The Power of Data Podcast
Episode 17: The Accidental Banker
Guest: Bill Winters, Group CEO, Standard Chartered
Interviewer: Sam Tidswell-Norrish, International CMO - Dun & Bradstreet
Sam TN 00:00
Hi, welcome back to the Power of Data podcast. I'm joined today by Bill Winters, Group CEO of Standard Chartered. Welcome.
Bill Winters 00:06
My pleasure to be here.
Sam TN 00:07
I say welcome, I'm sitting in your beautiful office with incredible artwork all around us. So really, I think it's welcome to me.
Bill Winters 00:14
It is a fun place to, to sit and cogitating about data.
Sam TN 00:17
Yeah, maybe not about data there, because it feels like there's a lot of history here that said, history plays a very important part in data and DNB should know that being nearly 200 years old, bit of an oxymoron, I think. You've had a truly extraordinary career Bill, and I promise you that's not something I say to everyone. It really has been you've combined a corporate career, 26 years in leadership roles at JPMorgan, with an entrepreneurial career with an asset management firm that you founded. And over the last few years, you've been at the helm, steering Standard Chartered to glory. Can you tell our listeners a little bit about your career so far?
Bill Winters 00:51
Sure. I'm happy to say steering Standard Chartered towards glory, where we haven't yet achieved that glorific Nirvana state, but we will. I'm an accidental banker, I fully intended to be a diplomat back in graduating University in 1983. But needed to scrape together some tuition money, and JP Morgan was available at the time. So I consider myself extremely lucky to have fallen into that. That niche. I never had a bad day there, maybe one bad day towards the end, but just had 26 fantastic years, doing lots of different things at JP Morgan, but ended up in the third quartile of my career there in and around markets. So derivative markets in particular, which was probably my earliest exposure to data in its digital form, because it just so much of what we were doing at that time was was trying to understand how we could manage risk in perfect in underdeveloped hedging instruments, relying on data to inform that the basis was that we were taking, but yeah left JPMorgan in 2010 was again, we got very lucky to have been asked to participate in a UK Government commission at a time when the UK Government had come with a coalition government, with the task being to recommend structural changes to the UK banking system that obviously reflecting the experiences from the financial crisis and also to deal with the issue of lack of competition and UK banking. So it was called The Independent Commission on banking but but known as the vicar's commission because it was chaired by John Vickers fantastic experience for me. And there were five of us five commissioners, staff from the Treasury, and the Bank of England and the PRA and other relevant entities. It just gave me a chance to look at the banking industry from outside and also at least a bit from the perspective of the people, the population or government, rather than obviously from the perspective of the banker. And we made some pretty what turned out to be very impactful recommendations, including ring fencing, which is now fully embedded in the UK structure. It just gave me an understanding of banking that was different than the one that I had acquired through the years it was more academic and clearly also from a regulators perspective, although I clearly wasn't a regulator. And that informed as well, some of the decisions I took in terms of setting up a Renshaw Bay, which was a private credit company, basically, that was, indeed in fact to fill some of the gaps in terms of financing and availability that the banks have been providing historically, when I was tempted back into banking in 2015 we sold Renshaw Bay to GAM which so the fund carried on there. They've done quite well, there is in fact a need. And that continues to be a need for private credit to complement the banking system. But thankfully the banking system has gotten back fully on its feet as well. Of course, I'm talking about Standard Chartered, but more of the UK banks who were in a very difficult position in 2010 11, and now are in very good health. I'd like to think that supported by some of the work that we contributed to back in 2011 12. Yes, I've been here at Standard Chartered first time having responsibility for a retail business, Standard Chartered about half retail, half wholesale broadly, or corporate. And of course, I was always around the retail business. So certainly during the time after the JPMorgan Chase merger in 2000, I watched the retail business, but I wasn't part of it. Now. I'm part of it. And it's fascinating. It's a great business. It's very, very different than investment banking. And the corporate banking that we pursue here is a little bit different than the investment banking that I pursued it at JP Morgan, some of the same products similar to underwriting bonds and structure finance and finance and traded markets, etc. But we're a much bigger transaction bank here, we’re much more local. And we have this extraordinary network that covers 60 plus countries. And you know, 25, of which were we have a substantial local retail business. That is something that it's unique that we're not the only bank that has a network and Citibank and HSBC had networks as well as just their networks are different. And ours is every country in Asia, every ASEAN country, every South Asian country, most countries in the Middle East and 17 countries in Africa, in addition to the US and Europe, etc. So it's just it's a unique beast. They've had a ton of fun figuring out what we can do with this. And I think we've made some good progress.
