Our Guest: Kevin Mackiewicz,
Vice President | Marketing Director, Wealth and Asset Management
Company: Fifth Third Bank
Allan: Martha, I have a question for you.
Allan: Would you rather have an unlimited marketing budget or limited marketing budget?
Martha: Of course you know what I want to say, but you are making me think that that might not be the right answer.
Allan: Well stay tuned, we’ll see what Kevin has to say in the podcast.
Allan: Hello and welcome to Bank Marketing Today by Vya. I am Allan Greer and together with Martha France we are interviewing Bank Marketing Leaders about current trends, new marketing technologies, branding and the overall state of the banking industry. We will be joined from time to time by additional co-hosts and experts. Today's episode features Kevin Mackiewicz, Vice President and Marketing Director, Wealth & Asset Management at Fifth Third Bank along with Kandi O’Connor also joining us as co-host of this episode.
Martha: We hope this episode of bank marketing today will help simplify your marketing tomorrow.
Kandi: Hello, I'm Kandi O’Connor and today Allan Greer and I are talking to Kevin Mackiewicz, Vice President and Marketing Director, Wealth and Asset Management at Fifth Third Bank. Welcome to the Bank Marketing podcast Kevin.
Kevin: Thanks very much Kandi, I really appreciate the invite and the opportunity to be here. Furthermore, I really like the welcome. When you come into our branches, we welcome you to Fifth Third, so it feels good.
Kandi: Good. So, for any of our listeners who may not be familiar with Fifth Third Bank, Kevin, can you tell us a little bit about the organization and your role there?
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely. A little bit about Fifth Third in bank speak, right, a diversified financial services company with a rich history. We date back to the year 1858. Diversified financial services company is just fancy bank speak for saying that we operate four main businesses: commercial banking, retail branch banking, consumer lending and wealth and asset management. We do operate in retail locations in a 10 state footprint. We have over 1100 branches. We have approximately 2500 ATMs in those states as well not to mention the 53,000 free ATMs that our customers have access to.
Allan: So just a small bank.
Kevin: Small bank, right. But my role as Vice President and Marketing Director for Wealth and Asset Management, essentially has me overseeing the responsibilities for Fifth Third private bank institutional and our insurance services divisions partnering with those businesses to provide them the support they need.
Allan: I'm always interested in how people get to where they are in their jobs and in their careers. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into marketing in the first place?
Kevin: For me, I had a passion for sales, my background had been sales and marketing is really an extension of sales. And I was presented with a really unique opportunity as a branch manager to move into the marketing department here at Fifth Third and support our retail franchise. And in that role, it enabled me to learn about marketing and learn that discipline while leveraging my sales background. I think the core of my sales background has really been leveraged all the way through my marketing experience here with the bank and I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunity to have transitioned into marketing because it was not something that I aspired to do. It just kind of organically happened. I mean, it's something that has been very good to me so I really enjoy it.
Allan: That's great. Very fascinating. And, I'm kind of wondering how do you get through the process of marketing at Fifth Third from the beginning of ideation on a new idea or a new project, all the way through completion. Can you walk us through how you do that?
Kevin: Yeah, yeah, it's a great question, taking something from brand new idea or concept all the way through the funnel is a challenge. But I think ideation initially comes from listening. It's listening to the field or field sales people, so back to my roots, but it's also listening to the customer and understanding what needs are out there, partnering with your business to understand what is the challenge that we need to try to solve on behalf of the customer; what is it that they need and how do we kind of bring that to light.
You can come up with what the problem is - now you have to solve for it. What is it that we're going to put in place to solve that problem for that customer and benefit the organization, you know, we're for profit organization. So, how is it that we're going to help the shareholder as well?
The way in which I really try to bring those ideas is to leverage the people on our teams. We have very talented team members. It's not any one individual, so leveraging the folks in the different departments within our broader marketing department to leverage their expertise. Tell them what the issue is, let them come back with all of their years of experience to help solve and bring forth ideas to the business that is going to help them be successful. That's really how I think you have to do it. You've got to listen. You've got to collaborate with the team and ultimately, you've got to make strong recommendations.
