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Inside View: Lloyds Banking Group

UK’s fourth-largest lender says business schools provide high-calibre talent

Thu Oct 1 2015

For Lloyds Bank, digital is a priority. The UK’s fourth-largest lender was the first to launch a bespoke digital recruitment scheme.

As large lenders come under threat from new players, they need talent to lead bold digital initiatives. Lloyds for instance is among the banks teaming up with retailers to offer personalized discounts through mobile apps based on spending pattern data.

Lloyds has innovated in other ways too. It has developed “innovation hubs”, and its investments in technology have seemingly brought results: more than 11 million active online customers, and six million mobile banking users.

Nick Williams, consumer digital director at Lloyds Banking Group, says that business schools provide a high-calibre of candidate.

In an interview with BusinessBecause, he says the UK government backed bank has run formal partnerships with top schools, and many of the bank’s employees come from business education backgrounds.

How important are business schools as a talent pipeline to the bank?

Business schools provide a high-calibre of candidate for any top tier employer, and we have many individuals within the business who have come from this background.

In the past we have run formal partnership programs with various business schools successfully, and this remains an option in the future.

As technology continues to affect everything we do inside and outside of work, we will also seek different skill-sets, such as design expertise and software engineering proficiency, for example, alongside more traditional commercially-minded individuals.

Is finding the talent to deal with new digital services a challenge?

Recognising the importance of digital and the part it will play in the future of the bank, we have developed a bespoke digital graduate scheme — the first digital-specific graduate training scheme for a UK bank — for those looking to develop a professional career in digital.

Launched in 2014, we received over 1,200 applications and 29 graduates will start in September 2015.

In addition, the Group has built an in-house Digital Academy, focusing time, commitment and investment in its digital colleagues, and which drives digital skills training.

Working in digital at Lloyds Banking Group is different to working at a traditional bank. The digital business is encouraging colleagues to develop innovative ideas and embed digital thinking into everything we do.

Can the financial services industry move fast enough to avoid being overtaken by digital challengers?

Banks are continuing to evolve to meet the new challenges that digital companies present. At Lloyds Banking Group we’re looking at how we can meet this demand in an agile way through our innovation hubs, the proof of concepts we test (around 40 each year) and through partnerships such as Startupbootcamp.

When it comes to competition, there is always more that can be done on an industry-wide basis to improve. We welcome developments in competition, be it from digital-only banks or digital payment providers.

Ultimately competition provides more choice to customers, so it will be interesting to see how it continues to grow in digital banking over the coming years.

The number of high-profile technical failures in the financial services industry in recent years has alarmed experts. How much will legacy systems hold back banks?

In Lloyds Banking Group we continually invest in the latest technology and as such have a system that has the capability to meet evolving technological demands.

We have a cutting-edge IT platform that enables us to meet the demands put upon modern banks, including over 25 million of our customers; this has enabled us to have some of the strongest IT resilience figures across the sector.

Will mobile banking at some point become the dominant way we access our accounts?

Our customers are increasingly using digital to complement our branch and telephone service. In 2014, 36% of our customers managed their financial affairs across all three channels — branch, digital and telephone banking. We now have over 11 million active online customers, who [have] logged on to our secure sites over 1.6 billion times in the last 12 months.

Customers increasingly want to access services in a way that is most convenient for them, whether that is via face-to-face, in branches, online, through mobile banking, or over the phone.

We will follow customers in the services that they require and make them as easy to use as possible. Mobile banking is an important part of this mix — we now have six million active mobile banking users.

Banks have vast amounts of data about consumer transactions and spending habits. What potential do you see for the use of data to improve services?

There are clear customer benefits that can be achieved through data, which is evidenced through our spending rewards propositions Halifax Cashback Extras and Lloyds Bank Everyday Offers.

These propositions use anonymized customer spending data to identify and present customers with cashback offers from retailers that we know will be relevant to them.

The offers can be activated through online banking or our mobile banking apps… [providing] customers the flexibility to quickly check their offers when they are on the move and before making a purchase.

More broadly, success[ful banks] in the future will be those who are able to interpret and act on data in real time to provide customers with a personalized and relevant experience.