How JPMorgan Chase’s recent C-suite changes enable more, new, and quicker product launches
- JPMorgan Chase has 60 million customers digitally engaging with the bank.
- Newly appointed CPO Rohan Amin and CIO Gill Haus join us on the podcast to discuss the future of the bank and the products and services it offers.
When startups come on the podcast, we talk a lot about the need and the challenge to deliver digital financial services at scale. There’s probably no better example of that in the US market today than JPMorgan Chase. The firm has 60 million clients that access Chase products and services through digital channels. When it comes to scale, you don’t need to look solely to big tech – Chase is already there.
On this episode, I’m joined by Rohan Amin, Chase’s chief product officer, and Gill Haus, Chase’s chief information officer. You’ll get a feel for the rapport between the two executives as we explore their roles and responsibilities in leading the firm forward into the future. Rohan and Gill discuss the evolving dependence consumers are building around their banking apps and the role banks play in their lives. Organizationally, Chase has adopted agile methodologies and teams. The duo discuss how product, engineering, design, and data and analytics get seats around the table. We also talk about their firm’s hiring activities and its appetite around technology talent right now.
Chase’s Gill Haus and Rohan Amin are my guests today on the Tearsheet Podcast.
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Moving from technology to product
Rohan Amin, Chief Product Officer: I was fortunate to have a great partner in Allison Beer, who was the previous chief product officer. And now she’s moved on running our card business. Now I get to work with Gill, who is just fantastic. Gill joined during the pandemic actually. And seeing Gill go from digital to running engineering has been great.
Actually, it’s a good example of the mobility that we have around here for talent and for leadership development. But for me, the transition has been great – the way we ran things before with Allison, we were kind of co-piloting the organization. And so Gill and I partner very closely – the organization sees us together in all of our reviews, town halls, and engagements. And we very much believe in the same co-piloting strategy.
I think of it as sort of minoring and majoring. Before I was majoring in technology, and now I’m minoring in technology and majoring in product development, strategy, roadmaps, design, customer experience – all those aspects. It’s been really enjoyable. I like to say that I get involved in as much technology as I’d like to, and then I leave the rest for Gill.
I spend more time, for example, thinking about the customer experience, more time making sure that we’re thinking about omni-channel and how we help customers and meet them where they want to be. I spend more time thinking about our personalization strategy and how we bring value to customers with all the different touch points and interactions that they have with us. I spend more time on data and analytics than I did previously. The day to day has changed.
Gill’s move to Chief Information Officer
Gill Haus, Chief Information Officer: I will tell you having a product leader who is also an engineering leader is an incredible thing. And it does help because I love Rohan’s answer, which is I get involved in as much of the technology as I want to get involved in. There were times we throw in as much as we possibly can, which is important because technology underpins everything that we were building in product. I love the co-pilot description that you gave, Rohan – it helps us lead, because people recognize that it really is one organization. You can’t have the product without the data or without the technology.
it’s also extremely exciting. We’re rethinking everything from how we hire, how we train our people to how we build, test, deploy and manage our applications. Why that’s exciting is we are one of the largest banks in the world. We have 60 million digitally active customers, and we are replumbing everything that we do. That’s exciting for me and exciting for the people that are here and why a lot of people are joining the organization – we’re hiring thousands of people. You have the opportunity to transform the technology from heritage to modern cloud (you name the provider) and do that while supporting millions of customers every single day and the things that drive their lives.
It sounds easy when I say those words, but the technical ability, the skill, the complexity, the problem solving – it’s second to none, and I think it’s career defining for the people that are here over the next couple of years, as well.
Growing dependence on banking apps
Rohan Amin: I think, largely, it is just because of convenience, super easy to use, at a time over the past couple of years, where people were facing all sorts of challenges and inability to get to the places they needed to. So, being able to self serve digitally has been fantastic.
We’ve seen a real shift – like, the volume of customers on mobile, for example, has increased significantly over the past couple of years. 75% of mortgages are originated online. More than half of deposit accounts are created online. We have millions of customers who are interacting with us on a credit journey and checking their credit scores. All of this stuff is happening digitally. And it’s because it’s really simple to use.
