Shawn Hughes, Chief Operating Officer and President of ENACOMM joins us in this Global FinTech Series interview to talk about his fintech predictions and how this segment has evolved with time while also sharing key leadership hacks that help strengthen teams across the hierarchy.
Can you tell us a little about yourself Shawn (including your hobbies!), and what a typical day at work is like for you at ENACOMM.
I’m a resident of the Tulsa, Oklahoma greater metropolitan area and a graduate of The University of Tulsa, BSBA Finance. I’m a family-focused husband and father. We relish our time together in general, especially traveling to destinations with sun, inviting beaches and golf, when possible. Besides golf, my hobbies also include off-road adventure dirt bike riding.
The past 25 years of my career have been centered in the business consulting and technology industry. Twenty-one of those years were spent immersed in gaining diversified leadership experience across 4 dimensions: solutions delivery, operations, customer experience and people, which included an Executive Mgmt. Program, Harvard Business School Alliance & Curriculum at Nuance Communications, Enterprise Division, a U.S-based multinational computer software technology leader (the first seven years of 17 with a progressive consulting and contact center systems integrator Viecore LLC, acquired by Nuance in 2007). At Nuance Enterprise Division, I was responsible for a talented and diverse staff of over 400+ persons, focused in delivering complex digital and automated contact center solutions across multiple business verticals, with an emphasis in large Fortune 100 enterprise banking and financial services, some of which included CitiBank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, American Express, USAA, Etrade, Charles Schwab, Fidelity, ING, TransAmerica, and American International Group. During the last 10 of the 17 years, our services leadership team helped realize 40+ consecutive quarters of profitability growth in our Enterprise Services line of business.
My new mission at ENACOMM is to leverage my enterprise services and operational experience in driving and scaling for growth, further enabling competitive parity for our nation’s SMB Banks, Community Banks and Credit Unions, the fabric and main street providers of financial services for the lion share of America’s families and businesses.
Currently, a typical day on the job is comprised of supporting the needs of our leadership and talented staff across multiple functional areas. At the top of my list of priorities is ensuring our customer commitments are delivered and working through any challenges that arise. In tandem, we currently have several operational initiatives underway geared around organizational alignment, expanding capacity, and refining tools and processes to increase efficiencies and capabilities – to do what we do for our customers better and faster. I’m enthusiastic regarding our team at ENACOMM and its passion about what we do, and we tend to have some fun doing it along the way.
Given your vast experience in the business consulting and technology industry, we’d love to read about some of your biggest leadership hacks and learnings. Could you share your top few?
This is an interesting question. I’m going to approach this from a leadership point of view with respect to leading high-performing, resilient teams or otherwise.
In the pursuit of affecting change or gaining alignment on new strategic initiatives, the importance of garnering the trust of a leadership team cannot be overstated. In my career experience of both leading and developing teams, as well as my personal experience of being led, trust is arguably the single-most important enabler or inhibitor in a leader’s ability to create and sustain healthy, productive cross-functional relationships and culture that breeds employee enthusiasm and customer loyalty, whether in a highly or lesser matrixed organization. And those that are not effective in establishing authentic trust and sustaining it typically are not well-supported, respected nor productive.
As a leader, I feel that my top responsibility (Job #1) is to serve and enable the ENACOMM team within the context of our business model and go-to-market strategy. If team members do not believe you have their best interests in mind, they will not follow your lead nor fully support your vision or mission. One of the steps in establishing real trust involves understanding what is important to each person or leader and what they are passionate about within the context of their professional work, and aligning them collectively with their strengths and personal goals. Then, it’s key to not only provide recognition for a job well done, but also hold people accountable for their missteps in a way that maintains their respect, trust and ‘thrust’ in moving forward. All leaders and individual contributors need to know and truly believe their leader ‘has their back’ and best interests locked in. This is vital in building or sustaining a synergistic, focused, connected culture – it’s difficult to thrive in business otherwise. Thriving versus existing are very different cultures and dynamics. Establishing trust and transparency, in addition to giving the team a voice and vote on the right topics, helps ensure that they support your vision even if they don’t fully buy into it.
How according to you will the fintech segment evolve in the coming years? Which industries will benefit most from the latest innovations in fintech, how and why?
At ENACOMM, we envision that various technology providers will partner in order to become a unified “bank of one”, as banks and credit unions of all sizes look to FinTechs more and more for personalized banking solutions to improve the customer experience. These services will be shaped by the pursuit of a fast and frictionless system for everyday banking and payments.
What are some of the biggest innovations in Fintech that according to you are set to be game-changers for the entire tech industry?
