An interview with Shailesh Grover, Managing Director R&D, Client and Customer Experience, Personal and Corporate Banking, Barclays Bank

Shailesh Grover, Barclays Bank

FST Media: What are your priorities for the next 6 months?                                    

Grover: In terms of digital, the first thing to do is make sure that the adoption of what we have keeps developing up. We have around 10 million customers as well as access across the digital channels of their portfolios, so the idea is to analyse that and then take the customers on a journey. With other ventures, it is all about looking at priorities for new ventures and looking at how we can come up with newer revenue models that make sense going forwards in partnerships with the finance community, whether that is fintech or non-fintech and also other parties across the sector.

FST Media: What technology or innovation is proving to be the single biggest game changer across the finance industry?

Grover: If I knew that I would be someone else! In my view, if you look at the internet of things, that can be an interesting game changer. I say that because once you create the right user base, you will have access to new data sets and you can do bigger and better things and come up with new value for existing customers and other new prospects.

FST Media: How are you leveraging big data and analytics to meet customer demand for personalised products?

Grover: We have access to a lot of customer interaction data and we are using analytics and other tools to really understand what the customers are doing and then at the back of that, trying to provide them with additionally value added terms; whether it’s smart services, or helping with their financial goals, the idea is that we are developing to a proactive stage and driving the right value for our consumers, but all driven by data.

FST Media: How can banks and non-traditional financial services work towards innovation in the finance sector?

Grover: A lot of traditional and non-traditional services are actually working together and I really think that neither of them can carry on in isolation. If you look at fintech, they have the agility and they have the creative ideas and lots of quick ways to execute ideas and come up with quick solutions, but they don’t have skill.  Banks do not have this agility, even though I would argue that everyone says they do, they are still getting there and it is a long journey. Banks are sitting on a lot of legacy and so if they begin to leverage what fintech brings to the table for the right reasons and the right value, then it is a match made in heaven. 

FST Media: What are the key differences found in your work across both Western and Eastern digital and banking spheres?

Grover: Different regions have different starting points and differing maturity levels. To take the Western world as an example – they were early to the party so they have got all kinds of infrastructure, whether its mobile phone infrastructure or any other, or you can talk about its legacy banking infrastructure. The West started early which is great, but now they are sitting on things. When you look at the Eastern side of the world, you can break down its ecosystem into two parts; either they are cash rich and they can tap into the latest technology and start something cutting edge and new, or they are the other half, which is not as cash rich and still developing. That half have come up with their own innovative solutions using feature phones and they have innovated around the infrastructure they had, but as far as the world goes, they are using old infrastructure to come up with creative solutions that I would argue are still very relevant to the Western world. It is a very interesting dynamic that can be observed.

FST Media: What is the next big thing for Barclays and how will you measure its success?

Grover: Primarily, we are focusing around accelerating execution and delivering new value to our customers along with introducing new technologies. We are coming up with solutions where we can leverage already existing assets to get to the market quicker. We are also looking at the newer value of creating in partnership with fintech collaborators. We measure success through our customers and I think the standard measures we use are looking at how the customers are responding to what we are delivering. A lot of what we do is now in partnership or collaboration with the customer and so we are able to learn a lot as we go and we try our best to always deliver to that.

FST Media: How do you encourage a culture of innovation in your team?

Grover: That is the hardest part and it is not suggesting that people do not want to do it, but its looking at how you make sure you instil innovation into your culture on a day to basis globally. We have 140,000 employees, so we are by no means a small entity and the best ideas really come from the employees themselves. It’s mostly the customer-facing employees that come up with the great ideas. The challenge for us is getting to the market quicker; how do you do it at a secure pace? That is such a challenge and takes more than a few more small changes here and there. Innovation is a mixed back and people are naturally inclined towards helping customers but they need the right environment, the right infrastructure and the right tools to be able to do that successfully. There is an element of really making sure that we can provide those things and then there’s the additional element of making sure that we don’t just look at legacy and the traditional ways of doing things, we consider new ways of doing things. For example, how can we leverage biometrics to give customers access to different channels? How can we embed that kind of thing into the key customer journey so we can deliver value that is over and above when they log in.

FST Media: What is the ideal innovation ecosystem?

Grover: What can be classified as ideal today might be obsolete tomorrow, but I think it’s really about making sure you create the right ecosystem for colleagues to be able to try things, fail fast, but then reward and recognise both failure and successions. If you have one without the other, you are not creating a balanced ecosystem and then you will not get the right outcomes. I think it is really about attitude and balance.

FST Media: What career would you be in if you worked outside the finance industry?

Grover: I would be a chef! I love to cook, especially Chinese, Mexican, Indian, Italian and American and I love watching Australian MasterChef.