Author Archive

4 Consumer Banks With Cutting-Edge Customer Service

Consumer banks must innovate and modernize not just their digital but also their  in-person customer service and user experience (UX). Hampered by legacy systems and facing competition from digital banks and fintech startups, they must adapt or face declining client satisfaction — and ultimately dwindling clients.

Here’s how some institutions are taking UX and customer service to the next level:

  • While the appeal of online banking continues to expand with 49% of all millennials using online banking for routine transactions, companies like Trailhead Credit Union are also aware of the impact the customer experience at their physical locations is crucial to connecting with their audience. Having “transformed its look and messaging to connect with the urbanite spirit of Portland”, they’ve seen record-breaking growth in their customer engagement thanks to their commitment to appealing to their consumers.
  • By analyzing their consumer base and re-evaluating their content strategies, respected firms like Liberty Mutual and Santander Bank are providing innovative, targeted, curated content with the intent of educating certain demographics on relevant services that are available to them. For example, Santander recently focused on its millennial demographic, and aimed to connect with potential customers who may be closing in on a point in their lives when they need a loan. By providing them with a wealth of valuable information and drawing traffic into their core banking site, they were able to attract new customers, gain their trust, and gain further insights about their audience.
  • Innovation is impossible to achieve without experimentation, which is why America First Credit Union opened their innovation center in Salt Lake City. Designed from the ground up to be an interactive experience for customers, it also functions as a space to provide live demonstrations of new technology to the public, who can instantly disclose valuable feedback that could prove vital in determining which technologies to pursue and iterate upon moving forwards.

Balancing digital convenience with human connection is the driving mindset behind these projects, all of which share a common focus on improving the banking experience by appealing to human sensibility, which has over time proven itself an effective tactic for retaining stickier client-bases at brick-and-mortar locations.

As much as we love the convenience of e-banking, we equally adore being treated well by other people in our day-to-day lives, and digital competition is fierce, in some markets it makes sense to double-down on the creature comforts that only a physical location can offer, as well as innovating and investing in cutting-edge technologies and content to remain competitive in the market of convenience.

For more info on engaging with your audiences, click here.

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Denise Bedell
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Seeds of Change: Women Entrepreneurs and the Wellness Sector

Women entrepreneurs are drawn to the wellness and healthy living sector. As consumers of every generation increasingly focus on health and wellness, female entrepreneurs and business leaders will be big beneficiaries.

Women-Owned Businesses Soar

Each day, women launch around 850 new businesses in the U.S., and the number of firms headed by women has increased by more than 40% since 2007. Women are now the majority owners of an estimated 11.6 million businesses in the country—39% of all U.S. businesses — according to the 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

Healthy Growth in Wellness Sector

The growth in women-owned companies is marching in unison with another major trend — the rapid expansion of the healthy living sector. According to data from the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry grew by 10.6% worldwide between 2013 and 2015 and accounts for revenue of $3.72 trillion on a global basis. It is now a key part of the second-largest sector of women-owned businesses in the U.S., following services such as nail and hair salons and pet services.

See the full article of CI executive director Denise Bedell’s latest work for

Seeds of Change: How Women Owners Are Driving Business Growth in the Wellness Sector

Denise Bedell

The Cyber Tent, a step into the future of programming and cybersecurity in Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Since the launch of the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security, Programming and Drones (SFCPD) in late 2017, tech nerds in the Kingdom have felt that they have a place to exercise their expertise. The SFCPD has since created the perfect atmosphere for those interested in technology to unleash their ability and to benefit the public and private sectors in this field.

In its strategy to spread the awareness of the federation and its goals, the SFCPD has started its Cyber Tent in King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah to provide entertaining and beneficial lectures and activities. The free-of-charge Cyber Tent has recorded a large number of male and female participants from mixed backgrounds to attend the lectures.

Saud Bawazeer, an expert programmer and entrepreneur who is one of the lecturers on the second day of the event, told Arab News: “The creation of SFCPD and this forum is amazing for us as a technology community. Cybersecurity is not only about organization protection, it protects individuals by spreading knowledge to be exercised in daily tech-related activities. The Cyber Tent, a step into the future of programming and cybersecurity in Saudi Arabia

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Denise Bedell

3 Tips for Success From Minority Entrepreneurs

Minority-owned enterprises made up more than 50% of the 2 million new businesses started in the United States in the past 10 years, according to the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  There are now more than 4 million minority-owned companies in the US, boasting annual sales of around $700 billion, altogether.

As the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship noted, there is still a disparity in access to capital and entrepreneurial development opportunities for minority-owned firms. “Though minorities make up 32% of our population, minority business ownership represents only 18% of the population.”

Minority entrepreneurs face a unique set of challenges in navigating the path to business success. Three minority entrepreneurs in Calgary, Alberta, shared their advice in a recent article in the Calgary Journal.  Eddie Richardson, president of Genesis Basketball; Joyce Okunsi, CEO of Joyce’s Closet; and Beni Johnson, founder of 10at10 media platform have all launched successful businesses in the face of discrimination and financial barriers.

