Standard Chartered Regional CIO: building an innovative, creative and risk-taking mindset

Standard Chartered CIO: building an innovative, creative and risk-taking mindsetThe banking industry is changing rapidly in the digital age. Banks have to keep up with the pace of technological changes to meet customer needs and stay competitive. Peter Clark, Standard Chartered’s regional CIO of Greater China & North Asia, noted a CIO has to maintain the integrity and security of a bank’s systems while driving innovation and creativity and building a risk-taking mindset.

CWHK: What were the biggest challenges during your career?

Peter Clark (PC): The toughest time was a major system outage that I dealt with in 2006 when I was working with my previous employer. Our bank was impacted by the Taiwan earthquake that broke a number of submarine cables and disrupted international communications.

The pressure at that particular point in time was very high. Obviously, we wanted to restore services for our customers as quickly as possible and in a most stable way. We got through it. 

After the outage incident, we had to look at the topology of all our connections. Even if you had primary backups from different vendors but if they were going through the same physical tube, you will have a risk.

CWHK: How is the role of a CIO changing in the digital age? How do you cultivate a digital mindset and behaviors in your team?

PC: The main priority of a CIO—protecting the stability and security of a bank’s systems—has not and will not be changed.

As customers are looking for more digital solutions, and the competition landscape changes with technology companies entering the banking market, regional CIOs have to drive innovation, creativity, customer centricity in their team to anticipate customer needs much more than in the past where they were service providers. Increasingly they are expected to take the lead in identifying future opportunities for banks to provide customers with the products and services they want, and interact in a way they want.

I work with the country CIOs in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan and try to make sure they stay close to customers and our customer-facing staff. I encourage them to spend time understanding what is happening in the market, and adopt a risk-taking attitude to try things and not worry too much about failure as we can learn from it.

Across our banks in five countries, each of them takes a lead in certain areas, and develops some expertise that can be shared by other countries. In Hong Kong, the local CIO focuses on distributed ledger technology (DLT), AI and machine learning whereas IoT and big data are the focus in China.

CWHK: Which disruptive technologies will impact the local banking industry and which are your focus this year?

PC: There is a lot of innovation coming up. I think these technologies will have quite significant impact on banks.

AI will have a big impact on banking. We are working with fintech company Bambu, which specializes in using AI for investment management. We are working with them to see how their technology can help us analyze customer data, customer preferences plus the market to create optimal investment.