Lynn McCreary’s advice: “Rely on your people and recognize their attributes and goals”

Lynn McCreary shares her keys to success as chief legal officer at Fiserv

Lynn McCreary has made a career of breaking new ground; she doesn’t take the usual or expected path. After nine years in the financial services industry—as an account executive at Citicorp and a vice president at Metmor Financial (a MetLife company)—she decided to go to law school. She spent fourteen years at Bryan Cave LLP, serving clients in the financial, retail, commercial, and insurance sectors, and was the managing partner of the firm’s San Francisco office. In 2010, she joined Fiserv. Three years later, she was named executive vice president and general counsel, the only woman on the company’s executive team. She now serves as chief legal officer and corporate secretary, and outlines the following as her keys to success.

Knowledge Is Key.

One of the biggest challenges for the financial services industry today, as for so many other businesses, is the speed of technological innovation. The key to making sure our professionals are not overwhelmed or frustrated by this is to provide them with information—the more they have, the more confident they will be about addressing our customers’ concerns. Particularly important is an understanding of our products and how they work, especially in terms of the safety of our customers’ information. It’s also essential that they know the extent of our security protocols, where various information resides, where vulnerabilities may be and how we’re addressing them, and that we are doing everything it takes to protect the data with which we are entrusted.

Be a Business Partner.

Each business unit at Fiserv has a committed team of legal department associates to serve them. They become integral partners and are at the table when various topics are being discussed—new ventures, opportunities to secure or develop new technologies, difficult client issues—and when important decisions are being made. They’re involved at the outset, which allows them to be most effective. I also have a number of subject-matter experts who serve the enterprise, including attorneys, paralegals, and others who specialize in labor and employment, intellectual property, acquisitions, securities, data privacy, regulatory compliance, and litigation. We really stress engagement. In fact, the tagline for the legal department is “Trusted Advisers Committed to Service Excellence” and every single one of my legal leaders embraces that.

Establish Strategic Initiatives.

Last year, we established an initiative designed to simplify our client contracts and service-level documents by eliminating redundancies, making them more consistent, and removing extraneous language. We are also exploring ways to streamline the contract process, making key documents more readily accessible. We want to help make doing business with Fiserv simpler, not harder, to provide our business partners with easy access to the legal department, and to be more efficient when serving customers.

It Takes More than Lawyers.

Some of the best, brightest, and hardest working lawyers are at Fiserv. We also have highly-skilled and experienced contract administrators, paralegals, and compliance professionals without whom we would not be nearly as efficient or impactful as we are. They’re as important to the delivery of our services as the lawyers. As part of our dedication to professional development, we want to ensure we provide everyone—lawyers and non-lawyers—with opportunities to deal with more sophisticated matters, to interface with clients, and to optimize their use while helping them grow and pursue individual development opportunities. As a leader, it’s important to know your direct reports’ competencies and professional aspirations, and then help ensure they have fulfilling careers.

Take Care of Your People and Yourself.

No one succeeds alone. Rely on your people, understand them, and recognize their attributes and goals. Just as airlines tell passengers to secure their own oxygen mask first before helping others, we need to make certain our people know that wellness matters and that we encourage them to take time for themselves. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.