Empowering Zions Bankers Through Technology

Zions Bancorporation’s digital transformation is designed to put the customer at the center of every interaction.

Nicola McIntosh May 5, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on Zions Bancorporation’s 415 branches and offices across 11 Western States was swift. Within a matter of days in March, the bank’s 9,800-person workforce had transitioned to working from home full-time.

At the same time, as one of the nation’s top U.S. Small Business Administration lenders, Zions Bancorporation employees were working around the clock to help business owners access critical funds through the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program.

A perfect storm? Not for the Enterprise Technology and Operations Department, thanks to major technology investments made in recent years, according to Chief Technology and Operations Officer Jennifer Smith.

“We were able to be effective and move our workforce within 48-72 hours to working from home because of the investments we had been making in technology, including OneDrive, expanding capabilities in our network capacity, and rolling out Microsoft Teams, which fortuitously was  fully released to our entire organization 60 days before many of our employees found themselves working at home,” Smith says.

Digital to the core

Technology played a role in empowering relationship managers to help their clients access PPP funding more efficiently.

“We had made a few very fortunate investments that preceded PPP,” Smith says. “We had already rolled out the BaNCS commercial lending platform and had invested in SalesForce, an API platform, and robotics process automation. These were instrumental technologies to help us quickly stand-up our PPP application and processing capabilities.”

Initially, in the first round of PPP, robotics process automation (RPA) was a game-changing tool. It allowed the bank to use bots to input data at extraordinary speeds without introducing errors.

“It saved us almost 300,000 hours of FTE time,” Smith says. “The investment with BaNCs allowed us to quickly add new products on our system.”

Finally, the pre-pandemic roll out of Microsoft Teams was another boon. “It was so instrumental in how people were able to collaborate during the Paycheck Protection Program,” Smith explains. “We’ve consistently been told how critical that was for the teamwork.”

Empowering bankers to put the client first

Smith pointed to several additional areas where technology is helping to empower local bankers as they serve their clients:

  • Addition of WiFi to the majority of branches
  • New online and mobile banking platforms launching in 2021
  • Addition of Salesforce communities used now for Small Business loan applications, which allows relationship managers to more closely align with clients throughout their journey
  • New Digital Experience Platform to replace the Treasury Management portal for business clients

“We keep adding capabilities for bankers to have a better understanding of customers’ needs so they can provide more targeted recommendations,” Smith explains.

Even with all of the benefits that technology brings to banking, Smith says it will never replace the human touch.

“We use technology to support how our bankers build relationships with businesses,” she says. “Technology is not used to replace a banker, and that’s fundamentally different than national banks that focus on using technology to scale their operations.”

Zions culture is a differentiator

Smith says there are several reasons why highly skilled employees should consider a career with Zions Bancorporation over another tech company.

“Our culture is hard to compete with in terms of the integrity of our leadership and the staying power of an organization that’s been around for over 100 years,” Smith says.

For anyone who questions whether a bank founded in 1873 is still relevant, Smith says the answer is an emphatic yes. “We’re making the biggest investments in our industry in technology upgrades and transformations,” she says.

The bank also invests substantially in its people.

“People who want to grow a career with an organization are looking for stability coupled with innovation,” Smith says. “Most other tech companies don’t make investments in 401(k)s. Everyone will talk about their benefits, but they’re loaded around staying for a short period of time, not for supporting people and families into their retirement. It’s a different value proposition.” 

The final piece, according to Smith, is Zions’ commitment to diversity. “This is an environment that welcomes so many different opinions. Diversity is a key to innovation,” she says.

Looking for an employer committed to helping you grow and develop in your career? Learn more about opportunities with Zions Bank and Zions Bancorporation on our Careers website.

Nicola McIntosh is Social Media manager for Zions Bank.

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