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Tuesday 20 August 2019
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Schnoor: Customers driving changes at Scotiabank

Scotiabank is on a digital transformation drive to make it easier for customers to complete simple transactions online while increasing the number of staff available to meet the growing demand for advice and solutions on large financial decisions.

Managing Director of Scotiabank Trinidad and Tobago (Scotiabank), Anya Schnoor, said this means “moving simple transactions out of our branches (and) creating branches that provide a focus on advice and solutions.”

“So we’re going to have more staff dedicated to sales, dedicated to talking to customers, in a different way. Not just doing bill payments, withdrawals, and so on which can be done electronically. What’s driving the change in the bank is our customers, who are demanding access to banking services at their convenience. That’s the change that’s happening not only in banking but around the world in almost every industry.”

Schnoor was addressing the media at the event, “Insights with the Chairman and Partner Appreciation”, held at the bank’s head office, corner of Park and Richmond Streets, Port-of-Spain on July 7.

Asked if the branch digitisation strategy would lead to a reduction in staff, Schnoor told reporters Scotiabank would be growing in “different ways.”

This would likely lead to continued expansion of the bank’s Shared Services Hub (SSH) in Chaguanas which serves its entire south Caribbean operation.

“When you look at the investment we’ve made in our SSH here, it has grown in the last three years from a little over 200 employees to close to 500 employees. We expect that, that is going to continue to grow. More and more, we’re looking at creating and enhancing our capability centres, the hub (in Chaguanas) being one of them.”

When Business Day questioned if this meant an eventual transfer of some branch staff to the SSH, Schnoor replied, “No” before expanding on the digitisation aspect of the bank’s strategic plan.

“Maybe staff will move from tellers to more PBOs (personal banking officers), more customer interaction. What we are trying to do is move from simple transactions to creating more value-added. Here in Trinidad for instance, we launched premium banking three years ago - a whole new way in which we deliver services to our high-end clients. So it’s about moving transactions out of our branches while creating branches that provide a focus on advice and solutions.”

Regarding the cost of online banking, Schnoor reminded that “our internet banking services are free” and that investing in digital allows the bank to reduce operating costs which in turn means lower transaction fees for customers.

Scotiabank’s Chairman, Brendan King, also spoke about this particular strategy, noting that “by 2020, we expect that less than ten percent of financial transactions will occur in global branch network.”

Currently, an estimated 30 percent to 40 percent of transactions are done in branches, including here in TT.

Even as there is predicted to be a significant reduction in in-person banking, King said the bank expects sales from digital channels to “increase materially, likely in excess of 50 percent on all products sold.”

Scotiabank branches are therefore being renovated to provide financial advice more effectively and to conduct the declining volume of day-to-day transactions more efficiently.

This has already taken place in Mexico City and is underway in the bank’s home country of Canada while the Caribbean roll out will begin in Barbados “within the next six months.”

“Our aim is for these new branches to be rolled out in TT in the near future as we renovate or open new branches. These new branches will be smaller and staffed differently. They will be better organised and better equipped for the benefit of both customers and employees,” King stated.

Among the customer benefits, he added, would be a reduction in the wait-time for approval of mortgage applications. The change has already come into effect in Canada.

“Under the new process, the majority of mortgage applications can be completed with a single branch visit. All documents can be provided digitally from the comfort of a customer’s home or office and end-to-end approval can happen in as little as one day.”

King said the bank is also “significantly improving” the application process for credit cards, day-to-day banking, small business loans and other products.

“The turnaround time to open a small business account will eventually be reduced from up to three weeks to approximately 20 minutes. Eventually the time it takes to fill out an online credit card application will be significantly reduced from eight minutes to just two minutes for an instant approval decision.”

King noted that the entire process would be more intuitive and require customers to answer fewer questions, thus meeting Scotiabank’s strategic objective of providing more efficient, tailored services to its customers.

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