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FNB CEO: We want to be like Spotify for your financial playlist

Apr 29 2019 06:30
Lameez Omarjee

By 2022, FNB wants to integrate its service in platforms such as autonomous vehicles and even drone delivery.

The bank recently launched a travelling exhibition marking its 180 years, at the bank's offices in Cape Town. The exhibit traces the bank's major milestones since its founding in Grahamstown, Eastern Cape in 1838 and celebrates its firsts in the banking industry such as mobile banking.

Speaking at the event, FNB CEO Jacques Celliers shared views on the role of the bank in helping customers on their various journeys in life.

Comparing the bank to music streaming service Spotify, which customises playlists for its listeners, Celliers said FNB should be thought of as Spotify for financial services, setting up the financial playlist relevant for each of its consumers.

In an interview with Fin24 on the sidelines of the event, he unpacked what FNB's role has been in shaping the sector and what it's role will look like as the world continues to innovate.

Fin24: How does FNB's role in helping people fit in with future goals to get involved in autonomous vehicles?

Celliers: Financial services are not able to function outside society's activities. Society is moving towards platform-based executions, for example Uber. When you Uber you don’t take out your wallet, you don't even discuss payment. The payment is automatically integrated into the system. Payment and financing in time will become invisible. 

Our job is to ensure that whatever society delivers in terms of the platforms with which they operate – driverless cars is one of them – that as a bank we integrate into these platforms where the activity happens.

Our job is to make sure we are there for the clients.

Fin24: To what extent do you think FNB has shaped the direction the sector has taken in SA, and what is its role in shaping the future of banking?

Celliers: In the world of finance there is certainly a race towards digitisation. We are not the first. There are many companies in the world better than us, but we do not think we are last either. We pride ourselves in that we stay with the challenges of the time and adopt the new tools of the time.

It’s not about being first to innovate, it’s about adopting quickly and making sure we adapt and stay with the challenges. We don't have to be the best or the first. We like to think of ourselves as part of the innovative, modernised type of organisation.

We are going to play a leadership role, but we are not going to play an isolating role where it is just about us.

We are so blessed to work in industry where there is competition and excitement.

We are chuffed to have a regulatory force which allows us to innovate. The environment – the regulation, the competition, the tool sets allows us to do so.

Fin24: How has FNB balanced the move towards innovation while keeping staff employable within the organisation?

Celliers: In the 180 years of our history, we have proven that we take our existing employees with us on the journey.

We are a product of being able to manage and balance the modernisation journey without leaving anyone behind. We are not leaving employees behind and not leaving customers behind. We are taking everyone with us on the journey.

You can't simply switch off the old and switch on the new, you need to modernise the plane as you fly it. To get people to change their behaviour from an old way of doing things to a new way of doing things, you need innovative solutions.

Fin24: What inspires you and FNB staff to keep doing what you're doing in the banking sector?

Celliers: We take our inspiration from our customers. We are centered around customer needs, and customer helpfulness.

We have a very hard client base to please. They are tech-savvy, they push for innovation. They want us to do more; that inspires us.

With today's tools we can do so much more. We are pushing our architecture to be brutal about customer-centricity.

*This interview was edited for brevity.

fnb  |  jacques celliers  |  banking  |  financial services
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