Show cover of FIsionaries


The FIsionaries Podcast, sponsored by Alkami Technology Inc., shines a light on financial institutions (FIs) at the bleeding edge of digital transformation. The podcast, hosted by Jim Marous, features banks and credit unions sharing lessons learned from their digital transformation journeys as well as insights from fintech partners and other industry thought leaders. Each episode will provide regional and community banks and credit unions with insights, tips and tricks to elevate their digital banking game.


Lessons in Digital Dexterity from Travis Credit Union
I'm excited to have Grant Karsas, VP of Digital Experience at Travis Credit Union, on the FIsionaries podcast today. Grant oversees the member-facing digital channels at Travis CU, one of the largest credit unions in California with nearly $5 billion in assets and more than 245,000 members. Grant shares insights into how Travis CU leverages modern technologies to deepen member relationships through personalized experiences, earning the credit union industry awards for excellence. We also discuss how a community-based credit union can compete successfully in a crowded market filled with major banks and new fintech entrants.
42:23 11/29/23
Leading with AI, Technology, Insight and Empathy
I am excited to be joined by Smart Financial Credit Union's CIO, Marcus Manning, on the FIsionaries podcast. Marcus was just named Futurist CIO by Houston CIO Community for his foresight into how to leverage AI as a way financial services are both delivered and perceived by consumers. Just as importantly, Marcus works tirelessly to build a culture at Smart Financial that will make the credit union more future-ready. His belief is that people, process, and technology are the three pillars to success. In this episode, we will discuss how these pillars support more than just better banking, but also offering a richer user experience, bolstered security, an improved employee experience and a path to growth.
47:25 11/15/23
Leveraging The Scalability of Modern Technology
I'm excited to welcome Tim Ferrio, CTO of Team One Credit Union, to the FIsionaries podcast. With just under $750 million in assets, Team One faces an uphill battle competing against major banks with billions in their war chests to finance modern technologies and innovation. In this episode, we explore the unique opportunities and challenges smaller credit unions face in keeping pace with digital innovation and delivering great member experiences. We also uncover creative strategies that can help modest institutions like Team One punch above their weight class and take on the banking behemoths using composible solutions.
32:23 11/1/23
Being the ‘Best’ Starts with People and Culture
While modest is size, Nymeo FCU continues to be recognized regionally and nationwide as a “Best Credit Union to Work For” and “Best of the Best Credit Unions” within their marketplace in Maryland. According to the credit union, much of its success can be attributed to its commitment to its staff and their continued commitment to provide members with a superior experience across all delivery channels. In our FIsionaries Podcast conversation with senior executives from Nymeo, we shed light on the mosaic of decisions, innovations, and leadership moments that have led Nymeo to continue to be a leader in the marketplace.
36:47 10/18/23
Veridian Drives Innovation with Early FedNow Adoption
Veridian Credit Union has cemented its reputation as an innovator by being one of the first to adopt the new FedNow real-time payment rail. Joining us today on the FIsionaries podcast are Colin Eagan, Real-Time Payment Administrator, and Amy Faley, Manager of ACH at Veridian, to discuss their journey to fast payments. We’ll explore Veridian’s motivations, implementation, and lessons learned launching FedNow to stay ahead of the digital transformation curve.
36:08 10/4/23
Trailblazing Excellence: The Corning Credit Union's Success Story
In today's episode of the FIsionaries Podcast, we have the privilege of sitting down with Mark Hufnagel, Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Corning Credit Union. Join us as we delve into the remarkable journey that has led Corning Credit Union to achieve recognition as one of the best credit unions in New York state. Discover the strategies, values, and innovations that set this institution apart and continue to shape its future success. Also, get a taste of Corning's approach to using technology to better serve members and stand out in a competitive landscape.
37:10 8/29/23
The Compelling Case for Investing in Fintechs
Digital banking transformation is most successful when it combines internal and external execution. This includes a focus on digital banking transformation, innovation, and strategic investments. Michigan State University Federal Credit Union has grown consistently over the past 5 years, reaching $7.5 billion in assets. They have done this with strong leadership and a continued investments in modern fintech solutions through a wholly owned credit union service organization, Reseda. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is April Clobes, President and CEO of the Reseda Group and MSUFCU. We discuss the strategic advantage of investing in new technologies and fintech solutions that can be deployed internally and sold to other credit unions.
