VIDEO | Western & Southern Financial Group, SVP & CIO: Understanding Customer Needs Is a Recipe for Success

VIDEO | Western & Southern Financial Group, SVP & CIO: Understanding Customer Needs Is a Recipe for Success

(US and Canada) James Fitzgerald, SVP and Chief Information Officer at Western & Southern Financial Group, speaks with Jordan Shelton, Account Executive at GuidePoint Security, about digital transformation challenges, technology integrations through acquisition, and talent retention.

As SVP and CIO, Fitzgerald is responsible for the overall technology strategy for business growth. Regarding digitization as a strategy, he maintains that in business, knowing the customer makes it easy. Hence, for him, the essence of digitization is providing the best financial services to producers, agents, and customers, seamlessly and on their terms.

With multiple avenues available for customers due to digital transformation, he considers chasing digital a challenge. He finds it vital to be better than the competitor but to garner better targets. Business expansion also brings risks. As customers avail of services from different coherent modes, the call for protection of all such pathways is on the rise.

Fitzgerald further affirms the pivotal role security measures like multi-factor authentication play in protecting businesses and customers. He stresses the need for being careful before putting money into an investment platform or chasing anything that could later turn into regret. It is necessary to have a pragmatic view, but understanding the wants and needs of customers is a recipe for success, he adds.

Speaking on integrating technologies through acquisition, he states that Western & Southern Financial Group—  a Fortune 500 company — has partnered with IT and security firms  and has made good use of the technologies that other firms are developing. He emphasizes how the Gerber acquisition has  been a tremendous learning experience. 

Fitzgerald states that in the end, it all boils down to delivering a product that is valuable to the customer. 

Regarding talent retention at Western & Southern, Fitzgerald reviews how COVID has changed the workforce scenario. While many companies have adopted remote work culture fully, some, such as Google, are returning to in-office cultures. Western & Southern, he points out, values remote work as well as in-person culture. The company is not afraid to go where the talent is, he adds. The company will study the market, but will not chase the trend of going fully remote.

Western & Southern may miss out on talented people due to the fight for talent, but they need to approach the situation methodically and hire talent with prudence, he concludes, noting that he feels positive about the company's value and refuses to chase anything, be it talent or digital transformation.

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