX. We went through a pretty exhaustive long RFP and we chose MX because of the experience I talked about earlier, but also because of the commitment and the true partnership that we felt that, that we had, and that they were as committed to delivering a best in class experience to our clients as we were. So, um, uh, Jane, I'll stop there.

Well, on behalf of MX, we truly appreciate your partnership. And it is, you know, one of the most gratifying things for what we do is augmenting the good work that you do, you know, with your customers and in your community. So please join me in thanking Emory today. Thank you.

All right. Thank you all.

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