Turning Banks’ Websites and Apps Into True ‘Digital Branches’

Finotta team posing together.

Bank websites and apps, although they’re convenient, really can only facilitate basic tasks like viewing account balances and transferring money. So far, banks have found it hard to integrate the more personalized services into their online “branches” that they offer at their physical ones. Parker Graham’s startup Finotta offers a platform that can help banks turn their mobile apps into true “digital branches” that can meet customers’ individualized needs. 

This is Finotta’s origin story.

From Destiny to Finotta

After playing professional football for a time, Parker got into wealth management for high-net-worth individuals. He soon found the work to be less than fulfilling. “I really [felt] this calling to take what [I had] learned and create a technology to help the masses,” he says. “Taking that technology we were using for some of the wealthy people that we had and applying it to everyone else, the everyday consumer, was something I got really excited about.”

Eventually, Parker founded his first company called Destiny, which he called a “debt robo advisor.” Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. “Quickly, we realized that we did not know what we were doing at all. I mean, I had read all these books about entrepreneurship and was like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’ll figure it out. It’ll be fine,’ and quickly [we] realized that, ‘Oh, wait. Bills cost money.’ I went from a high-paying job to a no-paying job.”

Adding to their difficulties was the fact that Parker and his two co-founders simply didn’t work well together. The trio split and Parker struck out on his own to start Finotta. It wasn’t easy, but his Christian faith helped get him through the tough times. “1,000% of my journey at that moment was me really handing my business over in a spiritual way to God,” he says. “I’m a Christian, and so a massive part of my story is being less, ‘Oh, I know exactly what I need to do,’ and being much more of a follower in what I feel like I’m guided to do.”

Four Pillars

Right off the bat, Parker came up with four principles to guide his company’s formation and operation. His first pillar was “lead with love – love for yourself, love for the mission, love for the team, and then eventually, love for the customer.” 

The second was “radical transparency,” which meant being “open, honest, and transparent with everything that we do from top to bottom.” 

The third was “unapologetic accountability, which basically means everybody’s an adult here. We don’t need to watch over you, and you also shouldn’t need us to watch over you.” 

The fourth pillar was “good times and good vibes,” Parker says. “What we’re doing is changing the world in banking, and it’s extremely freaking difficult … for a multitude of reasons. So because of that, we have to laugh loud, hard, and often.”

Enhancing the ‘Digital Branch’

Parker’s inspiration for Finotta centered around the fact that good customer service online – especially personalized service that caters to individual needs –  has thus far eluded most banks. “What’s been really difficult for banks and credit unions… is making that transition from the physical branch customer relationship to the digital branch customer relationship,” he says. 

Parker founded Finotta to help banks make this transition. “We really look at the phone – the mobile app specifically – as the digital branch for the bank,” he says. “Our goal as a company is to help [banks] figure out how to personalize solutions and services for customers in that digital branch just as well as they are doing in the personal relationships they build in the actual physical branch.”

Finotta accomplishes this goal through its online platform, which personalizes a bank’s financial offerings, similar to how a social media platform offers personalized content. This, Parker says, is an industry first.

“For the first time ever, we’ve really brought that same [social media] methodology into banking, where a bank’s mobile app with our technology can actually bring you products and services that … you need at certain points in your financial journey,” he says. “Maybe you’re trying to pay off debt or build wealth and really don’t know how to actually do those things efficiently. Our technology helps a bank actually tell you exactly what to do in those instances.”

Finotta’s platform seamlessly integrates with a bank’s mobile app or website. “It’s basically a button that sits on the home screen,” he says. “Once the user clicks on that button, our experience gets jettisoned and brought into view. It’s white labeled, so the user doesn’t really see a difference or a change, but ultimately, it does a lot of radically different stuff than what somebody’s used to in a banking application.” 

‘Tip of the Spear’

Parker sees his company as being at the forefront of a trend in the banking industry toward offering better online service, especially for younger customers who have never known a time without the internet and “only bank on the phone, whether that’s through a mobile app or actually just physically calling somebody at the branch.” 

Financial institutions are starting to realize that to win these customers, they need to invest in better online platforms. “So we’re on the tip of the spear, if you will, on really helping them kind of bridge that gap … If you’re [going to] compete digitally, you [have] to spend money, and we’re one of the beneficiaries of those dollars spent.”

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