Sam TN 04:31
Awesome, thank you. Not to get back to the very beginning of that. But do you ever have that sliding doors moment where you think what was the life of Bill Winters is going to be like, accidental banker versus politician? And what would the world be like if Bill Winters was a politician?
Bill Winters 04:42
I'm sure I never would have been a politician. I think I would have failed very quickly in that endeavor. I probably wouldn't have been very successful as a diplomat either a maybe a little bit too direct sometimes and outspoken. But what attracted me to diplomacy I think was probably the idea that somebody would pay me to see the world and I just got that a different way. Maybe even a little bit more of it than I thought I might want.
Sam TN 05:02
Yeah, ironically, I think actually bankers have a lot more diplomacy than politicians, but that’s a whole different story.
Bill Winters 05:07
Sam TN 05:08
So as the world undergoes its regulatory and digital transformation, there's never been a more exciting time, but in financial services and in technology, but it's been less of a transformation, really more of a turnaround, which is something that you and other leaders have talked about. First part of this question is on trends, namely technology trends, what have you seen emerge that's been really of interest since 2008?
Bill Winters 05:31
Since 2008, an enormous amount, and I think what I certainly would have experienced at Standard Chartered has been both the turnaround and a transformation, which is in some ways, it's easier because you, you can force the transformation when you have to take some tough actions in any case. And in some cases, it's more difficult because they really are two different sets of activities. But since 2008, the biggest change in terms of the environment we operate it is we've gone from being a very lightly regulated industry. Not absolutely, I mean, absolutely, the regulation was so high but certainly relative to what we have today, there was less regulation and today's extremely intrusive regulation. And that's the nature of banking financial services in general, from a technology perspective that clearly has thrown off a few obvious consequences. One is there are things that are just much more difficult for banks to do today than they could do before some social useful things, like lend money and some less socially useful things like package structured products into opaque ways that later contributed to losses that later contributed to the financial crisis. And the role that technology has played to provide part of the filling up the gaps that banks have left because of our own misadventures, but also because of regulation, has been spectacular. So in countries where the regulatory environment has been relatively benign for non bank players think China, you've had the entire small value payments industry shift from the banking sector to the non bank sector with Alibaba and Tencent, and then a huge amount of value by value, I mean, cash flow, but an enormous amount of customer acquisition has taken place. And not so much because the technology was that special, although I think there's some extraordinary things that those companies and other payments companies have done, because there was an unmet customer need. And banks were too busy focusing on their own problems, then dealing with that unmet need, which was I want to be able to make small value payments very, very easily. I being a consumer or merchant or anybody in between. So was that a technical innovation, or was it a product innovation that really was just a little bit enabled by technology? I think it's very much the latter. Those innovations have been technically certainly relevant or exciting, but it's not a technology play. It was dealing with a customer need. And the biggest change that I see banks going through right now, I think, including our own is late but better late than ever adopting a customer mindset to do exactly the way a FinTech company or, or an e commerce company, or, you know, 25 years ago, you know, the likes of Amazon, were simply focused on addressing unmet customer needs, and banks have not been good at that, but we're getting better.
Sam TN 07:51
Talking about adopting customer mindset often requires an enormous cultural shift in a bank, for any form of innovation really requires that cultural shift and I think trying to move such a large mass of people to where you needed to be does take a long time. So I don't think the banks can beat themselves up on that. It just takes time. You've spoken about one of the key aspects and one of the hardest aspects of transformation is around selecting the right people how when you joined Standard Chartered, did you go about that?
