Ignite Live 2020: Leading with Confidence During Uncertain Times
Sharing Ideas and Best Practices for a Challenging Time
This year’s Ignite Live 2020 was buzzing with ideas about how to lead with confidence in today’s uncertain business climate. The virtual event, held September 15 and 16, included more than 2,200 Equifax customers, partners and experts from the United States and Canada. The event, which was a follow-up to the successful Spark 2019 conference, included 29 virtual sessions. Topics ranged from how to navigate the COVID-19 business landscape; assessments on where we’re headed; lending with confidence; new data for new challenges and more. As one participant summed it up, the content was actionable and everyone had an opportunity to share ideas and best practices.
I’d like to give a special thanks to all our guest presenters, including leaders from Keybridge, GM Financial, DISH, S&P, American Express, Wells Fargo, Deloitte Consulting, Navy Federal Credit Union, Badcock, Alchemy, Acima, and Sentilink. All sessions were recorded and can be watched on-demand.
Equifax CEO Mark Begor kicked off the event acknowledging that today’s uncertainty can be challenging — even paralyzing. “This global pandemic is like nothing we have ever seen before,” he said. “The power of data and analytics is even more powerful today than it was in the past.”
Breaking Through the Uncertainty
I followed with my keynote on “Navigating with Confidence in this Era of Uncertainty,” where I explained how economic assistance like accommodations and payment assistance programs, while necessary and good for consumers, have an unintended side effect: they distort the credit file.
Specifically, credit files have been impacted in two ways. First, the credit score as a predictor of credit worthiness is diminished. Secondly, the implicit relationship between the credit file and the ability to pay is less clear. These factors result in uncertainty and can hamper lending.
Fortunately, there is a solution. It’s the combination of more frequent information, more alternative data and more supplemental information. The right data will provide lenders with the clarity and confidence they need to increase lending.
How Business has Evolved During COVID-19
In another keynote, “The Customer Experience: A Transparent Discussion of the COVID-19 Landscape,” Sid Singh, Equifax U.S. Information Solutions President talked with Dan Berce, President and CEO of GM Financial; and Jay Roth, SVP and CMO of DISH.
Sid and Dan discussed how data and analytics are playing a key role in the growth of GM Financial. While GM Financial has long used credit and credit results in the decisioning process, Dan said the company is also trying to leverage data in the area of customer experience. He said they’re starting to use unstructured data to gain more insight into what drives a better NPS at the customer level — and what effect the NPS has on the customer buying another GM vehicle or financing through GM Financial.
In the conversation between Sid and Jay, they discussed leadership lessons from the pandemic. Jay believed the number one lesson is being prepared in good times with a strong risk management plan, and a close second, having an empathetic leadership style because employees need help and flexibility to manage through the pandemic.
Using Data to Market with Precision
While there were many insightful sessions, I’d like to highlight “Locate Consumers and Market with Confidence.” In this presentation, Todd Hoover, our Chief Revenue Officer for Data Driven Marketing, presented a roadmap for using data and insights to reach your marketing goals.
Todd broke it down into three steps:
- Develop your data strategy based on who you want to market to, how to reach them and then identify your objectives and ROI.
- Next, leverage your first party data and identify gaps.
- Finally, address any insight gaps by adding external data sources.
When you have the total financial picture of a consumer, you can dig deeper into their financial durability, which Hoover defined as their income, wealth and spend. Furthermore, when combined with geography and industry disbursement, you can find your best customers.
Following his presentation, Todd conducted a Q&A with Marc Ginsberg, VP of Marketing for U.S. Small and Medium Enterprise at American Express. Todd asked him how COVID-19 has changed the way marketers look at the precision of data.
“The cost of being wrong has never been higher,” said Marc. American Express has identified three small business groups in this pandemic: those in crisis mode; those getting back to business and companies who are in growth mode. He said precision is critical because you must talk to customers and prospects as individuals — otherwise, your messaging could be tone deaf.
Applying Innovative Risk Measures
Finally, I’d like to highlight Puddy Manaise, our VP of Analytics & Insights, and his presentation on “Innovative Risk Measures in Uncertain Times.” Puddy stressed that it’s important to measure risk differently because the nature of this recession is unlike any other.
Puddy walked the audience through an exercise that separated risk into two categories:
- Self-identified risk as shown by a customer opting for accommodation and
- A view of who’s likely to emerge from accommodation stronger and have a shorter road to recovery.
He pulled in some of Equifax’s unique data assets and core consumer attributes. The results showed that by adding additional data sources such as income and employment data, we can rank order the likelihood for consumers to request an accommodation. Plus, measuring payment relief can correlate to a consumer payment stress level by risk band.
After the presentation, Manaise led a Q&A with Amir Rafique, SVP of Risk Management at Wells Fargo. He asked Rafique for his take on innovation in risk management.
“In today’s economy, it’s essential for companies to have differentiating factors that give them an edge over others and innovation plays a major part in creating that differentiation,” he said. “Innovation can come in many different forms — technology, infrastructure and better data.”
We Want to Hear From You
With two days of sessions, there is far more content than I can fit into this blog post. Be sure to review the other insights and best practices shared during this event. As always, the team and I want your feedback. Email us at Ignitelive@equifax.com.
Are you interested in letting the data tell the story? Take a look at our past blogs in this series:
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