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Of money and modernisation

John Smith
"Technology is now so integrated into all verticals, you really need to know your tech to understand how it can strategically drive change."

Zafin’s Executive Vice President of Ecosystem, John Smith, joins Nathan Anibaba to chat about the modernisation of the banking industry. How does a decades-old institution keep up with the nimble FinTechs of today? Tune in to get the lowdown on how Zafin uses technology to solve clients’ problems. 

Transcript:

Speaker 1: 

This is ClientSide from Fox Agency. 

 

Speaker 2: 

Hit it. That’s what I’m talking about. Wait. 

 

Speaker 3: 

Okay now, from the beginning. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

John Smith is the Executive Vice President of ecosystem at Zafin. He is responsible for the strategic and tactical management of the company’s ecosystem, including the creation of new business models to support growth and differentiation. He has a proven track record of building partnerships and alliances as part of a symbiotic ecosystem for financial services. John Smith, welcome to ClientSide. 

 

John Smith: 

Yeah, nice, and I really appreciate your time today. It’s lovely to be with you. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

We’re super excited to have you on the show. Thank you very much for doing this. We have to start at the beginning because as we slowly start to emerge from these imposed lockdowns that we’ve all been experiencing over the last 12 months, let’s start with a description of what the key priorities and challenges are of the traditional incumbent banks, as you see it, as we sit here in June 2020 today. 

 

John Smith: 

Yeah. Yeah, sure, Nathan. To be fair, I really believe that the challenges haven’t changed much from pre-COVID, but COVID accelerated some of these and made it more important. It’s always been the banks, and the incumbent ones especially, that their bricks and mortars have struggled with top line growth. And a lot of that’s to do with the challenges from new fintechs entering the market, the fact that they have to have higher cash reserves, and then their space is limited by the fact they have quite large assets, which can be a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it. 

At the same time, another key area is cost reduction or bottom-line growth strategies where banks are looking to not spend on any sort of initiative unless it can deliver payback within a year. And we’re seeing that quite clearly in the market. Some of the larger core modernization type projects that they would have done before are really being parked at the behest of looking at something that makes a very quick payback for the bank. And obviously Zafin in that space have a lot of offerings that meet that type of bottom-line growth strategy. 

The other key piece that’s linked to both top and bottom-line growth strategies is the cost to income ratio. And that’s where banks that are in that place where they have significant asset or bricks and mortar retail estates, branch estates, that there’s a lot to do there because cost to income ratios of those types of banks are significantly higher than some of the new digital startups, which just do not have that branch infrastructure. Typically digital only. So there’s significant drive to try to lower cost to income ratio and modernize branch with a value on customer experience and change the way the branch is delivering. So you’re seeing that in the press at the moment with a number of the banks shutting down many, many branches, focusing on larger branches with customer experience. 

And if we look at an example in the UK, look at someone like Metro, who although their cost to income ratio is significantly high, they’ve really tried to change the customer experience, longer opening times, looking at how they service the client in bank. And I think we’re going to see a lot of change around that sort of piece as well. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

And you would assume that a lot of these changes have been accelerated over the last 12 months because of the pandemic. Reducing cost to income ratio, focusing on customer experience. Obviously none of us had access to the bricks and mortar physical banks over the last 12 months. We were all stuck in our homes, and in our bedrooms. So that accelerated the adoption of digital and it accelerated the adoption of sort of increasing the customer experience for the traditional incumbent banks. Talk a little bit about the impact COVID-19 has had on modernization of banks. 

 

John Smith: 

Well, it’s significant, so twofold. So let me give you a story of, well, it’s not just one bank, it’s a number of banks. Let me talk about a theme. So a theme we’ve seen in this space is incumbent traditional bricks and mortar banks, and the larger ones, a significant proportion of those are built on legacy architecture. And a lot of those are the IBM Z platform, which is the mainframe platform for people that would know it under that name, but IBM Z is the sort of brand. That as a platform, the reason people don’t move away from it is it’s a great platform for core banking. But the problem with that is over the years, because it’s been running these very large banks for 1970s, 1980s. It may have been even sort of ’70s it was deployed, and some of them even before that. 

It was set up to do general ledger work and to run the core, to be an account management system, the system of records for the bank. But over time it had all the new features and functions put into it. So it has product in it. It has, today, risk and compliance technology and it probably has some fraud and anti-money laundering tech. So everything’s been linked into it. And actually what it means is you can’t upgrade it very easily. So it was this really high proficient core, but actually it’s now doing all this mid-tier architecture that the bank needs to modernize quickly. And the only real way to modernize that is to externalize it. So what we’re finding is the blessing of this really high proficient platform that is IBM Z is actually sometimes for the banks a curse at the moment because they’re trying to modernize. 