Kandi: So, a lot of marketers are focused on sales enablement right now, you know, that's a hot topic. Can you tell us a little bit about how you work with sales?
Kevin: Absolutely. Because as I said at the onset, sales is near and dear, I live and breathe it. Today I view marketing as just an extension of sales. Sales is going to be successful, not in large part due to the marketing efforts, but the marketing efforts are going to play a significant role in how the sales team achieves their goals and their success. And so for me it goes back to understanding what sales needs to be successful, I think you've heard me say there's no such thing as an unselfish act. So, it's the help me, help you, help me scenario. I don't want to create any sales enablement tool. I don't want to create any collateral or materials that one would need if they're not going to use it. That serves no one.
So it's really making sure that I can emphasize to our internal sales partners that I am an extension of their team and that they should view me as such so that I can deliver them the best product back to them. So, that they will then be in the best possible position to have success in sales with their customers because ultimately they are trying to communicate and solve a problem for their customer. If we can put them in the best possible position to do that the customer wins, the employee wins, the organization wins. And so that's really, if I could emphasize it enough, it's that listening, it’s communicating again with the business and ultimately making sure that we are viewed as an extension of the sales team. And that's how I view myself and implore my team to do as well on a daily basis.
Allan: How do you engage and manage partners that you rely on and then what do you think they should bring to the table when they're working with Fifth Third?
Kevin: Yeah, great question. I think lots of people struggle with how to leverage an external partnership. And I think when I say struggle, maybe they don't feel that they're struggling, maybe they're under utilizing the partnership, because I do think that any partner that I bring in, any “vendor” that I bring in, needs to be a partner for me. In the same way that I want to be an extension of the sales team, I view our partners as an extension of my team.
And things work a lot better when people have a shared goal, common interests, rand they're aligned and by treating the external partners and our vendor partners as true working partners, I feel that we're able to gain more scale within our teams to get more work done and to get good work done. And I do find that when you are partnering with external resources who feel valued in the partnership they are more likely to proactively come to you with additional solutions and be there in a pinch potentially that happens from time to time.
And so it's that -- it's like any other relationship that you might have with a friend or otherwise, if everybody feels good about it and are working together, common goals then you're going to get good outcomes and good results collectively as a team. What should they bring to the table? For me, it's going to be that proactivity. I want them to be proactive coming to us with ideas, what are things that you're seeing, not asking for intel on other companies or things like that but what are you seeing that's out there. You're closer to other industries, other organizations, you're going to have a potentially different perspective than we are. The same way that we leverage our internal partnerships. I would be looking to leverage an external partnership for expertise and it doesn't mean that we want to be sold everything under the sun. At times that's going to be appropriate but at other times just a little bit of, “Hey, we were thinking about this” or “Hey, we were thinking about that.” That's how we reciprocate that partnership and that's what I'd be looking for.
Kandi: Good. So, in research that we recently conducted specific to banking was how strategic marketing is and one of the executives from another bank talked about how the marketing department had been seen as an order taker when she first joined the company. Have you seen this dynamic over your career in banking or do you have any insights to share with us on how to overcome this? Never.
Kevin: Just kidding. I think anybody who's worked in marketing period has experienced this at some point, whether it's one specific partner. I'm very fortunate -- our CMO here, Matt Jauchius, talks about the need to market with the big “M” versus the little “m”. Little “m” marketing is we need this flyer, go create said flyer. Big “M” marketing is what we've kind of been talking about already and that is, what is the problem that you're trying to solve, let us go away, come back and present the solution.
And so I definitely have experienced the order taker components of things and at times, quite honestly, it's appropriate. It absolutely is so I don't think people should always necessarily fear for the, somebody asked me for this, I don't want to deliver that because, again, if we're listening to sales and we're listening to the customer, sometimes we should just take said order and deliver it and deliver it on time and that's going to be good enough. That's not most of the work that we do but I do think sometimes it should not be lost on us that’s appropriate too.
Kandi: Yeah, I agree.
