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Ally Financial CEO: It’s ‘Constant Pressure’ to Innovate

August 4, 2017, 7:44 PM UTC

Ally Financial CEO Jeffrey Brown says he feels “constant pressure” to innovate. He says there’s a lot at stake for all companies, not only at the financial services giant, if they fail to innovate.

“Your brand, your company will be dead five years, ten years from now,” he tells Fortune’s Susie Gharib. “That is a strong statement, but I think it ties right back to the point of how fast technology is moving companies, and I think our customers today are demanding it.”

Ally has come a long way since it was spun off from General Motors during the financial crisis. It was founded nearly 100 years ago and functioned as GM’s auto lending company called General Motors Acceptance Corporation. Since its new start in 2009, Ally has become what Brown calls “a digital only” company. It has no bank branches. Customers do all their transactions online. It seems to be working. Ally has built up bank deposits to $71 billion, it has expanded into mortgage financing, wealth management, and credit cards in addition to its core auto lending business. Ally is ranked at 286 on the Fortune 500 list of America’s biggest companies.

Brown says innovation is his priority at Ally and he gets animated talking about the possibilities. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is one of them. Ally is using this technology to gather data on what new services customers might want. Brown expects this deeper knowledge to pave the way for more innovations at Ally. AI, he says, is “helping us understand when a customer comes in, whether they call the call center, whether they log in to their iPad, their iPhone, we have an idea of what they want before they’ve even started exploring.”