And actually what’s happened with COVID is everyone’s at home. Everyone’s using banking apps. Digitalization has grown, we believe somewhere in a single year, it’s done five years of growth. So that’s the sort of statistics we’re seeing, which is phenomenal. But for the bank who is stuck in this legacy architecture that needs to modernize, it can be very painful because actually they’re bouncing at the top end of their scalability. They can’t. So they’re getting downtime, some of these banks, because they can’t fulfill the need of all the digitalization that’s coming. So the clients are using digital channels only, not going to branch, checking balances all the time, transferring money all the time. And these things are meaning that some of the clients are just experiencing operational risk and downtime through that. So that’s one element where Zafin very much solves for because we externalize a lot of the technical function out of the core that limits it and actually allows it to facilitate a change towards digital transformation. So we almost become the product system of record for some of these banking clients. And that’s something where we’ve seen some of the use cases fulfilled. 

I think on the other side of that you mentioned customer experience, and I would link that to new business models and ecosystem of the future. The other thing the bank needs to do is it needs to quickly, and this is the incumbent bank, compete against fintechs and to protect against disruptors. How does it do that? Externalization also fulfills that need, because by externalizing some of these functions out, what it gives you is the ability to deliver new business models. And that could be embedded finance, it can be decentralized finance with cryptocurrencies. 

If you look at what Revolut would offer you in sort of being able to trade gold, being able to trade stocks, being able to change the whole piece, imagine you could do that as a traditional bank on the backend of an IBM mainframe technology by using technologies like Zafin to form an ecosystem of the future. And we’re seeing that. And that spans both financial and non-financial products. So this is where getting hold of the product catalog that is linked into the existing legacy core and externalizing it is so critical to a bank’s transformation towards a digital leader. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

So you partly answered my next question really. I mean, tell us a little bit more about Zafin. I mean, who are your typical clients? What problems do they have and how do you help solve them? And I think you’ve already sort of answered some of them around the importance of being able to compete with the new fintech digital banks nowadays. The importance to modernize their infrastructure to move in line with where the consumers are sort of expecting their banking services to be delivered. Talk a little bit about who your typical clients are, the problems that they have and how you typically solve them. 

 

John Smith: 

Sure, sure. And I won’t name them because we’re very sensitive, but I will tell you the regions of the world. They are referenceable, but I’ll talk about the general themes, Nathan. So just to take a step back around what Zafin does at high level, so Zafin allows banks to build closer relationships with their client base and that’s through executing product and pricing strategies, which helps us serve existing customers and actually also attract new ones as well as deepening relationships that we have with the existing customers within the bank. So as a banking product and pricing offering, it really allows cross-sell, upsell. It allows you to widen the product portfolio that you’re serving existing customers and really give them customer delight. It allows increased efficiency, so you can deploy those strategies within a matter of days, rather than I talked about the legacy architecture that could take months. 

If you’ve got a code on the backend of a legacy platform, you’ve got to change all the coding and all the products. We externalize that out and we become the system of record with an interface that can be launching new products, new services, in a matter of days rather than months. So it’s very important for share of wallet increase, being able to upsell, cross-sell, and really being able to offer new products and services that compete with fintech. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

Really fascinating. 

 

John Smith: 

Yeah. It allows you to strengthen governance. So if you think of what’s happening in Australia with DDO or C-86 in Canada and a number of these new… It’s really governance and compliance around, how did you sell the product to the client? So I don’t want to call it mis-selling, but it’s thinking about, did that customer ask for that product at that time and why did you sell it to them? So that sort of thing is coming in globally, so I just took those two, DDO and C-86. The governance piece, being able to manage product information across the full life cycle from ideation and ensuring consistency right the way through to if the product is retired and then new products are launched. So it’s about consistency, transparency. It’s about mitigating risks. That governance rule space. So that’s very important. That’s one of the sort of steel thread from ideating the product right the way through to deploying it, executing it and retiring it or keeping it in the product mix if it’s a good selling product. 

And then finally, the key piece that I probably talk most about in ecosystem is acceleration of digital transformation. And within that specifically core modernization at the heart because what our product and the platform does very well for banks is, as I said, it allows a bank to decouple the complexity of some of the information within the core that really shouldn’t be there and allows then to facilitate a much simpler modernization of the front end digital channels, but also being able to migrate to new cores, take function out of the existing core, move it to cloud. So we really de-risk and simplify the core and accelerate project payback. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

Really fascinating. 

