How unicorn neobank Current's digital leaders are navigating year 2 of the pandemic

  • The following interview is an excerpt from an upcoming Insider Intelligence research report series.
  • This report series will feature interviews with heads of digital and marketing at major US legacy and neobanks, uncovering strategies, challenges, and opportunities this year. 
  • Please reach out through this contact form if you’re interested in having an executive from your bank or neobank featured in these reports.

Upstart digital-only banks, known as neobanks, are on a growth tear. 

Newly released Insider Intelligence forecasts show that by the end of next year, 1 in 10 US adults will have a neobank account. 

One of the fastest-growing neobanks today is New York-based Current, founded in 2015. Our forecasts show that Current will have 4.0 million users at the end of 2021, which will more than double to 8.4 million in 2025.

To dig into what’s behind this rapid growth, Insider Intelligence interviewed two key members of Current’s executive leadership: Adam Hadi, vice president of marketing, and Josh Stephens, vice president of product. 

They spoke to the skills necessary to lead cross-functional teams and explained how the pandemic changed their strategy. 

Below are a few excerpts from our conversation:

The following has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Insider Intelligence (II): Did you face any marketing challenges in the past year, and did they affect your priorities in any way?

Adam Hadi, vice president of marketing at Current.Current

Adam Hadi (AH): We’re a new brand in the space just a few years in, and building trust is a huge challenge to overcome. Legacy brands like Wells Fargo, Citibank, and Chase have been around for a really long time—and have a terrible reputation—but there’s a sense of security that comes with them. They’ve been around for 120 years. So for a new brand like us to come into the space and ask the customer who’s largely paycheck to paycheck for their direct deposit requires a high level of trust. That’s a big challenge that we’re always trying to overcome.

II: Did Current intend to target first-time bank account holders, or was this a strategy that developed naturally?

AH: It’s fairly intentional. Banking is a high-retention industry, so it’s to our advantage to be able to acquire people from their first bank account—but it’s a little bit of a double-edged sword. It also means that getting somebody to switch to us could be pretty costly. We have an advantage with younger generations, but traditional banks have also made it pretty easy to pick off customers who don’t fit their business model, so it sets us up well in both cases. 

II: If you were to write a job description for yourself, what would you say are the top components of your role?

Josh Stephens, vice president of product at Current.Insider Intelligence

Josh Stephens (JS): For any product manager, there is an enormous component of empathy and strategic vision. There’s an artist’s ability to cut through a lot of noise to understand the true user needs and troubles, and having a framework to go after a solution that may resolve those needs.

… [My role is] about providing that framework to serve as guideposts to power the rest of the team to come up with the right types of product features, product services, and ultimately strategic brand map to execute against those solutions.

II: If you were to look ahead five years, what does success look like for Current?

JS: I often say, the way you spend your money is the way you live your life. Whether that’s where you’re going out to eat, who you’re interacting with, whether or not you can go on vacation, where you buy your groceries, or how you get to work—these are all financial decisions that have to be considered. I think traditional banks have not been good at this, and they’re not set up for this. Currently, we have an opportunity to be part of that conversation. So if we look five years out, hopefully we’re one of the top five institutions throughout the US that are part of that discussion.

Join the conversation: 

If you think you’d make a good fit for our profile reports, please fill out this form. 

Being featured is free, though editorial decisions are made at our sole discretion.

The reports will be made available to Insider Intelligence’s client base, which includes over 100,000 readers, in the second half of this year. 

More Financial Industry Topics:

  • US Banking Companies
  • Digital Banking Trends
  • Financial Services Industry
  • Fintech Companies & Startups
  • Insurtech Companies
  • Neobanks

A picture of a switch and lightbulb
Source: Read Full Article