Technology Leadership Conference 2023: Key Takeaways

Digital transformation is more relevant than ever in the banking and fintech industries – technology has made interacting with clients and colleagues easier than ever, streamlined operations, offered new conveniences, and more. But all of that also comes with a flip side. Security, privacy, collaboration, new risk management factors, and changes in compliance have been swept in alongside the advances that have made progress possible.

This year’s Technology Leadership Conference addressed how we can hold the reins on the changing tech landscape while navigating the challenges that come with it. How can we grow beyond our limitations using technology, while moving past the challenges that tech itself can so often impose? This year’s collection of shakers, movers, and innovators from financial institutions and fintechs came together to find ways for us to harness technology to its fullest.

Day 1 – Automation & Vendor Risk

Ben Lord (Bluestone Bank), David Hogan (North Easton Savings Bank), Loughlin Cleary (Lenders Cooperative), and Andrew Billeter (Wolf & Co.) kicked off TLC with a panel discussion on “Workflow Automation & RPA.” The panel discussed what considerations organizations should take into account when considering what tasks deserve automation, how to get individuals to buy into RPA, and what challenges each speaker’s organization faced when implementing automation and RPA, including security.


“Don’t get too hung up on the dollar ROI. Just know that if you’re picking a process or function that is meaningful to your institution there will be a positive ROI.”

– Ben Lord, Chief Information & Technology Officer, Blue Stone Bank.


Above all else, preparation and goal analysis were key, as was documentation. Each panel member pointed out that buy-in is always going to be a little challenging – people find comfort in tradition and change can be scary, especially if there’s any risk involved.

Ben Lord (Bluestone Bank), David Hogan (North Easton Savings Bank), Loughlin Cleary (Lenders Cooperative), and Andrew Billeter (Wolf & Co.) speaking Workflow Automation & RPA

Ben Lord, David Hogan, Loughlin Cleary, and Andrew Billeter speaking on “Workflow Automation & RPA.”

Lisa Spampinato (Wolf & Co.), Alexandra Clapprood (PeoplesBank), and Inigo San Martin (Raisin) followed up with a panel on “The Importance of Proactive Vendor Due Diligence to Better Manage Risk.”

As Lisa pointed out, increased engagement with growing webs of vendors means organizations need to be thinking beyond their initial vendor due diligence. In fact, they should be ensuring they’re pointing a risk spotlight at their vendor’s important vendors – the fourth parties in the equation. AI was brought up as an example of a burgeoning area of interest in which vendor risk management can get hairy, due in large part to the newness of it all.


“Everyone wants a piece of this new technology. Some vendors for new AI tech have no controls, don’t bother with in-depth investigations, etc. – are you willing to put your customers’ and employees’ info at risk with these companies? Until you do due diligence, you have no idea where they stand.”

– Lisa Spampinato, Senior Manager, Wolf & Co.


Day 2 – Innovation, Cybersecurity, Data & Partnerships

Day two of TLC kicked off with our keynote speaker, Jason Henrichs of Alloy Labs and his talk, “Innovation is Dead & Partnerships are Dumb.” Despite the inflammatory title, Jason had a lot of valuable insights to make into what innovation actually means. He pointed out that we often see innovators beating out incumbents, typically because innovators have the “competitive advantage of desperation” that incumbents just don’t face.

Jason Henrichs of Alloy Labs giving his keynote speech

Jason Henrichs giving his keynote speech, “Innovation is Dead & Partnerships are Dumb.”

Jason went on to point out that fintech itself is not a strategy, and that innovation as a management fad is meaningless. So what is innovation? Implementing new ideas that create value – most innovation happens incrementally.


“Innovation is not digital transformation. It’s not just putting digital lipstick on an analog pig. It’s also not about innovation theater. If you have an innovation committee and that’s how you’re solving for innovation, it’s not working.”

– Jason Henrichs, CEO, Alloy Labs


Following that, Ryan Rodrigue (Wolf & Co.), Derek Morris (Wolf & Co.), Benjamin Corman (DCU), and Josh Neffinger (Eastern Bank) discussed the current cybersecurity landscape, and the challenges organizations face most regularly in the current climate. It was soon clear that resources remain a consistent problem for CISOs and security generally across financial institutions, whether that’s human resources, time, or budgeting.

Next was a panel on “Harnessing Your Data & Unleashing Its Power,” moderated by Meredith Piotti (Wolf & Co.), and featuring Amber Robinson (KlariVis), Ruthie Glyman (Agent IQ), and Christoper Hart (Northern Bank). The panel discussed the ways in which they’ve seen the type of data accessible change over recent years, as well as how that data gets used. Now more than ever, people want access to as much information as possible before making decisions.


“Data is really starting to mold what your next step is versus what you have currently, and the more you use it to leverage you can be nimble. Data is really helping not necessarily support decisions, but make decisions.”

– Christopher Hartman, Chief Data Officer, Northern Bank


Nowadays data is in high demand, and per the panel, has become more of a communication vehicle at organizations than ever before, because everyone is ideally seeing that data in the same way. Learning how to parse what data is valuable, how to clean up your data, and how to present it in the most useful way are all paramount.

Joe Sarkisian (Wolf & Co.) followed with a fascinating investigation into “Securing the Cloud,” pointing out the myriad ways in which bad actors can perpetrate cloud conscious attacks. As Joe pointed out, 71% of attacks in 2023 were malwareless, with a 50% increase in interactive intrusions. Among other things, social engineering awareness remains a huge focus.

Joe Sarkisian speaking on "Securing the Cloud"

Joe Sarkisian discussing “Securing the Cloud.”

We wrapped up TLC 2023 with a panel on “Fintech Partnerships” moderated by Kelley Chartier (Wolf & Co.), featuring Geoff Knapp (Allied Payments), Derek Henderson (DR Bank), and Brandon Oliver (Bank Tech Ventures). The panel touched on important factors when considering a partnership – what sort of value propositions might it solve and where is your organization looking to go in the future? Self-assessments remain invaluable throughout the partnership process.

On the flipside, fintechs are looking to partner with banks that want to grow alongside their partner. Ultimately, regular communication, robust governance and reporting structures, and a willingness to try new things will help financial institutions and fintechs reach mutually beneficial partnerships.

It was wonderful to see so many innovators, educators, and leaders gather together to find ways to better embrace technology and move forward as partners in success. We’d like to thank all of our speakers and attendees. A special thank you to our sponsors this year at Allied Payment Networks, FiVerity, KlariVis, Raisin, and WolfPAC – we appreciate your support!

Take a look at what TLC 2023 was like firsthand!