An Interview with
Osman Ershad Faiz
Chief Information and Operating Officer (CIOO)
AMTD Digital is the integrated digital platform arm of AMTD Group, covering four segments including digital financial services, digital media marketing and data intelligence, digital connectors and ecosystem, and digital investments. AMTD Digital strives to build a one-stop, cross-market, comprehensive digital financial services platform to serve Asian customers and fast-growing enterprises, integrating digital banking, digital insurance, digital asset exchange, e-payment / remittance, and other digital licensed businesses in Asia.
As the central core engine for AMTD SpiderNet, AMTD Digital plays an important and core driving role, through resources matching and empowerment. The Company helps different clients solve their pain points and problems in business development and internationalization in all dimensions, provides customized digital solutions for the enterprises to achieve breakthrough in the digital age.
13 March 2021
Tell us about your background, and what are you most passionate about?
Osman Faiz, an interntional banker over 25 years of experience across different countries, is currently the Chief Information and Operating Officer (CIOO) of AMTD Digital, Singapore. He was appointed to his current role in August 2020. He was previously the Chief Operating Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, Singapore. Prior to that, he served in a variety of roles for Standard Chartered, including Chief Information Officer in Singapore and Head of Wholesale Banking Operations in East region, among others. Previously, he also served as Head of Operations at PermataBank in Indonesia and COO of Standard Chartered Bank in Bangladesh. Mr. Faiz has served as a Director of Singapore Clearing House Association (SCHA) and was awarded the Institute of Banking and Finance (IBF) Fellow Award in technology and operations. He was also named as the Industry Co-Chair of KYC 2.0 by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (“MAS”) and the Association of Banks, Singapore in 2019. Mr. Faiz has the passion for 'mentoring' and developing 'women talent'. In his continuing work as a thought leader and ally for diversity and inclusion, Mr. Faiz was recognized by Yahoo, Financial Times and INvolve as a global Top 50 HERoes : Male Champion of women in business in 2018; Top 40 Male Advocate Executives in 2019 and Top 50 Advocates Executives in 2020
Describe a time you had to make a tough decision (e.g. budget cuts, organizational restructuring, market withdrawal, etc.). What did you do and what was the result?
In any ledership roles, one has to take decisions. Sometimes they are relatively easy but there are times,when it is not so straight forward. The consequences of those decision could be significant for the organisation. A leader often have to make a choice, where all the relevant data points and informations are not readily available. This is where the leadership gets tested. or the wisdom of the leader does the trick ! Many of the difficult decision making becomes a lot easier, when the leader is able to keep a razor focus on the client need and client experiences. Since my domain of work has mostly been around technology, digitalisation, operations, risk and compliance areas, I often had to make tough choices on cost/budget, people/retrenchment, regulatory changes/timelines, large scale complex projects which are on critical path, staff conduct and disciplinary actions, data privacy, cyber and information security challenges. Any of the decision making on those domain becomes lot simpler by putting the 'clients' interest at the centre. Once a decision is made, the other critical considertion is to communicate on a timely and a transparent manner to the impacted parties. I have personally observed that the most difficult decisions can be made quite easily, when the leader does the timely engagment and takes ownership to reach out to the parties involved/impcted and provides the rationale behind such decisions taken. For that, a leader has to be authentic, be present and keep the interest of the client above everything...
How would others define your communication style? Do you prefer to be close to your employees or maintain a healthy distance, and why?
When any leader manages a large team, communication becomes extremely important. We often assume that communiction has to be top down ! This is where most of the leaders gets it wrong. Communication must be two ways. One can not solve a problem, unless you have the ability to listen. Everybody have a right to be heard. Once you become a good listener, you are likely to provide a better and a more accpetable solution. Communication is an extremely powerful tool and the most effective and successful leaders are usually a good listener. I have always made the effort to stay close to my team. It helped me in identifying the talent, opportunity or spot a problem lot faster and for the employees to bring up any challenges without any fear or wasting time. The team feels a lot more motivated and engaged. After all, you are as good as your team !
How has the industry been changing in recent years? What do you think are the biggest challenges your industry will face in the next 5 years?
The financial industry has been disrupted in many ways in the recent years - it is also coupled with regulations, markets change, but fundamentally with client expectations shift with digital as a way of living picking up, and that redefined the interactions and touchpoints; the inability of banks to catch up with those requirements has led to the result of the clients and investors are "leaving" banks. And banks need to come back to the basics to build client growth and retain them with hyper-personalized client journeys and experiences, adopting AI / Robotics, big data etc.