Allan : Yeah, absolutely. I have a question about acquisitions being a big thing in the banking industry. Can you elaborate any on your experience with acquisitions in the past?
Kevin: Yeah, so I have two acquisition examples. The first one isn't necessarily as related to marketing but it is related to my background and I wouldn't be here at Fifth Third Bank today if it wasn't for the acquisition that Fifth Third made back in the, I guess it would be the early 2000s where they acquired RG Crown Bank down in the Florida marketplace. And that gave me the opportunity through some mutual colleagues who had left our previous employer and had gone to Fifth Third had reached out and it was a great opportunity. So, that's one experience has been great. So, I'm thoroughly glad that happened.
Allan: Sounds like an easy one too.
Kevin: Absolutely, I got to slide in after all the hard work was done. Now after that acquisition, unfortunately, the recession took place and bank acquisitions really slowed down. They've now since begun to pick up. We recently merged with MB Bank, a wonderful institution in the Chicago marketplace, fantastic reputation and the team, the marketing team at MB does some really phenomenal work and so as we try to bring two organizations together there's the standard to live up to there. In bringing those two together I did play a role, a very small role as I see it in the acquisition and really the conversion of the acquisition with respect to marketing. And my role was on the merger communications team focusing on the website and making sure that the website delivered upon what we were putting out and not only the regulatory pieces but also in the welcome kits that we had designed.
So, you want to make sure that what they're seeing show up in the mailbox is representative of what they're going to find online. And then taking it a step further when they come to the website that there is additional information so that they could self help and answer questions and really feel comfortable about what was transpiring through the point of the conversion. I think, selfishly, we did a great job, the organization, really, I think delivered on behalf of the MB clientele which are now the Fifth Third clientele. And really my role feels very insignificant to a lot of the work that goes into an acquisition when you think about all the data and all of the systems and the merging of all of that stuff together. But when you're ultimately touching the customer at a very sensitive time, I think I can reflect back and say that the marketing team and the communications work group played a very important role as we were the ones responsible for putting that information in their hands.
Allan: Oh, I bet. You are probably underplaying that a little bit. I think marketing has got to have a huge role in any kind of acquisition and communicating that message out in this I think it is so important. So, anyway kudos to you. It’s got to be a lot of work.
Kevin: A lot of work and a lot of people.
Allan: Yeah, I know sure it is, sure it is. It is time for a quick sponsor break we'll be right back with more from Kevin Mackiewicz.
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Allan: What do you think is your largest marketing challenge here at Fifth Third?
Kevin: Yeah, I mean, just biggest marketing challenges in general doesn't everybody just say money? I'll take the easy one.
Allan: Right, okay next question.
Kevin: Yeah, skip money, right, because I actually do think a lot of people do say money and you can throw money at problems, but good money after bad doesn't make any sense. And so I think sometimes as marketers, we get challenged to work within a certain budget and it might not be the budget we want but that's really where you learn to optimize, make the tough decisions, the things that you ultimately wouldn't do. If people just kept giving you more money you don't have to maybe make as many hard decisions and so that's one aspect.
But I would say in bank marketing and really probably marketing in general, it would be the rate and pace of change with technology. And in bank marketing, specifically, heavily regulated, historically conservative, we don't generally move as fast when it comes to some of the technologies that are out there.
And so that is a challenge because the customer wants the Amazon experience whether they're getting a mortgage, checking account or anything of the sort so you can talk about digitizing everything. When you look at these very large institutions there are lots of systems, there's lots of security, there's lots of regulation, there's just lots there that if you were a consumer packaged good company you wouldn't necessarily have to deal with in the way in which we do. And so that's a challenge to continue to meet the customer’s expectation even though all of us in the industry are facing that same challenge. It's still one of those things that I look at as a significant challenge to the industry as a whole.
Kandi: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. We hear that from a lot of industries of course about the Amazon experience and even in our own, industry it is something that has impacted us all significantly with their model. So, Kevin where do you see your bank in the bank industry headed?
Kevin: Great question, having just received our national charter I'm very, very excited for the journey that lies ahead for us here at Fifth Third. It's a really big step. Yeah, very big step for us.
