About 10 Minutes is All it Takes: Bank of the West's FinTech Solution Delivers Small Business Express Lending - Fast, Easy Access to Capital

SAN FRANCISCOApril 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — Bank of the West announced today the launch of Small Business Express Lending– an online platform designed for small businesses seeking business capital. Through a 10 minute application online at www.bankofthewest.com/expresslending, upon approval, small businesses can receive up to $100,000 in as little as two business days. Small Business Express Lending is also available in branches, providing full digital capabilities and bankers with expertise to help when needed.

“Small businesses are the bedrock of the U.S. economy,” said Michelle Di Gangi, Executive Vice President and Head of Small and Medium Enterprise at Bank of the West. “I come from a family of small business owners and learned early on the critical need for this type of financing coupled with access to business banking experts when you need them. We want to be the financial advocate that helps small businesses grow and thrive in the communities we serve.”

Small Business Express Lending was built in collaboration with fintech firm, Fundation, to deliver fast, simple applications for small business owners. “Customer expectations when consuming financial services products have and will continue to change,” said Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation Group LLC. “We’re excited to collaborate with Bank of the West, a leader in innovation, to offer a market leading borrowing experience for small business owners.”

The Small Business Express Lending Platform:

  • Uses a simple, online application that can be completed at home or in a Bank of the West branch with the help of a small business banking expert.
  • Provides rapid approval and funding in as little as two business days for up to $100,000.
  • Includes Business Lines of Credit, Business Credit Cards, and Non-Real Estate Term Loan products.
  • Saves time through its convenient start-to-finish digital application with closing via electronic signature.

About Bank of the West

We are driven by our fundamental belief in redefining banking for a better future. At a time when people demand more from companies, we are taking action to ensure our activities help protect the planet, improve people’s lives, and strengthen communities. That’s why we are focusing on areas where we can have a real impact: supporting energy transition, helping enable women entrepreneurs and financing innovative start-ups. As the bank for a changing world, Bank of the West is committed to sustainable finance along with our parent company BNP Paribas. Through Digital Channels and offices across the U.S., Bank of the West provides financial tools and resources to more than 2 million individuals, families and businesses.

About Fundation

Fundation Group LLC is a credit solutions provider focused on the small business market nationally. Fundation is a leader in providing technology and application processing services to support more than 25 super regional, regional and community banks. Fundation’s solutions enable its financial services clients to develop a digital lending capability, provide a great customer experience, drive cost efficiency into their small business lending program, and maximize the number of customers they can serve. Fundation’s services range from simple referral partnerships to customized, integrated private labeled lending programs. The Company also partners with a wide array of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver credit products to the business community nationwide. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

Deposit and loan products offered by Bank of the West, Member FDIC and Equal Housing Lender. © 2019 Bank of the West. Doing business in South Dakota as Bank of the West California.


Provident Bank to expand small business loans with Fundation

Provident Bank and Fundation announced Tuesday the launch of a program to expand small business loan approvals for customers of the Jersey City-based bank.

With the new feature, small businesses can apply for term loans ranging from $15,000 to $250,000 and lines of credit from $20,000 to $150,000 and receive funds in as soon as one business day.

Fundation Chief Executive Officer Sam Graziano said the company’s platform was developed to serve the small business community with speed and convenience.

“This will enable us to effectively serve the growing small business market by providing the capital many small businesses need to grow and reach their full potential,” Josephine Moran, Provident Bank executive vice president, director of retail banking, said in a prepared statement. “In turn, this will assist these businesses to flourish and create new jobs in our communities.”

Virginia-based Fundation provides credit solutions through technology and application processing services.

Provident Bank is celebrating its 180th birthday this week by offering customers the chance to win prizes and enter a giveaway. On Wednesday, refreshments will be served at all branches to commemorate the occasion.


