Banking as a Service – Lowering Barriers to Entry
Luvleen Sidhu, CEO, BM Technologies Inc
Iana Dimitrova, CEO, OpenPayd
Thom Rasser, CFO, Solarisbank
Tom Bentley, Chief Commercial Officer, Vodeno
Luvleen Sihu, Chair, CEO & Founder at BM Technologies talks with David Penn, Research Analyst with Finovate, about her presentation at FinovateFall on bold leadership, bringing compelling vision and purpose to the table to drive a team forward and how important it it to be able to pivot your strategy and business model in the highly competitive fintech ecosystem.
On this episode of #ThePlaybook, Luvleen Sidhu, CEO, Chair, and Founder of BM Technologies, Inc. (BMTX), sits down to discuss:
[3:41] – How working for Lehman Brothers after their bankruptcy made her determined to change the way that people look at banks.
[5:21] – Why her approach of always giving 110% has led her to countless unexpected opportunities.
[12:34] – The biggest challenges that banking is facing today and major benefits that come with utilizing digital banking.
[14:05] – Why she starts every single day with a chant that puts her in the right mindset.
Luvleen Sidhu, BM Technologies | Women in Payments, Next
PaymentsSource NEXT Award Feature
They say no one makes it big on their own, and Luvleen Sidhu gives plenty of credit to her family in helping to launch her company and guiding her along the way. But it was Sidhu’s own tenacity and refusal to give up that made BM Technologies and the BankMobile banking-as-a-service concept a success.
Sidhu designed a digital banking platform in 2015 through the eyes of mainstream consumers who wanted simple financial management tools. Incubated as a subsidiary of Customers Bank — which her father Jay Sidhu founded, and is now run by her brother Sam Sidhu — BM initially focused on a business-to-consumer model.
Behavior changes driven by COVID will have a long-lasting impact on the rewards strategy of major issuers.
The BankMobile offering proved to be solid but adoption stalled.
“We weren’t growing at the exponential rate we had hoped for and I became frustrated,” Sidhu said.
Drawing on lessons her father had taught her about setbacks during his own 40-year career in banking, Sidhu called a time out. Brainstorming with her team, she went back to the drawing board to determine how to gain scale by operating as a white-label solution for colleges and universities and businesses.
Now handling disbursement of college student financial aid balances on more than 700 campuses, as well as providing other companies including T-Mobile and Google with mobile checking accounts, BM Technologies in six years has expanded from three employees to 250, serving more than 2 million consumers.
Sidhu reached another milestone this year when she spearheaded the debut of BankMobile on the New York Stock Exchange through blank-check company Megalith Financial Acquisition Corp. and formed BM Technologies through a merger. The move made Sidhu — 34 at the time — one of the youngest female CEOs to take a company public.
Luvleen created an innovative company by leveraging technology, and when she ran into obstacles she sought guidance from banking veterans who helped her pivot strategies. –Pankaj Dinodia, CEO, Dinodia Capital Advisors
The year leading up to that triumph wasn’t easy, as the pandemic restricted in-person meetings just as BM Technologies entered a critical phase in its evolution.
Sidhu gave each employee Amazon gift cards to help them cope, adjusted their work hours by granting strategic time off and offered them $2,500 interest-free loans if needed.
“This moment also highlighted the importance of self-care and I began to lead with a more solid work-life balance,” Sidhu said.
Sidhu began taking a 20-minute walk each morning after realizing she missed the experience of commuting on foot to her New York office every day during the pandemic. Instead of relying on door-delivered food and rushing through meals, she also rediscovered cooking and savoring healthy food.
“I realized the importance and enjoyment of cooking,” Sidhu said.
But BM Technologies’ recent success has not diminished Sidhu’s ambitions, which include expanding the company’s digital banking model to more workplaces and organizations.
“The secret to going from intention to action is driven by the desire to succeed, and by having a mission and the compassion to serve,” Sidhu said.
Sidhu’s formidable academic credentials — including an undergraduate business degree from Harvard, an MBA from Wharton and additional executive certifications — have helped power her success.
“Getting your credentials is one important way for women to learn the skills needed on the way up, though it’s not the only way. At Wharton, I caught the entrepreneurial bug and became more and more intrigued about starting my own business,” she said.
Looking for mentors and finding women to mentor is another big component to finding satisfaction and success, Sidhu said. She would like to help other women take companies public.
“It’s encouraging to see more women listing their companies, but it’s still a challenging process,” Sidhu said. Apart from encouraging other entrepreneurs like herself, Sidhu does everything she can to encourage other companies to promote women into leadership roles and give them the pay and opportunities equal to men in those same jobs.
“These initiatives must come from senior management, who can really drive change,” she said.
