Davos Reinforces Tengku Zafrul's CIMB Digital Drive


Davos Reinforces Tengku Zafrul's CIMB Digital Drive

The freezing and rarefied air of the Swiss Alps reinforces CIMB’s belief that the bank is on the right path bracing its operations for the present age of digital disruption in banking.

Technology has rapidly disrupted all aspects of our lives and nowhere is this more evident than in banking.

Digital disruption has transformed customer expectations, lowering barriers to market entry and opening up growing competition, not just from Fintech players - banks also need to worry about platform giants, like Amazon and Alibaba eating into their margins.

So, it is a little wonder that digital disruption is keeping banking chiefs awake at night, a predicament shared by CIMB Group CEO Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Aziz.

“At the end of the day, for any companies, the barometer of success is not just the return on equity, which is something that we always look at. But today, we are talking about the survival of traditional, conventional companies - and banking falls into it.”

We All Need Banking but Do We Need Banks

“People are going to ask this, ‘We all need banking but do we need banks?’, says Zafrul.

“We need to reinvent banking. We also need to go beyond banking and be part of an ecosystem, we need to be part of people’s mindset all the time, not just when they need banking.”

Zafrul was speaking at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos in an exclusive interview with Astro AWANI.

The chief of Malaysia’s second largest commercial bank reveals plans to double its investments into technology. “The focus, at the end of the day, is customers. We really want to have that wow factor for customer experience. But how do we achieve that? We need to invest.”

Zafrul highlights two key areas of investment - talent, and technology and data.

CIMB To Double Investment in Tech

“People (investment) is basically (about) getting the right mindset and culture,’ says Zafrul. “We have targeted in our five year plan, which ends in 2023, to have at least fifty percent of our workforce to be digital savvy. We’ve committed to spend about 75 million ringgit on our digital academy.”

Today, we are looking for data scientists, data analyst, digital marketing and programmers. But I cannot say the same in three to five years

Called CIMB 3D Academy, the three year initiative, introduced May last year, aims at training CIMB’s 36-000 strong workforce in the areas of data-driven decision making, data science and analytics.

It is part of the bank’s wider need to future-proofing its workforce, and CIMB wants to act fast. Its people, says Zafrul, must be agile and entrepreneurial in thinking, which are also key training components in the academy.

“The skill sets will continue to change. Today, we are looking for data scientists, data analyst, digital marketing and programmers. But I cannot say the same in three to five years,” says Zafrul.

“Change is accelerating. So, for me, for the young people starting out today (must have) the skill set to adapt; to (have) the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) side, not just intellectual ability (IQ), because IQ can be replaced by robots.”

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