Creating a Clear Path to Innovation: Our Conversation with ASA Chief Strategy Officer Lisa Gold Schier

From Open Banking to Embedded Finance, there are more ways than ever for financial institutions and financial services providers to embrace digital technology and bring better, more personalized, and easier to use financial products to market.

One company that is playing a role in helping businesses make the most of the latest innovations in financial technology is ASA. The company, headquartered in Utah and making its Finovate debut last month at FinovateFall, facilitates collaborations between financial institutions and fintechs. An embedded solution, ASA’s technology helps community banks and credit unions offer their customers the same quality of innovative digital services offered by their larger rivals.

We caught up with Lisa Gold Schier, Chief Strategy Officer with ASA, to talk about the opportunity of collaborative banking, how to make bank/fintech partnerships work, and what financial institutions are focused on right now.

Tell me about your time in the industry and your new role at ASA. Why did you make the switch from banking to fintech?

Lisa Gold Schier: I started my financial services career with a bank, then worked with banks and fintechs. However, I had never worked directly for a fintech. Prior to joining ASA, I served as a leader at the American Bankers Association (ABA), where I led product evaluation and served as a strategic advisor to bankers, technology providers, and consultants across areas such as technology trends, digital transformation, and the customer experience. I helped establish and spearhead the only industry committee focused on guiding strategic direction for industry innovation with an emphasis on bank/technology partnerships and core processor engagement.

I evaluated hundreds of fintech solutions during my years at ABA. When I discovered ASA, I knew it was something unique. I realized ASA’s technology and framework changes and improves how financial institutions, fintechs, and customers access technology and work together. By joining the team, I help financial institutions and fintechs meet the needs of their account holders. I am now Chief Strategy Officer at ASA, driving the strategy of collaborative banking and creating a clear path to innovation, scale, and customer financial empowerment through embedded fintech.

Who is ASA and what is collaborative banking? What makes it different than Open Banking or Banking as a Service?

Schier: While OpenBanking and Banking as a Service each have their place in the market, challenges exist with each. Banking as a Service requires fintechs to jump through regulatory hoops and open banking puts banks and fintechs against each other in competition for customers’ finances. Collaborative banking, on the other hand, is a model that allows financial institutions and fintechs to work together, sharing revenue and business opportunities. Collaborative banking takes the spirit of open banking and mitigates the pitfalls, allowing institutions and fintechs to partner in a mutually beneficial way by removing the regulatory risk traditionally associated with partnerships.

ASA, the pioneer of collaborative banking, is an embedded fintech solution that connects financial institutions with customer-facing fintechs in a secure, compliant, and easy to implement marketplace, powering growth and opportunity for all. Account holders select and instantly download the apps that meet their individual needs, and link their accounts without giving the fintech access to any personal information. With ASA and collaborative banking, financial institutions are the hub of financial choice, maintaining the account holder relationship and providing financial empowerment through individualized choice.

Lisa Gold Schier introducing ASA’s demo at FinovateFall 2022 in New York.

What challenges have traditionally made bank/fintech partnerships difficult, and how is the ASA model helping to overcome them?

Schier: There are many challenges, some of the largest include developing an innovation strategy and the team to implement and follow through, researching and vetting all the fintechs and determining which ones will solve the majority of customers’ needs, contracts, core integrations, and balancing innovation with liability and risk. These roadblocks can be especially challenging for community institutions, who lack the large tech budgets of regional and national players.

ASA addresses these issues by acting as a single integration point between financial institutions and fintechs, either through the institution’s core, online provider, or data aggregator. Fintechs never interface with institution’s core, and ASA normalizes, tokenizes, and anonymizes customer PII data, ensuring fintechs can’t access personal accountholder data.

By solving the one-to-one integration pain point, ASA is enabling personalization at scale by allowing customers to choose and download the niche apps they crave without diluting the relationship with the bank or credit union. ASA creates a trusted closed network between financial institutions and fintechs, making partnerships easier, more affordable, and more secure than ever before.

How do you mentor and support women in the industry?

Schier: I strongly believe in having diverse views around the table, and part of doing so means proactively seeking out those different perspectives. This often looks like creating networks, whether within my organization or within the industry, and then supporting each other. It’s important to foster relationships with junior and senior women and share advice and insights.

I also support women through social media and speaking opportunities, looking at and creating diversity in promotional and advertising materials. It’s disappointing to see panels and conference sessions that lack diversity. So, when I am working with conference coordinators, I make it a priority to seek diverse representation, which includes recommending industry leaders and women that may not be tied in with the conference circuit. This also includes working with and supporting diverse communities. Since so many have supported me, I want to continue to give back to the industry.

What is top of mind for financial institutions and fintechs now and over the next 12 months?

Schier: To quote Ron Shevlin, our industry is at a hard fork in the road, and it’s critical for banks and credit unions to move toward the collaborative future of banking. Doing so will enable them to keep up with all of the new technology apps, grow business, and remain relevant. Financial institutions and fintechs that embrace embedded fintech and lean into secure consumer choice, providing consumers with more authority over who has access to their data and under what circumstances, will gain a strong competitive advantage. Moving forward, financial institutions and fintechs should prepare to embrace self-sovereign identities more fully, enabling consumer ownership of their data in new, innovative ways.

Customers increasingly need easier, quicker access to a range of financial education and wellness resources, especially given current market volatility. Those financial institutions that proactively offer more choice, providing customers with simpler, more secure, wider access to the tools needed to develop their financial health and education, will be well positioned to promote financial empowerment and equity.

Photo by Genine Alyssa Pedreno-Andrada