 

John Smith: 

Yeah. Thank you. And if I look at some of the clients as examples that we would deliver that for, there are many, but if I pick three, so there’s a very large bank in Australia. There are a number, so I don’t need to say too much there. But in this challenge we had a certain client there who was losing customer market share to digital banks and fintechs. They had a significant, probably sort of way over 400 different retail products, so a lot of risk in that. How do you manage it? How do you sustain it and ensure that you don’t take high costs and have high risk. They had this legacy core capacity issue that I talked about earlier around, I’m hitting the ceiling of what my core can deliver without more cost to add to it. 

The solution we delivered there was to deliver a product catalog, to define products, to put some pricing in for deposits. To look at the fees and the packages that we could deliver there and across product layer that would really support customer experience focusing very much on wellbeing. And the results there, we moved from, like I said, they’re somewhere around sort of above 300 to 400 legacy deposit products and we’ve reduced it to under 10. And we’ve then taken the 127 or so legacy lending structures and we’ve reduced them to under 10. So that is you’re going 430 down to sort of less than 20 products. Now that simplification is significant in then how the bank can deliver new products and services, but also the cost of managing those is just really mitigated. So that’s a significant story. 

What’s also unique with that is they kept their legacy core and actually they believe their legacy core now is as nimble as a fintech because we’ve been integrated onto the front of it. And that’s a big case because many of these banks don’t want to do a heart and lungs transplant, and that is what a core modernization is if you are a top four, top 10 bank in your country. It’s a significant piece of work. Somewhere between three to six years, most of them fail, and they have significantly high costs. Whereas actually we believe you can modernize in situ with a progressive modernization type piece. So that’s one client I would sort of talk about. 

Another one is a European client based in Northern Europe, one of the probably the top 10 banks in Europe. And they were looking to deliver a share of wallet and profitability because their customer share of wallet and profitability had stalled in market. Their pricing practices were inconsistent, probably across sort of 18 countries globally, and they needed to bring that consistency back across many different countries so that they could reduce the amount of product and pricing teams and actually standardize their offering with tweaks for individual markets. The solution we delivered there was a product catalog, and then we also delivered rates and fees. And from that they’ve been able to deliver just over 30 products now into a central repository, delivering sort of well over a million API calls a day. 

And in the annual revenue in terms of incremental revenue to the bank is well over €10 million, and that’s just from a single line of business and there’s another two or three lines of business that we’re starting to look at for them. So that just gives you a sort of European flavor. And then if I flick across to the U.S., top 10 U.S. bank, their challenges were very much around they had redundant core systems from buying different banks. So they had numerous cores that were meaning that they couldn’t serve their clients from a single pane of glass and that was having costs. To add a new single feature took them a significant amount of money, almost in the tens of millions, and would take them sort of almost a year to do that. And that gave them limited capacity and inadequate business agility. So they couldn’t really move as quickly or as nimbly as they wanted to. 

So the solution we put in there was externalized products and pricing from the legacy core, and we deployed a next gen core in partnership with a couple of different integrators and Zafin was the bridge between the older legacy core and the new next generation core where we externalized product and pricing from both. So we became the system of record for all cores, and that meant that there was a single sort of modern platform for product and pricing the bank could use. So what that gave them was reduced revenue leakage on their corporate clients and the ability to sort of ensure that they actually charged for what was being agreed by their different relationship managers. Strengthen the product governance and help them with compliance to ensure that they were eliminating any fees or any sort of compliance risk. And just the first use case that is on track at the moment, it is anticipated to deliver somewhere between sort of $10 million to $15 million in incremental revenue. And that’s annual revenue. So that just gives you a sort of picture of a few different clients we work with. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

Really fascinating. Let’s talk a little bit about what the banks have learned specifically from big tech. Love them or hate them, they’re now embedded in all of our lives in many, many ways. Everything from customer experience, to branding, to the way that we feel about them, to their infrastructure, to cloud. Talk a little bit about what the big traditional banks have learned from the way that big tech has grown and scaled modernize over the last few years. 

 

John Smith: 

Yeah, sure, Nathan. And this is where it’s interesting. So if you looked at the top 20 banks, over the last 10 years those top 20 banks have grown by about $800 billion, which is a significant value. If you look at the last 10 years and the top 20 tech firms, it’s $3 trillion. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

Amazing. 

