Thayde Olarte Vice Pres­i­dent, Con­sumer & Mi­cro-fi­nance, In­ter­na­tional Bank­ing, Sco­tia­bank

Rotman Management Magazine - - FROM THE EDITOR -

AS WE WORK TO MOVE THE BANK FOR­WARD DIG­I­TALLY, we are tak­ing a holis­tic view that has four parts to it. First, the cus­tomer is at the cen­tre of ev­ery­thing we’re do­ing. Sec­ond, we are build­ing part­ner­ships with fin­techs and other or­ga­ni­za­tions to help us lever­age our dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. Third, we are fos­ter­ing a cul­ture where ev­ery­one be­comes more ag­ile by en­hanc­ing our pro­cesses and in­vest­ing in tech­nol­ogy. And fourth, in­no­va­tion is key to our ap­proach. Each and ev­ery Sco­tia­banker is ex­pected to ‘own’ in­no­va­tion.

We have been very am­bi­tious in set­ting tar­gets for 2021. By then, we aim to be the lead­ing dig­i­tal bank in our key mar­kets. In my role, I’m re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing a bridge be­tween the fin­tech ecosys­tem and the bank. At the mo­ment, we’re par­tic­u­larly fo­cused on the Pa­cific Al­liance coun­tries — Mex­ico, Chile, Peru and Colom­bia, but we have a global man­date. In or­der to col­lab­o­rate with fin­tech, we need to have ac­cess to ven­ture cap­i­tal, in­cu­ba­tors and ac­cel­er­a­tors. The goal is to be ahead of the game and ac­cel­er­ate in­no­va­tion.

Our fin­tech part­ner­ships are mainly about one thing: learn­ing. We have so much to learn from them, with re­spect to how they work, the mod­els they use, and how fo­cused they are on the cus­tomer. They also in­spire us with how lean and ag­ile they are. We’ve got a lot to learn. The sec­ond piece is about gain­ing the re­quired ca­pa­bil­i­ties to en­hance our po­si­tion. We need to use the ex­pe­ri­ence and ca­pa­bil­i­ties of our peo­ple more ef­fec­tively. And the third piece, of course, is in­vest­ment. We have to in­vest in the most promis­ing fin­techs that will help us progress to a dig­i­tal lead­er­ship po­si­tion.

Two of the fin­techs we’re work­ing with are based in Mex­ico. One is a fi­nan­cial com­par­i­son site which works as a dig­i­tal lead orig­i­na­tor for sev­eral prod­ucts in that mar­ket; and the sec­ond one is a dig­i­tal small busi­ness lender lever­ag­ing non-tra­di­tional data to ad­ju­di­cate loans. The beau­ti­ful thing about these part­ner­ships is that the fin­techs rec­og­nize that they also have a lot to learn from us — from a reg­u­la­tory, le­gal and op­er­a­tional per­spec­tive. For ex­am­ple, we can teach them how to han­dle a crit­i­cal mass of cus­tomers.

Part­ner­ing with fin­techs does present some risk, but it is a type of risk that can be kept un­der con­trol. Two years ago, I would have said I was very con­cerned about be­ing dis­rupted by a fin­tech; but to­day, frankly, we are not con­cerned, be­cause we have faced up to these dis­rup­tive forces, and we now know that Fin­techs are not go­ing to have a fu­ture with­out the big banks.

Mil­len­ni­als are im­por­tant to our strat­egy go­ing for­ward, and we are al­ready tar­get­ing this group in the Pa­cific Al­liance coun­tries, learn­ing about what works best for them. As part of the cus­tomer life cy­cle, we need to de­velop ap­peal­ing prod­ucts and ser­vices for these peo­ple as they age. We rec­og­nize that we have to start early, but at the same time, we have to be ready for their fu­ture.

For any or­ga­ni­za­tion to em­brace dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion, it has to start at the very top, so that the mes­sage cas­cades down. Hav­ing a CEO who is com­mit­ted to dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion is very in­spi­ra­tional for peo­ple; but at the same time, as we say ev­ery day, ev­ery­one in the bank owns our dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion. On­go­ing learn­ing about the lat­est tools is a big part of that; that’s how we aim to im­prove our ‘dig­i­tal IQ’ as a com­pany. In our view, the fu­ture of re­tail bank­ing is not about, ‘What prod­uct should we launch next?’ It is all about cus­tomer em­pow­er­ment — and I be­lieve that is true for any type of ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tion.

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