Staying true to her family’s discipline continuously learning, in her spare time Sidhu stokes her enthusiasm for her business by listening to the NPR podcasts “How I Built This” and “Planet Money,” along with “The Tim Ferriss Show.”
“It’s phenomenal how much wisdom you can pick up from hearing the stories of others who have started from scratch and built lasting and impactful companies,” she said.
Pankaj Dinodia, CEO, Dinodia Capital Advisors
What he says:
“Luvleen created an innovative company by leveraging technology, and when she ran into obstacles she sought guidance from banking veterans who helped her pivot strategies.”
Meet Luvleen Sidhu, The Woman Behind One Of The Largest Mobile-First Banking Platforms In US
Luvleen Sidhu, co-founder and CEO, BM Technologies, Inc. (BMTX), recently became one of the first female minority founders of a publicly traded company, following the recent listing of her company on the New York Stock Exchange. Luvleen founded her company when she was 28 and has expanded it to now serve over five million customers. In a candid chat with ELLE, she talks about leadership in the new world, digital banking and more.ELLE: From starting the company in your 20s to becoming one of the first female minority founders of a publicly traded company, tell us about the highlights of your journey?
Luvleen Sidhu (LS): I graduated from Harvard in 2008 when the financial crisis hit. My first day on the job at Lehman Brothers was the same day the firm filed for bankruptcy. This impacted my professional trajectory and influenced why I founded BMTX. It soon became clear to me that I wanted to focus my time on launching a new digital banking platform that would be dedicated to solving the pain points of everyday Americans, and so I embarked on my entrepreneurial career.
ELLE: Your company was recently listed on the New York Stock Exchange. How did that achievement feel?
LS: It was a thrilling moment for me, both professionally and personally. In the six years since founding the company, I’ve become one of the youngest female CEOs of a publicly traded company (NYSE: BMTX) and overseen the acquisition of over five million customers, a collaboration with Google and a partnership with T-Mobile – and this is just the beginning.
ELLE: As a female leader, what are some of the things you are doing to bring gender parity to the workforce?
LS: As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I try my best to actively focus on actions that can help propel women in finance. For example, promoting women in leadership roles, creating mentorship opportunities, providing equal pay, and ensuring female voices are represented at the executive leadership level are a few initiatives I have taken on.
ELLE: What are the things that drive you professionally?
LS: My business aspiration is to help Americans achieve financial stability. There are millions of unbanked and underbanked individuals in the U.S. Many of these people are locked out of the system by monthly fee requirements due to certain circumstances and have an inherent scepticism of traditional banks. By launching a low-fee, digital banking platform focused on technology and financial empowerment, BMTX is providing an alternative that will hopefully enrich people’s lives. We’ve developed several financial literacy tools and hope to support people in properly managing their money—and achieving their dreams.
ELLE: You believe in the power of positivity, beginning every morning with Buddhist chanting and reciting prayers focused on gratitude. Tell us about that ritual?
LS: Having a strong morning ritual to start the day is important! My morning ritual consists of enjoying a homemade cappuccino and then sitting down to do Buddhist chanting, which is my form of meditation. During this 30 to 45 minutes meditation, I connect with my heart, my deepest desires, and my fears, as well as what I want to manifest in my life that day and in general. I also give thanks to everything in my life that is “working for me” and allow myself to feel gratitude. By starting my day this way, I am set up for success. I am vibrating with gratitude and have put out my intentions for the day, so I can start making it happen.
ELLE: What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you started, and now, you would like to give to other female entrepreneurs?
LS: I was fortunate enough to be raised by two strong and independent parents who instilled confidence in me from a young age. But I think having a strong work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit are key to being successful. When I started my career, it never occurred to me that my status as a female or minority was relevant to my professional success. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, I bring a unique perspective to the table and actively voice the importance of equality in the workplace. I dedicate my spare time to mentoring other women and hope my story will inspire young girls around the world to pursue careers in technology, finance, and banking.
ELLE: What are some of the challenges you feel millennial women face when starting their own businesses, and what is the best way to navigate them?
LS: Millennial women want to make sure that their work is having a positive impact on the world in which they live. As a result, we can expect that most businesses will have a social mission attached to them when millennials are officially at the helm. No longer will working be only about making a profit, but rather about profit while doing good and making the world a better place.
ELLE: What is your business vision for the ‘new world’ that we have stepped into?
Today, more than ever before, bold leadership is needed. As a leader myself, I don’t believe that a company or group can be successful without bold leadership. But that’s not all it takes. For me, bold leadership with a sprinkle of compassion is the winning formula.
Original profile posted @ https://elle.in/article/meet-luvleen-sidhu-the-woman-behind-one-of-the-largest-mobile-first-banking-platforms-in-us/