Dianna Bronchuk MS'20

Hacking the human brain

By Dianna Bronchuk, MS’20

If you had to deposit a check or transfer money for a bill, what would be the quickest option for you? Like many, you would probably unlock your smart phone, open a banking app, and do a quick transaction that will take you a minute or two. Just by that action of using your app rather than physically going to a bank, you are taking part in the fintech innovation that is transforming the financial world.

At a recent university event, Catherine Keating, Chief Executive Officer of BNY Mellon Wealth Management, joined D’Amore-McKim School of Business Professor Curtis Carlson to talk about how fintech is changing the way banks like BNY Mellon do business. Over the past many decades, BNY Mellon, like many others, had a traditional approach: face-to-face customer interaction and relationship building. This has been the custom for todays’ retiree demographic – the dominant clientele for wealth management services. But, it’s not a model that works for new consumers who are entering the workforce. To prepare for them, financial institutions have to revamp their tested practices with new innovations.

One way they’re doing so is by using behavioral science to understand how clients make and spend money. Unlike Amazon, where your shopping history can trigger new product recommendations, the financial industry is still learning how to propose customized strategies to people in large volume – and doing so securely.

Professor Carlson, former president and chief executive officer of SRI International in Silicon Valley, talked about how companies are trying to “hack the human brain,” by gathering more information, and processing it fast enough so that they “know before you know that you need something.”

Despite sounding like a dystopic science fiction novel, Professor Carlson said that companies will need to develop a strategy for the consumer to not only understand services, but also want to use them. He has co-developed the Carlson-Polizzotto Method of value creation, which helps organizations do just that.

May 1, 2020

The Carlson-Polizzotto Method simplifies what companies should focus on to create value for customers. First, identifying market need is critical to develop customer value proposition. This includes the needs, approach, benefits/cost analysis, and competition for the new product. Then the company should hold value-creation forums with customers to test the product and give feedback. This is vital to creating value with new, innovative products and ideas.

Today, many start-ups are using the Carlson-Polizzotto Method to gain an edge in the fintech innovation race. It helped organizations provide ubiquitous banking applications, and be primed for future developments that will scale banks farther than their traditional approach allowed them to go. Integrating technology into the different aspects of banking will make these longstanding institutions more resilient to the growing digital interface clients are getting more used to.

And, for banks like BNY Mellon, there’s no better news. Keating says she welcomes ideas from anyone and anywhere! And, she sees more and more organizations leveraging fintech to continue to stay agile and relevant.