In this monthly Q&A segment, Bank Innovation directs five questions to executives and industry thought leaders who highlight technology and innovation trends in financial services, exploring strategy and best practices in leading financial institutions.
Even with the backdrop of economic uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, “there has never been a more exciting time to be a technologist,” according to Rohan Amin, chief information officer of consumer and community banking at JPMorgan Chase.
Of course, the possibilities as the primary tech lead for one of the biggest financial institutions in the country — Chase serves almost half of all U.S. households — are seemingly boundless, with an annual $4 billion tech budget and more than 13,000 technologists globally buttressing Amin’s strategy and execution.
Amin spoke with Bank Innovation about emerging technologies, opportunities in retail banking and key internal changes spurring innovation and accelerating product development. What follows is an edited version of the conversation.
Bank Innovation: Tell me about an emerging technology that excites you, that you are exploring integrating into Chase?
Rohan Amin: Artificial intelligence, quantum computing and machine learning will radically improve the way we can analyze data to make better business decisions and deliver contextually relevant insights to our customers. What motivates me and the thousands of employees who work in technology at Chase is our ability to scale these new technologies and really make a difference in our customers’ lives.
The more we can help our customers make informed decisions about their spending and saving, the better. One example is Snapshot, an easy-to-digest feature that gives customers a quick daily rundown of their transactions and their personalized financial trends. The backbone of Snapshot is a proprietary customer insight engine that is powered by Chase’s big data environment and a combination of advanced algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence. We combined that powerful back end with a unique user interface that was heavily influenced by consumer studies and continuous customer feedback loops.
BI: What is the biggest opportunity in retail banking today?
RA: We have over 54 million digitally active customers and 39 million mobile active customers. Our biggest opportunity is to continue to enhance our digital banking experiences and the technology that support them so that our customers can seamlessly manage their entire financial life from one place from credit cards to auto loans, to mortgages and investing.
Back to my earlier point, contextually relevant insights are the strength of our digital offerings, and are a competitive advantage and a differentiator for our customers. Banks need to offer their customers insights that go beyond their checking or savings account.
Today, we have a variety of features that do exactly that. One of them is Credit Journey, which is a feature available at no cost to consumers to help them understand their credit health and reach their financial goals, like owning their first home. MyCar is another example, an online resource for customers to track the maintenance of their cars, understand their market value, check for safety recalls and more. And Chase MyHome, which has been continuously enhanced since its 2017 launch, is a dashboard that gives customers an in-depth view of their mortgage, home and neighborhood values. Today you can also track the progress of your loan anytime, get status updates, communicate with the mortgage team and upload and e-sign documents from your mobile phone.
BI: What’s your favorite piece of leadership advice you’ve received?
RA: Always tie your objectives to key results. I’ve shared this advice from the book “Measure What Matters,” by John Doerr, and it has spread across Chase. Now everyone is talking about objectives and key results and each person knows what specific actions they can take to help us keep pushing toward our goals as a team.
BI: What’s a specific product or feature you’re prioritizing this year, and how are the overall objectives changing through time?
RA: We’ve been on our agile transformation for the last three years. Since then, we’ve progressively broken down legacy systems, organized teams around customer value streams and extended agile principles across our technology and business teams. During the pandemic, we also narrowed decision making to key product owners and leaders to create new programs and build technology systems in a matter of days and weeks instead of months and years. That speed helped us to assist our customers when they needed us most during COVID-19.
Our focus will always be to help our customers make the most of their money – whether they choose to use our website, mobile app, call us or visit one of our branches. The pandemic has reinforced the value of our digital offerings to our customers and they can do virtually all of their banking from the comfort of home. We have made it easy to enroll in a payment-assistance program, including delaying payments for our home lending, credit card and auto lease and loan accounts.
BI: What’s something your employees would be surprised to learn about you?
RA: I don’t think much would surprise my employees — they know me well and I try to get to know them, too. I stay active on our group chat room and every week I send an email with my thoughts straight from my desk to their inbox. Thanks to the power of technology, we’ve all grown closer while we work from home — my employees have seen my two young boys in the background of my Zoom calls and listened to my favorite 90’s rap music.