When I tell people I work in a bank, they usually assume it’s a boring job—commute in, commute out. Sit and push papers and crunch numbers all day long at a computer.
Fun fact: Working with numbers was not always my strong suit. When I got into banking, my parents reminded me that I didn’t learn to tell time until second grade. (Thanks, guys.)
I never set out to be a banker. Right out of college I started a career in PR. It was during my time as a wedding planner that I had a view of the local bank branch from my desk, where I’d watch people file in at 8:30 and leave at 5 every day. I thought, “What am I doing working these long hours—that job looks amazing!” So I went in and got an application.
My banking career has taken me to various institutions that have all had one thing in common—a fondness for hierarchy. And while having structure is good, I find that when people learn to stay too in their lane, it prevents cross-collaboration. And this is a missed opportunity because when we improve collaboration, we foster innovation.
Now, I share experiences with peers in our industry explaining my work for a bank that operates like a fintech startup (but still follows all of the rules of the regulators) and talk about my work on projects ranging from wearable technology to Bitcoin Rewards Checking. People respect that there is a way to be more innovative in banking, but expect to hear I work at a huge bank. Surprise! A community bank is the one leading the pack here. And I get to be a part of it.
Part of life at Quontic has been funky office art (including graffiti walls in our lobby and “Monopoly Man” statues hanging out in our call center), and fun “startup” things like the VR room (nothing quite like experiencing a new world steps away from the coffee machine). But with COVID’s impact on how all of us work, the real story is in how that culture of collaboration as a means to innovation has kept the camaraderie and fun alive for the Quontic team.
While we’re not able to cultivate social relationships in person right now, the vibe still exists. There’s a camaraderie that exemplifies our company culture and our core values “Say Cheese”, “Progress not Perfection”, “Know the Goal” and “Try It On.” The more we lean into these, the more it encourages others to do so. We’re all open and enthusiastic people that thrive in this culture; we’re open to other people’s ideas and want co-workers’ feedback. No one says, “This is my lane and I’m going to stay in it.” We are always going to each other for guidance, and you don’t need to be in-person to facilitate that. Every day each of us is involved in multiple collaborative and brainstorming sessions—can you imagine anything LESS boring than working with people you like and respect to create new ideas that improve the lives of your customers?
So THAT was our mindset when we started working with our mortgage customers at the beginning of March. We know that, in terms of liability, your mortgage payments are top priority because missing a payment has the biggest impact on your credit report. We know this, not just because we’re mortgage lenders, but because we’re homeowners, too! Creating mortgage modification plans for our struggling mortgage customers didn’t just happen. Our teams worked together to create ideas; and they will continue to work together as deferment periods time out, and customers may need to modify to something more affordable.
You may be thinking, “But ALL banks have the incentive to not let their borrowers flip into foreclosure.” And that’s true. But Quontic is figuring out untapped opportunities where other banks aren’t—and those actions speak for themselves. Take Bitcoin for example. We know that the financial lives of many people who use Bitcoin are completely separate from cryptocurrency. Other banks don’t want to figure out how to integrate the two, but we’re doing the legwork to make Bitcoin rewards a possibility for people experienced in Bitcoin, and those who might be new to crypto.
It’s the same thing with wearable payment technology. Wearables are an instinctive answer to reducing the spread of COVID-19—and we’ve been working on providing this essential product to our customers since before the pandemic hit.
COVID has forced us to progress years faster than the industry would probably be comfortable with us doing. In addition, customers will be more open to the digital and innovative products and services that they might not have been prior. I might not have ever gotten my boomer parents to wear a ring payment device a year ago but now, telling them they don’t have to touch anything? They’re there. Sometimes, when we’re forced to make a change, it can be for the better. The same is true for banks, who a year ago might not have seen the value of digital operations but, in the COVID world, are moving in that direction.
For us, that capability enables us to open accounts in just three minutes for people all over the nation that are interested in doing business with us—that’s empowering for people that want the interest rates and products we can offer but don’t live in proximity to NYC. In my role, I get to talk to people from all over the United States that are interested in what Quontic is doing in NYC. And it’s those voices I carry with me into our brainstorm sessions, and it’s those stories I tell when we sit down to say, “What are we doing to make our customer’s lives better right now?”
Changing the world with banking? Yeah. I’m here for that.