"If you don't innovate, you'll be dead very quickly as a business," says Rudi Deruytter, CEO of CKV, the family-owned niche bank for savings and loans. Joining the bank almost seven years ago, Rudi found that many activities were still carried out manually and almost everything was documented on paper.
"Client behaviour is changing rapidly. We've always had personal, face-to-face contact with clients, but more and more they want to be able to consult their activities with us using other channels," Rudi Deruytter explains. "Given the specific public the bank serves, not having an app is currently ok, but it won’t be in just a few years," he warns. To prepare the business for the future, he knew that the bank had to change.
As a PwC audit client, Rudi Deruytter had heard about PwC’s Experience Centre in Brussels, but at first thought that it wouldn’t be of interest to CKV. "I'm a very curious person, intrigued by new technologies and concepts, but at the time, CKV wasn’t that sort of enterprise," Rudi Deruytter explains.
In closing the annual audit, a general discussion around innovation and digitisation arose. The PwC team suggested it might be helpful to the bank if the board of directors spent time in the Experience Centre to help them grasp the advantages of digital for CKV. "Such messages are much more impactful when they come from a third party," Rudi Deruytter says.
"The Experience Centre team was very well prepared and the exercises we went through were really eye-opening. We held a brainstorming session to help us step back and take a look at what we really need. We identified a number of areas for change and considered how we could develop further in these specific areas. And all against a background of looking at how the world, regulatory environment, people, etc. are changing. That really brought it home to the group that CKV needs to change too. However, I think we’d overestimated the board’s level of basic knowledge," Rudi Deruytter recalls.
Despite this, he believes that the session achieved what CKV required. Contrary to the initial resistance to do anything digitally, following a number of quick wins, there’s now a huge appetite for rapid change at the bank.
"If you don’t innovate, you’ll be dead very quickly as a business,"
But, despite his immense innovative ambitions, Rudi Deruytter is being careful to approach change in a clever way.
"As a small niche bank, we can’t afford to take the wrong decisions, so we look at what’s emerging before we act. At the beginning, there’s a lot of experimentation before concepts become mature. We wait until they’ve proven their benefit before we jump on board. But we’re making sure we’re ready to take the leap at the right time. It’s a step-by-step approach," he explains.
Learning about emerging technologies and digital innovations is something that PwC’s well placed to help with.
"We see PwC as a model, two or three steps ahead of us in terms of innovation. That’s why we trust it," Rudi Deruytter enthuses. He goes on, "there's a good click between the two firms. And I appreciate that throughout the audit mandate we’ve worked almost consistently with the same team. The advice given to us in terms of digitising our business demonstrates the deep understanding PwC now has of our firm. We've a long transformation journey ahead and I trust PwC to provide objective qualitative advice, in line with audit regulations of course."
Rudi Deruytter especially appreciates PwC's efforts to further facilitate the journey; "I'm invited to attend a lot of training sessions on different topics relevant to my business needs. As a small bank, having access to this knowledge and PwC experts is really useful," he notes.
Becoming a more digital organisation will help CKV fulfil at least two of its strategic ambitions; optimising its processes and preparing its workforce for the future. "Automation will enable our people to limit the amount of time they currently spend on less interesting, repetitive work, which they’re often overqualified for. We’ll be able to attract different profiles who can add greater insight," Rudi Deruytter says. The firm's already taking steps in this direction.
"During our session in the Experience Centre, it became clear that we'd no one on the board with an IT background, we've already resolved this. We’re also looking to hire other IT and cloud expert profiles," he notes. By optimising its processes, CKV will be a much more attractive employer for the additional profiles it’ll need going forward.
Since the session, a multi-year roadmap for the digital transformation of the business has been initiated, the backbone of which is the implementation of a leading cloud banking software platform to allow CKV to digitise core business processes and implement portal technology for brokers and customers.
Director, PwC Belgium
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