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Q&A with Hans Tesselaar

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Hans Tesselaar , Executive Director Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN)

How could you describe your career path in a few words?

My career ambition has always been to make a difference – and my career path has always followed this goal. From starting as a programmer to working in numerous IT consultancy, sales, and management roles, I have always strived to learn as much as I can to ensure that I can be the best I can be. Now, I’m the Executive Director of the Banking Industry Architecture Network (BIAN) and I am privileged to be able to work alongside some of the world’s leading industry experts from banks, fintechs and technology companies. In this role, we’re focused on advancing the industry through the development and implementation of industry standards.

So, you could say my career path has been a straight road to success (with a few bumps along the way!).

What are the highlights of banking transformations in 2022? Can you give us some major examples?

The financial services industry is in an incredibly exciting time of advancement and digital transformation. Following the pandemic, banks realised they needed to digitalise – and quickly – to cater to all customers and avoid further disruption. One transformation that has stood out for me is that of the Union Bank of the Philippines. This is because it’s a story of financial inclusion – and while digital banking has become widely adopted, it risks leaving some behind. By adopting BIAN as the framework for its solution, the Union Bank of the Philippines was able to transform its Retail Loans Engine to establish a seamless, fully digital experience that could scale up to meet the country’s huge demands for loans – allowing the bank to reach 51.2 million unbanked Filipinos. BIAN’s common reference standards enabled the Union Bank of the Philippines to innovate, collaborate across its ten business groups and individual processes, products and systems and accelerate its journey to digital transformation.

In terms of other highlights, there has been a specific focus on coreless banking – which has been great to see! This approach to banking, helps organisations assess their current technology stack and determine how they can bring new services to market both quickly and efficiently. BIAN has been working on a proof of concept, alongside, its members to empower banks to take this approach – this has been a real highlight for me!

In your opinion, what are the transformation axes that are becoming more important for banks in the context of 2023?

BIAN’s recent research project with IBM found that 88% of banking executives are troubled by their bank's commitments to multiyear projects, interoperability across technology environments and theft of sensitive data. A lack of industry standards is also causing significant problems and hindering the organisation's ability to bring new services, at the desired speed, to market.   This is why coreless banking model is becoming increasingly important. This approach will empower banks to select the software vendors required to obtain the best-of-breed for each application area without worrying too much about interoperability. Furthermore, this model will translate each proprietary message into one standard message model, meaning communication between services is significantly enhanced, ensuring that each solution seamlessly connects and exchanges standardised data. A system that can be reused and utilised from day one, and the ability to be used by other institutions, will mean the opportunities to connect the financial services industry are endless. 

Based on your recent experiences, and if you have one piece of advice to give for the success of transformation projects, what would it be?

There is a famous phrase from Lewis Carol: “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Previously, the IT industry has been captured by methodologies, including Agile, Scrum and Dev/Op teams, with the underlying idea that if teams of professionals could follow their instinct and then combine it with their subject matter expertise, they would rapidly change the world. But now the industry is realising that things have to change to do so. This is why the industry has moved from adopting these methodologies to working in incremental sprints, resulting in a project’s timeline moving from months or even years to a matter of weeks. The assumption was that long-term planning would become an obstacle to success, and that a long-term architectural vision would hinder creativity and speed of development. This seems logical, but it also has the same logic as building a city without city planning or building a house without a floor plan. It has now become apparent this way of working makes it difficult for organisations to connect the dots that have been developed in isolation, posing several obstacles given the increasing regulatory focus on providing insight into the data used. The industry must find ways to overcome the obstacles created by their own internal architecture, including challenges of poor to non-existing documentation, outdated systems and languages, monolithic systems, and robust silos. BIAN’s Service Landscape, for instance, has been developed to help address these obstacles and can be tailored to the needs of the individual organisation. To summarise, you should start drawing your end-state followed by the current state, before rushing off to score “quick wins”! If you know where you are today and you’ve drafted were you want to go it, the road will be clear! Please note: clear does not mean easy!

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