As for the industry, I would bet that we are going to continue to see a contraction in the marketplace, not a new statement; people have been predicting it forever. I'm not going on a limb and making any type of prediction here but when you look across the number of banks that exists today, somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000 and you look at how lopsided it is with those that are at the top, the trillionaires and then you come down to the nationals and the super regionals, there is about 20 “big size banks” and then there's 4900 and change much, much smaller banks. And I think that community banks are really important but I don't think that we are going to have a need for long term, almost 5000 banks.
So I think we'll continue to see the contraction. You look at the merger between SunTrust and BB&T to become Truist -their statement without quoting it or citing it specifically was the genesis for that so that they could get scale back in technology and the investment that it would take, the two organizations would be better together than they would be separately to try to pursue that. And so I think we're going to see other institutions do the same thing.
Kandi: So, Kevin can you tell us today what you are most excited about in marketing?
Kevin: The rapid pace of change is just a phenomenal opportunity for people to get the opportunity to do things differently. Your career can look wildly different in five years because of everything that is changing. So, the opportunity to learn those “new tricks” that are coming into our space in bank marketing and marketing in general. It just creates opportunity and so the ability to constantly learn, I love to just read different things, podcasts, etcetera. So, all the change is leading to just more and more of that and I just I feel a great value in being able to constantly learn.
Allan: Yeah, that’s a great segue because I'm kind of curious to everybody depending what industry you are in they kind of have their own ways of learning the industry. Where do you go for, you just mentioned podcasts and things like that, but where do you go to learn about marketing whether it is banking or anything?
Kevin: Yeah, absolutely, I'm a believer that you have to keep learning and gaining experience to remain relevant. Head coaches in sports they're constantly changing the way in which they game plan, the defense they run, the type of offence they run etcetera. And I think that as employees we have to constantly be evolving and changing with the game and in this particular instance the game is bank marketing. I'm a member of the ANA, the National Association of Advertisers or the Association of National Advertisers; I think is what it is. But I'll attend webinars that they put out. I'll read white papers that they put out; their conferences and conferences in general are just a great opportunity.
There are plenty of industry conferences whether you're supporting Wealth and Asset Management or you're supporting mortgage there's so many opportunities out there it's taking advantage of and I'm very fortunate that here at Fifth Third they do invest in our ability to continue to learn and develop and afford us the opportunities to participate in these. Additionally, I find great value in LinkedIn being connected to good people, being connected and following.
Allan: Have we connected yet? I don’t know. No, I’m kidding.
Kevin: You know, those connections can create opportunities to one reach out and ask questions, meeting people at conferences, connecting on LinkedIn and leveraging that as a platform to ask a question every once in a while if you have one or even just for a recommendation of a book, I cheat, I do audible but –
Kandi: Same here.
Allan: A book is a book. Right?
Kevin: A book is a book and so I find really good value in that as well and I just think LinkedIn is a great platform for many reasons but being able to hone in on things you are interested in and likeminded people is a good thing.
Allan: Thank you for being our guest today Kevin. This has been a great conversation. Kandi and I both really appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts on Bank Marketing today by Vya.
Martha: In the course of the interview Kandi mentioned the research report that we did last year and that is available. Listeners that are interested in downloading that free research report can go to vyasystems.com/strategicbanking.
Allan: Martha, I’ve got a question, so now that you have heard what Kevin has to say about resource constraints and help with creativity, what do you as a marketer think about that?
Martha: I think he is absolutely correct, you know, I also agree with his collaborative approach to problem solving and why it is beneficial to view marketing as an extension of the sales team. Sales and marketing do share a common goal but it can be just so easy to forget with day to day requests. You know Allan like when you come to me at 3:00 o’clock and need something right away?
Allan: You are not supposed to say that to the public.
Martha: Then his comments on maintaining consistent messaging, especially in the middle of an acquisition really resonates as well.
Allan: Thanks to our listeners for joining us. So, check us out for more episodes at vyasystems.com. Be sure to subscribe and Vya is V-Y-A systems with an S dot com. Thank you so much.
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