And the coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally shifted the business scale towards digital. The lockdown and social distancing measures now in place – and is likely to remain in place for a period, in one form or another, for many months to come – are forcing organisations including banks of all sizes and sectors to reconsider how they operate and adapt, as from physical to digital is being greatly accelerated
So one of the biggest challenges of the financial industry will face is that, how to navigate through the radical shift, with new competitions from FinTechs, rapidly changing business models, mounting regulation and compliance pressures, and disruptive technologies.
The emergence of FinTech/non-bank startups is changing the competitive landscape in financial services, forcing traditional institutions to rethink the way they do business.
As data breaches become prevalent and privacy concerns intensify, regulatory and compliance requirements become more restrictive as a result.
And, if all of that wasn’t enough, customer demands are evolving as consumers seek round-the-clock personalized service.
These and other banking industry challenges can be resolved by the very technology that’s caused this disruption, but the transition from legacy systems to innovative solutions hasn’t always been an easy one. That said, banks and Financial Institutions need to accelerate their digital transformation if they wish to not only survive but thrive in the current landscape.
For example: These days, every bank or FI has its own branded mobile application — however, just because an organization has a mobile banking strategy doesn’t mean that it’s being leveraged as effectively as possible. A bank’s mobile experience needs to be fast, easy to use, fully featured (think beyond live chat, voice-enabled digital assistance, and the like of robot-suggested advisory, AI supported insurance needs etc), secure, and regularly updated in order to keep customers satisfied. Many banks have also even started to reimagine what a banking app could be by introducing mobile payment functionality that enables customers to treat their smart phones like secure digital wallets and instantly transfer money to family and friends, this also linked back to the central bank backed digital currency.
What personality traits make a good leader?
1. Willingness to listen
What does the future hold for your company?
The future of AMTD Group will continue to build upon the success stories with AMTD international, listed in both NYSE: HKIB and Singapore SGX: HKB as a fully-licensed comprehensive financial institution in Hong Kong that is rapidly expanding in Asia. To build upon the rich experience and exceptional capabilities in capital markets deal execution and aims to provide best-in-class one-stop financial services to clients.
AMTD Digital to further step up to become the Asia’s Unique One-stop Digital Finance Licenses Platform and Other Digital Technology Assets Holding companies, through the following pillars: Digital Financial Services, Digital Marketing, Digital Media and Data Intelligence, Digital Connector and Ecosystem growth, and Digital investment, to further expand and capture disruptive innovations in the markets.
At the core of the AMTD Digital strategy is its ability to access new markets and leverage deep insights to cross-sell and upsell to solutions.
In the Value Chain, AMTD Digital plays role of Orchestrator, therefore combining Complimentary Products and Distribution networks to bring new capabilities to otherwise underserved SMEs or other segments.
An example of this would be to offer (i) Digital Payments, (ii) Working Capital or (iii) New Hyper-Personalized Insurance products etc with an open API architecture platforms that hosts merchants in the form of whitelabelling or deeper integration.
Whilst these relationships can typically take years to nurture and without guarantees of success - with the use of rapid Integration, Machine Learning and Automated Workflows this approach allows for accelerated scaling and diversification across verticals to create resiliency over long-term horizons.
Importantly, our role as the Orchestrator and our relationship with the Complementors will determine the split of profits. As we build our “war-chest” of capabilities and broadening our offer and acquire our own customer, we will capture and retain lion-share of profits with operations strategy anchoring on:
- Rapidly add/launch new offerings with smooth and simple user experience
- Build credible engagements with private & public investors
- “Acquire” Consumer and SME customers at scale through partnerships networks
- Build a credibility with recognised capabilities for market insights, analysis, reports & advisory
- Synergize with “SpiderNet” Anchors, Institutions & Startups
ASEAN is a key global economy but not yet a key digital economy - we believe AMTD can make a difference and contribute to the growth of digital economy by leading / partnering with SaaS companies by sector and geography by embedding it’s suite of fintech solutions, growing the pie for all and creating deeper integration into peoples lifestyles and nurturing meaningful relationships. SMEs in ASEAN geography which remain a largely underbanked segment inadequately supported by conventional bank models. We are also driven to empower great entrepreneurs with brilliant business plans and strong prospects yet stagnated by fundings to achieve their greatest potential with our AMTD Solidarity fund and fusion-in model, and a clear and execution focused operational strategy.