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An AFT First Timer

VIP? That’s the ribbon that was attached to my name tag when I picked it up. I didn’t really understand what that meant until it was later explained to me to be the moniker given to AFT first timers. Nice touch.

The association has obviously been in existence for quite some time, and has been well attended. This week’s gathering, in beautiful Napa California, was shaping up to be a special event, and I was excited to attend. The venue turned out to be wonderful, and the organization of the event was very well done. The vast majority of the attendees were there representing companies that are found within the increasingly publicized “FinTech” community. Technology companies, such as Malauzai, who serve the financial community, primarily community banks and credit unions. Though varied and diverse, it remains a close community of vendors, consultants, and industry insiders. As I gathered my thoughts around the event and the greater organization that it represents, I was reminded of a somewhat old-fashioned word that summarized the event for me: companionship.

At Malauzai, we don’t spend a lot of time contemplating big ideas. We prefer to spend most of our time solving small problems in rapid succession. We’ve found, over time, that rapid execution of small, useful deliverables produces a better long term product than a drawn out, over thought, over engineered offering. So it was a bit of a shock for me to be able to arrive at an event where the focus seemed to be largely around trends, but more importantly, based on a spirit of cooperation. The large core vendors were in attendance, and mostly were very transparent about challenges. There were some pointed questions addressed specifically to them, and almost all answered the questions with honesty and openness. The exchange of questions and comments I found to be encouraging. In a room of vendors that are out in the world competing with each other on a daily basis, it was refreshing to see that level of cooperation around shared goals and concerns. Matt Flake, Q2’s CEO, in his keynote, described the community as a “neighborhood.”

As with any association, AFT certainly has some opportunities to improve, and many ideas were openly discussed, including our own Robb Gaynor emphasizing the need for a greater role by the organization in charitable causes and community outreach, such as increasing the scholarship program.

I came away from this event with a clearer view of the space, or to use Matt’s term, neighborhood of FinTech that I find myself in. That presents a great opportunity for me and for Malauzai to continue to cooperate and coordinate our efforts within that community so that our shared goal of seeing community banks and credit unions succeed continues to thrive.

Thanks AFT!! See you again soon.

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