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Data-led innovation strategies, with Homa Siddiqui, Head of Digital Transformation and Product Labs, A Global Diversified Bank
Data-led innovation strategies, with Homa Siddiqui, Head of Digital Transformation and Product Labs, A Global Diversified Bank
CxO Talks:
Data-led strategies for
customer-centric innovation
At a time when banks are facing increased competition from nimble players,
what lessons can we learn from the pandemic in terms of accelerating digital innovation? How can banks leverage data to maximize customer value?

Grab a coffee and watch this insightful discussion with one of the world's most influential women in Finance, Homa Siddiqui, Head of Digital Transformation and Product Labs, at a Global Diversified Bank, hosted by Tania Salarvand, Managing Director, North America East, ThoughtWorks.
Delivering agility and customer-focused innovation at a global diversified bank

Homa Siddiqui

Head of Digital Transformation and Product Labs, at a Global Diversified Bank


Homa leads technology-driven transformation at one of Europe's largest banks, with worldwide operations in about 50 countries, offering wealth management, investment banking, and financial services to customers. As a trailblazing woman in technology, Homa spearheads the bank’s digital strategy to improve customer experience by orchestrating investments across digital applications, data-led thinking, product innovation, and cloud-based infrastructure. 


She is a vocal advocate of building a data culture and empowering teams to operate with an outcome-based approach. She spent her first eight years with the bank as its head of digital platform strategy and governance for its private banking division. Under her leadership, the Swiss bank fast-tracked its compliance automation efforts as part of the 2018 money laundering sanction. With early roots as an American banker, she began her career in consulting before moving to Morgan Stanley. She is a revered C-suite leader and has emerged as a key digital transformation executive in Europe. She is a graduate of Arizona State University.

Video Transcript


Tania Salarvand: Hi, I'm Tania Salarvand, regional managing director at ThoughtWorks. Today I'm hosting this webinar as part of our CxO talk series. The topic is around accelerating digital innovation in financial services. I'm honored to be joined today by Homa Siddiqui, head of digital transformation and product labs at a globally diverse bank. Welcome Homa.


Homa Siddiqui: Thanks Tania, for having me.


Tania: Absolutely. Now, as we know, the only constant in financial services is change. And as we see everything from the economic, social, environmental impact around us, and not to mention disruption in the space specifically around digital. I wanted to spend this time together, to really understand your personal experience and perspective and all the challenges, learnings, and everything in between that's happening in this space and how you're navigating all of that through your digital transformation journey. So if you don't mind, I'd love to start off with you giving us an overview of what your journey in the industry has been and what your role has been specifically around leading some of those digital innovations.


Homa: Sure. So I started off my career in consulting and delivering technology very much like ThoughtWorks does. And then I joined Morgan Stanley on the institutional side in the early 2000s, then joined my current firm where I was an investment bank, then asset management, then private bank. And now I'm a shared utility that's leveraged across the bank. And during this time it's been very clear that the pace at which we are executing digital transformation and analytics is accelerated by many folds. So things that would take a little bit longer a year and a half ago, now are just picking up speed. Including the decision-making that's being made at the top. And it's very clear that this crisis, both the economic crisis, plus the health crisis for our institution, which is a global institution across 58 different jurisdictions, that it needs you to be very nimble, be very agile and make quite a few decisions in real time. And so these capabilities are just accelerating and they're a cornerstone of our strategy.


Tania: That's great. So what do you think some of these key technology areas are that the industry should really focus on? You mentioned they're constantly changing and they're obviously evolving as we speak. What do you think are the areas we should focus on as it specifically relates to driving growth and innovation?


Homa: Sure. So it's very clear that the consumer, the end-client, their adoption of digital is growing exponentially. There was a very interesting chart recently that showed that in the past two quarters, the amount of digital adoption of online retail has eclipsed 10 years of adoption before that. So that sort of rate is accelerating from our end-clients. They too are dealing with a crisis, and therefore our ability to offer significantly enhanced user in a digital format whenever and wherever they needed is fairly critical. So that's one. The second thing is, is that during this time every initiative and business needs to re-evaluate its strategy to ensure that the assumptions that we made not even nine months ago or a year ago, still hold valid, and you need data for that. And driving a strategy that is a data-driven strategy is very critical to that. So we're using data to help inform our priorities and also where we think we can make better decisions faster based on where we want to double down our strategy and our investments. And these are great catalysts for driving an innovation agenda at pace, because typically when you have a matter of urgency, urgency then creates right outcomes pretty fast. And we're seeing this pretty much day to day since March 2020 onwards. This continues to accelerate at a faster pace. Whereas before about 18 months ago, we would probably talk a little bit about how do we sequence things. Now we talk about how much can we do in parallel. So the whole dialogue has shifted in a very positive way for those who are digital champions and those who want to make the leap to the next curve of where we need to be in this journey.