Bill Winters 08:18
That's one of the hardest things I did, because I knew Standard Chartered for a long time, and they were a client of JP Morgan. And we were a client of theirs. There was a strong relationship, but I knew the management, at least a bit through my banking commission work and separately, and I always had a kind of a soft spot for Standard Chartered to maybe like a romantic attachment just because of the markets where we operating and the like. But I didn't know people down through the organization. And I didn't have a good sense when I arrived, what the real issues were. I knew what some of the problems were, I mean, there were clearly were problems. So my predecessor and you know, a large part of his management team of the board all left at the same time, that was an indication that things aren't going perfectly. And the way I went about the people selection process was a couple things where I really had a quite a strong bias to bringing in a fresh set of eyes. So the people that didn't have a lot of Standard Chartered experience, roles like Chief Risk Officer given some of the problems that we had. And in fact, the previous Chief Risk Officer had already announced his intention to depart. So there was a search ongoing that I picked up. And we looked at internal and external candidates, but I was happy that we were able to attract at an extremely high caliber external candidate for that role. But I wanted to make sure that we had a healthy mix of people that really understood the organization. Well, the CFO had joined the bank about six months before I did, the Head of Technology and Operations had been hired by my predecessor was due to start the same day I did. The general counsel was new to the company about a year before I arrived. So we already had a healthy dose of external perspective, either already in the company or about to join. And I wanted to make sure that we had a good strong set of capabilities and people from inside the organization who knew the history of this place, and we don't have D&Bs 200 years we do have 162. And there's a lot of history in there. With one exception, the previous management team, so sort of the top 13 person executive board. They were all either going or gone. And there was one person from that team who we retained who is still running our European America's business in addition to a private bank. But everybody else was gone, that part of the decision was either already taken or it was easy. The next level down was about 40 people and they were spread between London, Singapore, Dubai, Hong Kong, Delhi, Bombay, I guess, and New York and I knew that we needed to come up with a team very quickly because the bank had been decapitated, right. And not just at the at the CEO level, but the whole senior management layer was gone. So I did the best I could to meet everybody, some only by video conference. Some I managed to get some face to face time with. I had traveled around the network a lot, so I had met a couple hundred people by the time in the first eight weeks or so. And I've just made some bets. And it was tough because the other good people who I didn't have a job for and people who were probably very good, I just didn't have a job for or, or I didn't have a job on my top team. And there were bets on people who I didn't know as well as I'm used to knowing people who I put into senior leadership positions. With the benefit of hindsight, it was pretty good. And the team is basically intact. We've had a couple of people have left us as happens inevitably. We brought a couple more people in externally, which also happens inevitably. And we promoted a couple of people from within a couple of the 40 that were left that were a layer or two down in the organization showed why they belonged at the top table and they’re there, they're some of our strongest performers. My criteria was, first and foremost, you've got to be relevant and capable for the role. That was there's no problem having relevant skills and experience. The second is going to be a team. And there was a certain lack of team orientation, I would say, amongst the senior members of the previous management, some would say a complete lack of team orientation. I wasn't there, I can't really judge it. But knowing that we were going to have a team that operated as a team was a criteria, so chemistry became very important, you know, am I gonna be able to work with this person? And are they going to be able to work with each other? Very hard to judge until you really get to know somebody and see them in action, but we did the best we could. And it's worked out pretty well.
Sam TN 11:43
Wow, that must have seemed like somewhat of an insurmountable task at the time with the geographic scale this bank has, knowing that you had so many roles to fill and how important each of those roles were. And I can say this now, I think with the benefit of hindsight, yeah, it must be daunting.
Bill Winters 11:58
It's a bit daunting, but there's also no choice. So I've always found in my career when you don't feel you have an alternative then doing what you have to do is not hard.
Sam TN 12:04
Bill Winters 12:05
You just do it, you do the best you can.
Sam TN 12:06
Yeah, I guess to some degree you knew you're coming into in that respect.
Bill Winters 12:10
Yeah, I knew we were going to have to make a lot of change.
Sam TN 12:11
You've often spoken also about simplifying the bank. That's something that I find particularly interesting, I think in businesses that have grown so large, and simplification can come in the form of operational simplification, talent, processes, and obviously also technological, and almost always, it's to drive returns, to cut costs, and ultimately, to make the bank less risky. At D&B we focus on a number of those different areas. You know, for example, when it comes to cost reduction, people don't necessarily think about data, being something that can help that the analysis of certain areas of the business obviously provides information, putting in processes and cost reduction capabilities, such as automated decisioning engines that combine the analytics capabilities with data also helps. How have you guys been simplifying the bank. And how important is it of having a single customer view? You're such a big bank, how do you enable your team to know their customers as well as they can?