One of the things that we focus on quite a bit, and back to your earlier question around things that I do in my new role, is we’re obsessed about the customer experience and design. This is not something that you would historically think of banks being really focused on, which is like a beautiful customer experience, and we’re doing exactly that. Some of the experiences that we’ve launched and are launching are arguably customer experiences that will be best in class. We’ve got great design talent, we’ve got an ethos around a design-lead organization, thinking about the customer experience first, and then building our way back from there.
The net result of all that, over the past couple of years and going forward, will just be really simple, easy to use experiences, which I think will draw more people in. I believe that digital and the mobile app, for example, are top reasons why people choose to bank with Chase, and I think are major decision factors for people to choose their banking relationships.
Gill Haus: We also took advantage of the opportunity in the changing behavior, particularly during the pandemic, to really embrace agile at a different scale. And this matters tremendously. Because when you think about the experiences that we want to build, whether it’s from our design team, data team, the product team, and tech teams, it’s making sure that we have the most compelling experience, equal to anything that you would find in the market.
And when you work together as one team, which is what we’re doing here, you have your agile products that are truly customer-backed, you make decisions a little bit differently. In some cases, experiences may have been built based on what we could do technically – this is just how our systems were architected. Working together in a unified way, we look at what we really want. And then we build the technology behind the scenes to support what is needed. So we can deliver that product with the right data in the design that works for customers, that really speaks to the people that are using our products, which is a divergence from how it had worked before.
4 specific roles around the table
Rohan Amin: A number of people who have joined our organization externally have noted that wow, you all are really far along in this journey in the timeframe that we did it in. We have roughly 100 product teams. And there are four main roles in those product teams: the head of the product (the product manager), the engineering lead (from Gill’s organization), the design lead, and the data and analytics lead. And so those four roles we view as really important.
And if you actually look at how we’re organized inside Chase for every single CEO, there’s those four roles sitting at the table of their respective lines of business and CEO. It’s to give you a sense of just how far we have taken the model and how robust it is. It’s pretty significant to have those four roles sitting at each CEO table, and then also have those four roles be key to the 100 products that make up the Chase customer experience. I think that level of maturity is pretty significant and actually is a big deal in terms of our culture, how we operate, and how we’re moving forward.
Responding with new and better features
Rohan Amin: What’s interesting is that, yes, we do see customers coming to us more than just checking their balances and looking at recent transactions. We think that is a significant growth area for us going forward. There are millions of customers who are interacting with us on a regular basis to check their credit scores, engage with their credit journey, and, for example, take actions on their financial health and how they improve.
Beyond that, we’ve acquired travel assets, and you’re going to see travel be a lot more integrated into the Chase app going forward. We have work to do to continue to enhance that overall experience, but being able to engage in travel – now we own The Infatuation. There’s a brand and restaurant reviews, and all of that are now part of the Chase ecosystem. So travel, dining – you’re going to come to your Chase mobile app to get restaurant recommendations and travel/hotel recommendations and have a seamless booking experience for both, and then be able to connect that with other partnerships that we have, like with Lyft and DoorDash.
There’s a lot going on that has nothing to do with your checking and savings account. And those are the areas that you’re just going see a lot more more growth on. Since we have almost 60 million people on the platform who are actively engaged, it’s a great opportunity for them to take advantage of the benefits of being a member of Chase and the other things that they can get access to.
Digital banking at scale
Gill Haus: The fact that we do have 60 million active customers that are using checking, savings, home lending – we have a treasure trove of data about our customers, because customers asked us to use that data wisely to help them with their money. Now we have our travel site and from Infatuation, restaurant reviews – we have a variety of other offers within our application. If we use all of that, plus what we know about you as a customer, we use that data not only to come and have a seamless booking experience, but we know that you’re planning on booking a trip or you’re saving, we can lead you in a smarter way. We can be proactive, and we can use that data on a regular basis. And that’s incredibly exciting not just to our customers, but also the technical challenge for other people on our teams. It’s incredibly wild to see us use that to make those recommendations that really matter to a customer at the right time. Don’t you think?