Provident Bank Launches Digital Lending Capability for Small Business Customers Powered by Fundation

Program will expedite and expand small business loan approvals for Provident Bank customers

ISELIN, N.J. & NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Provident Bank and Fundation today announced a new digital lending solution that will enable the New Jersey-based bank to offer a new, streamlined, end-to-end, lending program for small businesses seeking a business loan or line of credit. The solution enables small businesses to apply for term loans from $15,000 to $250,000 and lines of credit from $20,000 to $150,000, through a simple application and receive funds in as little as one business day.

“Very few small or large banks accept small business loan applications online”

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According to the FDIC Small Business Lending Survey in 2018, “Very few small or large banks accept small business loan applications online”. According to the Federal Reserve, awareness of online lenders has grown, and business owners increasingly turn to these companies for funding. In 2014, less than one-in-five credit applicants (18 percent) sought financing at an online lender, rising to nearly one-in-four (24 percent) in 2017.

“We’re proud to extend our commitment to small businesses through this strategic alliance with Fundation,” said Josephine Moran, Executive Vice President, Director of Retail Banking. “This will enable us to effectively serve the growing small business market by providing the capital many small businesses need to grow and reach their full potential. In turn, this will assist these businesses to flourish and create new jobs in our communities,” concluded Moran.

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation, added, “Our platform was developed to deliver credit with speed and convenience to small businesses, without asking them to compromise the quality of product and pricing they expect from their bank partner. Aided with this new capability, Provident Bank will be able to offer their local small business customers a market leading lending program.”

Small business owners can apply online at Provident Bank or visit their local Provident branch to apply in-person, where they will be able to work with a Banking Center Manager to assist them with their application.

About Provident Bank

Provident Bank, a community-oriented bank offering “Commitment you can count on” since 1839, is the wholly owned subsidiary of Provident Financial Services, Inc. (NYSE:PFS), which reported assets of $9.73 billion as of December 31, 2018. With $6.83 billion in deposits, Provident Bank provides a comprehensive suite of financial products and services through its network of branches throughout northern and central New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania. The Bank also provides fiduciary and wealth management services through its wholly owned subsidiary, Beacon Trust Company. For more information about Provident Bank, please visit www.provident.bank or join the conversations on Facebook (ProvidentBank) and Twitter (@ProvidentBank).

About Fundation

Fundation Group LLC is a credit solutions provider focused on the small business market nationally. Fundation is a leader in providing technology and application processing services to support more than 25 super regional, regional and community banks. Fundation’s solutions enable its financial services clients to develop a digital lending capability, provide a great customer experience, drive cost efficiency into their small business lending program, and maximize the number of customers they can serve. Fundation’s services range from simple referral partnerships to customized, integrated private labeled lending programs. The Company also partners with a wide array of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver credit products to the business community nationwide. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

Contacts

Media:

Provident Bank
Keith Buscio, 732-590-9407
Keith.Buscio@provident.bank

Fundation
Barry Feierstein, 571-418-6387
Barry.Feierstein@fundation.com

Bridget Nagle
Sard Verbinnen & Co (SIVIC)
630 Third Avenue, New York NY 10017 | 212.687.8080 | sardverb.com


Case study: Citizens Bank – fintech friendly

US heavyweight pivots for digital era

Citizens Bank, headquartered in Providence Rhode Island, 50 miles south of Boston, is the 13th largest bank in the US with $158.6 billion in assets. Beyond its physical locations in 11 states, it is using digital platforms to reach customers across the nation loans and savings products.

Since undertaking an IPO spinout from RBS in 2014, Citizens Bank has moved quickly to develop digital capability across the bank including peer-to-peer (P2P), trade finance, robo investment advisory, digital small business lending and an entirely digital savings bank, Citizens Access. In its drive to digital, Citizens is working with fintech partners, developing its own solutions and sponsoring hackathons.

“We’re doing quite a bit in digital,” says Charles Beyrouthy, assistant vice-president at Citizens. “We have quite a few different programs including partnerships with fintechs and fintech initiatives.”

The bank wants to be part of customers’ lives in a way they don’t have to think about, he added. It is working on artificial intelligence to understand customers’ spending habits so it can suggest ways to save for a specific objective, like a vacation, by setting aside a reasonable amount toward that goal on each payday.