Tania: You bring up a really good point, Homa. Obviously a lot has happened this year in 2020. And as you mentioned, things are happening not only differently in the landscape of what our consumers want, but also as it relates to how we react to it. I'm curious if you've started to see or your organization has started to see even the technology that we're looking at, whether we're doing it sequentially or things that maybe we thought were going to be three years out, we've had to really speed the process up so that we can get to them now. Are there a few things that come to mind?


Homa: Sure. Look, I think some of the things that, a year ago we would've said would be impossible, we've all proven are possible, right? Getting 90-95% of your workforce productive from home that have been never a part of any plan, right? So if we can all shatter those sort of myths, then what else is possible? How can we get onto the cloud faster? How can we then literally rip out old systems to put in new, or maybe even just start to build new pipes? So I think what has happened is, in particular our institution, we're one of the first in the markets locally to have a COVID solution for our local customers. We were able to implement something within five days, get it out to market, got a lot of great feedback from our customers. In a situation where in other countries, such as the UK, it took up to two weeks for banks to be able to offer something.


And even then 46% of those customers said that their poor experience was going to lead them to make different banking choices. So for us, our ability to move fast during the crisis is now making us ask ourselves the question, why does it take a crisis for us to move fast? Why can't that be the new normal? And if we all have this ability to execute in a crisis, what are those factors that we can put into our new normal way of executing? Especially when the purpose is just as great. So the purpose with COVID was very much about how do we get money to the hand of our customers, our neighbors, our community members. And that's why the entire organization pivoted to deliver that fast.


Well, why couldn't the rallying cry be the existential nature of where our industry's going. You can pick whatever time horizon you want. If you're very pessimistic or optimistic. Digital challenger banks, the tech enablement of many of our competitors plus where the tech companies themselves are looking to do in finance, it's all happening. And so speed is key because we have the advantages and confidence of having very close client relationships and understanding our client needs pretty well. If the barrier for us is really about executing technology at speed and scale, then why can't we do that as part of our new normal. And that's a very active discussion that we're having internally.


Tania: And that's really interesting because I think as any organization starts to put strategies in place, and we know now more than ever, how relevant a strategy can be a few months down the road, starting to think about what things might be relevant and what things might not be in the future is quite important. One thing you mentioned that I was hoping to ask a follow on for is around cloud. You mentioned cloud. And cloud surprisingly and not surprisingly has been one of the top things that has really been top of mind for a lot of businesses and how they're trying to shift or change the way that they're leveraging their cloud capabilities. I'm curious if you have seen or embraced some of that within your organization and what are the benefits that you're seeing around other cloud computing or migrating to the cloud or any of those relevant?


Homa: Sure. So in our organization, we've had the benefit of being very aggressive to get onto a substantial cloud platform about three years ago for a big part of our book of work, and that has helped us to scale. Now that our mandate is much broader than what we were doing three years ago. What I've pulled together is a view of what does it take to help us achieve what I call hyper scale. So not just regular scale, but hyper scale. So in a hyper scale world, you actually need everything to be on cloud, and you actually need that to be connected with your systems internally in a way that data is pretty fluid and where you can use as much libraries that are outside that are ML oriented, that then help you leverage as much of the reusable components and open architectures that we've been creating.


So I really think it's the one plus one equals three. When you start to put these things together, you get a bit of a multiplier effect. We're not quite there yet. I mean these plans were there and now what we're doing is we're putting the accelerator on to say, how fast can we go? And some of the biggest challenges, especially for an institution like ours, that is global, that operates in many secrecy jurisdictions, is the whole data protection aspect of cloud, right? Especially when you're a global institution, a lot of the cloud providers or American base is concerned around data privacy and the current regime that govern these. And so we've had to even invest in creating our own team of cross border lawyers that are part of our digital transformation unit to then help us safely navigate all of the rules around cloud and what happens in local jurisdictions when you start to invoke outsourcing agreements, right? So it's not a trivial exercise by any means. There's a lot of legality and local regulations to deal with. But again, I think that if an organization has a will, we will find a way and how to do this in a very safe way.


