One-to-One with Geezeo: Derik Sutton, President & Co-Founder, Become Labs

August 7, 2017
Laurel Overby

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in financial services and Fintech about where the industry is headed, sometimes the most fascinating insights are revealed. One-to-One with Geezeo is an ongoing series that gives our friends, clients, and partners an opportunity to share their experiences and their knowledge to gain an idea of where this exciting industry is heading. In this installment Laurel Overby talked with Derik Sutton, President and Co-Founder of Become Labs, a team of product strategists, designers, and engineers that work to improve the Fintech space.

Geezeo: User experience (UX) has become more important in the recent years - especially in the Fintech world - at what stage should companies start to think about it?
Derik: I think we are past the point of thinking about user experience. Financial institutions should embrace the user expectations shift as a market opportunity and start making progress towards differentiation. I believe financial institutions should become more informed and educated on user experience. For example, I think a more effective RFP process would be to include a design prototype or design concept of the expected user experience along with their functional requirements. In order to do that, I suggest financial institutions conduct their own user testing sessions with customers, collect feedback, document areas of improvement, and then design solutions to the problem. Validated and proactive feedback in vendor selection is more powerful than a checkbox of features and subjective voting around user interface likes and dislikes.

Geezeo: What are some specific UX principles that can help financial institutions stand out?
Derik: Solving customer problems is always the best way to stand out.
Meet with your customers.
Find pain points and design around them.
Be willing to make any progress, regardless of how incremental it may be.

Geezeo: For financial services, what do you see as the biggest challenges when trying to embed a UX strategy?
Derik: There are well documented articles about the challenges financial institutions face when it comes to providing modern digital services on top of legacy technology platforms. We like to focus more on the UX mindset of the financial institution and help them navigate the waters of what is possible. The good news is that more and more vendors are making APIs and other development resources available so that financial institutions can better leverage their digital suite. Financial institutions typically don’t have UX teams (product owners, designs, and engineers) that can take on the project, so we help augment their team and bring their ideas to life.

Geezeo: What are the biggest UX trends coming up in Fintech, and will financial institutions be able to keep pace?
Derik: The overwhelming preference of digital first for the end user when it comes to account access, product adoption, and modern support. Customers are being trained every day through other digital experiences to expect mobile first, contextual insights, navigation via voice, and to expect 24/7 support via chat or bot. Those user expectations versus the financial institution’s preference for the customer to walk in the branch will continue to be a challenge. As the founder of a product and design agency, I see a lot of opportunity moving ahead. There is pent up demand from financial institutions that have great ideas and want to embrace a digital first mindset. It’s going to be exciting to see the customer experiences these financial institutions come up with for platforms like Geezeo.

Geezeo: How are Fintech players revolutionizing the overall customer experience, as opposed to financial institutions?
Derik: Fintech companies have the advantage of building on newer technology stacks and focusing on single use cases. It’s easier to solve one problem really well. Financial institutions are often serving a more broad base of customer types and needs in addition to the previously outlined challenges. I am a big proponent of financial institutions and Fintech companies partnering to solve user needs. We are working on a project now that a financial institution is leveraging a Fintech company’s platform to bring a new product to market, not only for their use but to sell to other financial institutions. I think that is really exciting and expect to see more of this type of partnering moving forward.

Geezeo: How did you find yourself interested in the Fintech world?
Derik: Definitely by accident. I was planning on becoming a college soccer coach. I was offered an internship by a family friend to come work for a community bank data processing company in November of 1999, right before Y2K. After I helped save the banking industry from digital collapse :) they kept paying me and I kept coming to work.

Geezeo: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
Derik: I work from home a lot, so when I have an extra 15 minutes I head downstairs, kiss the wife, and play with the kids.

Derik Sutton has spent 15+ years in Fintech helping banks and credit unions catch up to the modern world. Derik is Co-founder and President of Become Labs, a team of product strategists, designers, and engineers who create, design, and build digital experiences for financial institutions and the technology companies that serve them. Derik truly believes that products, solutions, and features can be copied, but experiences cannot, and loves meeting with clients, learning about their organizations, and working alongside them to achieve these experiences.  When he is not working to better banks and credit unions, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children traveling, being active in their church, playing soccer, and searching the world over for the best cinnamon roll.

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