Rohan Amin: I personally don’t think of us as a bank, we’re Chase. Yes, we have banking relationships. And that’s what customers come to us for, but there’s a lot of other value that we can bring to customers. And that’s what we’re also focused on. Like being able to take advantage of that and bring that full picture to customers. We can do it in a way that doesn’t flood you with a whole bunch of stuff. It’s based on recommendation systems and all the other data and analytics and things that we’re doing — what we think is the best thing for you to engage with, or people like you are booking these types of hotels or taking advantage of these restaurants or these types of offers — like how do we actually make it so it’s very actionable. We have that data.
Personalization is a big deal for us going forward, and you’re going to see a lot more of that. In fact, we’ve been taking some of the snapshot tiles and things that we have today inside the Chase mobile app which give visuals of spending insights and trending history about your personal finances. We’ve been moving that now on to the home screen. And so over time, you’re going to see these bite-sized insights about your financial trends and spending history right on the home screen inside of the Chase mobile app.
Working in/out of the office
Gill Haus: There’s a trend internally, which is our return to the office. What has been really fascinating to me is during the pandemic, we had no choice but to work remotely. So people were working from home. That was wonderful in its own right: it forced us to invest more in our collaboration tools and make it easier for us all to work together. But at the same time, we did lose a little bit of that human touch. As an example, we had an all hands last week in person — it was the first one that I’ve done truly in person for the entire team. There’s an energy that you can pick up on the floor, when you are in the office with people that you forget, even though you can be on Zoom with your friends and Zoom happy hours and that sort of thing.
But what’s really exciting about it is we aren’t coming back to the office — we’re flying back to the office in a really incredible way, which is aligned to our agile journey. So if you think about agile, most companies do agile on two week sprints. We do the same thing. And the sprints will end in the middle of the week on a Tuesday, and then you have Wednesday, Thursday, as you go into your next sprint. We’re coming back into the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for Chase. What’s great about this is you’re there with your product team; you’re there with other teams that are doing the same thing. So you have the collaboration, the energy of the office, you can learn from each other, you can build the relationships, but then also, there’s two days of working from home where you can have the other benefits and the flexibility of your family.
It is an incredible way to have a really agile workforce, but also have a flexible workforce. I don’t know that before the pandemic, we would have been able to do it this way. Because coming out, it forced us to look at it and what’s the right model for us. But it’s wild. The most incredible thing for me is when you see people for the first time, sometimes you don’t realize you haven’t actually met them. When you’re sitting there having a conversation, like I’ve met you — it’s only been on Zoom. It’s been two years, but it’s been really wild to see. I think that’s the thing we’re seeing come out of the pandemic that has really changed.
Rohan Amin: We talked a lot about omni-channel, but I want to give you some examples of what we mean by that, and why that is such a big deal for us. We always talk about the power of the branch and digital — both, not ‘or’ but ‘and’ — and so I’ll give you a couple of examples. First, we have really enhanced our meeting scheduler capabilities, so that people can book an appointment online and then go see somebody in person, or virtually. We see it from our customers across the various demographics that people really want to speak to somebody about something very personal to them, which is their finances.
We’ve been busily working on being able to open an account — you may walk into our branch and a lot of people today walk into our branch to open an account. And the experience there increasingly over time is going to be, Hey, you can do that. We’re going to guide you and you can do that on your phone. And we’ll send you a deep link, so you’ll be able to open right up and complete the account opening on your phone. So, it’s like I started the conversation in person, I complete the process myself on my phone and I’m on my way in minutes. That’s an example of the omni-channel.
It’s about how we handle and think about data. If you have a conversation with us in one channel, we want to be able to connect that to something you might see on a different channel. If you have a conversation with us in the branch, that might influence what you see on digital. So that’s an example of how we’re tying the assets together from an omni-channel standpoint.
Security and privacy around data sharing
Security and privacy are paramount. We view that as job one for customers. We have to earn the right to do all the other things we want to do, because we take security and privacy very seriously. But just like what’s happening now with regards to aggregators and third party data sharing, we want to make it possible so that customers can share their information to other third party apps and things they might be doing, which is fine. But we have to do that in a secure way.
