By Vicente Quesada Entrepreneur. Investor. Professor. Transformation Catalyst. Open water swimmer. and

Wartimes: from the bank to the software company

What we today see as banks, will become technological companies (or will be phagocytosed by technology companies). Everyone that has worked in the technological industry knows that employees are their greatest asset. Therefore, during the bank to software metamorphosis, both old and new employees must be looked after.

After sharing experiences with multiple entrepreneurs with whom we managed to transform their business, I came to the conclusion that there is not an ideal CEO for digital transformation. However, they were all consistent in five main characteristics:

1.    Status vs. Power

All of them agreed that power itself (being the boss) is not what matters, but status, which includes being recognized as such. Having the status will force all teams to exert as much effort as possible.

  • Soft skills: Empathy, heroic, desire to take over the world every morning, entrepreneurial.
  • Hard skills: Must have basic understanding of new technologies: growth hacking, artificial intelligence, or big data or blockchain among others.

Bank´s IT departments were treated as the last step of the ladder, while nowadays, they must be at the center of the organization. That does not mean that new executives are only going to be technical, but they will be transformative. For example, Amazon’s Web Services CEO, Andy Jassy, came from marketing but soft skills mentioned above are notable in him.

2.    Chaos Management

Being the runner-up in a war market will not be enough. Banks will compete with companies they’ve never heard of. Executives must develop a greater tolerance to chaos. When this happens, they must order everything that is messy. Anticipate to what seems impossible.

Have banks already assumed this is only the beginning of their wartimes? Management is completely different during times of peace and wartimes. This is not a war of planning and discipline, but of agility and innovation. Nowadays, you need heroes to save the troops, and killers against the enemies.

 ” Get ready for the worst, as things always go worse.”

What happens if either Apple or Android change their apps privacy settings? How long does it take you to restore the service? How much is the application worth if it does not work under a different OS?

3.     Immediacy

When products and services are barely differentiated and easily copied, time is the main competitive advantage. Time to capture talent, or to respond to new threats.

During war days, long procedures are not valid. The one who survives is who has committed mistakes, and therefore has managed to become a leader; not the one who does not execute and therefore has no defects.

Recently I had to order a modification for some WordPress files. To my surprise, I got 50 detailed replies within 5 minutes, coming from countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Colombia. Technology has a rattling speed, which does not go with bank procedures.

4.     Personal Transparency

The client is requesting transparency to banks. Messages transmitted must be congruent with this transparency.

Affirmations like: “We are having a spectacular year, with good results” when shares have dropped around 40-90% in the last 5 years; or “We are in the middle of a fantastic transformation” when thousands of employees are being fired, do not produce an atmosphere of transparency and trust.

The costumer would prefer comments like: “We have been going through a hard time, and to move forward we must leave aside extremely valuable individuals” The message is aimed to those who stay, the new hungry talents and clients. They will certainly care much more about how you treat their colleagues. The thing is not about saying sorry, but about building trust.

According to entrepreneurial history, a company who has a series of successive layoffs has never been successful.

After watching all of your teammates fall, it is very hard to recover the sacrifice from the troops to create a great company again.

5.    Continue i–training

The sector is in need of increasing overall employee productivity. There are two ways of increasing productivity: through motivation (higher salary, benefits or titles) and through training.

Which one do you consider cheaper and simpler in times of war? How is it possible to create a credit system with artificial intelligence, if managers don’t even know what artificial intelligence is? Are you going to arm your soldiers with sticks and send them to war? Or XXI century weapons?

All successful businessmen during a transformation personally led their employees training.

The more people you train, the less you will have to fire as their productivity levels will be certainly higher. Conclusion: Cheaper option, and additional units of motivation for your troop.

“It is not only a thing of learning, but to create.”

*Special thanks go to the following world leading minds in FinTech for their future participation:

Devie Mohan

Jim Marous

Sebastien Meunier

Pascal Bouvier

Florian Krueger

Alpesh Doshi

Philippe Gelis

Daryl Wilkinson

Spiros Margaris

Amit Goel

Paolo Sironi


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