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Jo Ann Barefoot explores how to create fair and inclusive consumer financial services through innovative ideas for industry and regulators

How to Digitize a Bank:  Citizen’s Lamont Young

Barefoot Innovation Podcast

How to Digitize a Bank: Citizen’s Lamont Young

Mallory Kwiatkowski


I love how technology is bringing new kinds of people into finance. Today’s guest, Lamont Young, is a great example. He started his career in the fashion industry. Today, he is at Citizens Bank, as the Head of Digital and Multi-Channel Marketing.  

Lamont and I sat down together at their headquarters in Boston. Citizens is the 13th largest retail bank in the country and has branches in 11 states. Lamont is leading the mission of transforming it to a digital company.

At the heart of that challenge are two things. The first is deeply understanding customers as individuals, by having much more data and leveraging it to meet their unique needs. For that, he explains how the bank has successfully recruited a team of data scientists affiliated with universities. The second is transforming the customer experience, or user experience -- the CX or UX. Lamont talks about how customers are changing -- how a new generation of digitally-native customers will be the future of the bank, and how existing customers, already, expect great technology from their bank, just as they do from everything else.

In our talk, Lamont shares the secrets to success in pulling off this kind of “smart bank” transformation. He explains that changing a bank’s human systems is much more important than just changing its tech, and offers ideas on how to do it. He talks about how to recruit and retain top talent from tech fields, and the essential role of the bank’s leaders.

Lamont also describes the centrality of Citizen’s strategy for partnering with fintechs. Where some banks still view startups mainly as disruptors and sometimes threats, Citizens put the emphasis on partnering with them, in the many situations where a great fintech can bring something to the bank better, and faster, than building it from scratch. Lamont has advice on how to do this well, including the pitfalls to avoid.

We also talk about Citizens participation with tech accelerators. One is Mass Challenge, which is a consortium of FinTech and startups that pairs startups with companies like Citizens to accelerate their growth. The bank also partners with QC FinTech in the Charlotte North Carolina area.

On regulatory challenges, Lamont is one of a growing group of bankers who realize that the same digital technology that will drive a new generation of user experience will transform regulatory compliance, too. It’s about getting all the information into digital form, where you can really use it -- can do more, with less, faster, and better.


Link to full transcription

Barefoot Innovation Podcast: The CFPB Innovation Director Paul Watkins

Twitter @digitalsince99

More on Lamont Young

After graduating from Penn State, Lamont knew he wanted to work in marketing. He moved to New York and started at Lugz, an urban footwear and apparel brand. He says “it was there by sheer dumb luck that I fell in love with digital.” The firm had no web presence, so he asked the company’s president if he thought it was a good idea to create a site. Lamont led that project and found his calling. He launched in 1999 and the rest is history.

Less than two years later, Lamont founded a start-up dedicated to web development and digital branding for small and emerging businesses. This experience eventually led him to his first banking job, at Bank of America, overseeing several significant programs, including creating and publishing BofA's small business magazine "Business 24/7" and serving on the core team that launched  the bank's small business social spaces site - Small Business Online Community.

Today he is the Head of Digital and Multi-Channel Marketing at Citizens Bank, leveraging his  entrepreneurial streak and digital expertise. He is responsible for the bank’s corporate digital strategy, mobile and web application development, digital and emerging payments, digital sales, and social media.

More for our Listeners
Be sure to subscribe to Barefoot Innovation on your favorite podcast platform and leave a five-star rating, so we can help more customers find conversations like this one. Also remember to come to our website to subscribe to Barefoot Innovation -- the newsletter, podcast and updates, and follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

We have some amazing episodes coming up. One is with Prince Michael of Liechtenstein, which we recorded at the roundtable he hosted in Vaduz on envisioning the financial services world of 2030. We’ll talk with Brian Brooks, General Counsel of Coinbase, and with MIT’s David Shrier. We’ll  have a terrific discussion with the fascinating community bank, NBKC. We’ll have a show with Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury, Craig Phillips and one with the Chairman of the CFTC, Chris Giancarlo.

We’ll also have a special episode on Women in Fintech, with a very thoughtful group of women in fintech.

In the coming weeks, I’ll hope to see you at some of these events:

The Honest Talks for AI on Regtech, February 27, New York (invitation only)

SXSW, March 8-17, Austin, TX

UNC Law's Banking Institute, March 22, Charlotte, NC

LendIt, April 9-10, San Francisco, CA

Santa Fe Group 12th Annual Shared Assessments Third Party Risk Summit, April 10-11, Washington, DC

The Innovate Finance Global Summit, April 29-20, London

Bank Director Magazine’s Conference, June 12, Chicago

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The views and opinions expressed during the Barefoot Innovation podcast series are solely those of the individuals involved and do not necessarily represent those of Barefoot Innovation Group and its employees. Barefoot Innovation Group does not verify for accuracy the information contained in the podcast series. The primary purpose of this podcast series is to educate and inform.