Do you need to be able to pontificate about high-level strategy to get a senior job at Standard Chartered in Singapore these days? Perhaps not always, but it certainly helps.
The bank’s Singapore office has resumed its strategy hiring binge by poaching from UBS. Christopher Williams joined Stan Chart earlier this month as a managing director and global head of strategy, governance and change for technology services.
Williams previously spent more than four years as head of tech services strategy and transformation at UBS in London. Prior to that, he worked as a director of technology strategy and architecture at Deloitte (2013 to 2015) and as a consultant in enterprise infrastructure at Morgan Stanley (2007 to 2013), according to his online profile.
As we been reporting over the past few months, Stan Chart is developing a thing for hiring senior consultants (both in-house and external ones) into strategy roles in Singapore, the office where many of its global heads are based.
Earlier this year the Asia-focused bank recruited Pierre Paoli from Boston Consulting as head of its strategic initiatives unit for commercial and institutional banking, while last October it took on Jeroen Steenbergen from Accenture as a director in its operational excellence team. And just last month Stan Chart hired IBM consultant Sushil Anand as head of computational and digital advisory for wealth management.
Stan Chart’s recruitment of strategists and consultants has been partly triggered by its restructuring drives, which have been ongoing in various guises since mid-2015 when Bill Winters became CEO. Most recently, in February, Stan Chart announced plans to trim $700m in costs in the next three years and cut back low-return operations in markets such as India, Indonesia and South Korea. The bank’s 2018 cost-to-income ratio of 69.9% was only a marginal improvement from 2017 (70.8%), and its share price has fallen almost 40% since Winters took over. In short, the bank needs more people to help it improve its business performance.
However, in Williams’ field – technology – Stan Chart’s business strategy is as much about investment as it is about cost savings. The bank spent $1.6bn on tech last year, up from $900m in 2015. While spending on legacy tech systems flatlined during that time, costs within ‘strategic’ or ‘systems enhancement’ IT (emerging technology) trebled to $900m as Stan Chart invested in areas such as blockchain cross-border remittance and machine learning tools to enhance financial crime surveillance.
Williams worked in a data centre operations role at Cargill in the UK at the start of his career and then joined Accenture in 2003 as a senior manager in infrastructure consulting.
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