An interview with Edward Chiu


FST Media: Which emerging trend or innovation is currently flying under the radar that you feel is destined to make a significant impact on financial services?

Chiu: Whether or not the emerging technology trends will make a significant impact is not necessarily down to technological innovation. It is whether we can create good applications or services, and add value to for our customers. The profitable business model may not involve a lot of emerging IT innovation, but will come from good business sense, quick response to customers’ needs, relationship management, reliable and flexible operating platforms and good products.

FST Media: How will China Construction Bank (Asia)’s data warehousing projects and executive information systems deliver value to the business and how will you measure success?

Chiu: Like other major international banks, our data warehousing project provides highly efficient and flexible data warehousing capabilities while a real-time and flexible executive information system is important for our daily management decisions.

A good data warehouse and management information system is critical for us to run our business, and common to all banks.

FST Media: How are you leveraging big data and analytics to meet customer demand for personalised products for CCB (Asia) customers in the region?

Chiu: Big data and analytics applications will enhance our ability to know the patterns and trends. Big data is jargon for the data mining of mountains of available information.

The concept has existed for many years. The combination of business judgment and big data analytics allows us to generate more good products for our customers.

FST Media: How does China Construction Bank (Asia) plan to strengthen the mobile channel and iOS portal, and how will you build on this success?

Chiu: Like many leading banks, we will leverage the mobile channel, iOS portal and other new technologies to provide more services to our customers.

We will also follow customer behaviour to provide suitable products for them. Mobile banking is one of the key channels.

FST Media: What role will NFC play for the financial services sector across Asia in the future?

Chiu: It is too early to say what role NFC will play. For example, for purchases made in physical stores or for transportation services, a payment can be deducted from a pre-paid account or charged directly to the customer’s bank account.

In recent years, the internet has transformed from basic content or information delivery into our social system. The financial services industry, whether or not via NFC, can have a big impact on Asia and it will depend on what value it creates for our customers.

FST Media: If you weren’t working in financial services, what would you be doing?

Chiu: I would be consulting, teaching or in human resources as [people in these professions] interact with people, with new trends, are more creative and can have a fundamental impact on society.

FST Media: How do you see the rising roles of chief digital and marketing officers impacting the traditional function of senior technology executives?

Chiu: Technology executives should have a good understanding of the customer via data analytics. Savvy technology executives should be able to generate new ideas, have a clear mind to set roadmaps, and be able to lead teams to generate new and innovative ideas, along with good business sense. They should also be involved in marketing and product development life cycles.

FST Media: What skills do you think aspiring technology chiefs should invest in now for future success?

Chiu: Keep close to the society and customer, understand the trends and successful business models and understand and appreciate cultural differences when implementing large platforms across different countries.

FST Media: Is virtual currency a threat or potential opportunity, and how should banks respond?

Chiu: My personal opinion is it is too early to say, especially as different countries or central banks have different views on this. Virtual currency is a good and creative business model. However, it does not have international rules to govern its development.

FST Media: How do you sustain your level of motivation in a high pressure environment?

Chiu: Throughout my career at various international banks, I have learnt that it is key to be honest to the decision you have made – it should not be against the company goals, and at the same time should not be against your own will, which includes providing and creating a better working and operating platform for my staff members, while improving the efficiency of the bank.

At the same time it is about maintaining a good relationship with and serving your business partners.

If we are working in a happy working environment, although it might be in a high pressure, I believe we should have more energy to resolve issue with your teams.

FST Media: How have you dealt with the challenges in your career?

Chiu: Different stages of my career encountered different challenges. In the early stage of my career path, the challenges were related to how to achieve my long-term goals by obtaining and accumulating relevant work experience. When your career path is clear, the challenges could be how to get promoted to a more senior level position in a short period of time. After working in financial services organisations based in the UK, Hong Kong, the US, and China, I encountered different people, cultures and challenges under good economies and also during financial crises.

My personal objective is to maintain a happy daily working life through providing a better environment for those staff members who work for me, be honest to yourself on the decision you have made, maintain high emotional quotient (EQ), be open to other business parties and be confident to tackle any issues.

FST Media: What do you see as the best industry to be a COO right now? How do you see that changing in the next five years?

Chiu: While I have not been working in different industries in the last 20 to 30 years, throughout my career, I have been working in consultancy, banking and financial services.

I believe if the COO job can allow you to look after different countries’ operations, to understand different cultures and people, and create a better operating environment, it could be an interesting role. In the next five years, I believe banking, financial services, medical, communication and internet-related industries will be the major industries that affect our daily lives. If you were the COO of the above industries, I believe the job should be rewarding and challenging which enables you to contribute your knowledge and experience to the society.

FST Media: What is the personal cost of leadership?

Chiu: I believe you have to invest substantial time in your job to be a good leader. Therefore, a personal cost could be in the form of time. Although you can delegate your decisions and tasks to your subordinates, I believe a leader needs to support staff members from different levels.

Particularly when they are in a bad time, a good leader should be sensitive to the personal feelings of those key supporting members, and should demonstrate to your team members that you are working with them, and supporting them all the time.

FST Media: Every leader has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. What is yours?

Chiu: I would like to be remembered for being able to work happily with a team of business professionals, leaders and the CEO, and for creating opportunities for my staff to achieve success.

This interview first appeared in FST Media’s annual magazine The Who’s Who of Financial Services Asia Pacific, which launched at the Technology & Innovation – the Future of Banking & Financial Services conference in Melbourne on 4th June, 2014.