Tania: That's a very good point around data. I think data is probably the second thing that pops up more regularly now than ever because it's digital and we're capturing it in new ways. You've mentioned it now two or three times, even in the way that you're going about and thinking about what data means to the organization and how to protect it as it's really, really reliant upon in the financial services industry at large. How do you think organizations can make effective use of their data to drive the outcomes that they're looking for? And just as importantly, protecting the data of the consumers.


Homa: Sure. So one of the approaches that we've taken, which I think is quite different from most of the peers that I speak to is big data has been in Vogue now for 5, 10 years, as far as you want to. And used to be called BI before then and so forth. But there used to be an approach that said, build it and they will come, let's build this massive thing. Let's try to put as much data into it. Somewhere along the line, people run out of patience, people run out of funding, things get disbanded and so forth. Our journey started very different in that we had critical initiatives that needed to be executed that were time bound. And in order to create these things that we were trying to do several years ago. We knew that new modern data techniques would be very helpful. And we had the advantage of being Greenfield in the areas that we wanted to. So we were able to pull together our own data stack. And what we did was be very use case driven, ask the business problem first and really refined the business problem. And then go get the data that you need to answer that business problem. And that approach helped us shortcut several of the typical things that kill data projects. So only about 15% of data analytics projects are successful. And the typical four reasons why they fail is because it takes too long. The data is not accurate. You may not be legally allowed to do what you're supposed to be doing. And the fourth thing is you actually don't come to the answer that you want to come to because you have something missing. And so because we took a very use case driven approach where we knew the exact questions that we were looking to answer.


And we had our data science team actually be very forensically involved in acquiring the data. And we were testing the data throughout the entire life cycle of our initiatives. Our success rate is much, much higher. And also when you're very specific about what you're trying to do with the data, then the whole legality part of it is easier to solve. I mean, it's still there, but it's easier to solve. And also then when you put it into a platform, you got all to then think about the reuse. So four years later, we now have the largest data platform at the bank by 10 X. Most of the data that is very critical is in our lake. We are enabling something that we call data shopping. So for the next use cases, they can come in and they can look at what's already there.


Then we enhance the use case to then figure out what additional approvals do we need, what additional data do we source? And typically the time to market is less than 50% of the original use case, right? But in order to have that sort of capability, there's a lot of sophisticated things that you need to implement to make that happen, right? You need to have very tight control of your data, access control, security rules, need to know, right to know. And that's why, as I said, we have our own team of lawyers who are part of our projects and our initiatives to make sure that we're operating within the safe bounds of what we're supposed to do.


Tania: That is incredibly impressive to hear, especially some of the stats that you're seeing, but also a very large and scary endeavor to take on, especially with the global footprint that you have, that you mentioned. I'm curious, how did you get the buy-in of all the key stakeholders. You mentioned having lawyers sitting directly on your teams and some of the other things that you'd had to do to really make a shift in the way that you thought about this particular initiative that allowed you to be this successful. Because I think a lot of organizations struggle with how do I grasp all the data that I have in a way that's productive?


Homa: Sure. So I had the good fortune, unfortunately in my previous role, to be responsible for the private banking part of our business is platform, strategy, and governance. And I was also responsible for giving out funding for many of the initiatives. And when you do that, you have a really good sense of how are people executing and what works and what doesn't work. And at that time, we had actually funded some data analytics initiatives and they didn't quite yield the result that we wanted. So we sort of learned from those failures, number one. Number two is when we had to set up our capability, there was a very urgent top-down need. It was very time bound of what we needed to execute. And we had put together a proposal to sort of say, look, you can do it the traditional way, but here's the risk.


