At Arvest, we like to think we stand apart from our peers, that our commitment to customer service and innovation places us at the front of the pack. Laura Merling’s recent recognition as one of American Banker’s 20 Innovators of the Year has just confirmed what we already knew: We’re on the right track for even greater success.

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Laura joined the Arvest team in Fall of 2021 to lead our multi-year transformation strategy, which includes adopting a next generation banking platform and a focus on what it means to be a community-focused bank in a digital world.

American Banker writes, “Since Merling joined Arvest in 2021 as chief transformation and operations officer, she has found concrete ways to solve customer problems. From late 2021 to early 2022, she conducted a vulnerability study that uncovered seven categories of frustration among customers and subtler but still present annoyances she dubs ‘rocks in their shoes.’”

We knew that transformation was going to be tough. A primary end goal is the disruption of existing business models to improve customer experience and create operational efficiency. That doesn’t mean that we didn’t already provide great customer experience or weren’t efficient. It means that we have an opportunity to provide an even better customer experience and be even more efficient, and we are headed there!

American Banker acknowledges the challenges of innovation and transformation in its article about the innovators chosen by their editorial staff: “Innovation is hard. Coming up with new ideas, making sure those ideas have practical value and executing on the ideas — and perhaps more importantly, getting other people on board to help with the execution — takes willpower, tenacity, long hours of hard work, smarts and an ability to communicate and work with others inside and outside an organization.”

So it is with great pleasure that we congratulate Laura on being named an innovator of the year, and we look toward the future with great anticipation as we move forward along our transformation journey.