Expert Insights: Technology in Banking & Bridging the Data Gap with Allan Rayson

On this episode of Expert Insights, our host Joe Welu is joined by Allan Rayson, Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Technology Officer of Encore Bank, a boutique bank with 20 branches across the United States. Allan has an impressive track record guiding financial institutions to success, and using strategic technology to do so. Named the 2022 Digital Banker of the Year by American Banker, Allan is an expert at the intersection of fintech and banking. 

In this episode, Allan shares his journey with Encore Bank, as well as how banks can navigate ever-changing markets while building lifetime relationships through the power of innovative technology solutions. 

From the Ground Up 

Joining Encore Bank in October 2020, Allan has been with the company virtually from its start. Over the past three years, Encore has grown from a very small bank with about $130 million in assets to an institution with now more than $3 billion in assets. Having a blank canvas to work from, Allan was able to build the tech stack to fit the bank’s growing priorities.  

“The fintech community is symbiotic with the banks,” Allan explains. “The banks need the fintechs and conversely, the fintechs need the banks. For community banks, especially like us that have an innovation culture, we’re such a great sandbox to be able to stand up technologies in weeks and start generating revenue in ROI almost instantaneously.” 

That sandbox of innovation has given Allan and his technology team at Encore the latitude to take core tech offerings from a mix of fintech companies and tailor them to the exact needs of their business and their customers. As any entrepreneur or business owner knows, you first need to nail down operational technology before innovative technology can really take off. Encore Banks’ cross-functional team structure has allowed the company to be flexible and responsive, as well as provided them the opportunity to innovate their technology stack and grow the bank outside of a vacuum. “From a technology and a growth perspective, it’s been a real blessing, in all honesty, to come into a situation where you do have pretty much a completely blank slate.” 

The Current Banking Landscape 

Having been around the block a few times, Allan is admittedly cautious about the future of the economy. A rapidly rising rate environment coupled with a highly inverted yield curve are par for a choppy banking landscape. “I can’t read the future, but that has been a pretty good indicator of an upcoming recession, whether we like it or not,” says Allan.  

While bankers have no real way to control market conditions, Allan explains that leveraging relationships and sticking to what you know and do well are his preferred methods for weathering the storm. “We’ve got the right employees and processes in place to be able to continue to execute well,” says Allan. “Being more cautious about how we deploy our balance sheet is always a go-to for bankers, being able to lean into the needs of our existing clients and evaluate the needs of the new clients that we’re onboarding… it’s an execution game for all of us.” Having the right tools and technology in place to help execute for customers, even in a slow economy, is the best way to endure what comes around the next bend. Even with downturns, there are still opportunities to capitalize, so being prepared is your best bet.  

For more of Allan Rayson’s insights, listen to the full Experts Insights episode.