Transforming Mindset: A Conversation with BNY Mellon’s Roman Regelman

BNY Mellon's head of digital, Roman Regelman, was in London in March to meet its UK team and discuss the bank's digital journey.
By Joe Parsons

Roman Regelman, head of digital for BNY Mellon, was in London in March to attend an executive committee meeting, and also joined a LEAD (London Engagement Activity Drivers) meeting – attended by 170 London employees – as their featured guest.

At the top of the meeting, Roman sat down with Joe Parsons, Deputy Editor of Global Custodian, to discuss the digitisation journey. Here’s a portion of what they discussed.

Joe: Why is it important for financial and securities services to become digitised?

Roman: Because digitisation is everything for this industry. But digitisation cannot live in isolation. We have only one business—that needs to be both digital, and physical. And clients don’t have a digital experience and physical experience, they have an experience with their providers that span both digital and physical. So getting digital right is everything, and getting physical right is everything. And that means the financial services industry needs to change its approach.

But I see the biggest transformation needed is a transformation of mindset. We need to think differently and work differently. The industry needs to embrace an organisational-driven approach that merges business and technology into an integrated strategy. The digital and physical must coexist in a single, collaborative ecosystem where each informs the other. To be successful today, you need to do the digital and physical well, and do them simultaneously and we need to act quickly.

Joe: What advantages will a digital platform bring for both the provider and the client?

Roman: Digitisation is a key differentiator of the client experience. We need to create client-centric products and solutions, and to do this we need to create cross-functional teams. A wealth of unlocked value is waiting to be extracted from operational systems. An organisation needs to be more agile to meet a client’s demand, and that means being able to change one process at a time, one client journey at a time to deliver the best digital customer experience.

There are many real examples of these client-centric solutions, but here are three:

  • A wealth client portal that allows client self-service—which is more effective for the client and more efficient for the provider—and frees up the advisor to deliver increased value to the client.
  • A digital end-to-end onboarding experience where clients aren’t asked to duplicate provision of information and accelerates onboarding clients faster, requiring significantly less resources.
  • Collateral management services that helps clients optimise their assets, enhance their investment strategies and lower their costs, while allowing providers to deliver increased value to the client.

Joe: Does that require working differently with clients?

Roman: Absolutely! We need to reassess everything about our interactions with customers in the light of a changing landscape and get on board with the digitisation of customer strategies.

Embarking on this journey side-by-side with clients is of the utmost importance. Clients know best about what it takes to run their businesses. It’s critical that we re-think and re-imagine the new offerings and services we can deliver together. And we must get clients involved from the beginning.

Joe: In what ways can firms embrace digital technologies?

Roman: Companies today need to have an innovative workforce to get the most out of robotics, AI (Artificial Intelligence) and other digital tools. Staffs need to be agents of change, and this involves employees identifying opportunities for innovation and proposing new approaches. Management needs to give them the support and the resources to implement change. Tools are only that – tools. We need master craftsmen (and women) to create real change, not just capable tool operators.

Joe: What about the relationships with FinTechs? Is there a risk of digital disruption for banks, asset managers, asset owners, etc.?

Roman: Open innovation means organisations like ours need to engage with knowledge capital and assets, and subsequently, open up the organisation. That means we need to transform our culture to embrace digital, and tap into new ideas for growth. Traditionally, financial services organisations only partnered within the industry for innovation and process improvements. Now, this needs to go a step further – so we build ties with different industries organisations with different outlooks to generate new ways of working and creating value. Ultimately, I predict a deeper collaboration between financial organisations and FinTech firms.