I have been in the financial services industry for over 17 years in a variety of roles across product and segment management in retail and commercial banking. As an avid technophile, I am a big believer in the transformative power of technology in re-defining banking (and the world). To this end, I have actively engineered moves to my current role, leading the development of analytics capabilities and digital solutions, as well as strategic partnership engagement for Standard Chartered Bank’s commercial banking division globally.
I look back fondly at the thrill of leading an M&A transaction, which helped double our market share in certain product lines. Many years ago, I was also part of the team that launched a number of innovative “industry first” product features, which helped us quadruple our personal loans portfolio within just 18 months.
But the most personally and professionally enriching experience for me so far has been setting up the client analytics function for our commercial banking business from scratch and building it into a strategic, high return on investment division within a couple of years. And we are just getting started.
Steve Jobs. First, due to his near obsessive focus on, and a strong sense of empathy for, the end user, the client. And, second, willingly or otherwise, for being an early proponent of design thinking; ensuring we go above and beyond to create solutions that work.
This is a vital behavioural mindset which I actively seek to embrace and encourage my teams to internalise as well. The best analysis or the sharpest insight can often be lost without the end user in mind.
Finally, a special “shout out” to futurist Pablos Holman; it was a privilege to hear him speak at the Singularity University.
Macroeconomically – not at all. The trade wars, Brexit, Trump’s Impeachment, the Hong Kong protests, the fires in the Amazon and Australia – 2019 certainly didn’t stick to the script, did it?
However, amid the chaos, it was heartening and inspiring to note that our industry continued making genuine and tangible progress to find solutions with genuine real-world applications. I was particularly inspired by DeepMind’s prototype, which successfully diagnosed eye diseases in real-time; and its progress to the potential lifesaving ability to predict acute kidney injury (AKI) condition almost 48 hours in advance. I continue to monitor the space with hope and excitement.
Accelerated evolution, but not quite yet a widespread revolution (but it’s coming) is how I’d put it. The three things I would love to see are: more and more examples of companies graduating from proof of concepts to scale deployment of analytics capabilities in real-time (or near real time); industry-wide collaboration (regional, not just national) in creating common platforms for digital identities (like credit bureaus but for “know your customer”); and a common sense approach in ensuring ethical, fair and transparent use of data. Here’s hoping there will be no horror stories on data leaks or hacks which will set the industry back by years.
The data and technology powered Fourth Industrial Revolution is already transforming how organisations plan, operate, and deploy resources, with associated (realised and/or potential) uplift in efficiency, profitability and client experience.
However, I believe the opportunity with the most widespread positive socio-economic implications would be enabling financial inclusion of the 2 billion+ unbanked and underbanked individuals around the world, ensuring their consequent economic empowerment. The use of non-traditional data sources, digital identities, and scale deployment of technology to significantly reduce the cost to serve, will have extremely positive implications globally.
The cloud represents both the greatest opportunity and the greatest challenge. I believe leveraging cloud-based solutions to generate and deploy analytics insights at scale will help us to exponentially improve quality and speed; and optimise investment spend as well. However, balancing the promise of the cloud with the higher bar (and rightly so) on data security and privacy obligations, especially in the financial services industry, will be interesting, in the near future at least.