The Future of Finance: Leveraging Digital Transformation for a Virtual World
November 18, 2020
On Wednesday, November 18th, Bloomberg hosted a private virtual event, to discuss how financial services leaders are embracing digital transformation to update old infrastructure, extract value from data and modernize business models to thrive in the new world.
The discussion was led by senior Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Julie Chariell with senior business unit decision-makers across the financial services industry. As thought leaders, participants shared their views on how they are innovating their respective businesses to successfully lead and compete in a digital world.
Rick Carey, Group Chief Technology Officer, UBS
Sumeet Chabria, Head of Global Business Services, Bank of America
Sarah Diamond, Global MD for Banking and Financial Markets, IBM
Ivneet Kaur, Chief Technology Officer, Silicon Valley Bank
Rahul Merchant, EVP, Chief Information Officer, TIAA
Brian Ness, Executive Director and Chief Information Officer for Principal Global Asset Management
Mathieu Soulé, Head of BNP Paribas C. Lab Americas
Julie Chariell, Senior Bloomberg Intelligence Analyst
Click here to view the video of the full discussion.
Here’s what they had to say:
The Acceleration of a New Paradigm
Speakers observed that the biggest shift is not in the move to the cloud or the use of AI but in the acceleration of these trends. Rahul Merchant, EVP, Chief Information Officer, TIAA shared “What I believe we could have done in five years, we probably achieved that in four of five months, and the speed is still accelerating.” Ivneet Kaur, Chief Technology Officer, Silicon Valley Bank observed that the process of adopting new technologies had the effect of causing operational changes overall and a re-thinking of the infrastructure, “When it comes to being cloud first or AI led, making sure that you’re embedding security, resilience, availability, all of that in your entire ecosystem, it has just caused us to hyper focus more on that and accelerate that journey.”
Priorities for Technology Changes
It is clear that the financial industry understands the need for and has benefitted from technological advancements. As we move forward, where will these changes be focused? Rick Carey Group Chief Technology Officer, UBS states, “The customer experience, that’s your first primary focus. You deliver that in an intelligent way, taking advantage of these types of technologies, your ROI will be there.” Mathieu Soulé, Head of BNP Paribas C. Lab Americas shared that while everyone understands the need to optimize the customer experience, his group has also focused on the employee experience, a project started one or two years ago but currently accelerating. “So it’s almost applying the same kind of tools processes we did on the consumer end.”
Moving platforms and capabilities to the cloud is an area of focus. Brian Ness, Executive Director and Chief Information Officer for Principal Global Asset Management spoke for the group when he said “We’re committed to a cloud strategy. It is an opportunity for business agility, getting better insights into data and getting capabilities to our business and customers more quickly.” Merchant shared that “The goal is to move as much technology to the cloud and as many platforms, and then really focus more on continuing to add value to our clients.” Kaur agrees that the customer experience is what drives technology investments first and foremost. To that end, “Processes continue to automate as much as we can. There are better technologies in use and the continuous use of robotics and artificial intelligence.”
Data Architecture Is Foundational for Leveraging AI
A major focus for the industry as a whole has been on building a data architecture that meets current needs. Sumeet Chabria, Head of Global Business Services, Bank of America noted that data is key to the future of banking, but emphasized that “Without good sound foundational data, without making sure that the data is resilient, the data is clean, you cannot even think about having a great AI platform.” Ness agreed, “We’re seeing a real increase in the demand and expectation for using data for analytics, and AI certainly accelerates that” Carey notes, “AI has been around for decades and decades. It’s only now where you’ve got the size of the data and the compute capabilities together that give you the real value kind of AI.” As Sarah Diamond, Global MD for Banking and Financial Markets, IBM summarizes, “Without the right data architecture, it doesn’t matter what you try to do to preserve and cleanse your data. You can’t create it into the value and the insight that you need”.
The ROI of Technology Investments
Companies that invested in innovation and adopted new technologies before the pandemic fared well in 2020. They had the technology, agility and operations in place to continue business without disruption. Carey observed that “It’s been a continued investment over a great deal of time and that type of trajectory has allowed us to handle what could have been a catastrophic event. We’re very excited about seeing that return on the investments we’ve made over the last few years.” Merchant shared, “All of a sudden, all of us including our partners, have realized that those of us who made those investments are yielding phenomenal results, are able to yield a lot of benefits to our clients and hence to our shareholders also.” Diamond summarized, “Some of the lessons I think we’ve learned are first, we must embed risk management compliance security from the ground up, not as an afterthought. Second, that transforming the AI environment is very important to improve efficiency and enable analytics and AI. And third, cloud migration is not just about cutting costs.”
How Does the Future Look?
Going forward, there was a consensus of the need for a hybrid model between 100% virtual and old-fashioned in-person business. As Soulé stated, “We knew how to do it 100% in an office. We know how to do it 100% virtual. But how does it work exactly in the future?” Ness observed that different teams have different needs, “One of the things we’re really thinking hard about is what are the personas of the different teams and how are they going to work going forward? It’s different if you’re in a call center versus you’re in a project team versus you’re part of a trading team. What do those personas require in terms of how people want to work?”
Kaur addressed the question of a hybrid model future by explaining her company’s creation of work hubs, “We can create multiple hubs around the globe where people have the flexibility to work from home most of the time, but also have the ability to go to a place once a month or for a few hours every week to be able to meet their with colleagues.”
Ness notes that “I think the other major shift that’s occurred is really around data governance and decentralizing that data ownership and stewardship. Chabria concurred, “Data for it to be right, has to be everybody’s responsibility from the front to all the way in the end to end process chain.”
In short, the future is good data fueling AI and innovation hosted by the cloud. The results are, as Carey states, “And so you get little more innovation. You get a little bit more risk-taking. We see it as driving up our ability to make great decisions and to give that great experience both to our developers and to our customers.”
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