We give customers a lot of control over how their information is being shared to third party apps, and you can go into our security center and turn things on or off. Things like control are really important. For example, when you hook up your account to another app, from a sharing standpoint, all that is done using virtual account numbers, as opposed to your actual account number. We think things like this are a big deal in terms of making sure that we keep you safe and that we give you control over where your information is going.
We’ve been huge advocates of pushing people into our APIs and moving away from things like screen scraping. It gives customers control and transparency and visibility into what’s happening. I think that’s an important trend. We’ve been very visibly out there in terms of our view around moving to secure APIs and giving customers choice and control over where their data is actually going in the ecosystem.
Gill Haus: The first thing is really going to be growing the talent we have in hiring and diversity. I mean, it is an incredibly hot market, as you can imagine, because every company is doing the same thing, which is really transforming the technology that they run. It is incredibly important for us and it’s something that I’m spending a lot of time on, as the team is spending a lot of time on making sure that we are bringing the best and the brightest, and the people that are here have the continued career trajectory.
I think I’m an example of that the career trajectory, because we are looking for those individuals at all levels that are hungry to learn — you could be the best modern cloud engineer, a data engineer, or you could be someone that is working more on heritage technology. That desire to learn, to really transform and push things forward is something that we are nonstop working on.
I honestly think that even if the market were to cool, we would continue to do that, because technology is what we do. I love the way Rohan said it, ‘we are Chase and we use technology to deliver financial and increasingly non financial solutions to customers’. So that’s one area that we’re focused.
It’s almost which skill set are we not hiring for? There’s the attitude and aptitude — I think it’s the number one thing that we really are looking for now. We’re looking for those individuals that really are hungry to learn. People who want to not only build the next new, but also interested in how the systems today work. So they can help us move from some of our systems into more modern microservices architecture.
People who have that hunger — the constant learning doesn’t stop even in the first part of someone’s tenure here. Because even the technology that we’re building in four years is going to be technology that we might want to do something different with.
It’s also important that we have a diversity for a variety of reasons. There’s a science behind it, that diverse teams are more innovative, more efficient and productive. We know all of that, but it also matters for our customers, right? We serve a good portion of the United States and beyond. We should reflect who our customers are in the people that we hire and that work here because we better understand our customers when we do that. It’s so important for us.
This is why you saw my eyes light up because there’s such an opportunity to create incredible careers for people while also changing people’s lives positively with the work that we do. We’re also looking for those leaders that are interested in growing the next generation of people, because it’s going to be so important for us to continue to be the company we are and continue to be a going concern, that we have people that are as passionate as Rohan is, as passionate as we are about growing, grooming and providing mobility for people here focusing on diversity.
We are looking for people that have skills. If you’re a Java or database engineer, you name the skill set, we are looking. We are here to also help train because we want people to make a career here, not just a job. So if you have a skill, you’re good, and you want to learn something else, we have programs here to also help train and grow people through their time at Chase.
The market and the industry are continually getting faster and faster. And it’s important that we are able to build products, features and services that people rely on every day. The way that we’re focused on technology is changing our software delivery lifecycle. So thinking differently about how we build our software, ensuring that we’re able to release software to production at any time, with confidence during the day.
Why that matters is that everyone in our product organizations gets into the business because they want to build solutions for customers. You want to know that you can take an idea, build it and get it to a customer — not next year, not next month, but today, if you possibly can. So we focus on how we build software and get it to production for our customers. But tied to that also is how we do it at our scale in a safe and secure way, because that is paramount.
We are shifting in our thinking about CI/CD and truly adopting a DevOps mentality in the organization — that’s the other big thing that we’re working on. I actually think it’s a trend not just here but elsewhere. Because as companies get larger, as they want to compete more, the ability to be able to today, make a decision, change code, release — it is incredibly important for your customer, for the business, but also for the engineer coming out of school, because that’s what I still want to do. I want to see my solutions in production.