 

John Smith: 

So you’re talking at least- 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

[inaudible 00:18:15] $2 trillion of that. 

 

John Smith: 

Yeah. I expect so, yeah. I mean, it’s just exactly and that’s what the banks are facing. So $800 billion growth in 10 years is significant, but almost sort of three and a bit times or three and a half times that growth in tech. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

It’s relative, right? 

 

John Smith: 

It’s significant. And it means that if you look at where all the threats are coming from for the banking sector, it’s from tech. So what have they learned from it? I think a lot of them are trying to copy it in terms of CX and what they’re doing on the digital side. In terms of what they’re launching, from marketing, customer experience. In terms of how they adopt cloud. It’s also interesting that some of the cloud vendors, and there are four main ones, two of them are very much focused on supporting the banks. The other two actually have banking licenses and, or, they have ambitions to probably disrupt banks. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

Referring to Apple and Amazon, maybe? Not naming any names. 

 

John Smith: 

I won’t name any names, but yeah, there’s probably four. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

We know who they are. 

 

John Smith: 

So I know who I would place my business with. If I was a bank, I would place my business with an IT vendor that has always supported the banking industry and not who is looking to directly compete with the banks. Now, I think banking is becoming a platform and we’re seeing that with things like banking as a service model. You may have come across embedded finance. Things like buy now, pay later type vendors that are coming out there and disrupting, like Klarna or others that are coming into the market in that space. And then decentralized finance. So the ability- 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

DeFi. 

 

John Smith: 

Yeah, the DeFi technology. So all of the cryptocurrencies, but you’re really talking about tokenization. Anything I can put a token on and sell or buy an asset. So in a lot of ways that same for stocks and shares or, anything can be tokenized, including gold, including whatever. I take a token, I put a value against it. Can I trade it and bring it back? And that’s all related to pricing and to product management, which is sort of right in our domain of experience. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

Just on that, John, how seriously are the big banks taking crypto DeFi, decentralized finance, essentially? How seriously are they taking it? Because in the early days, it could be argued that a lot of the big banks looked through their noses at cryptocurrencies and the like, but it seems as though with big movers like JP Morgan and some of the big investment banks who are taking sort of crypto a lot more seriously in recent months, there seems to be a change, sort of influence or emphasis on cryptos. Just talk a little bit about that. 

 

John Smith: 

Yeah, certainly. I mean, I totally agree with you. It’s a step change. So I was at IBM who were probably the pioneer for blockchain. And blockchain is a decentralized ledger that allows Bitcoin and other cryptos to be traded. So there are many flavors, Ripple, Ethereum, Hyperledger is a industry standard. They will have slightly different use cases and they’re deployed in slightly different ways, but blockchain is the underlying technology or technology family they will support on. IBM had done a lot of work with blockchain and actually funnily enough, 2012, 2013, when I started seeing it really coming into the space, it was being really heavily pushed and no one was adopting it. None of the banking vendors. And I think it’s because it was very much peer to peer like we’re going to remove the middleman, the banks will be removed. And what’s actually happened is exactly what I thought would happen, which would be the banks will get into the use case and so will the disruptors. 

So I think it’s changed to the point now where the banks are really taking it serious. It’s come of age. It’s come of age because technology has improved. Many, many different players are now in that market. It’s accelerated. When it started, it was quite a slow technology, so you couldn’t trade significantly. But there’ve been many, many versions of Ripple, Ethereum, Hyperledger, all coming out. Each one makes improvements in performance and scalability and security and response times, all the non-functional things you probably need to make it work. And I think now a number of industries have got behind it. So in terms of financial tech disruptors coming into the market, even people like Elon Musk coming in and trading big amounts of it. And it’s just got that market adoption now that the banks have said, if we don’t get on this quickly. 

So what I’m seeing is if you looked at the number of what they would call themselves as digital assets, like digital asset specialists, so that’s really where it sort of comes in. So the digital asset custody solutions is the sort of terminology a lot of people use. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

It rolls off the tongue. 

 

John Smith: 

Yeah. It’s the ability to sort of securely lock down and trade digital assets and ensure that you know where they are. Because it’s all about cryptography and if you lose those keys, you lose all the money, because it’s never paper, it never could be pulled out. If that gets hacked, that’s it and it’s gone. And I think that that security angle was never really solved before, but now with some of the new encryption and some of the scale that these vendors can get, and the advent of public cloud really, really becoming pervasive. I think the time is now and a number of the large vendors are getting into that story. 