The emphasis is on making it easy for customers by presenting information they can act on rather than leaving them to research to see what is available.

“Providing capabilities is not enough; we have to provide them in a way that is intuitive.”

To understand their customers better, bank staff get beyond data to spend time with clients.

“That is often under-done by tech companies and banks,” says Beyrouthy.

In his strategy role, Beyrouthy works between fintechs and the line of business (LOB) organisations in the bank.

“We do quite a bit of due diligence and work with folks in different verticals,” he explains. “We think about how the technology could work — the LOBs are the ones who are dealing with the customers, they understand who the customers are and how the customers could use the technology. Our job is to empower the LOBs in terms of seeing the value of the technology.”

To get out on the cutting edge, the bank is reaching out to local universities, meeting with startups and sponsoring hackathons.

In July 2018, Citizens hosted a hackathon and brought in 150 innovators in different technologies and tech enthusiasts to innovate around four themes:

  • 360-degree engagement with customers by consolidating all the customer information the bank has.
  • Liquidity crystal ball — what tools can Citizens provide to help customers understand their cashflow challenges.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and digital engagement — how can Citizens leverage AI platforms to increase its response rate and support capabilities to its customers.
  • Social banking — how can Citizens better deliver more personalised products to its customers.

“The idea was for us to get insight into initiatives at MIT, Harvard and U Mass and see how, or if, they could be applied to the bank, how they could help us innovate and think differently about the future of banking. From that point we started talking about proofs of concept and we have had some great collaborations.”

Working with fintechs, especially new fintechs, presents some challenges for a bank in due diligence – especially around security and compliance but also the financial stability of the fintech.

“We have a cybersecurity team that looks into the risk,” Beyrouthy says, “and we are launching a broader initiative to work with fintechs that aren’t product-ready but might be in the future.”

Fintechs can offer a bank some new approaches to customer experience, he adds, including AI, chat bots, analytics and personalisation.

Charles Beyrouthy, Citizens: “We are fintech friendly and very interested in helping them grow”

“In the past six months we have talked to 200-plus start-ups; we are committed to really aggressively pursue this market. We are fintech friendly and very interested not only in partnership with them but also in helping them grow. A lot of fintechs are looking for a partner willing to coach them in how to approach the market.”

Fintechs are often focused on the front end of finance — customers and customer experience — things they understand as customers themselves.

“Customers want to interact with the bank more than most people realise,” Beyrouthy notes. “We are already involved quite a bit with our customers and I anticipate that as our technology capabilities grow we are going to be much more involved. We are very focused on being able to bring the product the customer needs at the right time, being able to personalise the experience, understand where they want to spend, how they can better spend it and develop a payment that is personalised to that experience.

“A lot of banks are not able to clearly comprehend the extent to how customers are engaged in a digital space.”

The bank’s new credit card has been very successful, although it went through a few iterations to arrive at what it offers today. When it launched, the Citizens card offered 1.5% cash back, plus another 10%, or 1.65%, if you used it once a month for six months, plus another 10% if you deposited the cash back in a Citizens account. It all got a bit too complex, and in 2017 the bank decided to simplify the card and just set the cash back at 1.8%.Nerdwallet, a financial rating site, approved.

“Power to the people!” wrote Robin Saks Frankel on the site. “If you’re carrying the Citizens Bank Cash Back Plus World Mastercard, that is. This card’s flat cash-back rate of 1.8% on all purchases puts it ahead of a slew of cards from bigger banks offering 1.5%. But the lack of a sign-up bonus or the opportunity to earn bonus rewards might cast a bit of a pall over some in the crowd… If you like the idea of simple straightforward rewards, this might be the right card for you.”

But it is in digital capabilities that Citizens is doing really well. It has a partnership with Fundation, a digitally-based lending provider to process applications for small business loans. It lets small businesses apply for a loan or line of credit through a simple online application and receive a decision the same day in most cases. For some businesses that who do not meet Citizens’ credit requirements, Fundation will provide loans itself, expanding the number of businesses that can obtain credit through their Citizens Bank application.