Well, we can do this other approach, which we actually think could work. And if it does work, then we'll have all these additional payoffs. And we were fortunate that we had the top-down support from the CEO to the head of our department, from the head of IT, the head of infrastructure security, all of those key stakeholders who are part of this initiative. And so they wanted it to succeed. And again, I keep on saying if there's a will, there's a way. And so the initial one was fairly successful. And along the way, we learned quite a bit, we learned quite a bit about what worked in this instance. The fact that we had all the right key stakeholders at the table, the fact that we were very clear on what answers we wanted out of the data set, and the fact that we were very precise around the types of steps that we would take. All the way from data sourcing with very literate data scientists, all the way into the platform to then how we would validate the data within users.


And we ended up documenting that process as something that could be repeated over and over and over again. And now what's really interesting is I fundamentally believe that success, we get success. You know, failure is an orphan and success has many parents. And so the great thing about these initiatives is we've brought several key people along the way, and whenever they have something urgent, right? They know they can turn to us to help them achieve it. And my goal is not necessarily for us to be the answer for the entire bank. That's not the way we're going to scale. We have spent the past 18 months actively training other digital tribes that are across the bank and actually in certain areas, partnering on what we call JVs. So they are now tenants on our platform. We train them, we help them with their first deliverable, and then they're off to the races on their own. Because there's no way that we're going to be able to achieve what we want to achieve across this entire organization. If we, again, just try to keep it somewhere in the center. We're going to not leverage the power of the network and the intellect and the know-how and the curiosity and the ability to get things done of all the other groups that are out there.


Tania: One thing that comes to mind, and you said it a little earlier is the regulatory requirements. What are the key technologies that you've been able to leverage to better manage some of those changing regulatory environments, especially now, and especially as it relates to data?


Homa: Sure. So as being a highly regulated industry, when it comes to data we have to worry about all sorts of things from BCBS 239, where data lineage is really important, especially for regulatory risk reports. And to the platforms and the tools, choices that we have made actually have some very good tooling around data lineage, where we're not writing stuff in word documents that get stale, right? So that's really important from a scale perspective. We're also governed by GDPR in many of their jurisdictions. And so having the ability to be very flexible around where that data is stored, et cetera, is really important. That third thing is data anonymization. So in many areas, we work in very sensitive jurisdictions in terms of the data. Now, for the function that belong to, we do have a supervisory duty. So we are able to work with local governments to bring certain data in, but then we have to treat it very, very carefully. And so having the right security mechanisms and protocols in place on the platform are also very, very important. And then the fourth part is a lot of the times when we create models, you need synthetic data because you actually can't get the data until so much later in the process, right? So having the ability to create the right synthetic data to then help you calibrate your models while you're working through the legality of getting the data has also been another area that has been very, very important for us.


I think that this area will continue to evolve. And the discussion that we've had with regulators just about a year ago is on one side, I think that the regulators mean incredibly well when they say, Hey, we want you to have a full understanding of your client, bring all the data, see it, et cetera. But on the other side, they're very protectionist about the data not leaving their country. So both those two things are diametrically opposite. And so, we sort of wish there were a greater alliance of getting to certain data standards that could be shared that would then make it easier for all of those of us who are trying to use the data in a very practical way. Especially when it comes to defense type of use cases that we all are working on.


Tania: That is really, really valid. It's we think more and more about data and the buzz around us and technology data, data usage. Especially as we've become more and more digital in the last eight months then we have probably in the last eight years, as we talked about speed to market and the new normal. It's becoming more and more evident how important it is. Let's just shift gears a little bit, somewhat along those lines, but a different lens is just thinking about digital innovation and the role that you specifically play. Obviously, always thinking about what digital transformation looks like for your business. What are the biggest barriers that you've seen to digital innovation, whether it's people, process, culture. We know there's a lot of things out there. But what have you seen that's really impacted, or you've seen it as a barrier and maybe you've been able to overcome it?


Homa: I fundamentally think that the biggest barrier is a cultural barrier and it's a people barrier. By design, we didn't create an innovation group at our organization because fundamentally we believe that innovation is something that people either have in their DNA or don't. And then we also believe that it's up to all of us to be innovative, whether you're innovative in a process or a product or where you build something, et cetera. So we didn't think we should corner the market and some group and say, okay, they're the innovative gurus, because it actually is much more pervasive. When I talk about culture I think the challenge is, is that people are resistant to change. And what's worked really well for us is the fact that when you get a senior leader, who's goes down a journey and you can sort of convince them to just try it.


