Voyage towards Greater Experience in Banking

By Gregory Schwartz, CIO, Scottrade Financial Services

Gregory Schwartz, CIO, Scottrade Financial Services

1. How would you describe the role of a CIO today in Banking and other financial institutions?

The traditional role of the CIO to ensure that customer data remains safe and that systems are available and efficient is still expected, but not sufficient. A CIO today is a part of the core leadership team and is relied on heavily by the team to bring thought leadership to strategy formulation and to provide an environment where innovation and experimentation is part of the culture of the institution. With all the emerging startups in this industry, the CIO must help build a network of suppliers, research groups, VCs and entrepreneurs to ensure that all available information is known, and rapid experimentation and collaboration is happening.

2. How can the CIOs make their business counterparts think differently about the importance of mobile banking in banks?

I can’t imagine a retail bank today that doesn’t make mobile banking a core part of their customer service strategy! My advice to a CIO who finds themselves in this situation is to look for another job because that institution isn’t going to survive for much longer. Truly, mobile banking is the cornerstone to great customer service today and all banking functionality needs to be enabled and integrated in ways that make the customer experience intuitive, fun, and simple.

3. Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about?

I think we have to be most excited about the use of artificial intelligence in this industry.  In my opinion, the best customer experience is created when we can react to any customer interaction with a tailored personalized experience that is delivered in a human like interaction. We are just barely scratching the surface today with virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google Assistant. I don’t know about you, but I would love to have a personalized financial assistant that would help me manage all my banking and investment decisions.

"The best customer experience is created when we can react to any customer interaction with a tailored personalized experience that is delivered in a human like interaction"

4. What changes have you seen in the IT operating model of your organization during the last five years?

IT has always been critical in this industry, but is now becoming a bigger part of the brand. We see competitors now advertising their IT capabilities as a differentiator and an important part of their value proposition. Successful IT leaders and engineers need to understand business functions today as much as they do technology skills. From an operating model perspective, a CIO needs to value and reward this balance of business acumen and technology expertise. Organizational models today represent a blending of skillsets that are very different from IT organizations a few short years ago.

5. How are you getting IT to deliver faster at your company?

In my experience the best way to get your IT organization to move faster is to measure your productivity over some time period. You should set goals that inspire your organization to get better and take time to celebrate and reward your progress along the way. Aggressively adopting agile development techniques in your traditional software development methodologies or moving 100 percent to a pure agile development methodology is your quickest path to making this happen.

6. What is your advice for the upcoming or budding CIOs?  

I would first congratulate them on their choice to be in the IT profession! Next, I would encourage them to become a CIO in the banking, financial services industry, which I believe is incredibly rewarding and provides a great opportunity to showcase their talents as a CIO. My only other advice is to stay curious and create and foster an environment that inspires and rewards leading edge thinking that will improve customer satisfaction and loyalty for your company. My favorite brands care about me as a customer and providing technology that makes my life better is a big part of that value proposition.  

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