Peter Wannamacher, principal analyst at Forrester, approves of the joint approach.

Banks dislike turning down small business loans, since it often has other relationships with the business owner — such as business and personal checking accounts, credit cards, student loans for the business owner’s children and perhaps a mortgage. Rejecting a loan application might be very harsh for the business owner, but being able to say the bank can help her get a loan from another source can be very powerful. And if the business is growing, it may qualify for a bank loan soon.

“Banks want good relationships with SME owners and operators, whether or not that operator is someone they can lend to,” Wannamacher adds.

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation, says the partnership has created a model for a bank and fintech to work together.

“The results are already showing that the bank will be able to reward a broad array of small businesses with the type of borrowing experience they are coming to expect from best-in-class financial services companies.”

In 2017, Citizens launched SpeciFi, which offers consumers a unified view of their banking and investment accounts from their online banking homepage through the SigFig platform.

“We think SpeciFi is a game-changing service that will make investing more accessible to a larger set of customers, while providing an entirely personalised and integrated banking and investing experience,” states the bank’s spokesperson.

The bank charges clients 0.5% for assets under management, about half what brokers typically charge, but more than some pure robo firms, including the 0.25% SigFig charges as a standalone platform, with no charge on the first $10,000.

The spokesperson explains: “SpeciFi from Citizens Investment Services offers customers an integrated view of their bank accounts and investment accounts all in one place, with the ability to move money among accounts simply. One fee covers both the investment management service and the cost of trades.

“SpeciFi customers also have the opportunity to consult with a financial advisor by phone for no additional charge, and/or set up an in-person consultation with one of our branch-based financial advisors who can offer advice on a range of investment products and services.”

For its commercial banking platform, the bank has turned to Bottomline Technologies to offer an integrated suite of cash management and payment services that can be tailored by market or industry segment. Citizens says it selected Bottomline after extensive industry research for its intuitive navigation; simplified transactions; integrated payment workflows and user self-service capabilities.

Digital tools like Bottomline help reduce paper and friction. Beyrouthy said the bank is continually working to increase digitalisation of processes to provide better customer services and faster processing.

In April 2018 the bank announced it would work with Indian system integrator and technology provider Infosys to implement Finastra’s flagship trade finance solution, Fusion Trade Innovation. The bank says the new solution this will “enable Citizens’ corporate clients to digitise traditionally paper-based trade processes, leading to increased efficiencies and reduced costs”.

Michael Cummins, head of treasury solutions at Citizens, says the bank was also looking at other corporate banking solutions, such as syndicated lending and supply chain finance, that Finastra could provide.

The bank’s technology received some detailed coverage in the annual report where the banks said it had a focus on open architecture to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment and harness innovation. Citizens also said it would place a greater emphasis on cloud computing to drive efficiencies and re-engineer its development away from waterfall to more agile development.

By Tom Groenfeldt, editorial contributor to FinTech Futures


Fundation Launches Digital Lending Capability with Banc of California for Small Business Customers

Fundation Launches Digital Lending Capability with Banc of California for Small Business Customers

Program will expedite and expand small business loan approvals for Banc of California customers

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fundation announced that it has recently launched a digital lending solution in partnership with Banc of California, enabling the California-based bank to offer a new, streamlined end-to-end solution for small businesses seeking a business loan or line of credit. The solution enables small businesses to apply for loans and lines of credit through a simple online application at Bancofcal.com and receive funds in a little as one business day.

“Very few small or large banks accept small business loan applications online”

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According to the FDIC Small Business Lending Survey in 2018, “Very few small or large banks accept small business loan applications online”. According to the Federal Reserve, awareness of online lenders has grown, and business owners increasingly turn to these companies for funding. In 2016, some one-in-five credit applicants (21 percent) sought financing at an online lender, rising to nearly one-in-four (24 percent) in 2017.

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation, added, “Our platform was developed to deliver credit with speed and convenience to small businesses, without asking them to compromise the quality of product and pricing they expect from their banking partner. Aided with this new capability, Banc of California will be able to offer their local small business customers a market leading lending program.”