Bill Winters 13:10
Yeah, there's a ton in that question. And simplification, I would say very broadly splits into the mechanical things and the cultural things. The mechanical things are, I will say they're easy to fix. But once you've identified what you want to simplify, it's a matter of money, technology and process reengineering, and you can simplify. The cultural things are much harder and harder to get your arms around. And I'd say Standard Chartered was complex, mechanically. So four different core banking systems and the fourth having 17 different instances across our 70 markets. That's structurally complex, it means to do every new product rollout has to be at least customized to some degree, somewhere between four and 21 times. In addition to whatever you need to do for local regulatory requirements or customer needs. That's mechanical, it's very challenging to address that kind of complexity, it’s challenging to remove manual elements of what should be a digital end to end process, but we know how to do it. And you need to train the muscle and put the resources into it. And we've been doing that consistently. So it manifests itself and things like I was taking us 45 days to onboard a new corporate customer. We got that down to something like five, and we'll get it down to two. And for smaller companies where we don't need the same level of sort of human intervention, we'll get it down to more or less real time, you know, 15 minutes or something like that. That's technology, process reengineering. It's not just the process reengineering. It's also simplifying our organization, we had something like 14 levels between the CEO and the lowest ranked worker in the organization, that's probably wrong by something like five. And so we delayered aggressively. And we took about 25% of the management out of the top 2000 people in the first four months. And we didn't miss a beat. And I'm not saying that they weren't good people. Of course, there are some good people in there. But really, there were layers that were gumming up the works rather than making it easier for people to thrive. So we did the organizational simplification, we're still quite complicated and in a bank that that does wholesale retail private banking across, you know, 25 to 65 countries depending on which products you're talking about, with a balkanize regulatory environment where national regulators now each have their own requirements rather than deferring to the home regulator, which was the norm pre financial crisis. So distant capital requirements, liquidity requirements, it's complex, which kind of takes us to the cultural complexity, which is that recognizing that your complex is a great excuse for people to not do their job. And it gives everybody 1000 places to hide. And, you know, like a lot of bureaucratic organizations. Yeah, especially one sort of born out of the British Empire, the propensity to create those hiding places, and that making sound a little bit worse than it probably is, but it leads to slow decision making risk aversion and challenges in terms of identifying accountability for a particular problem or a particular solution and dealing with those cultural issues. I mean, you can deal with some of it mechanically organized differently. You can have different measurement processes in the like, but a lot of it requires a cultural adaptation that, that's supported by an element of organizational science. So the latest entrance to our management team, it was a new COO. We gave him responsibility for effectively reengineering our client experience, from end to end, it’s responsible for operations as well as operational excellence type organization. And I don't know if he likes it when I call him this, but it's a he's an organization and process improvement scientist. So he's got a framework that's quite rigid. And it's fundamentally anchored in the client experience from end to end. And we reorganize it one at a time, but we organize our, our process, our technology, the organization itself, the way people operate, with the view to improving the customer journey. And we're certainly not by far not the only people that are doing this. But I think we've got a particular need that is particular to our level and type of complexity. And the progress is just fantastic.
Sam TN 16:46
Thank you. Both of our organizations have a partnership with a firm that helps reduce risk a firm called Quantexa, that does contextual decisioning intelligence software, the partners with banks to help reduce financial crime as the world's global trade bank, you guys are uniquely well placed to tackle and disrupt financial crime using data to identify those risks connected parties and corporate linkages that exist around the world, your heritage, your brand, your footprint are all key areas to lend itself to help peripheral areas of financial services that banks may not have tackled before. What are some of those areas that you guys are looking at, at the moment?
