Q&A: Jim Stewart of Epic Research

Jim Stewart knows more than a thing or two about banking. He was the executive president of First USA from 1988 to 1999 and the president and co-founder of Juniper Bank, which was purchased by Barclaycard. Since 2007, he’s been the CEO of Epic Research, a marketing firm in Wilmington focused on the financial sector.

The goal is to help clients gain new customers for credit cards, loans, mortgages and other service areas. Technology has become an important part of this process.

How has technology affected how banks, credit unions and other similar organizations market to existing and prospective customers?

There is a massive amount of data being accumulated, stored and manipulated — that’s all done on third-party sites. We don’t take on personally identifiable information. A lot of the value-add we provide involves intellectual property and taking billions of records to find out who would like your product, so you’re not wasting time and money on those who won’t. A lot of the work is mobile-enabled, especially if the target is millennials or anyone up to age 40.

Does the technology involve creating dedicated landing pages for a response or a technological way to track a campaign’s effectiveness?

Absolutely.

In this day and age, doesn’t a bank have this kind of service in-house?

The core group here has been doing this for 30 years. We have a level of expertise that the average bank today does not have.

What’s cutting edge in this area?

Artificial intelligence is in its infancy. In the future you can see it playing a bigger part to identify people who might be interested in a product when the vast majority would not. If you are offering a student loan, you want to do that to people who are in college. Same thing for a car loan — you want to avoid anyone who may have just bought a car.

Is Delaware still a good place for a business catering to the financial sector?

If you want the experience that’s valued in banking — consumer credit marketing and big data analysis — I would say there is more expertise here than anywhere else in the world. You have the banks that have been here awhile, but in the last several years, a number of big banks set up shop here because they want the people. There are also startups. The real value is generating new customer relationships, and that’s marketing and analytics.

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