Kevin Tweddle: 6 traits for fintech success

By Kevin Tweddle, ICBA

Community banks partner with fintech companies for any number of reasons. But before you dive into this process, it’s critical to be organized and structured for success. Here’s my guide to help your bank achieve organizational traits that enable more successful partnerships.

1. Leadership. Going down the fintech path creates a higher degree of risk and potential failure. The bank’s executive team and the board of directors have an opportunity to cultivate and promote a culture of innovation across the bank. This means taking a longer-term view, being open to change and being comfortable with learning from “fast failures” to improve over the long term. Innovation should be woven into the fabric of your strategy and not relegated to a single committee buried in one of the bank’s departments.

2. Education. Everyone should be educated about your innovation options and strategy. This will help staff keep a pulse on how the bank stacks up to the industry’s evolution and give you a leg up on your competition. Remember: Innovation can and should be part of everyone’s job to make the banking experience seamless for your customers.

3. Simplicity. Nothing kills a solution faster than making it too complex to use or understand. While the concept of financial technology and innovation may seem overwhelming, the best rule of thumb is to keep things simple. After all, the ultimate goal is to make the banking process simpler for your customers.

4. Use cases. Make sure to separate the “this is cool” solutions from those that address relevant problems. By making sure your fintech partner is solving a high-priority problem for your current or potential customers, good things will happen.

5. Collaboration. Enterprise-wide collaboration is required for success. Having a diverse team, both culturally and organizationally, will yield better results. There must also be a point person accountable for financial technology efforts with a direct reporting line to the C-suite.

6. Talent and incentive. Staff that are executing financial technology partnership efforts need to have a strong understanding and skill set in banking, technology and, in many cases, communications. It’s a tough combination to find these days, but expanding the skill sets of internal staff members can work just as well.

Partnering with financial technology firms has become standard operating procedure for community banks. These relationships will be critical to your overall plan to generate more innovative solutions for your customers and improve your strategic planning process. Change and education are constants, and strong partnerships in fintech can be your recipe for success in today’s fast-moving environment.


Kevin Tweddle (kevin.tweddle@icba.org) is ICBA’s group executive vice president, innovation and financial technology.

Top