Webinar: The digitally agile bank with Forrester and Fifth Third | Blend
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May 3, 2021 in Thought leadership

4 minutes

Webinar: The digitally agile bank with Forrester and Fifth Third

Understand where banks are in their digital transformation journeys and get insight into one bank’s customer-first approach.

According to proprietary Forrester research, 88% of financial institutions said they “are currently executing a major digital transformation project or plan to start it in 2021 the latest.” But only 33% of financial institutions surveyed by Forrester said they could meet the expectations of their customers today. What’s the cause for this disparity, and how can banks go about stepping up their digital transformation efforts to meet customer expectations?

Watch the on-demand recording of our webinar, called “Beyond transformation: The digitally agile bank,” to hear Forrester’s VP and Principal Analyst Jost Hoppermann discuss this and more with Erik Wrobel, Blend’s head of product, and Tom Bianco, SVP, head of innovation and commercial digital at Fifth Third Bank. Discover what digital transformation means in practice from speakers who help make digital experiences a reality.

The rapid switch to digital has exposed shortcomings in application experiences and technology architectures, but banks with flexible or agile systems in place have been successfully able to close these gaps. Hoppermann outlined steps banks can take now to put their best digital foot forward, but he also suggested that a one-time transformation won’t cut it — a strategy that enables long-term flexibility and innovation is his ultimate recommendation.

Bianco offered insight into how Fifth Third defines digital transformation — and the importance of continued agility as they meet changing customer expectations well into the future. Let’s explore what the Fifth Third model for digital agility looks like, and how it aligns with Hoppermann’s vision for the bank of the future.

The bank of the future


We sat down with Hoppermann to continue the conversation.

Read now

Hoppermann recommended going beyond a one-and-done digital transformation, noting that banks looking for lasting digital success should take advantage of emerging technologies, technology partnerships, and a digital banking platform architecture that eases transformation and fosters innovation.

He painted a picture of the successful bank of the future, which will deliver great digital experiences. These experiences are rooted in strong digital operations, which allow for product iteration over time to meet customer expectations. Successful institutions will be able to navigate a digital industry by building platforms and developing partnerships that enable them to accelerate at scale. Importantly, they “need to be ready to innovate” if they wish to remain successful.

Digital agility in practice: The Fifth Third model

Fifth Third is one of the institutions delivering these great digital experiences while still looking ahead at what the digital world will require next. “Digital is not a thing. It’s the thing,” Bianco emphasized.

The Fifth Third team’s vision, which prioritizes their customers’ experience, is a core tenet of their digital transformation. Their measure of success is the value they deliver to their customers.

As the pandemic played out, Fifth Third saw an acceleration in their customers’ already fast move to digital. According to Bianco, this didn’t change the team’s approach, but it did place further pressure on the time they had to deliver.

Digital success born from dedication

With their vision in mind, they dedicated themselves to meeting customers where they are, which most often meant digitally. Now, based on Bianco’s observations, more than 90% of Fifth Third’s mortgage applications are taken digitally with the help of Blend’s platform.

They also leaned into the use of digital messaging backed by artificial intelligence, one of the technologies Hoppermann referred to as “hot” among banks looking to digitally transform and remain agile. About 40% of these interactions are now “bot-contained,” meaning they require no time from a Fifth Third employee. These interactions are intended to give customers quick and accurate answers.

Continued digital innovation

These results are impressive, but Bianco and his team continue looking for ways to stay ahead. “If we weren’t adopting a transformation mindset, we wouldn’t have the presence we do today,” he said. This mindset isn’t going anywhere, with Bianco recognizing that their digital efforts will continue to evolve.

Next up for the Fifth Third team is offering customers access to their paychecks up to two days early, advances on paychecks to avoid cash shortfalls, and providing advice and support capabilities powered by artificial intelligence. To accomplish these lofty goals, the Fifth Third team will continue to develop their digital capabilities using holistic digital platforms and partnerships with fintechs.

The platform fostering digital agility

Blend shares in Fifth Third’s vision — we’re championing a movement to support banks as they re-architect around the consumer. Blend’s Digital Lending Platform helps banks develop new products and adapt to evolving consumer expectations with agility.

Banks like Fifth Third understand the importance of finding partners that offer flexible solutions instead of static ones. Platforms like Blend’s are core to the digital banking platform architecture lauded by Hoppermann as “innovation-fostering.” This type of architecture can set organizations up for long-term success with the flexibility to change with the needs of the market.

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