About Fundation

Fundation Group LLC is a credit solutions provider focused on the small business market nationally. Fundation is a leader in providing technology and application processing services to support more than 25 super regional, regional and community banks. Fundation’s solutions enable its financial services clients to develop a digital lending capability, provide a great customer experience, drive cost efficiency into their small business lending program, and maximize the number of customers they can serve. Fundation’s services range from simple referral partnerships to customized, integrated private labeled lending programs. The Company also partners with a wide array of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver credit products to the business community nationwide. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

About Banc of California, Inc. (NYSE: BANC)

With over $10 billion in assets, and 32 offices throughout California, Banc of California is the only full-service, midsize bank focused exclusively on California. They provide innovative banking and lending products to diverse businesses, entrepreneurs and communities throughout California.

Contacts

Media:
Fundation
Barry Feierstein, 571-418-6387
Barry.Feierstein@fundation.com


Fundation Purchases Select Assets from Able Lending to Enhance Partnership Strategy

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Fundation Group LLC, a leading digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider, today announced that it has acquired a variety of assets from online small business lender, Able Lending of Austin, Texas.

“Able should be commended for developing some exceptional technology. The addition of these assets to our platform will further strengthen the value we bring to our bank partners and other strategic partners.”

Fundation develops a wide array of strategic partnerships with banks, other financial institutions, and various service providers to the small business market to deliver value added credit products to their small business client base. This acquisition is intended to enhance the scope of services that Fundation provides to its strategic partners, with enhanced capability for demand generation and customer acquisition.

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation said, “Able should be commended for developing some exceptional technology. The addition of these assets to our platform will further strengthen the value we bring to our bank partners and other strategic partners.”

About Fundation

Fundation Group LLC is a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider. The Company develops integrated small business lending solutions with banks, enabling them to deliver credit online, drive cost efficiency into their lending programs, and maximize customer retention by providing a positive customer experience and meeting the needs of the small businesses they serve. The Company also partners with a variety of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver small balance commercial credit products. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

Contacts

Fundation
Media
Barry Feierstein, 571-418-6387
Barry.Feierstein@fundation.com


Citizens Digitizes SMB Lending Process With Fundation

By PYMNTS Posted on November 3, 2017

www.pymnts.com

Citizens Bank is enhancing its small and medium-sized business (SMB) lending offering by digitizing the loan application process, according to a press release published by the financial institution (FI) on Thursday (Nov. 2).

The bank is launching a new platform, built in collaboration with alternative online lender Fundation, allowing SMB customers of the bank to apply for a loan or line of credit and receive an approval online. Citizens said that, in “most cases,” applicants are informed of a decision the same business day and receive funds within three business days.

“We understand that our small business customers are busy running their businesses and serving customers, so there’s little time left for lengthy [loan] applications, documentation, meetings and waiting for answers,” said Citizens Bank president of business banking Jack Murphy in a statement. “With our new digital lending technology, we have simplified the process of applying to smaller credit requests and are making it possible for more businesses to access the credit they need online, with rapid decision making and funding.”

Fundation has struck other partnerships with traditional FIs, and spoken out about the value it sees in collaborating with traditional FIs, telling PYMNTS in 2015 that such partnerships are “a great conversation point in our industry.”

“We are trying to really work to build a solution that exists right on a bank’s homepage, so we can really partner to get the customer into the right product,” said Fundation CEO Sam Graziano at the time.

In another statement issued Thursday, Graziano again emphasized the effectiveness of bank-FinTech collaborations.

“We believe what Citizens Bank has created is the ideal model of how to leverage the collective strengths of a digitally minded bank with a digital solutions company like Fundation,” he said. “The results are already showing that the bank will be able to reward a broad array of small businesses with the type of borrowing experience they are coming to expect from best-in-class financial services companies.”


