An Interview with Theresa Mason, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Teachers Mutual Bank

Teachers Mutual Bank

“Banks can take a leadership role and work collaboratively with consumer groups, regulators, government departments and technology providers. In conjunction with these partners we can develop banking and technology solutions that help consumers manage their finances more effectively…”

FST Media: What are your business and digital priorities for the next 6 months?

Mason: From a sales and marketing perspective, our business priorities are to implement an organic growth strategy for our Teachers Mutual Bank brand in Queensland; develop customer journey mapping capability from lead stimulation to post-sale fulfilment; continue to develop and implement omni-channel customer solutions to support designed customer journeys and develop multi-branded sales, service and distribution channels.


FST Media: What role can banks play in helping drive Australia’s competitiveness in finance innovation?

Mason: Banks can take a leadership role and work collaboratively with consumer groups, regulators, government departments and technology providers. In conjunction with these partners we can develop banking and technology solutions that help consumers manage their finances more effectively, become more informed when making financial decisions, and be secure in the knowledge that their finances and personal data are protected.

Taking a customer centric approach and developing solutions that value and focus on the ease and convenience factors, plus the financial wellbeing of the customer, should be our core motivation.

For example, banks are customer data rich and can use this data to understand their customer’s needs and help them make better financial decisions.  They can also use this data and external data to anticipate customer needs, verify and validate requests, and to automate decisions.

With the support of other technologies (such as blockchain technology), validation and verification or transaction requests and processes become another potential way banks can work collaboratively with each other and the broader consumer, government and regulatory communities.


FST Media: What key things can be gained from bridging the knowledge gap between customers and banks?

Mason: If the knowledge gap between customers and banks is bridged, banks should expect trust from a consumer’s perspective, in that their personal data will be utilised to improve their financial wellbeing.

Other gains could include:

  • Growth, retention and lower operational costs for banks if they are accountable to consumers for the ethical and beneficial use of their customer’s data.
  • A tide of increasing innovation in banking products and services that will be truly consumer driven.
  • Regulatory innovation to support flexible and convenient banking.


FST Media: What are the main Cybersecurity risks in the banking industry at the moment?

Mason: There are still major cybersecurity risks due to poor customer understanding and engagement online. Some of the most pressing concerns that many in the banking industry will be familiar with include:

  • People not knowing or understanding how to protect their hardware and software from hacking.
  • People sharing their credentials, payment information, and personal data unwittingly with rogue operators.
  • People willing to develop, build and sell hacking programs and processes for financial benefit.
  • People willing to buy these programs and processes to steal personal information, corporate information, money, data transmission capacity, etc.

At Teachers Mutual Bank, we take all steps possible to ensure our members are aware of the latest security issues that may affect them. Banks owe it to their customers to be constantly vigilant and pass on cybersecurity warnings as soon as possible, to ensure that customers can keep their banking and financial data continually safeguarded.


FST Media: What technology or innovation is proving to be the biggest game changer for the banking industry?

Mason: Banks can be more than just transaction processors, they can be financial partners – even sages!

Richer mobile access to banking products and services is challenging the branch concept model. Richer contact centre experiences (inbound and outbound) with omni channel servicing capability are retaining customers and deepening customer relationships.  The sticky factor is growing.

Innovation is also being driven by services that are fully automated and data driven, such as applying for credit, managing your account within limits, notification of pending payments or transactions to help you manage your finances, especially if it is delivered through a chat bot or virtual agent.

Looking to the future, there are the questions raised by blockchain, and if it can be used for validation, certification and verification – particularly in the area of home purchasing transactions.


FST Media: How is TMB responding to the challenges of digital disruption?

Mason: We are keeping pace with change and are frequently ahead of the curve.  Any new product or service is developed with a digital first solution, with automated integration where possible.  One example is the origination of our broker loans, which has straight through processing from the broker, to the banks origination system, with automated back channel communications and application tracking.

Another example is our recent release of a new mobile banking solution for our UniBank and Firefighters Bank brands that has rich functionality including managing card statuses, PIN change capabilities, and a suite of ease-of-use functions designed to ensure the best user experience.  We have also implemented Apple Pay and Android Pay for our Teachers Mutual Bank and UniBank brands.

We have marketing automation software and contact centre technology that helps us route and schedule our communications and respond to customers across multiple channels including webchat, SMS, email, social media; cost effectively and efficiently.

We are also partnering with new platform providers and digital media companies to increase our customer reach and lead generation opportunities.


FST Media: What specific insight does TMB bring to banking within Australia?

Mason: The importance of ethical banking, or to put it another way values-based banking, and that the development of technology to support banking services should be developed with the best interests and needs of the customer at the heart of design thinking.

In the past banks have found it very easy to encourage consumers to become dependent on credit, especially credit cards and this has led to many consumers becoming over-extended.  There was also not much automated assistance factored into credit card platforms to help consumers manage their repayments.  At Teachers Mutual Bank, our credit card platform has automated repayments to help keep the account current and we also designed our interest-free periods to benefit our customers.

Another development was the savings offset account facility being applied at 100% to variable and fixed interest loan accounts.  We wanted Teachers Mutual Bank customers (our members) to be able to benefit from their savings even if they were on a budget and needed to fix their interest rate.

We make it easy for our customers to manage their accounts through rich functional internet and mobile banking applications and we help them self-serve conveniently to manage the administration of their accounts.

Mutual financial institutions are renowned for being customer centric, for being leaders at needs based selling and ethical policy, processes and design thinking; for utilising customer data to benefit customers and protect them by promoting cyber vigilance.  At Teachers Mutual Bank we have always exercised diligence and vigilance in our technology developments and partnerships to protect our customers and our stakeholders.

This way of thinking and operating (our culture) is why we and other mutuals enjoy such high levels of customer satisfaction, retention and product utilisation.


FST Media: How does TMB mitigate risk and encourage customers?

Mason: We have a very rigorous project management discipline and have really invested heavily in our testing capability and competency.  Our brand health is of the utmost importance and ‘sustainable’ business practices plus ‘advocacy’ are two of our three core values, the other one is ‘passion’ which we embody in the development of customer centric solutions.


FST Media: What is the next big thing for TMB and how will you measure its success?

Mason: We are focussing on journey mapping, to turn random customer journeys into designed journeys for both new and existing experiences.  We are looking at journeys from the point of engagement and nurture right through to fulfilment and post-fulfilment.

Our objective is seamless channel integration that is easy, convenient, and flexible.  We are also looking to increase our self-service options as discovered through the analytics of our contact centre call data.

There are many ways we measure our success from project deliverables such as cost to serve, capacity to serve and channel utilisation, retention through to softer measures such as customer satisfaction, likelihood to promote.

We are also looking to step up the organic growth rate of our Teachers Mutual Bank customer base.  We will be researching the success of a Californian mutual with a view to learn more about their incredible growth success through better use of people and technology.


FST Media: What career line would you be in if you did not work in financial services?

Mason: Probably the health or education sector – I like the idea of helping people, help people.