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HSBC’s private banking digitization rolls to Asia

“There is no killer app,” says global COO Anil Venuturupalli, but there can be standardization.

Anil Venuturupalli, HSBC Global Private Bank

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HSBC Global Private Bank is bringing a digitalization process from the U.K. and the Channel Islands to Switzerland and finally to Asian booking centers this year, in a bid to help standardize operations in what is traditionally a very decentralized business model.

Anil Venuturupalli, chief operating officer in London, says the private bank is in the middle of a five-year transformation project that is based on core systems provided by vendor Avaloq.

“We’re good at project delivery,” he said at a recent conference hosted by Avaloq, in Zurich. “We’re not so good at transformation for the end-client experience.” So it relies on tech vendors for foundational platforms while HSBC deploys various apps on top. Together they have been introducing dashboards for wealthy clients, portfolio information, online communications, and digitally delivered advice and execution. There are also reporting and compliance modules.

What’s the target of all of this? Venuturupalli says the highest growth segments are in high-net-worth and ultra-HNW segments (as opposed to mass affluent), and in Asia and emerging markets.

Therefore the bank is striving towards a platform that allows clients to be easily onboarded from HSBC’s other lines of business (such as corporate or investment banking) and have access to all investment products.

“We are delivering a single point of contact and global access to all products,” he said.

Cloud-enabled

As this is an industrial-scale build, Venuturupalli says “There is no killer app.” It is a process of creating a full-service digital ecosystem, built around centralized data and executed via cloud computing.

This infrastructure is clearly vital to the private bank’s digital transformation. Venuturupalli says cloud is not about saving cost or hosting all legacy processes there: “It’s not a lift and shift.” Rather it’s about being able to meet new, incremental product releases, so the bank can react quickly rather than being stuck in an old-fashioned, plodding approach to design.

This does challenge exiting mindsets and ways of doing things – and changing that is very much a work in progress. It’s particularly challenging for a bank that is global and federated, meaning each country traditionally runs its own affairs, including partnerships and technology.

The bank is therefore rolling out a new platform in a bid to bring standardization to the many markets in which it operates. It is trying to offer a uniform client experience. That in turn requires far more internal collaboration than has been the reality at a bank known for its siloed culture.

Venuturupalli says the drive to be agile by breaking down internal silos is the only way to go now. “We require a huge cultural shift, to do what’s possible when everyone in the organization owns it, rather than relying on just one person or team to drive it.”

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HSBC’s private banking digitization rolls to Asia