Introducing Zest AI’s new Head of Client Advisory & Strategy: Aaron Long
Today’s the day! We’re so excited to introduce Aaron Long as Zest AI’s new Head of Client Advisory & Strategy. With more than two decades of experience in financial services and a deep background in consumer credit, Aaron shares our passion for expanding access to credit for all consumers!
We sat down with Aaron to talk about his thoughts upon joining the company, where he sees the future of the industry, as well as his leadership style.
What excites you most about the work that Zest AI is doing and why?
At this point, many folks in the United States are beginning to understand how lending has historically been unfair. What excites me about Zest AI is our mission, our strong belief in the mission, and our desire to change the way lending is done. To be on mission to make underwriting easy and equitable — that's what excites me.
It's great to be with a company that shares my same beliefs. The people I work with here at Zest AI are the best in the world.
What does Zest AI’s mission mean to you?
It was important for me to be with an organization where my mission and their mission aligned. I look at the world and ask myself how we can be more inclusive? How do we help the ones that are in need? And how do I be part of the change? At this point in my life and career, that's more important than anything else.
Zest AI's vision of smart, inclusive, and efficient lending is accessible and easy to believe in. We are literally trying to change the way the world sees lending. For me to live the mission of fair and transparent lending and feel included in the culture of my workplace, I am fortunate to be part of that.
Why is financial equity imperative in today’s world?
I'll throw out a few stats. A couple years ago, there were around 18 to 19 million folks in the United States that were under-banked. That's a huge gap. If we had closed the wealth gap between Black and white Americans 20 years ago, that cumulatively would have added $16 trillion to the U.S. economy. Frankly, if you can look at that and not think that it’s wrong, you need your head examined.
That's a lot of people that don't have access to the finances that they need to be successful and to live a fruitful life. If we were able to knock off a small percentage of that, think about what good it could do. We have to do what's right. We have to do what's fair. We have to shrink that gap.
What makes credit unions different?
Being in the FinTech space for a while, I've been fortunate, grateful, blessed, however you want to say it, to work with hundreds of credit unions. I’ve not only had the pleasure of working with them, but I’ve also gotten the chance to know their members.
Credit unions are different from anyone else that I've had a chance to work with. Their mission has stayed the same since their beginning. It's all about the community. It's all about giving back. To continue being a part of this mission-oriented community was something I couldn’t give up. I'm lucky. Right? I'm happy to continue saying that I love credit unions. Zest AI loves credit unions.
Do you have a personal motto or philosophy you apply to your leadership style?
I would say that I love to help people succeed, and the great thing about coming into an organization like Zest AI is that there’s a Grade A sales organization already in place. I’m joining a team of great people that already has unity and is highly skilled. My goal in joining Zest AI’s sales organization is to ensure we continue our momentum and take it to the next level. Helping to give back and providing mentorship — that’s what I’m focused on.
Biography: Aaron Long has 20 plus years in sales, business development, and consulting working for Fortune 100 companies like American Express and McKesson to help them develop new offerings and capture larger market share. Prior to Zest AI, Aaron led the credit union Vertical at Equifax where he oversaw sales, marketing and partnerships.
Aaron was Vice President, Client Management & Sales at Fiserv, Inc. In that role he was responsible for running a high performing Account Management team focused solely on credit unions, creating business and sales strategy, increasing wallet share, energizing diverse teams and being a change agent.
Native of St. Louis, Missouri, Aaron Long currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia. He is a graduate of Georgia Tech with a MBA in Management of Technology and has a BS in Computer Information Systems.