Finance Function Case Studies
DBS Bank in Hong Kong innovates its finance function by deploying new technologies, such as data analytics with data visualization and robotic process automation, as well as through the transformation of the team culture. The Citizens Bank's finance team has become involved in organization-wide strategic planning, working closely with the technology team in agile pods and using insights gathered from data analytics solutions.
DBS Bank (Hong Kong)
- The innovation in the DBS Bank's finance function is a part of an office-wide digitalization strategy.
- Among other technologies, the department started using data analytics for decision-making, which is further enhanced by data visualization, allowing the finance team to create interactive business intelligence dashboards.
- DBS Bank's finance department also deployed robotic process automation (RPA), as well as tools dedicated "for detecting abnormalities to enhance risk and control management."
- Along with introducing emerging technologies, DBS Bank is transforming its finance function by changing the team culture. According to Jacqueline Chan, managing director and chief financial officer (CFO) at DBS Bank in Hong Kong, her department started working as if they were a technology company.
- There is less control over employees, who are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them, which Chan considers the best way to get familiar with innovative technologies. Also, financial specialists work closely with data experts and frequently collaborate with the bank's technology team. There are also data and tech people within the finance team.
- DBS Bank believes that the most difficult part of the process of digital innovation is adjusting the culture, which requires developing a new mindset and a different set of skills, including digital leadership competencies. That is why they put an emphasis on the support between teams and encourage employees to learn through failure.
- The collaboration between teams is facilitated by a platform approach, which replaced a project one. The teams have platform meetings that allow timely interventions. Also, having access to the platform allows finance to view planned technology updates in the context of the whole system architecture.
Problems It Is Trying to Solve
- New technologies and tools are supposed to replace a system that is too complex and outdated.
- With innovative solutions in the finance function, DBS Bank is attempting to make the record-to-report cycles shorter, increase the efficiency of all the team's operations, and improve the analytic capabilities for better financial prediction and planning.
- Another goal is to improve communication and data flow between different teams within the bank for better allocation of resources.
Reasons for Inclusion
- Digitalization of DBS Bank's finance function qualifies as an innovation, because it involves deploying multiple innovative technologies and solutions, such as data analytics with data visualization and robotic process automation.
- Additionally, it includes a novel approach to team management and organization, with the team leader being aware that the innovation requires new skills and the change in mindset both from the leadership and employees.
- Also, Financial Management Magazine, ACCA Global and Chartered Accountants all included this transformation as an example of an innovation in the finance function.
Citizens Bank (The US)
- John Woods, CFO at Citizens Bank, notes that the responsibilities of a CFO in his bank have widened dramatically over the last years, taking over some of those that previously belong to a chief operating officer.
- Presently, in addition to being responsible for financial matters, CFO plays a major role in developing the strategy for the whole institution. His responsibilities "as risk manager of liquidity and capital have intensified." At the same time, he needs to collaborate closely with technology and innovation teams.
- The whole finance team is closely involved with deploying growth strategies, which are largely dependent on investing in data analytics to drive comprehensive insights and enhance security. For example, one of their consumer-facing products, the Citizens Access platform, is also used to gather and analyze insights regarding costs and profitability of potential new markets.
- Citizens Bank believes that agile methodologies are better suited for managing a digitalized bank. The institution created agile pods, which are spaces of collaboration between finance and technology teams, which work together most of the time.
- Thanks to this innovative management approach, the bank's finance function is better equipped to monitor and analyze the clients' financial results from digital channels, using all the available tools and solutions.
- Woods acknowledges that digital skills are becoming increasingly crucial for the members of his team, which is why he frequently seeks new hires that not only have a traditional financial background but also experience with fintech or startup companies. Current employees are encouraged to take part in reskilling initiatives, such as "Development Weeks."
Problems It Is Trying to Solve
- The bank's finance team, like the whole organization, is trying to balance the need to keep up with digital innovation, satisfy its customers' needs, and maintain a steady headcount. According to Forbes, it is one of the institutions that succeed in introducing emerging technologies without shrinking its workforce.
- At the same time, the close collaboration between finance and technology teams aims to prevent the bank from missing strategic opportunities or badly allocating funds for digital investments.
Reasons for Inclusion
- Forbes named Citizen Bank as one of the institutions that invest in innovative technologies. They conducted an interview with their CFO, in part to explain how the organization's financial team fits into its digital transformation.
- The finance function's innovations are largely focused on data analytics, which is among the suggested areas of focus for this research.
- Additionally, the case study describes how digital innovations in Citizen Bank drive changes in the responsibilities of the CFO and the organization of the financial team, resulting in an innovative management approach.