Episode #49:

Banking on Experience Design

GuestS: Robin Beers, Renee Pezzi, and Andrés Ospina

The banking industry is at an interesting crossroads as it navigates the Experience Economy, the expectations of a mobile generation, and the uncertainties of the cryptocurrency frontier. How can banks leverage experience to stay relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing world? On this episode, host Shawn Nason explores experience design in the banking industry with Robin Beers, SVP of customer insights and experience design at Wells Fargo, Renee Pezzi, SVP and head of enterprise experience at Atlantic Union Bank, and Andrés Ospina, SVP and head of user-centered design at City National Bank.

About Shawn Nason

shawn@mofi.co | ShawnNason.com | @manonfiresocial

Shawn Nason, founder and CEO of MOFI, best-selling author, and former Walt Disney Imagineer, lives his life with a commitment to create radical relationships with everyone he meets. Armed with the gift of discernment, he has the uncanny ability to walk alongside people and organizations as they struggle to connect with their deepest passions and engage their most debilitating demons. He challenges the world around him to be fully present, get real, and lead with empathy.

Prior to launching MOFI, Shawn was the chief experience & transformation officer for Healthways and served as the chief innovation officer for Xavier University. He also spent six years at The Walt Disney Company in various capacities within Walt Disney Imagineering and Disney Cruise Line. He’s an in-demand speaker and coach, the author of two books, Kiss Your Dragons: Radical Relationships, Bold Heartsets, & Changing the World (2021) and The Power of YES! in Innovation (2017), and the host of The Combustion Chronicles podcast.

About Robin Beers

Senior Vice-President of Customer Insights and Experience Design at Wells Fargo

Pioneer of Human-Centered Designs for the Financial Sector

About Renee Pezzi

Senior Vice-President and Head of Enterprise Experience at Atlantic Union Bank

Previous Senior Experience Roles at Phillips, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, and Citizens Bank.

About Andrés Ospina

Senior Vice-President and Head of User-Centered Design at City National Bank

20 Years of Experience Creating Digital Products with Leading Brands such as BBVA, Microsoft, Kellogg's, and more

About mofi

A human-obsessed boutique design firm passionate about reimagining Experience Ecosystems™.

mofi.co | info@mofi.co | @mofisocial

Businesses are more than org charts, strategy documents, and mission statements. They’re living, breathing ecosystems filled with people and people-driven processes that make an impact on the world.

At MOFI, we refuse to look at one piece of the puzzle (customer service, employee experience, vendor relationships, leadership, culture, marketplace awareness, etc.) without engaging your entire Experience Ecosystem as we tackle the biggest and hairiest experience, innovation, and culture challenges that you can send our way. Why? Because we we’re more interested in long-term results than innovation theater.


Customer & Employee Experience—Increase your revenue and market share by aligning, equipping, and empowering the people in your Experience Ecosystem to create game-changing experiences.

Consumer-Centered Innovation—Move at the speed of your customers by harnessing the mindsets and processes of human-centered design to dream up, test, and launch fresh ideas into your business model.

Organizational Transformation—Position your organization for long-term sustainability by shifting the mindsets and heartsets of the people who represent your brand in the world.

Episode Takeaways

  • The Zulu concept of Ubuntu (which translated loosely means, "I am because we are") can be a universal model for organizing around the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizations, regardless of industry.
  • Connecting the spirit of Ubuntu to the digital experience requires humanizing and personalizing the consumer's interactions with technology.
  • Organizational shifts happen when business leaders and experience consultants help the organization reconcile and get closer to the reality of their customers.
  • Experience is the only true competitive advantage for organizations. There really is no other way for organizations to differentiate themselves in industries that sell commodity products.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic required the banking industry to move quickly and with agility to create PPP loans. Moving forward, banks would do well to apply what they've learned about speed and agility to other consumer-centric initiatives.
  • When looking at the future of brick-and-mortar bank branches, it's more about providing consistent experiences across channels rather than taking one away.
  • It's important for the banking industry to be able to find that sweet spot between being a digital force that enables and facilitates a lot of the processes and increases smooth experiences for clients and users, and allowing the humans in the organization to provide customized and tailored solutions.
  • Humanizing the banking industry has to start with empathy for everyone in the Experience Ecosystem.
  • When leaders start with purpose and start with "why," teams and organizations will more easily be able to connect the dots when designing for customer and employee experiences.

Overheard on the Podcast

Quotes from Robin Beers

"The concept of Ubuntu could offer a universal model for organizing around the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in organizations.... Whatever we're doing in business, whether it be banking or manufacturing or technology or whatever, we are doing it in collaboration with and in relationship with other people."
"Everything that we get done is through human communication, relationships, working through conflict, understanding others' points of view, and that everybody is organizing their reality in a way that makes perfect sense to them. And for me as a researcher, as a social scientist, I think one of the most powerful things that we can do as experience consultants is show how the logic and the assumptions of our customers may not match the assumptions of the business."
"When we can help the business reconcile and get closer to the reality of their customers, really powerful shifts can happen."

Overheard on the Podcast

Quotes from Renee Pezzi

"[Banks] say things like, 'We're gonna be the helpful bank. We're gonna make banking easier for you.' But I always question them as I get into these organizations and say, 'But do you do that actually?' The experience is about walking the talk. You can say you're helpful. You can say you make banking easier, but do you truly do that? And that's really what it's all about to really differentiate yourself."
"Don't let perfection be the enemy of good. That's what agile is all about. You know, you need to iterate and you need to do continuous improvement, and you need to be brave and courageous and willing to make some decisions and get out there and put the product to test and then improve as you go in a true agile format. And there was never a time to put that to test more than PPP given the time constraints that we were all given to get something up and running that obviously we couldn't have seen coming."
"With the rise of online banking and mobile banking, folks said soon enough, [that] there'll be no more brick and mortar. I said then, that won't happen. People always want a human touch. People always want some element of in-person or personal.

Overheard on the Podcast

Quotes from Andrés Ospina

"There's so much low-hanging fruit to be honest, in the banking experience. There are so many legacy systems, that it's just an ecosystem full of opportunities to be able to make a huge impact."
"My mission is to bring a noble purpose within organizations, so it's not about what I want to accomplish in my personal goals necessarily, it's about understanding first what is that good that we are doing for other humans, and that includes our colleagues, it includes the clients that we're serving, it includes everybody around us."
"I've learned that if I understand my why, I can better help everybody around me. Because it means that I understand my purpose. So, as a design thinking leader, and coach and in many organizations, and after making a lot of mistakes, I've learned that it's actually easier when you have the opportunity to help organizations and humans understand their purpose first, and then understand priorities. Because if you focus on priorities first, and you don't have the why, it's going to be very difficult to prioritize."


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