Todd Clark became President/CEO of CO-OP Financial Services on June 27, 2016, bringing with him a 25-year career featuring a unique mix of start-up and corporate experience in the payments industry. Insight Vault sat down with him recently to get an inside look at his career, his vision for the future of the company and thoughts on the industry, including his focus on putting the client first and staying in front of new technology through an entrepreneurial mindset.
Insight Vault: Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Clark: I’m originally a tech guy – a coder and a technologist. I studied math and economics in college, and engineering is in my family’s blood. I learned to write code in college as a hobby.
I’ve been an entrepreneur, co-founding a start-up, Core Data, and I’ve worked at First Data, a company with 29,000 employees, and succeeded at both.
We sold Core Data to Concord EFS, which later merged with First Data. At the time of sale, Core Data had grown to a $20 million organization and the second largest ATM processor in the country.
While at First Data, I served as SVP/Head of STAR Network and Debit Processing, where I was responsible for the business unit’s profit/loss and led a large team of product, strategy, communications, strategic sales, technology, operations and support personnel. Previously, I led the Community Financial Institution group at the company and led the team managing the relationship with Bank of America.
Working for business partners of CO-OP – including First Data and Cardtronics – has given me a strong appreciation of CO-OP’s essential role in the financial success of its credit union clients and their members. The relationship with the customer has always been first and foremost in my world.
I believe one of my main strengths is that I am able to identify technology gaps in the market quickly. In addition, I specialize in determining how emerging technology can fill those gaps, all with an aim of uncovering efficiencies for smaller financial institutions.
Insight Vault: What is your vision for the company in the months and years ahead?
Clark: CO-OP is in the midst of building out the full vision of CO-OP’s next phase of leadership in the payments and financial technology space.
Credit union member interaction and engagement, based on user behavior around new technologies, will be at the center of our strategy – all leveraging the scale of our current platforms. We will not only layer member-centric digital design over our card payments, digital/mobile delivery, branch/ATM/self-service and call center systems, we will also continue to build upon our comprehensive security and fraud detection platforms to make sure our credit unions are always the strongest link in the payments chain.
Insight Vault: How are you looking to further innovation in the credit union industry?
Clark: There is a fascinating synergy at work today between consumer demands and fintech innovation. Steve Jobs famously said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” It is certainly true today that fintech companies such as CO-OP are in a position to drive consumer demands as often as we are driven.
CO-OP sees at least four key consumer trends in payments technology – frictionless speed, digital/mobile first, product intelligence and customization, and security innovation.
Innovation begins, though, by listening to our clients and working closely with them to ensure that their needs are anticipated. I plan to leverage my background in both the start-up space and with large corporations to find innovative solutions for our credit unions in an era of unprecedented transformation.
Insight Vault: What do you think should be the biggest priority for credit unions?
Clark: Consumers have no problem switching to another institution today if their needs are not met – in fact, they are increasingly willing to bank with non-traditional players. This means that credit unions must provide the secure, convenient payment technology that they demand. Credit unions need to continue to evolve with the market and CO-OP needs to be the provider that helps them make that happen.
We have a particular responsibility to our clients and their members to help them provide the latest in data protection capabilities in an environment where payment is becoming more convenient for members – but fraudsters can all too easily take advantage.
Insight Vault: What are some examples of how CO-OP can help credit unions thrive in today’s market?
Clark: Consumers today demand superior, relentless service across all channels. They dictate how, when and where they want to interact. Digital is the future, yet branches remain popular. In a phrase – consumers want it all. CO-OP strives to have it all – we can help credit unions master both digital and physical member interactions; we offer the real-time, the 24/7 and personalized services needed to attract and keep members; and, we offer the control and security members want through payment apps such as CardNav by CO-OP.
Data itself is not the solution – it’s what you do with the analytics, and the financial world is unlocking this power to shape the future of global commerce. Winning the data game for credit unions – in terms of collection, analytics and security – will be even more of a priority for CO-OP going forward.
Editor’s Note: Clark will be a participant of a panel discussion at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta at 3:45 p.m. on Wednesday, October 12, 2016. The one-day conference, co-sponsored by the Secure Remote Payment Council and the Atlanta Fed, will be focused on “Fintech in Payments,” and the panel will discuss “What About the Business Side of Things?”