Bill Winters 17:24
It's been a huge area of focus for us at the outset. There were a series of problems that probably led to my appointment here, but one of them was that our financial crime controls were deemed inadequate, back in 2012, and 14, and the bank before I arrived, but certainly during my time has invested massively in upgrading our capabilities around transaction monitoring and, and associated surveillance and then reporting and had managed to put the legacy issues largely behind us at this point. Of course, you're never done with the task of creating new capabilities and improving your services and improving our monitoring. But it's been a tremendous area focus for us. First step for us was just get our own act together. Improve the quality of our data, the tools that we're using to analyze transactions and identify risks, and then then report them. We will constantly be improving. But we have broken the back of that. And we've gotten the sort of the green light from regulators, monitors and things like that. But we probably always knew, but certainly came to understand along the way is that the value that can come from one bank is meaningful, we produce tens of thousands of suspicious activity reports per year, you're going to various regulators, hundreds of thousands in fact. But the value that comes from banks who are sharing information is vastly greater, exponentially greater. But there's severe limitations to what banks can do in terms of sharing confidential client information with anybody including other banks. So the kinds of things that we've done and Quantexa is involved in this in some way. But we've set up other groups of banks, very much initiated by my predecessor at Standard Chartered, who have put frameworks in place using things like you know, legislation under the US Patriot Act that allow for sharing of secret bank information on national security grounds to work very carefully with other banks, with the Department of Justice or the FBI or Homeland Security. There's an equivalent here called gimlet, which allows here being the UK, which allows banks to share data. We use data partners as well who have the data analytics capabilities that can complement our own. And it's been vastly, vastly more impactful. Our initial foray actually was focusing on human trafficking, the one that's hard to argue against and very impactful in terms of through bank sharing, identifying payment networks, or criminal networks that were using the payment system. We've been involved in and done very specific work with the UK, with the US relating to sanctions violators, whether around Iran or North Korea relating to terrorist activities. This is extremely impactful stuff.
Sam TN 19:37
Yeah, the human trafficking one's a very real issue. I mean, 40 million people, at this moment in time around the world have been trafficked. That was a statistic that blew my mind and Quantexa and Dun and Bradstreet have put together a consortium to try and tackle this atrocity. You talk about collaborative approaches between governments, banks, corporates, there's no way to tackle some of this stuff in fact all of this stuff without that collaboration. When I was waiting downstairs in the lobby, I saw on the screens a commitment to our children and our grandchildren and future generations. And that was really all centered around the Paris Agreement. The bank recently announced an increase target to finance and facilitate clean energy technology and renewables to $35 billion by 2025. focused in emerging markets, which is incredible. And personally, I don't think enough corporates around the world have focused on that. What do you see as the key markets and opportunities to watch in the decade ahead in this space?
Bill Winters 20:34
Now, because we operate around the world we have a different sense of the mood or the willingness to invest in our future, in this case around climate change, and how it varies from place to place. And clearly what we see is Europe is quite far ahead of the rest of the world in terms of being green aware, but also putting facilities in place and requirements in some cases, such as UK, to really make a difference. That legal framework doesn't exist in most of our other markets. I mean, it's coming in but Europe is ahead, but the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions is overwhelmingly in our markets, right? Two of our biggest countries are China and India, as we have already. The second and third biggest greenhouse gas emitters after the US, which is less focused as a practical matter, on climate change. So the way we've approached this is to say, you know, the markets where we operate, we can have the biggest impact in the world, even if we're operating in markets that don't have the same legislative or social pressures that you would have if you were sitting in Germany, or in Holland, or the UK. And we made a commitment early on to say, certainly, at the time of the Paris Agreement, that we would do our part to make sure that we and our clients are reducing our carbon emissions in a way that's consistent with meeting the two degree objective requirement set out in Paris. And that's led us to take some very concrete actions, like we don't finance coal fired power plants, which in our markets is a big deal. I mean, it's not such a big deal to say that in Germany, it's a big deal to say that in Vietnam, or in Indonesia, where you got rapidly growing economies rapidly growing populations who are