Some are buying in technologies from vendors and positioning. And again, this comes back to the core because if a bank has this, this has to integrate into the core. You think how you serve a client. If I’m a large bank today, and you have a bank account, Nathan, with me, I have to be able to integrate your crypto assets or your digital assets into the core. If my core is legacy, how do I do that? Again, it’s that bridge. So again, the fintechs who start up can do that more easily because they’re greenfield, they can just solve for that use case. So this is why we’ve seen people like Revolut and other accounts, and Monzos and others coming into that space and trading more easily. And actually some of the banks are buying technology to do that. Others are building in these digital asset custody solution type technologies onto the side of the core. So it’s a really interesting space. It’s certainly something we’re seeing more of and I think it’s a trend that will continue. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

So you just mentioned private cloud there. There’s been a lot of talk recently about the merits of public versus private cloud. What do you recommend for your clients and what factors go into that decision making process? 

 

John Smith: 

That’s really an interesting one as well, and I’m going to be a bore here, but it’s really non-functional. I think if you think of things as this iceberg piece, Zafin solved product and pricing solutions, but we also have a plethora of other benefits around simplification and digital transformation of the core that come with doing that. That’s our functional stuff that we do, so we show you our functional piece. But the reason the bank has a challenge to scale quickly and nimbly and towards cloud is the nonfunctional. It’s like almost this iceberg. At the top of the iceberg, what you’re seeing is all the functional, the 20%, 30% above the water. Beneath that you’ve got this 70%, 80% of the challenge, which is things like, okay, cost. How much does it cost? 

Data residency, can I put it in the cloud? And if the cloud is in a different country, is that compliant or does that meet regulations of the country I’m in. The security, is it secure? If I put my core banking asset, the customer data, out in the cloud, whether it be private or public, is that okay? And I have to check that. What about the performance? How much can I scale? If I’ve got a private cloud, is there a ceiling? If it’s public cloud, there’s probably ceiling, yes, but how much cost is there with that? The scalability of the architecture, exactly what I just sort of talked around, and the agility of the architecture. So it’s like, how quickly can I turn it on with a credit card? Within a matter of hours or is it that I’ve got to go and purchase it? And often, agility is interesting in banks because actually you could get on the cloud same day, but the purchasing cycle might take a number of months. So all these things are important. 

I think to cap that, the very first thing I would always say is, what’s the definition? So public cloud, I understand that. I think if you asked most people, they would understand that. But what is private cloud? Because private cloud could be quite simply an Amazon, a Google, an IBM, an Azure, or an Ali or a Tencent, providing a private area on public cloud. So that’s private cloud. Or is it the bank has bought a load of infrastructure and they’ve put some sort of operating system for cloud like Red Hat, OpenShift, or VMware Tanzu, or Rancher from SUSE. They put that across it and that’s the private cloud as a container layer. Or is it a mix of both and it becomes hybrid? 

I think everyone has a different view of what the terminology is. My view when you’re asking me that question is that public cloud is out there with an Amazon or a Google. The private cloud is actually the banks own private cloud. And I think with banking we’re seeing probably more of the secure assets being on premise in the bank’s data centers delivered on a container base layer. So using things like Kubernetes and Docker versus maybe more of the front end engagement systems, the digital tool systems where the customer interacts. You and I go on mobile devices and interact with the bank. That’s more of the front end on some sort of serverless architecture in one of the cloud providers. So I think this mix of hybrid is probably what we’re seeing the most of. 

And we solve for both because Zafin is a SaaS platform and we’re public cloud software as a service. But we also have a platform as a service offering that allows us to run on the mainframe, on an IBM Z platform, on an IBM Power System, on an x86 server, on any type of Kubernetes cluster, on prem or in any public cloud. So we have real flexibility and optionality around how we deploy for cloud. I think we leave it very much to customer choice, and that’s always going to be those functional areas I told you about around compliance regulation, security, performance, scalability, and agility. And I think that it’s important to have those conversations with the banks so that you give them the optionality they require. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

I have to ask, and just last couple of questions before I let you go, but I have to ask about the future of Zafin as you see it. As you think about the next chapter in Zafin’s evolution and sort of maturity, what do you think is the most effective next chapter in the business’s evolution? What might that look like? 

