I just stumbled across a report in Canada’s Globe and Mail, recognising the top 50 business executives who have helped see the country through this year’s crisis. It recognises quite a lot of banking people, and I wouldn’t normally share such content … except that many of those selected were chosen for trying to make their banks a bit more digital. Therefore, I am sharing these details purely because I think it’s interesting. Do you?
Christopher Phillips, SVP, Corporate Systems Technology, RBC
For bringing cutting-edge tech to a big bank
Technical whiz Christopher Phillips oversees RBC’s myriad behind-the-scenes digital tools. Among them, there’s an AI-based fraud detector to spot financial crime, the internal social media platform RBC Connect and Phillips’s newest project: “a back-to-work app with a health screener you can use on your mobile phone.”
Jody Sperling, Senior Vice-President, Human Resources, Equitable Bank
For 14 years of human empathy
“Everyone needs HR—that’s my thought. We look at every individual as an individual and deal with people with compassion. I take the time to build direct relationships with staff, especially those struggling. I get personal and personally involved. I’m told I have empathy disorder, but really, I just care. That’s the secret to HR.”
Betsey Chung, Senior Vice-President & Chief Marketing Officer, Canada and Global Digital Marketing Officer, TD Bank Group
For boosting digital IQ
Thanks to Betsey Chung, 500 TD marketers completed what you might call digital boot camp: “We covered everything from targeting customers to the economics of digital marketing to deepening customer relations,” she says of the program. It was so successful that it was immediately expanded to other teams—including front-line workers. Chung’s timing was perfect, as COVID-19 brought droves of customers who were desperately in need of advice. For those clients, the bank launched Ready Advice, which equips tellers and call centres with “the ability to read customer cues.”
Larry Tomei, Executive Vice-President & Head of Wealth and Personal Banking, HSBC Bank Canada
For being the people’s banker
Bankers often get a bad rap, but Larry Tomei is walking proof that the stereotypes aren’t always accurate. “We change people’s lives for the better; we help build wealth, send your kids to school, buy your home,” says the VP and “proud banker” for 26 years. He’s known to frequent branches just to meet his staff and present awards—each one signed personally by hand. “I want them to know that if they’ve worked hard enough to earn this, then the least thing I can do is sign it.”
Brett Pitts, Chief Digital Officer, Bank of Montreal
For making digital banking easier than ever before
Over two decades in the digital banking sector, Brett Pitts watched a slow but steady trajectory toward the adoption of digital banking. In the past six months, by obvious necessity, came everyone else. Late adopters are reluctant and tech-phobic, so it’s Pitts’s job to make online banking as easy as pushing a button. “Our new platform, QuickPay, lets users pay bills just by forwarding the email,” he says. “We use artificial intelligence to identify the payment and due date, and pay it automatically.”
Nicole Frew, Executive Vice President & Chief Compliance Officer, Bank of Nova Scotia
For implementing 600 safety plans
Before Nicole Frew was poached by Scotiabank, she was actually the company’s lawyer. “It was a huge fork in the road for me but a tremendous opportunity,” she says of moving to the business world in 2005. Frew now oversees expansive markets—Scotiabank has branches in Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Central America and the Caribbean—and is diligently managing 600 different business continuity plans, each tailored to a unique branch. “It’s a complex issue in any geography, and every geographical environment is different,” she says. “We’re busy making sure our employees and customers are as safe as they can be wherever they are.”
I just thought I’d post this partly because we don’t give bankers any kudos or respect most of the time. This list of six bankers has been hand-picked and recognises not just six bankers, but three specific bankers for bringing the digital age to their banks.
Whether they are truly digital, digital to the core, adding digital or just doing digital projects, who knows, but one thing is clear: all banks are trying to do digital. More importantly, the ones that were well down that road are jumping ahead of the pack as the ones that were just starting down that road are failing. For example, it’s notable that some big Canadian banks are missing from this list of six. That may be because they don’t spend enough on advertising with The Globe and Mail or it may be because they’re struggling.
Anyways, kudos to any bankers who are making a digital difference with their bank. Respect.