They've got nothing to lose. And you tell them, I want you to go through the first inception, and they say, what do you mean I'm going to give up two days of my life? And why are you going to fly all these people? And why are we doing this? We already know the answer? And you just keep on saying, trust me, trust me. This will be different. And then they go through the two days and they're like, Okay, yeah, this was a great social gathering. We ask those great connecting everybody. Yeah. There's some interesting insights where we kind of knew half of it. When are we going to get started with building? And you start building according to that prototype, and you kind of use the methodology that we're very fanatic about. And somewhere along the line, three months in, they wake up and they realize that they have something that's very, very different from what they originally thought. But it's actually the right thing because it would put the user in the middle and actually this even iterate and sort of get there, they start believing.


And so what we've seen is when we'd been able to convince a various senior department heads about going through that journey and coaching them privately in what does it mean to be an accountable executive and kind of go through that journey. It makes a world of difference. What we've also seen is the junior people, they're very excited about going through this journey. They have lots of ideas. They don't want to do whatever task that they were doing, et cetera. And the challenge is the middle managers in between the people who are running that sub-department, who now is going to be completely transformed. They don't exactly know if this is a threat or an opportunity for them. They don't exactly know what their role is because it's, their boss was typically making a lot of the decisions. Is there people below them that are pushing them to do something new?


And so getting that management team comfortable that this is the future, that this is a way that they're going to differentiate themselves, that this is a way that they can be creative, this is a way that they can become a modern manager. That they actually gain something in this process is very, very important. So, so far to date, we've been focusing on training people more one-on-one and bringing them along the journey, but a big priority for me in 2021 is to think about how can we systemically train our consumers internally to go through this journey together? Because nobody will say they don't want to be innovative. Nobody will say that. I just don't think we've taught them about how to go through this in a very safe way, where they feel just as excited about the outcome as we do when we build these things for them. And that's something I've been spending a lot of time thinking about. And how could we do this more at scale in 2021?


Tania: I'm smiling because you reminded me a few years ago I believe everyone was on this innovation train and there was all these innovation models out there. And I recall...


Homa: Everybody opened up a lab in San Francisco and everybody had to be innovative.


Tania: T-shirts and the fun games, and everybody would walk by the room and say, well, what are they doing? And there they're innovating. But the success rate was so incredibly low. And I think there was a realization point of, well, you can't have eight people sitting in a room and assume innovation is happening. You really have to bring it into the DNA of the organization. And I think the cultural bit is something people forget about. And I would probably say that's true for almost anything you're doing is anything that requires some sort of shift in the way that we're thinking, the way we're working does require a cultural shift and it starts bottom up and top down and all the way across. I think that's quite important.


Homa: It's about being very thoughtful about where you want to do and where you don't, right? I mean, wherever I've seen proclamations about, Hey, we're going to be a hundred percent this or all or nothing. It doesn't work. So we've been very, very surgical about the areas that we think are ripe for this. And we have a 12 point criteria that we go through. The number one of which is the department head needs to be vested. They need to openly talk about it. They need to talk about in their town hall, they need to put aside about an hour or two a week. That's just like one of the criteria and so forth. And so when an area is ripe for it, then you can actually make progress. And then over time, if you make things competitive than the competitive nature of organization steps in, and then people just want to have this momentum and... But we're not doing it across the board because it's not fit for purpose for everything. And it is a multi-year journey. And what I like to sometimes talk about is the example of.. For example, the iPhone, right? The first drawing was 1999. The first launch was in 2007 and sorry, the first launch was in... So, it was drawn in 1999. The first launch was in 2007. And yet it's not until about somewhere in 2017, that it became so pervasive. And so how is it that something as transformative, innovative, cool, iconic, edgy, pick whatever driver that you want as the iPhone and Apple, it took 10 years to make an impact. Why do we somehow think that if we do a couple of launches internally, that somehow that people say the transformation hasn't happened? Well, yes, it's happened for these few people and these few areas and over time, it sort of multiplies. And I think that what's happening with technology and the evolution of technology in the past 18 months in particular is making it easier to do things.


I mean, there are things that we can do in the data space that we couldn't even do 5 to 10 years ago, right? So, I think the building blocks are more readily available. And I think the demand is more readily available, I mean, happening. So when you can sort of match that supply, right? The way that the iPhone was with the bigger screen, the big better graphics, the telephone plans with the demand of what was there with YouTube and so forth. Then you can actually see that shift sort of happening. And so I think in particular for our organization, I feel that shift. I absolutely feel that shift when CEOs start to put this as part of objectives for their businesses. And that's a key pivot that I see at the moment.


