Alkami Gold Standard Series

Gold Standard Series event recap: Digital Innovation through Culture Transformation

Mary Nelson, Chief Client Officerby Mary Nelson, Chief Client Officer

Now more than ever, investing in a meaningful, authentic culture is a vital part of achieving digital success—the alignment of business goals and employed technology.

So where do financial institutions (FIs) who aspire to be digital leaders begin? In our latest Gold Standard Series event, we hosted a talented panel of financial industry leaders to explore the impact of cultural transformation on digital innovation.

For those who have taken Alkami’s Digital Success Assessment, introduced in a previous Gold Standard Series event, the content and insights support progression along the People track.

Foundations of an impactful culture

When a financial institution is truly committed to cultural transformation, their leaders must be passionate about the organization’s vision. If they lead the way, the rest of their team can feel confident in acting out their culture. Kristin Marcuccilli, Chief Operating Officer at STAR Financial Bank shared that their leaders set the tone for a strong, progressive culture in a few ways:

  • Create a long-term vision and mission statement for your FI
  • Activate and evangelize your core values daily
  • Be intentional about the recruitment and retention of the best talent
  • Encourage life-long learning at all levels of your organization

For organizations just coming into their own, being intentional about their actions positions them for a lasting culture. Alkami Chief Human Resources Officer, Adrianne Court, explained how our organization established six culture compounds and reinforces them in a variety of ways. This approach helps Alkami maintain our identity and values as we continue to grow. 

Kristin Marcuccilli, Chief Operating Officer at STAR Financial Bank

What drives innovation

Each of our panelists shared their leadership perspective on how to drive innovation with culture, and their ideas had one thing in common—listening makes all the difference.  

Shelli Bardsley, Chief Administrative Officer/Executive Vice President at Idaho Central Credit Union (ICCU) shared that her team employs a system called “Idea Central” where people can contribute ideas across departments, provide feedback, and add research, giving a clear view for leaders to see what their team members are saying and thinking.

This has helped the entire organization better listen to a diverse collection of ideas.  One of Alkami’s core culture compounds is Courageous-Innovation, which drives transparency and trust.

To innovate, Alkamists need to be able to come forward with ideas and know they’ll be heard. As they act on their ideas, they also need to know failure is okay. 

STAR Financial Bank focuses on being the best listeners to both their customer and their employees.

They advocate celebrating successes and failures in the innovation process, and suggest starting on a small scale when beginning to take bold risks.

Innovation’s impact on user satisfaction

People are passionate about personalized service that is frictionless and delivered in a meaningful way.

Leading financial institutions recognize that embracing an innovative culture is essential to meeting their users where they are on their financial journey, and ultimately driving greater satisfaction.  

STAR Financial Bank measures success through customers’ willingness to refer them and to participate in testimonials, by their loyalty and longevity, and through positive feedback obtained via their “Voice of the Customer” platform, which measures satisfaction and advocacy ratings.  

ICCU also measures recognition of their culture via referrals and their Net Promoter scores.

When they launched the program in 2009, their “How likely are you to refer your friends and family?” score was 46.7%. As a result of increased member feedback, loyalty scores jumped to 67%.  

Additionally, team members at ICCU participate in an employee engagement survey that has returned a nearly 89% positive response to the question, “Would you recommend ICCU as an employer?”

When asked how likely they’d be to recommend their own FI’s products and services, the ICCU team responded with a 93.6% positive response.

Shelli Bardsley, Chief Administrative Officer/Executive VP at Idaho Central Credit Union

Business outcomes from culture investment

Human resources professionals aren’t the only ones who should care about a culture of innovation.

Chief Financial Officers should also have a vested interest in the state of their organization’s culture. Strong financial performance is an indicator of a healthy culture.

For instance, ICCU, with their high survey ratings, is one of the fastest growing credit unions in the country, and has been ranked in the top five credit unions of the S&P Global Market Intelligence Rankings for the last nine years.  

Recently, Alkami examined financial metrics that define organizational success at SaaS companies.

We found that companies with high organizational success metric performance have similarly high culture scores.

Where to begin

So where does an organization begin in transforming their culture to one of digital innovation?

By listening.  

Start asking your team for input to find out how well your current strategic plans are going.

Provide an employee engagement survey with room to share as much candid feedback as they like.

Then, be ready to act on those insights. If you need improvement, accepting the results may be the hardest part of your journey towards culture transformation.

Start with what your team is asking for, and stay focused on the data.  Also pay close attention to what your users are saying about your culture.

Aligning user satisfaction surveys and employee engagement surveys are key to continuing your journey.  

Remember that culture needs to be an ongoing practice. Staying focused on incremental change is less intimidating to implement than one big initiative. 

Adrianne Court, Chief Human Resources Officer at Alkami

Once you know what you need to act on, it’s important to describe your culture in words so you have a common language shared within your organization.

This way, everyone can clearly communicate and live the culture day in and day out. Encourage and recognize actions that align with what you want your organization’s thinking to be.

If you do these things, your culture will naturally translate into user and community interactions.  

Finally, culture is not just a flavor of the month. It’s something you have to be intentional about all the time.

You might get positive feedback on something you implemented, but that doesn’t mean you are done. You must continue to reinforce positive feedback while working on areas that need improvement.  

Thank you to Idaho Central Credit Union, STAR Financial Bank, and Adrianne for another great Gold Standard Series event. You can watch Digital Innovation through Culture Transformation on demand by clicking the button below.

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