In what is a recurring feature, Finopotamus profiles interesting and intriguing tech professionals who are positively impacting the credit union industry.
For this issue, we spent time with HC3’s recently appointed Chief Technology Officer, Matt Bagley. The Birmingham, Ala. –based HC3 helps financial institutions communicate with customized solutions for statement and notice redesign, marketing campaigns and print and digital communications.
By W.B. King
Back in the mid-1990s while in high school, Matt Bagley was happily programing in DOS until a significant event occurred that changed the trajectory of his life.
“Windows 95 had just been released, and when the teacher installed it on one of the computers, I was blown away,” recalled Bagley. “At that point I knew I wanted a career where I could harness the power of technology.”
After graduating from the University of Alabama with a B.S. in commerce and business administration, and before earning an M.B.A from Vanderbilt University and a M.A. in information management systems from Harvard University, respectively, Bagley began his career as a field engineer.
“I worked for an outsourced IT company where I supported dozens of clients, on anything from PC and printer maintenance to server administration and networking,” he said. “During that period, I was blessed with being exposed to many technologies and client environments.”
Before being named HC3’s CTO in early 2021, Bagley held senior technology leadership roles at Corsica Technologies and C Spire, and earlier served as a vice president for Regions Bank. When asked how he goes about investigating and adopting new technologies, he said “selling the vision” is normally the easiest part of the process.
“It’s far more difficult to uncover the current and future needs of the company or client. When this is well-understood it is then easy to ‘sell’ the vision by referring to how the solution fulfills the needs within the given parameters,” he explained. “To gather the requirements, the team reviews existing metrics, conducts interviews with stakeholders at all levels and brainstorms with the end consumers.”
Since technology is a specialized science, and ever-changing, Bagley said it is difficult, if not impossible, for any one person to be an expert on multiple disciplines.
“I know I can’t do it. I suspect that any CTO who tries to be the smartest guy in the room is either fooling himself or creating an unhealthy environment for the team,” said Bagley. “Instead, I choose to surround myself with the best people in each discipline and create an environment where those people can work together to propose and create solutions.”
By surrounding himself with a team who are passionate, disciplined and motivated, Bagley said he can focus his energy on better management and leadership methods. And since HC3 is a privately held company, he couldn’t disclose how many people are on his IT team. He did note, however, that staffing “reflects the changing nature” of the industry.
“Today, we are seeing a greater number of women and millennials rising in the ranks of both our leadership and managerial teams. We are proud that our teams are filled with diverse female roles, especially the women serving in our highest ranks of leadership,” Bagley continued. “Not only are women seated at the proverbial decision table, HC3 is actively working to cultivate the next generation of talent.”
New Tech on Tap
Not unlike his programming days in high school, Bagley is continually intrigued and inspired by new technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.
“AI and machine learning are hot topics these days and I see the enormous potential in these technologies,” he said. “We are exploring the potential and will eventually incorporate these technologies into our services.”
While he said that digital banking has “been around for a while,” he believes the platform brings the best “return on investment” for financial institutions.
“I get more excited about removing friction from the customer/member experience than the wizardry of a new technology,” said Bagley. “There is still an abundance of opportunities to use digital banking to improve the customer experience in ways that increase ‘stickiness,’ reduce costs to the financial institution and increase revenues through cross-sell opportunities.”
Credit unions, he added, are normally in a good position technology-wise because these organizations are driven by member experience. As a result, credit unions tend to focus efforts on “competencies they can master in-house and utilize partners” for other expertise.
“While the business case exists for hiring firms like HC3 to provide specialized services and let us incur all the investment costs, it is even more valuable to credit unions that can benefit from almost immediate value to members with a very minimal investment,” he said.