Upgrading the core
Rohan Amin: We are taking a hard look at modernizing our core banking environment. We are slowly moving away from the legendary mainframes that we have that run some of the core banking, and moving that into all cloud native, digital centric capabilities. And that’s tough work and it’s going to take some time. You’re talking stuff that’s been built over decades. From an engineering, product development, and customer experience standpoint, being able to replatform and rethink about how we manage core banking is a huge opportunity, and especially at our scale. It’s exciting work.
Wrangling the data
We have a huge amount of data, as Gill mentioned previously — how do we better organize that data and make it easier for our analysts and for internal consumption purposes, so we can accelerate even further our push into things like machine learning and AI? When you’re doing machine learning, the hardest part isn’t the machine learning part, it’s the data. We have a huge amount of work going on right now to modernize our data, get it into our cloud environment, make it accessible for consumption purposes, and make it available for all the things we want to do it with.
The last thing I’ll mention is design. There’s a lot of work going on in our design function. We have Kaaren Hanson, our Chief Design Officer, and she’s just been fantastic, equally focused like I am in terms of creating the environment for a design-lead organization. We have been assessing all of the experiences and all the customer journeys that we have, and identifying where we feel like we have customer experience gaps, where we need to improve and how to reprioritize that work in the backlog of the various product teams.
Getting the teams on board regarding collaboration
So Gill and I, we do what we call product reviews and portfolio reviews with the teams. We do that across all 100 of our products that we have inside of Chase. I personally think the way we run them, which is jointly, is really important to drive that collaboration. What you see happening in those reviews is the those four roles I talked about earlier get together and talk about outcomes and where they are on a product jointly. What you see happening in that interaction is like a blurring of the lines, which I think is great. In some cases, you might have the technology person talking about what’s happening in the design or product side, or the product person talking about the data and analytics that’s driving and informing the roadmap, or what they have to do to modernize a microservice and create one so that they can get to the cloud fast or whatever they’re doing.
Seeing the different folks on the team be able to speak about what other people are doing, I think is a sign of the maturity of the model. We hold those leaders jointly accountable for those outcomes. A product manager shouldn’t say something like, Well, I don’t know anything about that, that’s just sort of my engineering person’s responsibility. If you’re a product manager in this organization, you have to know exactly what’s going on with the tech. And you have to know, because we have a lot of work going on to modernize, get to the cloud, continue to enhance our data, create more autonomy for teams, and make long term investments in the technology stack.
To Gill’s earlier point around how we create software so you can release whenever you need to, all of that is important. You know, as a product manager, you can’t just focus on the nice, shiny customer experience thing — you have to focus on all of it. And so I think from the top, we drive the teams to be jointly accountable for those outcomes.
For example, Gill and I send a weekly note that’s from us (one week Gill does it, one week I do it), and we send it to the entire organization collectively. Everybody sees my priorities and what’s on my mind, and also his priorities and what’s on his mind. We also do town halls together. We just try to demonstrate that partnership and lead by example, between the two of us, and the hope is that (and we see it in the organization) everyone will try to mimic that, as well. I think a big part of this is leading from the front and setting the example and others follow as well.
Gill Haus: Leading from the front leadership does matter. There are times where I give away a little bit of the secret. We might be having a product or portfolio review and we’re texting with each other, are you gonna ask that question? Or am I asking that question? Which is us leading together through it.
There’s something else that I think is really important. And it goes back to how we have organized on agile. I want to give Rohan and Allison and others a bit of credit on this, which is, we organized around product, which means no longer are we organized around how our organization was structured, because we changed how our organization was structured about a year and a half ago — to be structured like the products that we want to build. That’s a really important thing, because that means that product, design, data and tech truly are accountable for that product, which allows them to operate the way that Rohan just mentioned.
A lot of places don’t necessarily make that leap. It’s hard to make that change. But we’re so committed to being a truly agile organization that we felt making that organizational change was the right thing for the org. And we’re seeing that because we can operate the way that Rohan just mentioned, because it is that quad that is running the team. They know they’re accountable. They know their backlog, everyone knows where to go. And then if we make decisions as a group, those decisions hold so you can be collaborative in a much different way. So it’s incredible to see that but that’s part and parcel to why we’re able to do that.