In the wake of complex regulatory changes in the banking industry, Paul took on the task of implementing a new operating model that would transform the way the business worked, yet enable it to continue functioning effectively and profitably.
At the same time, Paul needed to ensure that well-established relationships with over 600 clients were protected through significant contractual and pricing changes, and that those clients could continue to expect and receive at least the services and service levels they had benefited from before.
This was no ordinary change management exercise, however. The MiFID II reforms at the heart of the changes were fundamentally unclear and highly fluid, yet, at the same time, extremely time-sensitive.
From a place of uncertainty and pressure, Paul had to produce progress and stability – a big ask, whatever the size of the business!
Fundamentally, the special challenge in this project stemmed from the fact that the regulatory changes that would change the way the banking sector did business in this and other countries, were actually considerably fragmented across geographies.
At the same time, the project goalposts were not properly formalised, despite effective dates having been set, and so – inevitably – they had a tendency to move, exposing the project to risks of both time scale and budget in a schedule scenario that was already urgent.
Paul’s extensive experience in Finance meant he had a solid understanding of the complexities of the changes – which governed how banking products could now be sold, priced, and taxed – but his focus on commercial strategy made him acutely aware that the organisation needed a plan not only to map out and mitigate impacts, but to identify and exploit opportunities, too.
And behind this plan would sit a great deal of teamwork, communication, collaboration, and coordination.
Paul’s approach essentially took in five strategic “pillars”: internal engagement, client engagement, Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Analysis, technology value-add, and reporting.
Internally, he held daily meetings to maximise communication and ensure all teams were working consistently towards the common goal. (This approach also ensured that teams could react in an agile fashion to the moving goalposts and constantly emerging detail that were a hallmark of this project.)
In terms of client engagement, Paul prioritised the clients and focused generally on C-level contacts, delivering organised and
structured communication that positioned his team as trusted advisors in times of significant change and uncertainty, consulting and providing industry updates and best practice, and rigorously ensuring follow-up.
Business Intelligence (BI) and Business Analysis (BA) also came into their own as Paul recognised that processes like price negotiation were now somewhat adrift, because products that were previously often bundled now had to be sold separately. To bring rigour to the proceedings, Paul commissioned detailed BI and BA- a layer deeper than usual practice – to cut through the noise and support the development of an internal pricing model that would work for the business but also gain credibility with clients.
Paul recognised that smart use of technology could not only facilitate the change process, but enable the business to seize the opportunity to add lasting value to client relationships – and even accelerate the development of successful new products streams. Accordingly, he commissioned a new web interface and fully integrated sales ledger to navigate the changes, but also sponsored the development of a new and completely automated product offering that not only met with unanimous client approval, but delivered – in the midst of the upheaval – an incremental 100% profit margin!
And through timely reporting, initially weekly, of management information, Paul laid the foundations for constant communication that would evolve in line with how the available information itself changed over time, as the project progressed.
Ultimately, the measure of a successful project is whether it was delivered on time, and whether, at the point of that delivery, it achieved what it was supposed to.
Paul’s approach ensured that the project – a complete, integrated, front-to-back operating model – was finished, up, running, and ready for business with all clients on the date required – 3rd January.
However, a project’s success can also be measured by the lasting influence of its outcomes, and the finance systems and operating model Paul devised are still the foundation of a successful and efficient business five years later.
And because, for Paul, Finance, strategy, and commercials go hand-in-hand, it is perhaps unsurprising that the project not only achieved its nominal aims, but also enabled the business to gain competitive advantage and market share.
In short, Paul’s work was widely regarded as an important organisational success both internally and by the business’s clients.
Not a bad result for a project that looked to the industry like it had an identity crisis!
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