Tania: Yeah. It's more than just, we put words on paper, it's a mission statement. We actually have metrics. We're looking after what people are doing, we're maybe even celebrating some the wins and losses. And I think that's quite important. The other thing that this thought triggers is that with that also comes new competition, new entrance. And clearly there's always going to be some disruptor in the space that we're all working in. So as the financial services industry at large continues to open up to these new entrants and allow for some of them to come in because of the ease of the technology, but also the ease and how people are collaborating on it. What will be the biggest source of competitive advantage for your organization in the future?


Homa: Sure. So we've studied quite a bit successes and transformation. So if you think about Microsoft, Lego, et cetera, these have all been successful corporate transformations that happened from within when people have looked at challengers in the market and they've been the second mover. So Microsoft the whole move to Azure, well, guess what? AWS was there, right? So they didn't necessarily say, okay, let me just sit out that market. No, they were second mover and it was such a big shift in their strategy. So I think that these challengers bring something very unique for us to learn from right? It's an outside in way of looking at what do customers want and what a customer is actually doing in a way that you actually have data around it that makes you learn. And if you're smart and fast, and if you learn from it, then you actually have the incumbency of your existing client base so you have something to offer with. And we've done that locally. We've just recently launched our own digital bank in our home market. It's a complete enhanced capability versus a challenger bank. And we will see what the stats tell us in the next coming quarters, but it was very interesting to sort of see in the development of it. We could tap into our existing client base and get their feedback and we can enhance the offering based on that. So I do think that challengers in particular are very, very useful and very, very healthy for competition because they keep you very in tune with what the market wants. And so no matter what you try to do insight in, outside in perspective is just as helpful and all comes down to your ability to be nimble and react to what you're seeing.


Tania: Good luck with that. That sounds really interesting. And I'm sure you'll gain some really great insights. Which also makes me think a little bit about business value, as business leaders, always trying to ensure that we are showing business value, that we're creating value for the customer and that we're able to really maximize our ROI in any, especially digital, initiative that we're taking on. So what are the things that come to mind and how do you show business value and show that you're delivering business value along the way? What are the things that really are triggers for you?


Homa: Sure. So we have a very simple measure in our organization. So we're very, data-driven by design, including when we deliver. And I say that comes down to two things. If we're successful in the digital transformation park, then it's all about freeing up people's time to do more higher value added things. And because we're real fanatics of the lean methodology, we clock the baseline before we start, and then we clock it at MVP time and BB two, three, four, until we get into what we call mass rollout maintain. So we keep that data set and we constantly calibrate and tune and figure out what else do we need to do to achieve those success metrics that we established up front? That's what the digital transformation part of our mandate. For the products capabilities that we have, most of them are typically analytics driven. And there, what we measure is the quality of the decisions that are being made based on those insights. So if we're able to aggregate data and if we're able to make decisions faster, okay, how much faster is it? If we're able to aggregate data and analyze it and now provide insights that didn't exist before. Well, how many net new decisions are we making based on that data that wasn't there before? So that's how we measure ourselves in a very simple ways. And over time, I will also start to look at how much of what we've built, becomes what I call reference for the bank, not reference data. But I love it when people say, Oh yeah, I got the information from there. And that's the source, all of a sudden people like, Okay, yeah, that's great, right? How much of what we do becomes what I call a reference point? To me will make it feel that this is more than just a lot of execution over the past several years. We're now starting to become part of the fabric of how our bank is operating.


Tania: And I think along those lines, it's the adaptability, the ability to move and adapt and be flexible to things that are happening around you, but also stay on course. I think sometimes it's hard to stay on course when there's other things that pop up are coming your way. And we mentioned this earlier today as well, the year has been a challenging year, obviously adaptability and resilience have been big themes, not only for us as individuals personally, but professionally as well. So I'm just curious, in of course financial services, you've seen a lot of volatility, you always do. But this year in particular has been interesting for you. What are some of the lessons learned around how you've been able to navigate that uncertainty and try to stay on course and deliver those business outcomes and the value that you talk to?


