For most of us, the act of “throwing the book” at someone is just an expression meant to conjure up the image of a judge throwing a book of laws at a criminal as punishment. However, the visual that CFO John Orton summons in the opening minutes of our talk is the act of having a physical book thrown at him by a manager during the early days of his career. It’s clear that Orton found the experience unsettling, and from that day forward, he explains, he became committed to the idea that treating others with respect must always be a key tenet of his CFO leadership. We should mention here how very often finance leadership is summoned to help address bad behavior in the workplace (even at those times when CEOs have behaved poorly). Conventional CFO wisdom tells us that incivility not only is a nuisance, but also is a threat to a company’s bottom line. Still, by identifying the experience as one of a select few that shaped his CFO leadership, Orton does something that most of his CFO peers dare not when he extracts a leadership lesson not from an esteemed mentor, but from a troubled manager. –Jack Sweeney
Guest: John Orton
Company: Amplify Credit Union
Headquarters: Austin, TX
CFOTL: How have mobile technologies changed how Amplify engages with customers?
Orton: We’ve been in a long-term cycle. It’s probably not a cycle because it’s one-way, but a long-term trend of decreasing branch transactions. Actually, for a credit union our size to have only six physical branches, that’s relatively few branches. Over the past few years, we’ve de-emphasized physical branches for one specific reason, which is that more and more customers are choosing to interact with us online. Now, as Millennials become a greater portion of our customer set as well, we have fairly robust mobile offerings. We’ve partnered with a company based here in Austin called Q2, and we work with them to provide the mobile capabilities. You can check your deposit balances online if you’ve applied for a loan, you can check your loan application online, you can even do a loan application on a mobile device. We can push notices to you if your account balances get below a certain level, things like that.
Almost anything that you can do in a branch, you can certainly do online and you can increasingly do on mobile. This is absolutely a place where we’ve invested a lot of money and where we have to be able to compete with other, larger players. We also rolled out a program this year where you can apply for a mortgage online or on a mobile device, and it’s become a very, very automated process. If you’ve ever applied for a mortgage, you know that it’s very paper-intensive. Our new offering is similar to Rocket Mortgage but a little bit different. You enter certain information, and the software is smart enough to go get credit reports and proof of income and other things like that. You don’t have to call those companies and track down that information yourself. It becomes automated for you as the borrower. So, everything’s becoming a much more user-friendly process for both our depositors and our borrowers. jb