2021 Synergent Connect User Conference Recap

The 2021 Connect User Conference was held for the first time as a multi-day event that was filled with forward-thinking, insightful presentations given by Synergent leadership, featured speakers, and in-house subject-matter experts.

September 29, 2021 – Conference Kickoff

On September 29, Scott Johnsen, Synergent Senior Vice President of Operations and host of the Connect User Conference, welcomed attendees to the start of the event.

“This is not about a culmination, but a continuation of a lot of great discussions we’ve had about places we are in now and places we’re going,” opened Johnsen.

He went on to explain that this year’s Connect User Conference had two primary goals: to create awareness and talk about strategic approach.

Todd Mason, President and CEO of Synergent, then continued the conference kickoff.

“Synergent, when we think about what outcomes we want to help you drive, we think about it in terms of enabling our credit union customers to be innovative financial service providers of choice,” shared Mason.

Synergent achieves this for credit unions in the following four key areas: Risk management, integrated solutions, scale, and thought leadership. Mason continued that Synergent is here to help guide credit unions through their digital evolution with an emphasis on people, who are the most important aspect of all.

The Convergence of Payments and Digital

Connect User Conference attendees heard from and interacted with two major experts in the payments and technology space: Tede Forman, Vice President of Payment Solutions for Jack Henry & Associates (JHA), and Ben Metz, Senior Managing Partner for Jack Henry Digital.

Making the Complex Simple in an Evolving Payments Landscape

Tede Forman provides leadership and strategic direction in the areas of operations, technology, and product development for Jack Henry’s Payment Solutions team. His primarily payments-focused presentation covered four key topics:

  • Jack Henry Payments Overview
  • Payments Landscape
  • Payments as a Service
  • Jack Henry and Faster Payments

As a company, JHA has been very strategic and thoughtful in their delivery of payments solutions to customers, credit unions, and their members. They developed a clear, effective vision statement: Delivering superior customer experiences and simplifying the complexity of payments.

“In today’s world, payments truly have become very complex,” stated Forman, “Helping our customers, like yourself, have solutions to compete, we feel like this positions you and us to develop a great customer experience.”

Throughout his engaging presentation, Forman emphasized the intersection of payments and technology, creating choices for consumers in payments delivered through the digital channel, and the convergence of all solutions in Payments as a Service (PaaS) a growing market that will continue to increase. Their product vision for PaaS is illustrated through the acronym F.I.R.S.T.:

  • Foresight: Focusing on the future, to keep you at the forefront of payments
  • Innovation: Investing in industry leading solutions to help you compete
  • Revenue: A complete array of services to support and amplify your success
  • Simplify: Enhancing the user experience by removing friction for you and your customers
  • Threat Mitigation: Strong, cost-effective tools that help fight fraud and manage risk

Forman concluded by sharing insight into what JHA is working on delivering next, along with use cases, key touchpoints, and metrics of interest to Synergent credit unions.

Innovation to Compete: Payments & Tech

Ben Metz is an entrepreneur and technologist with a deep technical background in building large scale systems in highly regulated industries. He leads Banno as Head of Digital, providing overall direction and guidance for digital inside JHA.

In Metz’s presentation, he shared that everything that Forman’s team is building and delivering, they’re using as fast as they can produce it in the converging, competitive, rapidly changing world of payments and technology. In terms of deposits and tech adoption, he adeptly explained that instead of waves of action flowing in the same direction as they have historically, they actually flow in opposite directions.

Taking a quick glance back at the past, he shared that PayPal originally wanted a charter to start a bank. In a space with limited regulation, they instead started email payments. Fast forward to today, BigTechs, FinTechs, and social media now are among those who dot the competitive landscape as direct competitors to financial institutions. It no longer is FIs competing against only FIs. Additionally, digital cryptocurrencies represent a new monetary network that, while similar conceptually to card networks, is permissionless and on the open internet.

Members will want to use the payments ecosystem as it evolves. For credit unions to compete, they must be at the center of these transactions, moving beyond the concept of being “top of wallet” to now be the “first app” or “first stop,” partnered and positioned to participate in the digital payments web.

Faster Payments and Digital Adoption

Synergent subject matter experts Karen Martin, Product Owner – Payments, and Doug MacDonald, Vice President of Marketing Services, provided an overview of the upcoming PayCenter launch. They discussed the importance of the adoption of faster payment methods in order to meet member expectations and the intersection of communicating through targeted member marketing.

Following their presentation, credit unions were able to participate in a lively panel discussion with Forman, Metz, and Martin, along with Rebekah Higgins, Synergent Payment & Fraud Consultant. Thoughtful questions and engaging discussion was had amongst both the presenters and conference participants.

Connect User Conference – Week 2

During the week of October 4, breakout sessions were held throughout the week. Credit unions had the option of joining live and interacting with presenters or they could access session recordings afterwards at their convenience.

10/4 – Return on Relationship

Members of Synergent’s Marketing Services team shared how credit unions can unlock the potential of the most powerful solutions they offer to their members.

10/5 – Introducing the Episys User Group

Attendees were able to learn about the new user group designed specifically for users of the Symitar® Episys® core hosted by Synergent. They also were introduced the team of credit union volunteers leading the group.

10/6 – What You Need To Know Right Now About Cards and Fraud

Rebekah Higgins, Synergent’s Payments and Fraud Consultant, and Karen Martin, Synergent’s Product Owner for Payments, discussed the latest trends in payments and fraud.

10/7 – My Synergent:More Than Case Management

Synergent’s Salesforce team spoke about the powerful portal that continues to evolve for all of their interactions with Synergent.