Jane Fraser makes history as Citi’s next CEO
Officially the first female CEO of a leading Wall Street investment bank, Fraser’s ascension is a landmark decision, with the company ruling that the depth and breadth of her experience more than qualify her to take over leadership from Corbat.
“The Board deeply appreciates Mike’s many contributions to Citi, and he will leave the firm in a much stronger position than he found it,” stated John C. Dugan, Chair of the Board of Directors.
“I have worked with Jane for many years and am proud to have her succeed me. With her leadership, experience and values, I know she will make an outstanding CEO,” Corbat himself added.
Serving clients and making communities stronger
Currently the President of Citi and holding responsibilities across every aspect of consumer business in 19 countries, including mortgages, retail and wealth management, Fraser’s 16-year career, which began as ‘Head of Client Strategy’, as been long and well-developed.
Having earned an MA in Economics from the University of Cambridge (1985 to 1988) and an MBA from Harvard Business School (1992 to 1994), she has both the education and resume befitting a leader of one of the world’s largest banking organisations.
“I am honoured by the Board’s decision and grateful to Mike for his leadership and support. The way our team has come together during this pandemic shows what Citi is made of,” she said in the company’s press release.
“I will do everything I can to make all of our stakeholders proud of our firm as we continue to build a better bank and improve our returns.
“Citi is an incredible institution with a proud history and a bright future. I am excited to join with my colleagues in writing the next chapter,” she concluded.
Zafin: Banking is now in the era of the tech ecosystem
The development of tech ecosystems is placing the future of post-COVID banking in jeopardy. At a time when Big Tech can replicate the functions of traditional financial institutions, what can banks do to retain a grip on the market?
John Smith, EVP Ecosystem at Zafin, has a few ideas. A SaaS cloud-native product and pricing platform for financial institutions, Zafin is preparing the next generation of banks to cope with this precise challenge.
Smith is responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the company’s ecosystem, including the creation of new business models to support growth and differentiation. We asked him four questions:
Q. Have the events of the pandemic caused an irreversible shift in the digitalisation of banks? If so, is COVID the sole cause or are there other factors?
It’s a great question and one that I am asked a lot. Without a doubt, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven a significant shift in the acceleration of digital. In fact, I’ve seen some estimates show there to have been as much as four to six years of digital adoption growth since the initial lockdown started.
While the pandemic may be the primary reason for this growth, two other drivers include fintech disruption and the high costs of operating a traditional retail bank. Both of these factors have caught the attention of banking executives as they set their minds on accelerating digital transformation with a focus on high return, low risk.
Q. Some commentators believe banks must learn from Big Tech in order to survive. Do you agree? Please expand.
I agree completely; we’re living in the era of the ‘ecosystem’. All the seismic shifts we’re seeing in technology, be it aggregation, embedded finance, DeFi or hyper-personalisation are all enabled by the foundation of an ecosystem.
When financial institutions work with a strategic partner like Zafin, which has made the strategic investments in a best-in-class ecosystem, they’re able to capitalise on opportunities more quickly and safely, and will be better positioned for growth now and at the other side of the pandemic.
Q. What are currently the obstacles to adopting Open Banking? Is it more likely to 'take off' in some regions rather than others?
I would argue that Open Banking has been in the US for some time and will only continue to grow there. By definition, Open Banking is about the secure sharing of financial information that customers are aware of and have authorised. Under that definition, we’re seeing aspects of this well underway even though its full potential remains to be seen.
Third-Party Providers are a natural outcome of Open Banking, whereby they can create propositions beyond what a bank normally does to enable banking functions such as payments, borrowing, saving and so on. Once again, some of these are already present through industry-led initiatives, whereas regions such as the EU have taken the pathway of regulation such as PSD2.
The industry-led initiatives we’ve seen in the US have also had the added advantage of guard-rails that regulatory bodies like FFIEC and CFPB provide. There are also other technology-led initiatives such as API definitions that are set out through the FS-ISAC.
I would argue the future of Open Banking in North America will be through the natural evolution of the guidelines and API definitions that have been published, as well as the natural progression of industry initiatives.
Q. Are there any other bank tech trends you'd like to discuss?
Coreless banking. Zafin has been pioneering some of the work around externalising functions out of the legacy core to drive a more ‘fintech nimble’ bank, while not having to deliver a ‘heart and lungs’ core bank replacement.
Real life examples of this include moving some of the core functions of a banking system, such as product and pricing to a platform like Zafin. Origination, onboarding, KYC, risk, and compliance are all other examples of externalising banking functions for added agility.