38:51 8/8/23
Achieving Market Leading Growth During Challenging Times
Growing from $2.5 billion to over $4 billion in the past five years, the Biloxi-based Keesler Federal Credit Union has become one of the largest credit unions in the United States. With 39 locations across three states and three in the United Kingdom, the credit union has 280,000 members. What sets Keesler FCU apart is not just their exceptional growth, but their ability to anticipate industry trends. Their unwavering commitment to innovation, combined with a commitment to members and the community, has earned them national recognition. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is Jason MacDonald, SVP & Chief Information Officer, Keesler Federal Credit Union. We discuss many of the ways Keesler Federal Credit Union has achieved growth while not sacrificing personalized service.
44:18 7/26/23
Supporting Underserved Communities with Multilingual Solutions
Whether a customer wants to do banking in-person or online, the need for multilingual service is more important than ever. Thankfully, with today’s translation technologies and AI-powered multilingual chatbots, language barriers aren’t insurmountable. Unitus Community Credit Union, headquartered in Oregon, has made a commitment to providing inclusive financial services. This includes supporting a bilingual positioning at every touchpoint. The credit union’s website is already available in dual languages, a bilingual chatbot has just been introduced, and more efforts are underway. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is Corlinda Wooden, SVP/Chief Retail Officer at Unitus Community Credit Union. We discuss how committing to embrace underserve communities has resulted in historically high growth and higher customer satisfaction ratings.
31:50 7/12/23
The Power of Core Values at a Community Financial Institution
Differentiation in the banking industry is not easy. Especially for a credit union with $400 million in assets and only 5 branches. cPort Credit Union, headquartered in Portland Maine, has found that providing advanced digital services and serving the community in unique ways is the key to building a strong brand, supporting a powerful culture, and delivering continued growth. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is Ashley Simmons, Director of Digital Experience at cPort Credit Union. We discuss how cPort uses five core values as a guide to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
40:39 6/28/23
Innovating by Creating Better Customer and Employee Experiences
In the past, the ability to be on the cutting edge of innovation and digital transformation was only possible for organizations with the most assets and deepest pockets. PeoplesChoice Credit Union has dispelled that myth, by rethinking traditional business models – continually creating new products, services and ways to better serve the community. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is Luke Labbe, President of the $325 million PeoplesChoice Credit Union in Maine. We discuss how PeoplesChoice continues to invest in digital technology and their employees to provide better member experiences, higher returns, lower loan rates and fewer fees for its members.
29:20 6/21/23
Innovation Beyond Geographic Borders
When consumers are looking to find the best rates offered on savings accounts, they usually are pointed to NerdWallet or by Google. The problem is that the search results are often biased … influenced by advertising or affiliate dollars. To respond to the need for a more extensive and unbiased source of the best savings rates nationwide, Seattle Bank created CD Valet. This unique site allows consumers to search for the best rates, set maturity and target rate alerts, track investments, and even receive financial education. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is John Blizzard, President and CEO of $800 million Seattle Bank. We discuss how a community bank can support an innovative culture across an organization, making an impact beyond geographic boundaries.
40:26 5/3/23
Premier Bank: Transformation Begins and Ends with a Digital Culture
Financial institutions of all sizes must be able to deploy advanced technology and digital functionality at speed and scale. This can be a challenge for smaller organizations, but is made much easier with a strong digital-first culture and leadership that embraces change. Premier Bank, headquartered in Youngstown, Ohio, has $8.5 billion in assets and operates 74 branches and 12 loan offices in 5 midwestern states, with wealth professionals dedicated to each community banking branch. My guests on the FIsionaries podcast are Varun Chandhok, EVP and CIO and Kathy Bushway, Chief Marketing Officer at Premier Bank. They discuss how Premier Bank brings the best in digital banking to both current and prospective clients alike by leveraging partners across the banking ecosystem.
32:22 3/13/23
Webster Bank: Digital Transformation During a Core Conversion
More than ever, financial institutions must rethink their legacy business models for growth and profitability. This is especially true for mid-tier organizations that can’t spend at the pace of the biggest banking leaders. Headquartered in Stamford, CT, Webster Bank is a leading bank in the Northeast that provides a wide range of digital and traditional financial solutions. With $68 billion in assets, its core footprint spans the northeastern U.S., with certain businesses operating in extended geographies. They recently merged with Sterling Bank. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is Matthew Smith, Chief Digital Banking Officer and Head of Enterprise Product, Marketing, and Transformation at Webster Bank. Matthew discusses how Webster Bank has marched forward with digital transformation while also managing a core conversion as a result of their merger with Sterling Bank.