 

John Smith: 

Interesting. I’ll talk to areas I suppose on that, or two themes maybe. I think Zafin is moving towards this end to end products life cycle management platform and offering. So that’s from ideation, to execution, to retirement, and the whole life cycle end to end the product management. And what that delivers for is the future of finance and banking. So embedded finance. It allows us to go into new adjacent markets to deliver financial and non-financial products. Bring those back into banking, deliver to clients the ability to not just get your bank account, but take your Spotify and your other memberships into that and sell financial and non-financial products. 

Look at things like financial wellbeing, which is really important from a corporate social responsibility point of view. But many, many people now are becoming banked, but do they have the money to live month to month? Probably not. Most people are only a month away from really being in homelessness or being in poverty. And that is something, financial wellbeing, that the banks have a duty of care around and the governments have a duty of care around. So that financial wellbeing, I think will be in that. 

And then analytics at the core. They would be sort of the themes that this end to end life cycle management vision we have. And actually it’s not too far from a vision. We very much are moving in that direction. That’s where I would see our sort of three to five year roadmap. And with that there’s a significant growth, which we also have planned. Now, how would we deliver that? It would be through leveraging the power of the ecosystem. Everything we’ve talked about today is around ecosystem. The ability to leverage many different products or services from many different vendors and federate that to clients for customer experience. Bring in other partner vendors to work with us for certain sets of use cases in a certain number of banks, in a certain number of geos or even countries, or even individual banks depending on what they require. 

So very targeted offers, both from a joint ecosystem provision into the bank, but also right to the bank’s customer. End to end product life cycle management and then how that forms is on the basis of an ecosystem. So that sort of is the underlying foundation for things. 

And I think the other thing that we’re very clear on is some of the simplification of our point solutions. So we have a platform, but we also have some very strong point solutions that offer very targeted use cases for certain things. So I’ll give you an example, although we’re a product and pricing platform, our offers and rewards technology is very good for loyalty. Well, in many markets, loyalty is a very important thing at the moment and actually there’s lots of requirements for loyalty solutions. So that can be very cut down and sold into a bank to offer and deliver for their requirements very quickly. 

Another one would be our product catalog, which can be used to facilitate core modernization and digital transformation where we’re very much a leader. So it’s the simplification of the wider product set to deliver very common use cases that allows the bank to get very quick return on investment and deliver something that really is impactful in a short space of time. 

Nathan Anibaba: 

Really interesting. John, thanks so much for being on the show. I’ve got my last question that I really want to ask you, but thank you for sort of shedding light on the future of the financial services space and the ecosystems that are really kind of transforming everyone’s lives at the moment. Last question before I let you go, you’ve had a fascinating career yourself working at HP, Agilisys, IBM, and now Zafin. What advice do you give to other aspiring sort of technology entrepreneurs, or technology sort of executives on how best to navigate their careers? 

John Smith: 

Yeah. Be in charge of your career. So very much look at where you want to go and try to learn for that. Always make sure you technically understand the solution. So I’ve always believed that a really good exec and or a really senior manager or seller or consultant, should really know that technology. I think in this market, and banking and technology we know is merging, for this market, if you’re in a vertical, technology is now so integrated into all verticals, whether that’s life sciences, banking, or insurance, sort of technology needs to be part of what you know if you’re going to deliver benefits for businesses. So I think really know your tech, really get underneath that, really understand how it can be deployed strategically to drive change. 

For me also then take some methodologies around process improvement. And the reason I say that is one of the things we do at Zafin is we run a lot in agile methodologies like Scrum, and that’s really allowed us to really, really increase the speed and pace of what we do in a way that has taken us ahead of some of the competitors, and I think that’s really important. So take the best tips. I mean, another one would be Med It, I talked to you about, but that’s another hot topic for me at the moment. But look at all the new methodologies out there that you can employ as one and read up on them. That would be what I would say. 

And then also get good sponsors and good mentors in the business you’re in. And often don’t wait around for those people to come, actually go out and find them. So make sure you’ve got the right people sponsoring you and the right people helping you grow your career. And that has to come from you. So it’s easy to sit around and not do that, but I think they would be the things I would say. 

 

Nathan Anibaba: 

Great place to end. John, thank you so much for doing this. 

 

John Smith: 

No worries, Nathan. It’s been a pleasure. I really enjoyed talking to you. 

Nathan Anibaba: 

If you’d like to share any comments on this episode or any episode of ClientSide, then find us online at fox.agency. If you’d like to appear as a guest on the show, please email zoey@fox.agency. People that made the show possible are Zoey Woodward, our booker/researcher. David Clare is our head of content. Ben Fox is our executive producer. I’m Nathan Anibaba, and you’ve been listening to ClientSide from Fox Agency. 

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