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Standard Chartered COO follows CIO out the door – bank combines tech, ops

Roul Louwhoff to be "Chief Technology, Operations and Transformation Officer" from April

Standard Chartered Group COO David Whiteing is leaving the bank after 3.5 years, following Group CIO Michael Gorriz out of the door -- the multinational will now combine its operations and technology leadership.

The decision means that former ING COO Roul Louwhoff, who joined as CDTIO in November 2021, will from April 1, 2022 have the weighty title of "Chief Technology, Operations and Transformation Officer" (CTOTO).

Bill Winters, Group Chief Executive Officer, said: “With David’s departure, I have decided to combine our Operations and Technology teams to enable us to move faster, harness synergies, and accelerate the delivery of our strategy and transformation across the Bank. I have asked Roel to lead us in turbocharging this change, and we thank David for his leadership in establishing a strong foundation, from which we will now build.”

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Roul Louwhoff added: “I see massive opportunities for the Bank to transform as a client-focused, purpose-driven organisation, delivering a seamless end to end client experience and doing things more efficiently.

"Over the past few years, the Bank has created a strong change-oriented environment by embedding a culture of continuous improvement into our ways of working. By bringing Technology and Operations together, we are taking a further important step towards executional certainty of the Bank’s strategy” he said in a release.

Last week CEO Winters admitted in a Bloomberg TV interview that retaining top employees was a challenge.

“We know that the Great Resignation is touching every industry, in every part of the world,” he said. “We are speculating endlessly on what’s driving this: is it lifestyle changes on the back of the pandemic?

"Is it the fact that the world is flush with cash?”

Standard Chartered Group digital transformation

Like most banks, Standard Chartered has embarked on a not insignificant digital transformation.

That's included moving core banking to AWS ("we plan to have 15 countries in the cloud by the end of 2021" former Group CIO Michael Gorriz told The Stack in early 2021), the launch of Standard Chartered's “nexus” banking-as-a service offering and the launch of Mox, its new virtual bank in Hong Kong.

(Gorriz also referred to nascent work to become more data led, noting that data had initially been located in a "central date lake, where we pull data from the transactional systems, the basic transactional data, which we need to fulfil... regulatory requirements. We created this with Hadoop. It’s still on-prem and in the beginning, was only for risk mitigation. We’re actually backing away from this a bit, towards a federated architecture; where we say retail and wholesale have their real time data lakes, but they are federated; there’s a common taxonomy and a way to pull data into the central lake if it is needed there. So there are different data ponds which are used for real time interaction; then the central data lake for accounting, risk reporting, you name it...")

See: Banks? “A fat complacent oligopoly with zero innovation”

Change isn't cheap: Digital ventures expenses doubled in the first nine months of the year, Standard Chartered's last earnings presentation shows, accounting for one third of the group's year-on-year cost growth. (The bank said it contines to expect FY2021 opex "including the impact of currency translation and performance-related pay", to around $10.4 billion. "Digitially initiatied transactions" meanwhile have crept up 9% pts in 2021 to 50%.)

While at the IT coal face a lot of work has been happening, a recent post by outgoing Group COO David Whiteing also points to some critical operations work. He noted in a LinkedIn post this month that "at the Bank, we had an approvals process to onboard new vendors and partners that would take, on average, some 120 days to get across all the risk and compliance stakeholders.By changing the way we work, we're now able to do that in under 20 days. And we are now working on doing that in half that time. Once the work starts to really hustle, you’d be surprised how fast you can beat your new impressive personal best. It’s simple positive psychology. People feel good about how they can now deliver business outcomes sooner, and that effect creates a virtuous cycle."

The ongoing shakeup comes a month after Standard Chartered Bank got hit by the UK's Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) with a record (for the PRA) £46.5 million fine for "failing to be open and cooperative with the PRA and for failings in its regulatory reporting governance and controls".

The investigation found that in a series of incidents in 2018 SCB failed to promptly notify the PRA of one of the miscalculation and misreporting errors, "despite having multiple opportunities to do so"; ensure that its escalation framework for liquidity miscalculations and misreporting was properly embedded within the relevant business area; maintain and operate adequate controls testing and checks for reporting the liquidity metric" and "ensure that it had appropriate human resources to investigate potential misreporting of the liquidity metric."

Standard Chartered has 85,000 employees and a presence in 59 markets.

See also: Watchdog’s reports, fines reveal reliance of banks on spreadsheets