An Interview with Sue Coulter


FST Media: What are your IT priorities for the next 12 to 18 months?

Coulter: The next 12 to 18 months will see us developing our technology roadmap to determine where we want to be in terms of emerging and disruptive technology. With the core banking and digital platforms now in place we are perfectly positioned to experiment with new to CUA solutions in the Big Data, Cloud and Digital space.

We will also continue the broader transformational journey we started three years ago to overhaul our customer experience. This is underpinned by the new core banking system which was launched a year ago, which is now enabling us to develop new products and services, quicker and more efficiently than ever before.

FST Media: What technology or innovation currently flying under the radar is destined to make a significant impact on the financial services industry?  

Coulter: There are reports of more and more financial institutions beginning to leverage biometrics, both as a convenience to customers and to effectively guard against fraud. The introduction of fingerprint technology is one example and in the future I believe this type of technology will become more commonplace.

In addition, the growing number of payment and personal financial management options from non-traditional providers will bring about further changes in the financial services arena over the coming months and years.

FST Media: What role does CUA’s new core banking system play in the customer journey?

Coulter: The new core banking system has provided us with a solid foundation to deliver a quality customer experience and is yet another way in which CUA is positioned as a genuine alternative to the big four banks. It has allowed us to look holistically at the customer journey and to respond quickly with enhancements across all of our channels by utilising the fully integrated platform we now have.

FST Media: How has CUA’s Redi2PAY cardless technology delivered value to the business and how will you measure success?

Coulter: CUA understands Australians’ love affair with mobile devices and is playing a leading role in meeting their expectations – bringing innovative, convenient and secure mobile-payments solutions to customers as soon as they are available.

An exclusive Newspoll/CUA survey earlier this year showed that more than 8 out of 10 people expect to be using tap-and-pay mobile phone technology, rather than credit cards, to make payments in the next decade. CUA was first to market in delivering a free secure app that has turned the Android phone into an instant ‘tap-and-pay’ device.

Unlike other mobile apps in the market, the CUA technology requires no tag or sticker to be attached to your mobile phone – you simply download the CUA redi2PAY app and are ready to go. We have had a very positive customer response to redi2PAY, which is a convenient and secure way to make purchases.

FST Media: What is the progress of CUA’s project to build a ‘Customer Data Vault’ as a platform for future analytics?

Coulter: CUA, as a customer-owned financial institution, is always looking to better understand our customer needs and preferences so we can better service them. The second stage of our data vault or ‘enterprise data warehouse’ project has just commenced, which will see us conducting a small number of Proof of Concept pilots in order to test and learn in the Big Data arena, using new providers and technology solutions that we have not used before. The outcomes of those pilots will then be incorporated into the strategy and roadmap we are currently developing.

FST Media: How has CUA’s rollout of BYOD on the Good Technology foundation enhanced efficiency and productivity?

Coulter: BYOD is offering our employees more flexibility by enabling them to stay connected while they travel. It also provides them more options for things like ‘hot desking’ or working from home. From a commercial perspective we have also seen a reduction in the number of mobile phones, iPads and laptops requested, because colleagues prefer to have communications consolidated on one device rather than carry devices for work and an alternate one for personal use.

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

Coulter: Whilst we have a small dedicated innovation team, all employees are encouraged to be innovative and to think of ways we can deliver a better service to our customers.

In 2015, I intend to introduce ‘Hackathons’, which will see a group of business leaders ‘pitch’ one of their main issues impacting our customers today. Colleagues from within the BT&T division will then chose which issue to work on and they will then have 24 hours to come up with a solution for their chosen topic. This will see business and technology colleagues working beside each other in a completely new collaborative, fun and exciting way. The best ideas will then be selected for investment and prioritised for release into production and/or deployed quickly, depending on the level of testing required.

Another way we are ensuring we tap into and access fresh ideas and emerging trends is through the use of technology ‘Immersion Sessions’ with a number of new and existing providers. These sessions are designed to raise our awareness of ‘the art of the possible’ and ensure we continue to look outside our own paradigm for solutions.

FST Media: What is proving to be your most effective customer acquisition channel and why?

Coulter: Our recently launched home loan product, Fresh Start, has had a very positive take-up. Fresh Start is a good example of how CUA as a customer-owned institution is able to pass on savings to our customers through better rates and better-value banking.

Customer acquisition has been strong across all of our channels, branches, CUA Direct and our broker partners. Another channel that has seen large growth is the online channel which has increased significantly off the back of the successful implementation of our new loan origination system, which went live six weeks ago.

FST Media: What technology or innovation has had the most significant impact upon your career?

Coulter: The introduction of email and the internet have probably had the most substantial impact on my career, because it transformed the way I, and the organisations I have worked for, operate. It also has changed the way in which many people now choose to interact with their financial institution, with online banking replacing the branch for a large number of our customers.

As much as technology has changed the way we communicate and bank, it is still all about providing choice. Many people still prefer to do their banking at a branch and there are times when there is no substitute for face-to-face communication.

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

Coulter: I would like to be remembered for providing a clear vision of the future and building a highly engaged, empowered and skilled team who embraced a new model of collaborating with the business to put the customer at the heart of everything we do.

Within this new model, we will continue to leverage and deliver new capabilities that enable CUA to introduce new products and services that make our customers’ lives richer. We will continue to return more money to their pockets, while providing convenient ways of making purchases and doing everyday banking.