Interview with Paul Richards, CIO, GE Money


Sharwood: How effective do you think Visa’s new ‘pen or PIN’ offering will be?

Richards: In the context of risk and fraud we see very little immediate change in profile. We have implemented an innovative new IVR-based customer select PIN process to support our customers as they transition from pen to PIN. We are pretty excited about the process as its secure, simple and much faster then getting to a branch or ATM.

Sharwood: What are the top three IT projects and strategies set to dominate GE Money’s IT agenda within the next 12 to 18 months?

Richards: We are currently investing in technology that takes our customer level view and puts that information at the centre of every interaction regardless of channel. We are then aligning customer facing processes across our businesses to the same architecture. LEAN six sigma, virtualisation, open source, hosted applications and team collaboration (2.0) projects are all on the agenda as well.

Sharwood: How do you define success with regards to technology?

Richards: I like to stick by the rule that the level of user acceptance is what ultimately defines success with regards to technology solutions. Working with LEAN processes, we can focus on the user interaction, performance, availability and security as inputs into the quality side of the equation.

Sharwood: What technologies do you use to manage relationships with the many partners who work with GE Money?

Richards: SOA and portal-based applications now support our retail business partners and will soon support our business partners in the motor business. In one instance, we see 95 per cent-plus online penetration across new credit business processes…that is how we also define business success with technology.

Sharwood: What are merchants saying to you about PCI DSS? What have you learned through your own PCI DSS compliance effort?

Richards: I will not speak on behalf of our retail partners, however within GE Money PCI DSS is part of a broader security and data protection program.

Sharwood: Australia seems likely to adopt privacy breach disclosure laws. Do you support their introduction? Will there be a substantial compliance burden associated with such laws?

Richards: We don’t have an issue with the introduction so long as the pending legislation is clear. We have a very proactive security and data protection program that continually evolves and will be present regardless of the pending legislation.

Sharwood: The Reserve Bank has been critical of the costs associated with transactions between financial institutions especially with regard to EFTPOS and credit cards. Do these charges impact GE Money and do you support the Reserve Bank’s calls for reform?

Richards: GE Money is currently formulating its response to the RBA’s three options work paper. GE Money supports the principal of increased competition and market efficiency and will be preparing a response in accordance with these two guiding principals.

Sharwood: An outstanding leader is only as good as his or her team. What would be the three core skills you would look for in a protégé?

Richards: Leaders in our organisation are known for having great imagination, leading with energy and enthusiasm, building great teams and can execute through all aspects of the business cycle.

Sharwood: Yours is a high pressure position. How do you ‘switch off’ from the job and spend your down time?

Richards: I have become part of Melbourne’s cycling revolution and ride to and from work about three days a week. Certainly the evening ride home usually provides a health dose of adrenaline that tends to put work into perspective very quickly!

Sharwood: Every IT leader, particularly at your level, has a legacy they wish to be remembered for. From the perspective of a CIO, what is yours?

Richards: If I left today, I would be proud to say that my team and I have worked together to provide GE Money with an efficient technology operation; delivered product and technology solutions that support business growth; initiated the next generation of applications to support a customer focused organisation while meeting the ever-changing compliance and regulatory demands.