Skip to main content

A Chat with Doug Shum, Appian’s New Financial Solutions Lead

Marianne Elie, Director, Financial Services Industry Marketing
June 29, 2022

Financial services organizations, like those across many other industries, struggle with systemic issues brought on by disjointed, outdated core technologies. That’s why Appian serves the financial services industry—to deliver solutions that minimize the strain those issues can cause. To best serve industries’ unique needs, Appian invests in experts with years of first-hand experience.

We sat down with Doug Shum, our newest financial services solutions director, to introduce him to Appian customers and community members and welcome him to the team.

Q: What brings you to the Appian financial services Solutions team?
A: I have worked in financial technology for 25 years. When I learned about Appian, I knew I wanted to be a part of this team. The Appian financial services solutions team has a passion to solve customer problems by using our low-code technology to build solutions for financial services clients. After working with the team, I know they’re not only talented when it comes to creating solutions, but they are also a lot of fun to work with. All of this proves I made the right decision coming here to Appian.

Q: How have you seen financial services organizations benefit from low-code applications?
A: Financial institutions are faced with many challenges today. First, regulations require them to collect vast amounts of documentation from customers. This documentation is used to verify customer identity, identify potential fraudulent activity, and ensure commercial customers are running legitimate businesses. This requires clearly defined processes, pulling data from several different systems that are often not integrated, resulting in manual, time-consuming activities for customer onboarding and servicing.

Second, financial institutions struggle with siloed data from various legacy systems that do not communicate with each other. Without a full picture of the customer and the portfolio, financial institutions cannot effectively market to customers, determine the success of current product offerings, or build the right products.

Third, financial institutions are faced with hiring challenges. There are not enough candidates to hire, which means they must look for ways to improve efficiency. And the fourth challenge financial institutions are faced with is that today’s customers are accustomed to everything happening fast. They want their accounts opened quickly and they want an easy tool to enable their account opening.

A low-code platform is a match for each of these challenges. Automating the account onboarding and servicing processes not only improves the financial institution’s efficiency, but also ensures they follow the regulatory requirements, and by integrating the legacy and modern systems, they can improve efficiency and their ability to see data holistically. This can improve marketing effectiveness,  allowing businesses to offer the right products and services to customers. Low-code technology enables companies to adapt quickly in our constantly changing world. We are only getting started with solutions to address these needs and more.

Q: What are your goals for Appian financial services customers in your first 30, 60, and 90 days?
A: The first 30 days have been gaining an understanding of the financial services solutions, having discussions with our clients, and getting to know Appian. During this time, we developed a plan for a financial services solutions client advisory council and partner advisory council. Our goal is to work closely with these groups to define problems faced by our clients so we can work through solutions, prioritize investment in current solutions, and capture the voice of the client/partners. I also had the pleasure of attending Appian World, which was an awesome experience. It was great to spend time visiting with clients, meeting the Appian team, and seeing the exciting things we are doing in my second week with the company.

The 60-day plan is to focus on how we bring financial solutions to market. This includes supporting the launch of our new Connected KYC solution and growing the market for Connected Onboarding. We want to focus on helping the sales team finish the year strong with sales tools and solution pricing strategies. In addition, we will be reviewing the current backlog to prioritize our product roadmaps based on client input and future opportunities.

The 90-day plan is to develop our long-term strategic vision for financial services solutions. Market research will help identify new target market opportunities, evaluate existing solutions, and identify more solution opportunities. We will continue our focus on meeting with clients and partners for continued feedback as we create our strategic vision.

Q: What’s the coolest place you’ve visited, for work or pleasure?
A: I had the opportunity to visit Haiti on a mission trip. Haiti is a very economically poor country, but so rich in happiness. Many people in Haiti live in homes with dirt floors and scrap materials to put a roof over their heads. Even in these living conditions, the people of Haiti are some of the most generous and happy I have ever met. The children would show up at the school mission where I spent my time singing and holding hands. Because food is scarce in many parts of the country, we handed out food when the children arrived. They would take one bite of a biscuit and take the rest home to their families. We were there to help the people of Haiti, but in reality, I think they did more for us than we did for them.

Q: What is your favorite thing about low-code?
A: The opportunities for low-code are endless. All organizations are faced with challenges around processes and systems that have been in place for years. With low-code, we can improve these to drive efficiency. Everyone hates manual and inefficient tasks, but in many cases, people cannot make changes to these due to system limitations. With low-code, we can improve those processes, integrate the multitude of systems used, and provide a better user experience.

Speaking of user experience, we cannot forget the fact that we not only want clients' employees to have a better user experience but also their customers. We live in a digital “now” world. In this fast-paced world, people are used to doing everything from their mobile devices. The days of customers waiting for a company's process to complete are gone. Customers expect everything in real time, which low-code is well positioned to help with.

Q: Give us one prediction for the financial services industry.
A: There are a lot of changes happening within financial services today, and there is no slowdown in sight. Two significant changes are happening now which will have a great impact on today’s financial institutions. First, the competition is changing. New players are entering the market and they are appealing to the next generation. Young people are no longer using the same financial institutions as their parents. Instead, they are turning to companies like Robinhood, Public, Venmo, Kabbage, and neo-banks (e.g., N26). If we look at these companies, they all have one thing in common: a great user experience. Companies have to start thinking in terms of the user and constantly evolving the user experience, because what people like today may not be what they like tomorrow. The legacy financial institutions of today must start to embrace the changing customer dynamic. People of today are no longer concerned with doing business with only one financial institution. Let’s face it, each financial services relationship is only another app on their phone.

Financial institutions also need to be focused on speed. We live in a fast-paced world, and people expect everything to happen now. This means people want their trades in real time, loans processed in real time, money paid in real time, and all transactions processed in real time. People want to see all of this happen and to see their financial information with the swipe of a thumb on their phone.