Having joined the Royal Bank of Scotland in 2009, Hanley is now director of design with responsibility for architecture, data and analytics and lean functions, as well as the strategy and innovation agenda for the bank’s services organisation.
He has over 25 years industry experience having worked at many different financial institutions in Europe and the United States of America, including ABN AMRO where he held a number of senior positions. These included Head of Services with responsibility for Technology, Operations, Property and Procurement Services across the Group as well as the Services COO and leading the Operations Strategy and Change function.
Hanley will speakk at the upcoming SAP Financial Services Forum, June 23-24, London where he will describe how RBS is investing in innovation to drive digital change.
Q: What does digital innovation mean to you?
A: Connectivity and technology has become so widespread that we now live in a digital society. Time and distance constraints have gone and that opens up entirely new possibilities for how we deliver value to our customers. These are exciting times and we are re-imagining what banking is and how it can be done more conveniently, more quickly and more safely. There are opportunities to disrupt or be disrupted and we know from the experience of other industries that innovation is vital to sustainable success.
Q: What are the main challenges and opportunities that the financial services world faces as adoption of digital technologies becomes greater?
A: Fundamentally banking is virtual so the digital revolution suits our industry very well. As the adoption of digital technology spreads we find that our customers, our suppliers and our industry partners can interact with us in completely frictionless way.
There are huge opportunities to strip out inefficiencies caused by the paper representation of essentially virtual things. Consequently, the clock speed increases and much more can be automated in a straight-through way. But this is about more than efficiency; whole new experiences can be created by combining digital elements that were not possible before – such as the context of the customer at a particular moment.
As the world goes digital, so too does the threat posed by criminal activity. Cybersecurity will continue to occupy the banking industry. The good news is that digital innovation is also playing a role in detecting and defending against these threats.
Q: How can customer-led innovation be better ingrained within financial institutions?
A: The innovation process should start and end with the customer. Culturally we should always be driving to identify customer value from any idea. I believe it is important to engage customers in the process of innovation – they often see things in different ways from people inside the industry. At RBS we have active customer communities who tell us what they want from their banking experience.
We do occupy a privileged position in that we see digital innovation “in the raw”, often before the wider customer base have established much awareness. In that sense we can also bring opportunities to our customers, particularly our corporate clients, and help them on their journey of discovery.
Q: How can banks, financial institutions and insurance companies respond to competition from major consumer tech firms and new players who offer innovative digital and mobile financial services products?
A: Banks occupy a fairly unique position; they have things that new entrants to the sector don’t possess. We operate at massive scale, we maintain extremely high levels of service availability, our services are effectively secured against attack and there are many protections in place for our customers. Consequently banks remain trusted as providers of financial services, when compared to alternatives in other sectors.
But we recognise that our technology partners and the start-up community approach the realisation of financial outcomes with completely new and innovative perspectives. So the question is how can the best of the banks, be combined with the best of the new entrants to create something really powerful for the customer.
Q: Looking at the agenda, what do you believe some of the key takeaways will be from the SAP Financial Services Forum, 2015?
A: So this is testing one’s ability to predict the future!
Digital Transformation has been underway now for a few years, so I hope there will be progress and learnings to share. I think we will be surprised by the pace of innovation and the sheer amount of activity that is underway. I also think we will sense that innovation within financial services is maturing rapidly and there are many more opportunities for collaboration between banks, partners and start-ups in an expanding innovation ecosystem.
It will be interesting hear about some of the challenges that arise when driving innovation. For me, the hard part of innovation lies not in the what, but the how. Digital innovation requires us to radically rethink our approach to risk, the pace at which we deliver change, the capabilities that we need in our people and the way in which we work together.