Pure Experience: 5 Questions With PurePoint Financial President Pierre Habis

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PurePoint Financial is a new brand from MUFG, launching last February. Combining both brick-and-mortar financial centers with a robust digital offering, PurePoint is looking to draw in a new generation of financial services customers who prioritize their savings. PurePoint Financial only offers savings accounts and certificates of deposit (CDs), but has put a premium on customer experience. The brand recently opened its first NY locations on Park Avenue and in Scarsdale, featuring photography by local artist Rachel Neville, with another location in Brooklyn Heights set to open in the near future.

brandchannel had the chance to sit down with PurePoint’s President Pierre Habis to discuss how the brand delivers a unique experience, as well as what the future holds for financial services brands of all stripes.

Pierre Habis Purepoint

Financial services brands have traditionally relied on brick-and-mortar locations, but there has been a rise of online-only financial service brands as of late. PurePoint offers both—what informed that concept, and what are the benefits?

I get asked that a lot. I’ve spent my entire career in the brick and mortar space, and over the last 15 years, I’ve been in the digital space as well. So when I look at both of those individually, what I’ve come to realize is that there’s a segment of the population that wants the benefit of digitalization, the advancement of technology in our financial system, and wants to take advantage of it. Yet the traditional brick and mortars can’t offer it because they can’t migrate to a fully digitalized platform. It’s very difficult to do.

So what we did is set out to build what we call internally the Bank of the Future. We believe it will be fully digitalized but will have multiple touch points, including the physical aspect. We don’t expect the majority of our clients to come to our physical locations regularly. But we know that they have the comfort to do so If they have a question or concern.

We view the physical space today as doing more. It speaks to a brand. It speaks to comfort. It certainly speaks to stability. And it also allows clients that haven’t fully adjusted to a 100 percent digital banking experience the ability to go and fulfill physically. And if your infrastructure is fully digitalized in advance, which we are while our competitors are not, that’s where the savings are, so that you can match the prices of a digital-only bank. So we’ve tapped into that next tier of consumer that hasn’t completely adapted to a fully digital world, who does research digitally but wants some level of physical fulfillment.

What goes into aligning your experience across both digital platforms and in-person at your branches?

When first building our experience, we did a number of journey maps and reverse-engineered that thinking. We wanted to get loyalty at a level and for a financial firm that’s never been seen before. So we took a page from many of the iconic retailers that you know out there, Apple, Amazon, places that are very consumer obsessed. We talked about how everything we do has the customer in mind, so we stripped out all the pain points.

We also took a look at our own culture. And I think what we do that is unique for a financial firm is how we pay, how we recognize, and how we reward. We don’t have sales goals or commissions. The driver of people’s performance is how we all do, all for one one for all. And at the same time, there’s individual teams and individual responsibility and accountability around client experience. If you’re customer facing, your rating is all about how you interact, not whether you offered any other products. We ask the customer: Was it a memorable experience? Was this the best experience you ever had, from a financial institution or from any type of support? And would you refer somebody to us? So people worked very hard on making it a memorable experience, a thoughtful experience.

You’ve just opened your first NY locations on Park Avenue and in Scarsdale, and soon to follow in Brooklyn. How are you approaching NY as a market?

We’ve reached out to our online customers from New York—in fact, within 48 hours, the email we sent them had a 68 percent open rate—so they’re very actively engaged with us. We’re doing something with the New York Philharmonic and the Wall Street Journal. Perhaps most exciting, we found an artist that we love that captures the PurePoint spirit—Rachel Neville. Her photography is all about elegance with simplicity, refined yet focused. And all straight to the point. And so we’ve turned our Park Avenue location into a gallery, and we’re excited to see how our New York clients and non-clients will respond.

What has helped you define PurePoint’s new brand the most?

Whoever reads this. The best advice I could give folks is: Take the time when you’re finding a name. Go through the journey, no matter how long it takes, find the right name that exemplifies who you want to be. PurePoint is so self-explanatory. For our clients they love it, because they get it—our experience is pure, it’s to the point. Going through that process with Interbrand, I was surprised how long it takes, but it’s hard to just come up with a name. I have a greater appreciation of that process because the way the words and the vernacular that came along with this intention, how it reverberated through the entire organization, allowed us to build who we are from that. It all started with the process of coming up with a name. It’s now embodied in me as an individual, as a leader, and in the business as a whole.

What do you see as the big changes coming for the financial services sector?

We expect financial institutions to realize the power of technology in new platforms. I think we stepped out there and said that we’re going to embrace the power of the most modern technology, and create an experience that stands out on the day-to-day level for our clients. And it’s been extremely powerful. We all know what technology does. It makes things faster, cheaper, better. So I’m expecting the industry to catch on to this. It’s just a matter of time. I think the consumer is also going to start demanding more. More are going to realize that you need to have a physical location, and that customers are going to want that, which is why some of the bigger retailers like Apple and Amazon have an element of the physical. We’re all learning that consumers want everything. And the only way to pay for that is through technology, the hard cost savings the technology brings you, and through people believing in a brand promise. And I think that’s where PurePoint is a step ahead, but there are going to be more and more options for consumers, more and more transparency and more and more frustration. We hope to lead it, and we expect many others to join.


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