Advancements in biometric technology are opening up untapped opportunities for innovation. Imagine paying with just a swipe of your finger (naked payments) or telling Amazon’s Alexa to create a spending report that will be emailed to you in real-time (conversational banking). A “cloud” of authentication will follow you from location to location thanks to multi-device triangulation enabled by biometric authentication.
What are some of the biggest fintech challenges for the retail banking sector that teams face when it comes to adoption and selection of the best fintech stack to drive efforts, goals?
At ENACOMM, we believe the biggest challenge has been, and will continue to be, the closed nature of the banking systems that exist today. Core providers often claim to have open API systems, but they add friction by charging financial institutions high fees to enable ancillary services. This is not an open system.
We’d love to know what some of your top FinTech predictions for 2020 are?
Over the next 12-24 months, we believe financial institutions will be hyper-focused on security and fraud, sparking creative solutions from FinTech providers for authentication and seamless, secure payments. For example, soon you will see self-provisioned debit and credit card numbers, so every banking customer will have multiple unique card numbers, each number automatically created and used with only one merchant with whom the customer does business. Unlike a banking customer using one card number with multiple merchants, multiple merchants with whom the customer does business will each have access to just one card number linked to the customer’s financial account that only works at that one merchant. That way, if the card information is ever compromised, there is no threat of a fraudster using the customer’s card information at other merchants.
Given the rapid pace of change in fintech today, what would your top five tips be for reskilling/upskilling initiatives for teams belonging to this niche?
- Be customer-experience (CX) driven.
- CX is a derivative of design – poor design gives great technology a bad name. Make design ingeniously simple and intuitive in terms of the user-experience, and consumers will leverage and become loyal power-users of your digital solutions.
- Your solutions need to solve problems, which makes for a great CX.
- The CX should be personalized, predictive & reliable to work in a ‘rapid-fire’ way (i.e., gets you what you want done quickly – regardless of communications channel). This includes the authentication process. Consumers loathe elongated authentication treatments. Get serious about VoiceBio.
- ‘Keep It Simple’ – whatever your motto, keeping it simple and easy to do business with or keeping it simple to interact with your organization is a smart and winning one to consider. (See “To Keep Your Customers, Keep It Simple,” by Patrick Spenner & Karen Freeman. Harvard Business Review. May 2012 Issue.)
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the fintech industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
My one person is two persons!:
Chris Babcock, CEO Apiture.com – a progressive, digital-platform-banking services provider. Apiture was started in 2017 as a joint venture between First Data Corporation and Live Oak Bank with a mission to reimagine the digital banking experience across the industry. His perspective on the same questions would be intriguing.
Michael Dix, SVP Bank of America. Michael and I worked together early in our careers. Mike has ascended within the executive ranks at one of the most progressive financial services and banking institutions in the world, working among a collective group leading and driving fintech innovations over the years. His perspective on the same questions would be worth reading.
Your favorite FinanceTech quote
“Things are only impossible until they are not,” as Star Trek’s Captain Jean-Luc Picard would say. That goes for our world on Earth, too. Excitingly, the Omnipresent intelligent assistant experience in the iconic series – with the “all-knowing” computer presenting information via voice or on-screen based on content type and a user’s location and historical preferences – is now a near possibility. You can learn more by checking out the BiometricUpdate.com guest article by ENACOMM CEO Michael Boukadakis, “Star Trek’s peek at the voice-directed world in our future.”
Where do you see yourself in the coming years?!
2020 is a pivotal and formative year for ENACOMM in terms of our continued commitment to scale our resources and reach to this nation’s SMB Banks, Community Banks and Credit Unions. To that end, I will be entrenched in helping ENACOMM achieve a moderated, deliberate expansion over the next 12 quarters. Our mission is clear: to enrich the capabilities and competitive parity of small to medium-size banks and credit unions, and ultimately provide affordable access to modern contact technologies to this market’s loyal base and users.
ENACOMM is a FinTech provider of intelligent interactions and customer authentication technologies for banks, credit unions, credit card and payments companies. ENACOMM was named a “Top 10 Retail Banking Solution Provider” by Banking CIO Outlook magazine. The company empowers financial institutions with affordable solutions for improving the customer experience (CX), fighting financial fraud, and increasing operational efficiency.
As President and Chief Operating Officer at ENACOMM, Shawn is tasked with overseeing the day-to-day administrative and operational functions and processes of ENACOMM’s business. He is responsible for optimizing and expanding ENACOMM’s services functions and processes, establishing short and long-term goals, customer fulfillment and seamless delivery execution.