31:46 3/6/23
Reimagining Legacy Business Models at Coastal Bank
Community banks and credit unions have taken deposits and made loans to consumers, small businesses and dreamers of all kinds for decades. Over the years, the business model for these institutions has remained virtually the same. But the marketplace has changed. Today, instead of being forced to choose the products that financial institutions offer, customers have come to demand the personalized products that they want from their bank or credit union. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is Curt Queyrouze, President, Coastal Community Bank. We discuss how a $3.2 billion bank in Everett, Washington is rethinking the products and services offered and the delivery channels used to better serve customers, employees and shareholders.
36:13 2/24/23
Challenging the Status Quo at Quorum Federal Credit Union
While many financial institutions are challenged to deliver digital banking solutions, Quorum Federal Credit Union, out of Purchase New York, serves their more than 70,000 members in 50 states with online and mobile banking options only. Founded in 1934 as the exclusive credit union for Kraft Foods employees, Quorum now serves over 50 companies nationwide with highly competitive rates on deposits and loans and with a culture that encourages innovation and a commitment to the highest level of member experiences. In fact, Quorum was just named the Best Credit Union in 2023 by Bankrate. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is Jeffrey Pachter, President and CEO at Quorum Federal Credit Union. Jeffrey shares how innovation at Quorum never stops – and why status quo is not acceptable.
27:09 2/13/23
A Strong Workplace Culture Generates Bottom Line Results
Welcome to the FIsionaries Podcast, sponsored by Alkami. I’m Jim Marous. This exciting podcast series shines a light on financial institutions at the cutting edge of digital transformation … providing you with the tips and tricks to elevate your digital game. Our guests are competing with the biggest players in financial services by embracing their digital vision at speed and scale. At a time when almost all financial institutions look and act the same, it is more important than ever to create brand differentiation through innovative products, a commitment to the community, and an internal culture that impacts members and customers directly. Founded in 1940 with a schoolteacher’s shoebox and a handwritten ledger, iQ Credit Union has never forgotten its roots, growing relationships through empathy and a commitment to financial wellness education. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is Jordan Lehrman, Chief Technology Officer, iQ Credit Union, a $2B asset financial institution serving the Pacific Northwest. Matt shares how making a commitment to internal culture pays member dividends that stimulates growth. Watch the video version of this interview on our YouTube Channel:
39:07 2/1/23
How a Data-Led Culture Transforms the Customer Journey
Nothing will ever beat the service you can receive in a conversation with a real human being. But, in an age where people connect through mobile devices more than ever, data and analytics can support engagement across the customer journey. Beyond risk and fraud detection, customer data and analytics can now monitor the financial health and needs of customers and members, including small business clients. My guest on the FIsionaries podcast is Matthew Teoli, VP of Digital Channels at the $1B Florida Credit Union in Gainsville Florida. Matt shares data can personalize banking services and drive member engagement for improved results. Watch the video version of this interview on our YouTube Channel:
30:48 2/1/23
The Power of Data at a Community Financial Institution
Welcome to the brand new FIsionaries Podcast, sponsored by Alkami, and hosted by me, Jim Marous. This podcast series shines a light on financial institutions at the cutting edge of digital transformation … providing you with the tips and tricks to elevate your digital game. Today, most financial institutions (FIs) do not have the insights and data automation necessary to achieve a full understanding of account holders, proactively address their financial needs, and personalize their engagements. To remain competitive in a very fluid market, FIs must apply the right balance of supervised machine learning and automation to data collection, enrichment, account holder analytics, predictions, and engagement. My guests are Leeah Webb and Emily Stewart from Meritrust Credit Union and Ben Udell from Monona Bank. They share to how leverage actionable intelligence to deepen account holder understanding and transform experiences. Watch the video version of this interview on our YouTube Channel:
33:50 2/1/23
Enhancing the Customer Journey with an Innovation and Transformation Culture
Welcome to the FIsionaries Podcast, sponsored by Alkami. This podcast shines a light on financial institutions at the cutting edge of digital transformation … providing you with the tips and tricks to elevate your digital game. Most financial services executives say that innovation is now a prerequisite to respond quickly to market challenges and opportunities and to become future-ready. With an innovation culture, financial institutions of all sizes are in a better position as consumer behavior is changing faster than ever. Organizations with an advanced level of innovation and transformation culture are completely rethinking their business models, leveraging advanced technologies, understanding their customers and members more fully, investing in upskilling and reskilling and achieving higher rates of growth. My guests are Raphael Reznek, CTO and Samantha Pause, CMO at Mascoma Bank. We discuss how to support an enhanced customer journey with an innovation and transformation culture and how this makes banking better for customers and employees. Watch the video version of this interview on our YouTube Channel:
38:09 2/1/23