Investec’s Chor Teh speaks exclusively to iMeta

Investec’s Chor Teh speaks exclusively to iMeta’s George Collier about tangibility in CLM and why technology and humans need to coexist to achieve best practice.

George Collier: Chor, could you tell us about what you do?

Chor Teh: I head up the Client Lifecycle Management team here at Investec Bank Plc. Prior to this role, I also had the opportunity to work with other big banks including JP Morgan and BNP Paribas to learn and see the best practices and then apply and embed them into what we do now. So, I currently look after the CLM team at Investec. That’s the usual: client onboarding, reviews, offboarding and I also have the change function which oversees system implementation and process improvement.

GC: Working across this part of the banks process, what has been your biggest learning or revelation?

CT: I think this is a great question. CLM has been an area in which I have experienced a mixture of emotions. In one way, I wear a hat to facilitate new business, the other side of my role is to ensure and protect the bank by preventing risky business from coming in. So, it is quite a complex dynamic that you have to go through in a very pressurised environment. It’s fast-paced, high-volume and we also have to ensure there’s continuous improvement. There are numerous check-ins with stakeholders and funders of all levels to present challenges and achievable goals. We also have to apply our SME knowledge to help the business grow organically.

GC: What do you see as the benefit of a fully-functioning CLM approach for a new client? Is it quantifiable at all?

CT: Yes, it has to be quantifiable. So, I personally think that to continue to get the business and senior management support, the ROI has to be tangible. Because it’s a continuous investment and to bring stakeholders into the journey, they need to believe in it. So, tangible or quantifiable results are key. In the case of Investec, we have examples already. One of them is the KYC automation. My team can onboard larger volumes, more quickly, without compromising data quality. That makes the pace much faster, we can actually activate clients in a couple of minutes in some cases.

GC: In your opinion, what’s the continuous challenge with client lifecycle?

CT: This is another great question. It’s something I am exploring right now. I call it perpetual KYC or continuous monitoring. That’s the next step. In the current situation with Covid, cost and efficiency almost become the thing that you need to have in order to achieve optimum results, and one of the ways to get there is through continuous monitoring. Continuous KYC comes as a key point in how you balance between data, process, technology and people. So, you need structured data to be able to manipulate so you can curate. You also need to upgrade your systems and technology whilst making sure you upskill your team members to be able to work digitally, not paper-based.

GC: Is it possible to overcome this in the short-term, in the near future?

CT: As we work more with the ecosystem, we see that this could be a solution in the next two to three years, but we need to work together, with both the bank and the vendor playing a part. The two of us need to feed into the conversation. It’s about providing constructive feedback so the vendor can learn from the users and have a colleague to work alongside and create a mutual benefit, in order to really leverage the ecosystem.

GC: Taking that into account, how do you think an onboarding experience can be enhanced from a customer perspective?

CT: There are many, many challenges. Where we are right now, with the Covid environment, where people are very focused on digital and self-servicing, those are the two key-elements that I would harness and really embrace. Because that’s where people are pouring either investment or technology, so we should use this opportunity to make this area a little more mature.

GC: What’s best practice in achieving improved operational efficiency and optimised client experience?

CT: Having worked on several big programmes, it’s about the right focus on data. You need to start from a journey that is pre-sales so that you are getting the data into a structured form and then pass that on from sales people to the KYC team. That will flow naturally, rather than tactical approaches.

GC: From a reg perspective, what’s the best approach to take to achieve the optimum in cost and efficiency whilst enforcing consistent and verifiable regulation compliance?

CT: I try to keep a very balanced view. I think if the organisation has the funding and capability to do that themselves and keep it up to date, yes by all means, they should invest the effort, but it needs to be a programme rather than a one-off effort. That becomes a challenging topic in terms of cost. Is it a three-year or five-year plan? Alternatively, I think there are mature ecosystems where you can go and pick up a solution off the shelf to fit in with the organisation you work with.

GC: Do you think a fully-automated client onboarding process is the end goal or will there always be a combination of technology and people?

CT: I like people and technology to work together. There are only certain products that you can fully digitalise. There are cognitive assessments that prove that humans are better at certain tasks & capabilities. I think people can bring in much better results working alongside technology. So, I don’t think it’s about relying solely on one or the other.

GC: What do you see as being the next major milestone in CLM?

CT: I’ve gone through this in various webinars or forums, I would like see progress in continuous monitoring. I think cost has become a big issue in the wake of Covid and how do you get away from the legacy of backlogs of reviews for example? How do you make that smarter and not just invest in humans but also in technology? How do you rely on that technology to give you the more accurate alert, so that you can focus on where the human can add value as opposed to just box-ticking? We should really be able to invest in continuous monitoring.

GC: What advice would you give your peers in implementing new software in this space?

CT: I’ll be as diplomatic as possible. I can’t say for all, but throughout my career I’ve learned one thing. We have to recognise that a piece of software might be able to solve problem A and B, but not problem C or D. So, you need to apply an appropriate solution in an appropriate manner. It goes back to the idea of an ecosystem and coexisting rather than using one system to take over the whole world.