Park Bank Announces Expansion of Small Business Lending Efforts

PRESS RELEASE

Park Bank Announces Expansion of Small Business Lending Efforts

Provides Greater Opportunity for Park Bank to Serve Small Businesses in the Community

Offers Simple Loan Terms, Quick Application Process and World-Class Customer Service

MILWAUKEE, Wis. and NEW YORK – November 1, 2017 – Park Bank announced today that it has joined the Small Business Loan Program created by BancAlliance and Fundation.

The Small Business Loan Program introduces a new financial technology platform that allows small businesses to access an online portal that will guide each small business customer to the products that best meet its unique need. This program is designed to enable banks to address the challenges of underwriting small businesses by providing a simplified and streamlined borrowing experience. Park Bank’s small business customers now have the ability to apply online by visiting ParkBankOnline.com/apply and certain eligible customers may receive approval in as little as one business day.

Tracy Meeks, Vice President – Small Business Banking at Park Bank, commented, “Park Bank was founded by business owners to address a lack of financing opportunities in their community on Milwaukee’s west side. Over 100 years later, we continue to evolve to meet the changing needs of the business community. With this new capability, we’re providing the small business community easier access to get the funding that will keep their businesses running.”

Fundation provides credit for working capital and expansion purposes to a wide array of businesses nationally. Unlike most non-bank lenders, Fundation’s products are conventional loan products but using its best-in-class technology platform, Fundation makes the process for applying for credit an extremely efficient and customer friendly process. Fundation has been the recipient of the “Best Working Capital” loan award by Business News Daily for three years in a row because of its outstanding online application process and dedicated customer relationship management.

Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation, said, “We are invested in driving the success of small business owners and partnering with Park Bank to do just that. The program we have created with our partner BancAlliance is unmatched within the industry, empowering community banks like Park Bank to serve their small business customer base and their local communities in an unparalleled way.” Brian Graham, CEO of BancAlliance, stated: “Our commitment is to the asset growth and diversification of the community banks we serve with a focus on expanding their relevance to their customers. This unique partnership with Fundation puts community banks at the forefront to be competitive with larger lending institutions without changing the traditional mission of community banking.”

About Park Bank
Established in 1915, Park Bank is a privately held commercial bank serving southeastern Wisconsin businesses and individuals. With over $900 million in assets, Park Bank has continued to increase its lending capacity, currently set at $18.5 million, to any one relationship. Park Bank’s core focus is the independent business market with revenues up to $100 million. As a full-service bank, services include commercial lending, commercial relationship banking, treasury management, private banking, equipment leasing, personal banking, residential mortgage, and personal and corporate investments. Park Bank is a member of the FDIC and an Equal Housing Lender. To see how we serve the Milwaukee region, visit ParkBankOnline.com.

About Fundation
Fundation Group LLC is a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider. The Company develops integrated small business lending solutions with banks, enabling them to deliver credit online, drive cost efficiency into their lending programs, and maximize customer retention by providing a positive customer experience and meeting the needs of the small businesses they serve. The Company also partners with a wide array of organizations that serve the small business market in various capacities to deliver credit products to the business community nationwide. For more information, please visit www.fundation.com.

About BancAlliance
BancAlliance is a collaborative network of community banks that offers an array of lending programs and business services that might not otherwise be available to its members. The services of BancAlliance are designed to expand the impact and reach of member banks, enhancing their profitability, serving their customers in new ways, and growing and diversifying their loan portfolios. BancAlliance’s mission is to enable its members, the banks that direct its activities, to prudently diversify into high-quality loans in a manner consistent with the highest commercial and regulatory standards – without changing the nature or mission of the traditional community bank. BancAlliance has member banks located throughout our country. Learn more at www.bancalliance.com.

Media Contacts:

Park Bank
Beth Borst
ElizabethB@ParkBankOnline.com
262-827-5118

Fundation
Barry Feierstein
barry.feierstein@fundation.com
571-418-6387


Defining, Adopting and Executing on Fintech

Defining, Adopting and Executing on Fintech
By: Sam Graziano, CEO of Fundation
SEPTEMBER 5TH, 2017 www.bankdirector.com

Fintech has become a convenient (and amorphous) term applied to virtually any technology or technology-enabled process that is, or might be, applied within financial services. While the technologies are complex, the vast array of the current wave of fintech boils down to three simple dynamics: (1) leveraging technology to measure or predict customer need or behavior; (2) meeting customer need through the best customer experience possible; and (3) the ability to execute more nimbly to evolve products and services and how they are delivered.

