Santander Bank appointed Pierre Habis to the newly created role of chief consumer and digital transformation officer in June, expanding his responsibilities to include oversight of the bank’s digital transformation.
The $102 billion bank is focusing on modernizing its technology stack, which includes the launch of new robotic process automation (RPA) capabilities, automating for customer experience and digitizing back-office capabilities.
Bank Automation News recently caught up with Habis to discuss Santander Bank’s digital transformation plans under his leadership. What follows is an edited version of that conversation.
Bank Automation News: What processes has Santander Bank recently automated?
Pierre Habis: In our record management team, we’ve launched new RPA capabilities to help us respond to customer requests for information rapidly, especially during peak demand periods.
As part of a broader effort across the U.S., Consumer Business and Banking (CBB) will undergo a multiyear business and technology modernization plan, broadly categorized under the Horizon program. Project Horizon will transform Santander Bank by delivering capabilities that empower digitally savvy U.S. consumers to simplify their financial lives. The program will achieve this by relentlessly focusing on customer needs while simplifying the product set, automating cumbersome processes and delivering a future state, data-driven digital platform.
BAN: What innovative technology is on your radar for the remainder of 2022?
PH: At Santander, we are committed to simplifying our processes and integrating new tools and resources to make banking easier for our customers. We keep our customers at the center of everything we do and aim to deliver the best products and services through the channels that are convenient for them.
We know that technology has been essential in helping businesses to better serve their customers and expand their reach to meet new ones, which is why we are on this digital transformation journey. We are transforming our technology from the back office all the way through the customer experience to increase the efficiency of our operations and better serve our customers.
In our investments business, we are currently working with an industry-leading provider that offers a digital investments platform with a robo-advisor that lets customers access financial advice at a lower cost. The investing strategy may help customers grow their long-term wealth, and they get a personalized portfolio that we automatically manage and rebalance for them.
BAN: What global technology assets do you plan on leveraging to support the bank’s digital transformation?
PH: The Santander Group has 157 million global customers, many of whom are digital customers. And this number is growing. Unlocking the power of technology to enhance their experience and address their needs — this isn’t a new concept at Santander. The bank’s digital transformation is the next milestone. Santander invests approximately $5 billion annually in technology to enhance its customers’ experience, and the bank’s digital transformation is an extension of the group’s efforts. We will be able to tap into Santander’s scale, resources and global technology capabilities to help us drive down costs, improve service and acquire more customers.
BAN: What technology projects are you currently focused on?
PH: We have a digital investing platform geared toward customers who may be newer to investing and who have lower initial balances to invest. The service doesn’t replace the professional advice and guidance of a financial consultant. Instead, it complements our investments business and ensures all clients have quality investment options. It’s an exciting step forward in the bank’s digital transformation.
We are re-engineering the way we serve customers by closely reviewing our processes, technology stack and automation to reimagine our customer experience in an efficient way.
BAN: What’s your favorite piece of leadership advice?
PH: I grew up in bank branches, which instilled in me a deep understanding and appreciation for the importance of cultivating relationships. A personal touch and ensuring each and every team member feels valued has to remain one of the top priorities for any leader. This has stayed with me throughout my career.
Having relationships also builds trust, and team members are more open to sharing feedback, which pays dividends. Listening and learning from my team has powered my own growth and development. No matter where someone is in the career journey, from entry-level to the C-suite, we all should be learning and growing.
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