Member Spotlight: Truist


Posted on 4/1/2021

The best way to tell the FDX story is through the voice of our members. Welcome to the FDX Member Spotlight series, in which we sit down with some of the professionals from FDX member firms who juggle the responsibility of their day jobs with developing, integrating and implementing the FDX standard for the benefit of consumers and the entire financial services industry. We ask them about their experiences, goals and thoughts on the process. 

Thanks for joining us today. Tell us a little bit about your role(s) at Truist and how those intersect with the larger discussion around consumer data sharing and Open Finance?

Julie Bateman: I lead the Truist open and connected banking product team. This team is tasked with helping unlock the full breadth and depth of Truist by expanding our ability to make services available through emerging channels. We work hand in hand with our design and technology partners, like Corporate Cyber Security, to enhance data sharing and create better client experiences on and off Truist digital properties.

Steve Scott: I lead the Corporate Cyber Security organization. My team is charged with protecting the information that our clients entrust to Truist every day.  We safeguard the services provided by Truist and transactions conducted by our clients. That means partnering across the entire enterprise with groups like Julie’s team as well as our technology partners to support our clients’ financial well-being and advance our strategy of combining innovative technology with personal touch to achieve greater trust with clients. 

Truist is not only an active board member of FDX, but is also active in a lot of our working groups and task forces. What are Truist’s main objectives in being a part of this work to standardize user-permissioned data sharing? 

Julie Bateman: Our purpose at Truist is to inspire and build better lives and communities. We can advance this purpose by offering digital capabilities that help our clients achieve real, positive financial outcomes. Providing data access with transparency and security in mind is critical for that to occur. One of our main objectives in being a part of this work is to facilitate an improved security and privacy posture across the ecosystem, including advocating for solutions that are attainable for institutions of all sizes.

Steve Scott: In addition to advancing our purpose, we strive to leverage the considerable talent of Truist teammates to advance FDX’s mission of adopting and promoting a common unified standard to support secure and convenient financial data sharing. At the same time, we are leveraging the formidable knowledge of the FDX community, representing the entire financial services ecosystem, by incorporating these learnings in Truist’s own work in this space. So, we see our engagement with FDX as very much a reciprocal relationship and we are excited to be part of such a dynamic and collaborative community. 

Specifically for Truist, how are your customers using data sharing and have you noticed any recent trends in the space? 

Julie Bateman: Screen-scraping volume has grown significantly, particularly as peer to peer payments and digital lending has grown. Where we once thought of this as something just to support aggregation use cases for Personal Financial Management (PFM) providers, we are now seeing account authentication and verification use cases being the primary driver of volumes. 

Steve Scott: As any cybersecurity professional will tell you, we have continued to see an increase in the volume and sophistication of cyber attacks. Truist and all providers must continue to be vigilant in securing data, systems and processes. The amount of information available to educate consumers on securing their credentials and security in general is extensive, however, the threats continue to evolve and the impact is real. We have a robust information security education, training and awareness program for both our clients and teammates to help them combat pervasive cyber attacks. So, going back to the earlier question about why Truist supports FDX, it is exactly this mission: helping to keep data secure. 

What ecosystem needs do you see as especially important in the next 6-12 months? In other words, with so much rapid innovation, are there issues that you think rise above the rest for the industry to figure out?

Julie Bateman: The long-term impact of screen-scraping is a pressing issue we need to solve for. There are a lot of moves, by those who want access to data, toward offering data-sharing platforms, however, there remains many unanswered questions. Who is going to use the platforms? What if you make the wrong bet? How do we build a data-sharing ecosystem that spans the largest banks to the smallest FinTechs? In order to make progress toward enhanced security for the entire ecosystem, the solutions must support all players. 

Steve Scott: The financial services ecosystem is highly interconnected. We’ve seen recently the ripple effect of a data breach experienced by one vendor and how it can affect scores of companies. It is the same for the financial services ecosystem. We must remain cognizant that the resilience of one company affects many companies. So, security of the entire industry is critical for the health and viability of the entire ecosystem. 

What do you see as the biggest obstacles for success?

Julie Bateman: There is a long horizon for implementing a solution even if we are poised with standards and technologies. Each player in the ecosystem is at a different place in terms of being able to execute. We believe the biggest obstacle to success is the expansive ground that has to be covered in terms of execution. We want to make good near-term decisions that will support data sharing for our clients, however, the landscape is evolving so rapidly that we anticipate needing to react to changes before we reach widespread ecosystem adoption. 

Steve Scott: I’ll also note that I see regulatory harmonization as an additional concern. In recent years, we’ve seen a lot of state legislation in the cybersecurity and privacy areas. Over the last year, federal regulators have requested comments in a number of different areas related to financial data sharing oversight. In light of recent security events with broad impact, such as SolarWinds, additional legislation at the federal level may be forthcoming as well. Overlapping regulation by multiple entities is the harmonization concern.  Another concern pertains to legal liability of all the firms in the financial services ecosystem. Financial institutions are subject to considerable regulatory oversight from multiple entities. Emerging FinTechs are aggressively entering the financial services ecosystem and have not yet been subject to the same regulatory and legal expectations.  The standards and technology work that FDX is currently undertaking will help move the industry forward to more adequately address customer protection, reduce risk and assign liability to all firms in the evolving financial services ecosystem.

Our standard final question asks to get to know you a little better outside the bounds of your roles at Truist with consumer data sharing. What concert or live music event do you wish you could have attended in person?

Julie Bateman: I grew up listening to Elvis Presley with my parents as a kid. I would have loved to see him in person. 

Steve Scott: I grew up in the 1970s listening to a variety of music, primarily rock.  My favorite album was Rumors by Fleetwood Mac.  I would have loved to have seen Stevie Nicks in concert.