  1. Don’t let stereotypes define you

“Whenever I was given a job or a task I would always try to be the most educated on it.” said Johnson. “People were racist in their ways. If something does not look like you, people get afraid of it, so it was a combination of many things.”

  1. Don’t let barriers stop you

“In fashion, I faced many barriers. I had to work twice as hard to prove my credibility as a stylist. Because I am a black woman, I was excluded from many things that I should have been a part of.” said Okunsi.

  1. Don’t forget that your experiences are valuable

“I’ve worked through a lot to get to where I am and I still have a lot ahead of me,” said Richardson. “I hope that my story inspires others to never settle and to push through adversity because anything is possible.”

Denise Bedell

VIDEO: Why Competitive Strategy Is Critical to Success for Mid-Size Companies

Time spent on competitive strategy is a key indicator of success for mid-sized companies.

Denise Bedell
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Socially Responsible Investing Gets a Boost from BlackRock ETF

Asset management giant BlackRock has partnered with market data provider Thomson Reuters to launch a new exchange-traded fund tracking companies that promote diversity and inclusion — enhancing its focus on socially responsible investing.

The ‘iShares Thomson Reuters Inclusion & Diversity UCITS ETF‘ will track Thomson Reuters’ Diversity & Inclusion Index, which ranks around 2,000 companies globally and includes the 100 most-diverse company worldwide, as measured by a set of 24 metrics.

The increasing availability of corporate sustainability data, as well as advancement in technology, has made it possible to better measure and understand metrics, such as inclusion and diversity, from an investment perspective,” explains Brian Deese, Head of Sustainable Investing at BlackRock. “At BlackRock, we are committed to being leaders in using new data and tools that deliver sustainable investment solutions at scale, which help to improve financial outcomes for our clients and accelerate the adoption of sustainable business practices globally.”


Denise Bedell

4 Reasons Why Competitive Strategy Is Critical to Success

Time spent on competitive strategy is a key indicator of success for mid-sized companies, according a recent survey by SunTrust Bank.

“Virtually all businesses (98%) participating in a recent survey are guided by a competitive strategy,” according to SunTrust. The amount of time spent on competitive strategy increases with business size, but overall, the survey found that less than half of respondents reports spending a significant amount of time on competitive strategy.

Other findings from the survey:

–“Several industries stood out as doing a significant amount of competitive strategy work, including technology hardware and software, retailing and automotive.”

–“Quality is a core priority for approximately two-thirds of businesses; innovation and focus/targeting a niche are other common components of businesses’s competitive strategies.”

–“Companies earning $25 million or more each year in revenue are most often focused on superior products and services (55%).”

–“Businesses have fulfilled their competitive strategy by developing deep customer relationships and creating superior products and services.”

According to the survey, “midsize businesses doing a significant amount of competitive strategy work feel stronger in the market and are better connected to their financial partners,” and a whopping 98% believe they have a strategic advantage over the competition as a result.

Denise Bedell

GDPR and US Cybersecurity Policy

US businesses that have customers or clients in Europe are scrambling to comply as GDPR is now in effect. There are some concerns that the US private sector will have to look out for the policy here at home.With every major data breach, people become more outraged which will likely prompt policy action. The EU GDPR marks a turning point in the policymaking arena due to one fundamental premise. Under the GDPR individuals have the right to privacy and to control what happens to their data. IDG Contributor Network: The impact of GDPR on US cybersecurity policy

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Denise Bedell

Investment Banks Spent More on Fintech in 2017

While top-tier investment banks cut their fintech budgets in 2017, that reduction was more than made up by increased spending from Tier 2 and 3 players, according to a report out from Boston Consulting Group.

Strategies for fintech spend are also diverging, says BCG.

Bank investment strategies also diverged. Tier 2 & 3 players invested mainly in industry- wide fintech initiatives, whereas Tier 1 banks, which have been active buyers of fintech equity for longer, took a more balanced approach, often seeking competitive advantage through standalone investments.

Overall fintech spend in the capital markets space was down, however, as venture capital firms cut  their investment, according to the report. ”

Investment was less than half that of the previous two years, and the lowest since 2012, with venture capital firms in particular reducing their funding.

Denise Bedell

Center for Audit Quality Launches Tool for Board Cybersecurity Oversight

The Center for Audit Quality has published a tool to assist Board members of public companies to oversee cybersecurity risk management. The publication incorporates key questions that members of public company Boards can use in  discussing cybersecurity risks and disclosures with management and CPA firms.

According to a report in Accounting Today, the questions are grouped into four main areas:

  • Understanding how the financial statement auditor considers cybersecurity risk;
  • Understanding the role of management and responsibilities of the financial statement auditor related to cybersecurity disclosures;
  • Understanding management’s approach to cybersecurity risk management;
  • Understanding how CPA firms can assist boards of directors in their oversight of cybersecurity risk management.


Denise Bedell