Every reasonably well-versed person in fintech knows that the ability to predict customer need or behavior is achieved through a strong data infrastructure combined with a high-quality analytics function. But what defines the quality of the customer experience? At Fundation, we believe the quality of the customer experience within financial services is determined by the convenience, simplicity, transparency, intuitiveness and security of the process by which a product or service is delivered. The challenge for many financial services companies in developing the optimal customer experience lies in the rigidity of their legacy systems. They lack the flexibility to continually innovate products and services and how they are delivered.

The distinct advantage that fintech firms like Fundation have over traditional financial services companies is the flexibility gained from building their technology infrastructures from scratch on modern technology. With in-house application development and data operations capabilities, fintechs can rapidly engineer and, more importantly, reengineer the customer experience and their business processes. The capacity to reengineer user interface (UI), user experience (UX) and back-end processes is a major factor in the ability of financial services companies to maintain a competitive edge in the digital era where customers are accustomed to engaging with the likes of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple in their digital lives.

Banks Remain Well Positioned to Win With Fintech
Armed with these capabilities, we, like so many fintechs, could be thumping our chests about how we are going to transform banking. But at Fundation, we see the future differently. We believe that the biggest disruption to banking is not going to come from outside of the banking industry—it’s going to come from the inside. A handful of banks (and maybe more) will reengineer their technology and data infrastructure using modern systems and processes, developed internally and augmented through highly integrated partnerships with fintechs. As a result, these banks will generate superior financial returns and take market share as customers migrate to firms that provide the experiences they expect.

In addition to enjoying a lower cost of capital advantage versus fintechs, we believe banks are well positioned for three other reasons. First, banks will remain the dominant choice of customers for financial products given their brand strength and existing market share. Second, banks have far more data than the average fintech that can be used to develop predictive analytics to determine customer need or behavior. Third, and perhaps most important, banks have what we at Fundation call the “trust asset:” their customers trust that they will protect their information and privacy and that they will recommend products best suited to their needs.

Be the Manufacturer or the General Contractor
Banks are in a strong position to win the fintech revolution but what remains are the complexities of how to execute. There are a few basic strategies:
1. Do nothing
2. Manufacture your own capabilities
3. Operate as the general contractor, aligning your institution with third parties that can do the manufacturing
4. Some combination of manufacturing and general contracting

For banks that are predominantly in relationship-driven lines of business rather than transactional lines of business, doing nothing is viable for now. The pressures on your business are not as severe, and a wait-and-see approach may enable you to make more informed decisions when the time is right.

For others, doing nothing is fraught with peril. Assuming that you choose one of the remaining three options, the implementation process will be hard, but what may be even harder is the change in organizational psychology necessary to execute on your decision. Resistance to change is natural.

That is why fintech initiatives should be driven top-down. Executive leadership should command these initiatives and set the vision. More important, executive leaders should explain why the institution is pursuing a fintech initiative and why it has decided to build, partner or outsource. Explaining why can reduce the natural resistance to, and fear of, change.

Manufacturing your own capabilities is hard work but has advantages. It provides maximum control over the project and limits your vendor management risk. The downside is that the skill sets required to execute are wide-ranging. That said, building in-house doesn’t mean that everything needs to be proprietary technology. Most fintech platforms are a combination of proprietary technology along with third-party customized components. Should you elect to build off of third-party software, you must ensure that the platform is highly configurable and customizable. If you don’t have significant influence over customization, you will lose the opportunity to reengineer the processes necessary to rapidly innovate and evolve.