very power hungry, you know, they're under users of power relative to the more developed countries, and they're growing fast, and they can’t build enough solar farms or wind farms or, or nuclear facilities to satisfy the energy demands, but nevertheless there are $35 billion commitment is to say, you know, we can work together to that you can actually grow safely, soundly and robustly. And that's what we've been doing. And I'd say that it's working. And we've done some fascinating projects. I was in Dubai last week. And if you happen to travel to Dubai, you'll see a lot of Standard Chartered advertising in the airport. Big old picture of a solar farm that we financed in the deserts of Dubai, when it's complete will be 43 square kilometers of solar panels. That's just cool, because it's big. Yeah, but the really cool part is a continuous power provision facility, which is basically a huge set of mirrors that heat a tower of molten salt that retains the heat overnight, so that you can produce power in the dark hours or in the unusual event of it being rainy in Dubai. So for the first time in a massive scale way, you've got a solar facility that can provide base level power rather than just daytime power. And it's cheap. The cost of this power, I think the latest tender was below two cents per kilowatt hour, this one was averaged out to about three or three and a half cents, which takes it to about the cost of natural gas in a region where there's a lot of natural gas. And we can all say, well, natural gas is a nice fossil fuel, but it's still a fossil fuel. It's still emitting carbon. And we arranged that financing. It was Chinese contractors. There were European providers, there was financing coming from, from the partners, which were UAE and Saudi partners or financing coming from the contractors. We brought that thing together, export credit agencies, multilateral lenders, that's what Standard Chartered does. It's a way for us to play our trade doing what we do well in terms of being a financier, using our own balance sheet bringing other people's money and also do something that's fundamentally good.
Sam TN 23:43
But I think that's also the power of having that British international heritage where you're a convening power for so many different factions and parties. I actually think I read about the solar panel, next gen technology, I think, potentially partly as a Chinese technology. You're very bullish on China. What do you think the opportunity is? And I'm really interested particularly, you talked about non bank versus bank technologies, and they've really leapfrogged non Bank, have leapfrog, through Alipay, Alibaba, etc. Because of the lack of regulation around them. How is Chinese technology going to change the world do you think in the next decade?
Bill Winters 24:18
Yeah, it's just it's a big market. So there is an unmet customer need that a provider can manage to address, they can get big very quickly, and then it can be exported. Interestingly, Ali and Tencent have both had some very successful businesses outside of China. We're working with both of them very extensively outside of China, but nothing like the impact that they've had in China. And why is that? Is it because the technology maybe was not quite as differentiated or not as relevant outside of China? Is it because it's just harder for that group of individuals to identify unmet customer needs in different markets that have different backgrounds or different cultural attributes, I don't know. But by contrast, will look at the success they've always had in 5G, or ByteDance is now having with TikTok where you know where they're offering something now, we'll see how long that lasts and all that, but certainly an impressive success. In each of those cases, those were technologies developed in China that had been portable outside. And I think you'd say the same with Amazon. Amazon has exported really well to some places and hasn't exported so well to others. And we could spend days exploring why the successes and the failures but China is in the league where they can expect to have their share of successes because they've got the technical prowess. They've got a huge market to, to incubate. And they'll have huge financial resources because of that huge market. But it's not a foregone conclusion that they'll win every fight.
Sam TN 25:30
You just said the word Amazon, I'm gonna do a little segway to something that was announced yesterday, you announced the opening of a public portal to track payments across the swift network, via a unique end to end transaction reference number that basically allows you to see as a corporate where your payment is in the system a little bit like if you bought something on Amazon and you were tracking your parcel, which is a really cool piece of technology, and I believe if I'm right Standard Chartered are the first bank to do it?
Bill Winters 25:58
Sam TN 25:58
What I liked about that It's not rocket science, right, you're taking a unique identifier, Dun and Bradstreet has the DUNS number, a global identifier upon which you can stack a whole load of data. You can use it to break down silos and an organization, you can use it to create that single customer view. Data can do so much to help support that digital disruption and innovation. What are some of the things and this is the last question on data promise, then we'll do the fun ones. What are banks and what a Standard Chartered in particular doing to leverage data in its evolution?
