In Conversation With... Nigel Morris

We were joined by a special guest at our latest company call - a weekly ritual where we shout out colleagues who have lived our values. Nigel Morris, co-founder of Capital One and QED Investors, and a bona fide legend in the fintech universe, spent an hour with us answering some probing questions and sharing his stories from the frontline of fintech innovation. 

During the call, we delved into the intricacies of innovation, customer empathy, and the relentless pursuit of excellence in financial services. Nigel shared invaluable insights that resonate with our mission and challenges at Carmoola. 

Here’s just a taster of what we covered during our expansive conversation.

The Customer Must be at the Heart of Everything 🩷

Nigel emphasised the importance of genuine customer engagement, noting, "Listening to customers not only helps in understanding their immediate needs but serves as a reminder of the broader impact we aim to achieve." This practice of embedding customer empathy into our operations is a principle Carmoola holds dear, ensuring our innovations truly serve those who matter most. 

We are driven by our customers’ feedback - with an enviable 4.9 out of 5 stars from over 1,200 Tustpilot reviews - and regularly seek their input, including through a series of one-on-one video calls that I held with customers in recent weeks.

The Transformative Potential of AI 🤖

You can’t have a conversation about anything without touching on AI, and understandably so. Nigel offered his perspective on the transformative power and potential pitfalls of AI, focusing on three points around operational efficiency, marketing, and a word of warning about over-reliance on the technology.

“One, AI can assassinate servicing costs. Through systematic deployment of chat and AI it’s possible to reduce expenses in servicing and improve quality.

“Two, in the Capital One days, we talked about one-on-one marketing, but we couldn't do it because we were constrained by our ability to execute on the tailoring. In an AI world I can customise messages at the individual level. That's incredibly powerful for effectiveness and in reducing customer acquisition costs. It will benefit the people who are dextrous with AI, and it won't be the incumbents who are still going to be struggling with legacy tech and processes.

"Three, and this is a bit of a watch out, is: don't get lazy with AI. I'm still a believer that you should start with thinking and problem solving and observation, and then use AI as an advanced statistical technique because that's all it is. 

“So just be careful about it (AI) taking over and reducing the amount of thought in your culture.”

This reflection is particularly poignant for us at Carmoola, as we continue to explore AI's potential to revolutionise the car financing sector, but as an enabler not as a standalone solution.

The Sustaining Power of Culture 💪

Nigel channelled Peter Drucker, saying "culture eats strategy for breakfast." And it’s so true - our strong, cohesive culture is arguably one of our most sustainable competitive advantages. It underscores our commitment to fostering an environment where continuous learning, adaptability, and innovation are expected and supported. 

As Nigel said, “strategy is wonderful, but a strategy exists at a single point in time in a single place. A culture allows you to morph and develop a strategy and to be able to execute it. The only sustainable thing is culture.”

Looking Ahead 🔮

Nigel's journey from the inception of Capital One to his influential role at QED Investors offers a blueprint for innovation and leadership in the fintech space. "The key for me," Nigel mentioned, "is if you don't believe that you can change consumer behaviour, you can't believe in the total addressable market." This belief in the power of consumer-centric innovation aligns perfectly with our vision at Carmoola.

In classic no-nonsense style, Nigel’s parting words offered a reminder of our shared mission: "This thing [Carmoola] is really making a freaking difference... it's not just one person who had the most brilliant experience... it's that you have thousands, and undoubtedly that will become 10,000, a hundred thousand and more."

The Journey Continues 🚗🚗

The insights shared by Nigel sparked renewed vigour in our quest to redefine the car financing landscape. We're more committed than ever to driving innovation that resonates on a personal level with each customer, as a thinking, feeling human being.