New Horizons and Careers in Digital Banking at RBS: An Interview with Kim Mcneil
The pace of digital change over the past two decades has been staggering. We’ve seen new technologies open new possibilities, and enterprises of all kinds doing more and more of their business online.
The world of commercial banking is evolving too. At RBS we’re determined to harness the power of digital innovation to create value and opportunity for our commercial customers, from small start-up businesses, to complex multinationals. The question at the heart of it all is – what can we do to help businesses succeed?
Right now we’re building a team of talented people to help us shape the answer: a digital platform for the future – one that dynamically evolves with the needs of our customers.
To find out more about the team, our plans and the challenges that lie ahead, I spoke with Kim Mcneil, Head of Digital Services for Commercial & Private Banking. We started by talking about Kim’s own career path.
Chennai to Bristol: Journey to a Career in Digital
Kim: My own background is in Operations and Transformation, and I started this role in June last year. Personally, I’m still enjoying the learning process. Everything feels fresh, and we’re building something which is new in the industry too, so there’s a real sense of adventure.
Rob: I believe, before you started this role, you were working in India. Could you tell us a bit about that?
Kim: That’s right. In 2010 I moved out to India with my husband and three children, and spent 6 years leading our Lending Operations team there. We stayed for 18 months in Mumbai and then five years in Chennai.
It was an amazing experience. Working in another country is a challenge and wonderful at the same time. Getting used to the cultural differences wasn’t always easy, but I loved working with the people I met. We were part of a truly multicultural community and we had so many experiences there, personally and professionally, that we simply wouldn’t have had here in the UK. It was an eye-opening and hugely rewarding time.
A New Digital Platform – Reinventing Bankline
Rob: Turning to look at Digital Services, could you tell us about what we have planned?
Kim: Absolutely. My role, in leading the Digital Services team, is about making sure we deliver the best digital experience for our customers. That means ensuring our channels and platforms are secure, that they’re evolving in-step with our customers’ needs, and that we have the right culture and talent to accomplish all this.
Digital banking is a huge development area. Our commercial customers spend 80% of their overall banking time using our online services and, at present, through our digital platform we make around £7 - 8 billion worth of transactions a day. Our core digital platform, Bankline, is very popular with customers, but when we look at market developments and the potential of technology today, we know there’s still more we can do.
We’re now in the process of re-inventing Bankline, and where we want to take it to will be a whole different place. We’re exploring new frontiers – and that presents us with a big challenge and some really exciting possibilities.
Rob: So what’s the vision for the new platform?
Kim: Firstly we want to make things easier and simpler for customers: we want them to be able to focus on what’s important to them and not have to waste time with cumbersome processes. But over and above making everyday banking simpler, we want to deliver new insights that will help customers grow their businesses. That could mean tools to help them better understand the market, or ways of sharing best practice and building connections – which all add up to better business decision making.
Rob: And the new platform will be used by the whole spectrum of commercial customers?
Kim: Exactly. Our customer base is incredibly diverse, from new start ups and family businesses, right up to large corporations. So one of the interesting challenges is developing a single interface that’s flexible and responsive to such a wide variety of needs. We’re also focusing on the question of how digital interacts with non-digital services. We want whatever digital journey our customers take to work seamlessly with face-to-face and telephony interactions, and for both channels to compliment each other perfectly.
Right now the new Bankline is in the testing phase. Throughout this year and beyond, we’ll be fine-tuning it, building it out, integrating more and more features, and migrating more and more customers from the old platform. Strategically, logistically, and technically, we have a lot to accomplish.
Skills for Careers in Digital at RBS
Rob: With that in mind, what kind of things are you looking for from people joining the team?
Kim: The roles we’re looking to bring on broad are all about taking the seed of a new solution we’re giving to customers, exploring its potential and consonantly improving it. We’re looking for people with digital experience to own and develop components of the new platform, so it keeps moving with the times and even helps shape them.
Right now there’s a lots of innovation in the market – from Open Banking to artificial intelligence – so we need people who are passionate about engaging with that. It’s about exploring the art of the possible: what capabilities are out there, what are small fintechs doing really well for niche solutions that we can learn from and harness for a broader customer base?
“The overriding message would be – really putting the customer first in our thinking and then leveraging the technology available to us to deliver for them.”
There’s a lot of trial and error too. We have our guiding principles, but for what we’re doing here there’s no prewritten roadmap, so we need people with a spirit of adventure, who aren’t fazed by working with elements of the unknown. I would expect anyone applying for these roles to be quite comfortable with experimenting, inventing, and collaborating to drive things forward. We’ll need to gather as much insight as we can, think things through from a customer perspective, from a feasibility perspective, and then experiment. If it doesn’t work, no matter; we test and try again.
Our Digital Services Hub in Bristol
Rob: It sounds like a very collaborative enterprise.
Kim: Absolutely. Everything about the platform has to work well together, and that goes for the people who are crafting it too. A big part of our approach is about collective creativity and shaping an environment where that spirit can thrive. With that in mind, we’re building a new digital studio in Bristol where the team will be based. It’s been designed to enable a new way of working in Digital. It’s about putting small cross-discipline teams together to create solutions collaboratively and dynamically. So where traditionally you’d have each discipline area working separately, here you’ll see designers, testers, coders, journey managers all working together around the same table, sharing ideas and learning from each other in the process.
Rob: Lastly, Kim, I was going to ask if you have any advice for people who’d be interested in applying?
Kim: Hmmm. Let’s see. These are challenging roles, there’s a lot of expectation around digital banking and what it will deliver, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity – it’s an open canvas and we need to go out there and enjoy what we do.
Have a real passion for your work, keep thinking things through from the customers’ perspective, and don’t be afraid to experiment, because that’s how we’ll shape something new and truly valuable.
If you’re interested in finding out more and applying for roles in our Digital Services team, you can explore our current opportunities