Homa: Well, the good news is the things that we started to do many years ago are fundamentally not changed. We know those objectives are the same. And if anything, what's happened is the environment has amplified the need for these things. Now, some of the priorities of what we were doing maybe for a second, third, is now fourth, fifth, and sixth. And a couple of other things have come first and second, but the conviction that the bank has towards doing these things has not unwavered, right? So that's very, very helpful. So I believe that having a period of stability and commitment that we've had over the past three and a half to four years has been a critical difference in that I was actually achieving our objective. We've had stable leadership in terms of who I report to. I've had a stable mandate. I've actually been able to design my job as to what I think would actually make successful.


And the fact that I've been able to do this at a global scale across different divisions and functions in a consistent way for the past several years, adds to the ability to get things done, because you can actually see it full circle. And then it also creates a bit of intuition around what is really going to be critical and what's not, and what are things that are good to investigate versus double down on and so forth, right? So I think that in particular, for us, we've been blessed by a period of stability to be able to endure and executing several of these things. That said we are still in a very dynamic environment. We are... There's quite a bit that's unknown ahead of us. And I do think that as we continue to navigate those waters, keep on coming back to the principles of why we started what we did and what we're trying to solve is going to be very, very important.


I don't think it's easy at all because I think that every six months or so you tend to have more of illusions of technology. And what we like to say to even our most innovative people, that every line of code you create becomes a fee pretty fast. And so how do we continue to stay on top of what's happening and including some of the latest technologies that are out there that we could benefit from. Partnerships are very important, right? This is why partnerships with fintechs and technology companies is very important because we will never out innovate the market, right? I mean, we will out innovate and what we can do internally with our own value proposition, but in terms of capabilities that are out there, it's pretty significant.


Tania: And it's very true. And I think that's exactly what everyone needs to keep top of mind is that we will constantly see this kind of evolution. And we're constantly going to see the disruption. And we're going to see this come again in a new form called something else it's going to happen again. But how do we keep our minds open to what we were able to do? I think something you said early on really stuck out at me, if there's a will, there's a way. And in this instance there was a will summoned upon us, not something we asked for, and there was a way and you figure it out. What is most exciting to you about the future of digital innovation in the financial services space? What you see coming next, especially after we've gone through what we've gone through this year?


Homa: I think it's how much consumers and our end client are adopting technology because there's one thing to have the consultants tell us for many years, right? Pick whichever high-end consultant out there that says digital disruption is coming in financial services. And number of us who have gone and started things. But if the consumer, and not just a retail consumer, who's been more digitally savvy over the past several years, but high end consumers, right? In the different segments, whether it's corporates, whether it's ultra high net worth, whether it's asset managers and so forth. If their appetite is growing, right? And if they have new ideas and new ways of consuming information for themselves, and then obviously with their partners, then that's pretty exciting about where they can go fast. And I think just like we underestimated things like being able to work from home 90% of the time, I think we will underestimate how much they will transform themselves in the coming 18 months or so. And if we can be part of co-creating that journey with them, I think we would have a really great chance if we are not part of that discussion, not part of that dialogue, if we're behind, then I think that over time, what happens is you start to create worst competitive distance, right? Because if you're not there, they accelerate they accelerate with somebody else. The ability to make that up just becomes much harder.


Tania: Thank you so much for your time today, Homa. I was really great to have this conversation and I really sense the passion and excitement in your voice and in your demeanor and as you're talking about some of the things that you're doing. Any ending departing words for others that are going through similar journeys?


Homa: Well, thanks for having me over here. I think that for all of you who are going through a similar journey, what I can say is there are moments where it's not easy, but continue to persevere because I think it's the direction of our industry. It's what our people expect from us. Both those who are in our organization and outside our organizations. And if things were easy, we wouldn't be doing them. So there will be a lot of pitfalls along the way. But when I think about every technological evolution, there always was some pain along the way. And as long as you just persevere it's worth it. And so that's the biggest message that I say, because the more of us that do this, the more resilient we keep our industry, and the more engaging do we keep it for all the new generation of people who are joining our industry. So I would just sort of encourage everyone to just persevere.


Tania: Really appreciate that great way to think about the future and what this means for us in the entire industry. Thank you again for your time. Really appreciate it.


Homa: You're welcome. Thank you.



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