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Top Payments Consultants: Rick Oglesby, AZ Payments Group

Even when serving in senior manager and director roles with the likes of American Express and TSYS early in his career, Rick Oglesby, AZ Payments Group president, always felt he was destined to be a payments consultant. That vision came true when he joined Aite Group in 2011, where he was a senior analyst and consultant. In early 2014, Oglesby started his own consultancy. You don’t have to spend too much time with him before his love of consultancy work—helping companies succeed while establishing and nurturing relationships—becomes apparent and likely is the reason why he was selected as one of the industry’s Top Payments Consultants.

Paybefore: How did you become a payments consultant?

Rick Oglesby: Ive always been on a consultant’s path. Even when I was working at large companies, I often operated as an internal consultant. That way, I was able to gain a wide breadth of experience across payments.

In my time with American Express, I covered issuing from front to back, including new accounts, commercial underwriting, consumer underwriting, fraud, credit, collections, call centers, customer service, new product development, product marketing and sales. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Similarly with TSYS, I was able to cover product management across a wide portfolio of acquiring-centric solutions from mobile payments, gateway and authorization services through to underwriting, boarding, risk and merchant-servicing products. I also worked in corporate strategy and mergers and acquisitions.

I spent some time with American Express Financial Advisors, which became Ameriprise. There, I helped develop marketing analytics solutions to support retention and growth in the financial advisory business.

Getting to Know Rick

Must-have app: Activity! It’s a great way to keep in shape. On the business side, I’m enthralled with Inbox, the best email app I’ve ever used.

Best advice I ever received: Forget goals. Focus on actions and systems.

Favorite thing to do outside the office: When we can find the time, my wife and I love to hike and bike together. Summer vacationing with my family is always fantastic and our kids are very active, so we really enjoy watching their sporting events.

Something industry people don’t know about me: My wife Lisa is a practicing veterinarian and we have two sons, Tanner (10 years old) and Mason (9 years old).

At Aite Group, I transitioned to full-time consultancy and market research. Those experiences formed the foundation upon which AZ Payments Group is built. When I started AZPG in 2014, I immediately formed a joint venture with Double Diamond Group, through which we provide business strategy, market research and go-to-market consulting services focused on the integrated payments and payment facilitator markets.

Paybefore: What in your background made the greatest impact as you transitioned to consultant?

RO: My experiences with American Express were invaluable. It’s an incredibly deliberate company that takes full advantage of the data and information it has available. There, I learned a step-by-step approach to business that focuses on converting data to information using analytics, and then using the information to create business success.

Today, we try to take a similar approach with our projects. We believe that most business problems are information problems. By solving the information problems through data acquisition and analytics, many strategies become obvious and simplistic.

Paybefore: As a consultant, how are the challenges different than when you were with those previous companies?

RO: There’s a lot more creativity involved in being a consultant, which I love. When you work at a large company, you normally accept a job with a finite set of challenges that you focus on regularly for an extended time. When you’re a consultant, you take on a much wider breadth of challenges, many of which you must solve simultaneously. It requires a systematic approach, but at the same time you need to be flexible and creative enough to adapt your systems to a wide variety of problems on an ongoing basis. And clients are nearly always in a hurry. We have great fun with it; it’s like working in a corporation at super speed.

Paybefore: What else excites you about being a consultant?

RO: Building relationships is a huge part of it. As much as I love having a wide scope of challenges and operating at a rapid pace, there’s nothing more rewarding than building lasting relationships with clients and helping them grow their businesses. There’s a great rapport that forms between individuals that have helped each other succeed, and that’s what I enjoy most.

Paybefore: What are your clients coming to you for the most? In which areas of payments do they need your expertise?

RO: Most of our clients already know a lot about payments. What they need is help overcoming specific business problems, most of which are information problems. We’re great at information, whether it’s marketing analytics, market intelligence or both. We understand the payments market and how to get data to support strategic market analyses, segmentation strategies, needs assessments and targeting strategies.

We’re also good at turning all of that information into product marketing plans for go-to-market efforts. We supply information to buyers as well, normally through white papers and webinars. Our content offerings are really unique and popular. We leverage a variety of psychological techniques that are proven to engage the audience, so our content is as influential as it can possibly be.

Paybefore: What trends are causing the most change in payments?

RO: The biggest changes tend to be regulatory. Governments can cause sudden, industry-wide disruption, whereas competitive and technological changes tend to take effect more gradually. Right now, PSD2 and open banking in Europe have the potential to be very big. These things create the potential for a parallel payments universe that could eventually challenge the entire payment system. We’re watching developments there closely and tracking what the CFPB will do in this area.

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