Being the general contractor isn’t easy, either, but banks are very adept at it. You could make the argument that most banks are just an amalgamation of business lines, each of which employs a different system (mostly third-party) and are already operating as general contractors. The business line leaders we have come to know have significant experience managing critical third-party vendors and therefore have the skill set and knowledge to manage even the most innovative financial technology partners. What’s more, they often know what they would want their operating platforms to do, as opposed to what they are built to do today.
Should your institution decide to outsource services to a fintech firm, it is paramount to align interests. Banks should embrace their fintech counterparty as a partner, not simply a vendor. Welcome the flexibility that they offer, and allow them to empower your institution to innovate and evolve.

Don’t Squander the “Trust Asset”
In a world where Amazon, Google, Facebook and Apple dominate the digital landscape, deliver ideal customer experiences, and may possess a “trust asset” of their own, the status quo is not an option, no matter how painful change can be. If your financial institution intends to compete over the long term, executing on a fintech road map is vital, moving towards infrastructures with a foundation of flexibility. Over the next decade, flexibility will allow financial services companies to compete more effectively by delivering the products, services and experiences that customers will demand. Flexibility is what will allow your institution to maintain its competitive position over the long term.

Sam Graziano, a highly experienced financial services executive and entrepreneur, is the co-founder and chief executive officer with Fundation Group LLC, a digitally-enabled lender and credit solutions provider.


EY announces Finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year® 2017 Award in the New York Region

NEW YORK, May 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — EY today announced the finalists for the Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017 Award in the New York region. The awards program recognizes entrepreneurs who are excelling in areas such as innovation, financial performance and personal commitment to their businesses and communities. These business leaders were selected by a panel of independent judges. Award winners will be announced at a special gala on June 22, 2017 at the New York Marriott Marquis.

The finalists are:
Morgan Hermand-Waiche – Adore Me
Jonathan Stein – Betterment
David Heath – Bombas
Ryan Urban – BounceX
Ken Colao – CNY Group
David Klein – CommonBond
Robert Reffkin – Compass
Dr. Joan Fallon – Curemark, LLC
Ran Sarig – Datorama, Inc.
Mike Brown – Death Wish Coffee
Nadia Boujarwah – Dia&Co
Thomas Majewski – Eagle Point Credit Management LLC
Michael Nardy – Electronic Payments Inc.
Nat Turner and Zach Weinberg – Flatiron Health
Doug Gordon and Sam Graziano – Fundation
Sonny Kalsi – GreenOak Real Estate
Jeffrey Snyder – Inspira Marketing Group, LLC
Daniel Teran – Managed by Q
Jonah Goodhart and Noah Goodhart – Moat
Dev Ittycheria – MongoDB, Inc.
Shafqat Islam – NewsCred
Mary-Jean Eastman and Bradford Perkins – Perkins Eastman
James Mastronardi and Andrew Vagenas – Pharmapacks, LLC
Seph Skerritt – Proper Cloth
Ricky Joshi and Ronald Rudzin – Saatva
Daniel Siegel – Safe Passage
Joe Reilly – The Community Development Trust, Inc.
Tom Patterson – Tommy John
Michael Batt – Travel Leaders Group
Nick Romito – VTS
Jeff Rosenzweig – Wet Brush
Kenny Dichter – Wheels Up
Stephen J. Fanning – Z-Medica, LLC

Now in its 31st year, the program has expanded to recognize business leaders in over 145 cities and more than 60 countries throughout the world.

Regional award winners are eligible for consideration for the Entrepreneur Of The Year national program.  Award winners in several national categories, as well as the Entrepreneur Of The Year Overall National Award winner, will be announced at the Entrepreneur Of The Year National Awards gala in Palm Springs, California on November 18, 2017. The awards are the culminating event of the Strategic Growth Forum™, the nation’s most prestigious gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. The Entrepreneur Of The Year Overall Award winner then moves on to compete for the World Entrepreneur Of The Year Award in Monaco in June 2018.

About Entrepreneur Of The Year®
Entrepreneur Of The Year®, founded by EY, is the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, chosen from an independent panel of judges including entrepreneurs and prominent leaders from business, finance, and the local community. The program makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global awards program of its kind, Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in over 145 cities and more than 60 countries. ey.com/eoy