Bill Winters 26:31
The swift example that you gave is an interesting one, because while the application itself is extremely data focused, the origin was something very old fashioned, which is you're asking your customers what's important to them. So we asked our colleagues internally who run our payments business, what's the most important thing for customers and almost without exception, they said the most important thing is speed. The customers want to know that they initiate a transaction and they want it done as quickly as possible. Then we ask the customers, what's the most important thing for you, and a couple set speed, most of them said, I just want to know where my transaction is in the queue, where it is in the process, I want to know the status of my payment. And you know, for the 40% of payments that we execute, that go through more or less real time, you know, within a couple of minutes, and status isn't so important. But for the other 60%, there's been an issue, there's something maybe an account detail was inputted incorrectly or there was a sanctions violation check that was needed some further investigation, or if there's any number of things that can delay a cross border payment. And the things that our customers were most concerned about overwhelmingly, was I want to know what the status of my payment is at every point in time, because I want to know if there's something I'm supposed to be doing, to get this thing done. And that was you can say, I mean, you idiots, how could you not have asked your customers that question 140 years ago when you started in this business? And then every six months since then, and yeah, maybe we did from time to time. But if we didn't institutionalize it, and then say we're actually going to crack this nut. So is that a data problem? Or is there data opportunity? Or was it a data application? It was just understanding what the customers need, of course, it’s a bit of both, you know, if you went back a few years, we had a few data scientist sprinkled in the organization. But I would say that we were wholly underdeveloped in terms of our understanding of how we could use data, and then our actual applications, we've now got over 500 data scientists anchored in Bangalore, most of them with very advanced education in the area. And maybe this is a pattern for a lot of companies. But we started off figuring out how we could use data to sell stuff better, and propensity modeling and things like that, pretty quickly moved to how we can make better risk decisions, and how we could have better control environments so in particularly around financial crime or other compliance related matters. And not surprisingly, once you begin to see the usefulness of some of the applications from the early work that you do, it becomes a bit exponential from there in terms of the understanding in the organization how powerful data tools can be properly developed and properly deployed. Every company on the planet is realizing this right now. Hence, the demand for data science skills is off the charts and the only way to attract the best talent is to offer them really interesting opportunities. And I think given the breadth of our activity, and our commitment to a data driven approach to finance and financial services, I think we've been able to attract some great talent and hopefully that becomes a virtuous circle.
Sam TN 29:10
Awesome. Thank you. We're going to step outside of financial services to some of the other stuff that you do. You're an overseer at the International Rescue Committee. For those that don't know the International Rescue Committee response to some of the world's most severe humanitarian crisis. I was fascinated and doing the research to find that it was actually formed in 1933, at the request of Albert Einstein, smart man, and is now led by David Miliband. Can you perhaps let us know a little bit about what your role involves and some of the stuff you've been involved in?
Bill Winters 29:38
I've been involved with the IRC, first got involved in in the early 90s. And I think what captured my attention at the time was, I spent a lot of time in my formative years in what was then Yugoslavia. And my wife is from Croatia. There was a war obviously. And then there's a massive number of displaced people and I look for the organization that was most relevant for helping the displaced people on the ground. And it had a very low ratio of administrative expense to actual charitable donations, and the IRC was it so it started off as a donor, have always just been involved from that perspective. But I came to know the organization better and better and the nature of crises moved from that sort of war to also some just horrific natural disasters, earthquakes in Haiti, as we recall, you had almost the entire population displaced instantly, and then other longer term conflicts and most recently, and most agonizingly, everything around Syria, I was on the board of the charity in the US and I sort of timed out from the independence perspective, I'm on the board of the charity in the UK and an overseer in the US. But I stay very close to the IRC team, Ed Miliband, in particular, who's just an extraordinary individual and then himself, the son of refugees from Nazi Germany. It’s personal and in addition to being very consistent with what he spent his life in public service doing. And the needs has never been greater. We talked about human trafficking earlier. That's the manifestation of people who are in many cases displaced and it's just a phenomenal organization that's doing very, very good work. It's recognized as such, thankfully. So it's relatively well supported by both governments and individuals. But there's just so much more that we could do.
Sam TN 31:07
Completely agree. I've got so many questions, I'd like to ask you about that. But I'm not going to do it now. Standard Chartered operates in 65 markets around the world. One of the things that dawned on me when I was doing research you and I hadn't met before, I watched an awful lot of YouTube videos. If you wonder why your number of watches has gone through the roof, it was me. And the one thing I realized, and I recognize in all of them, you always look so incredibly well, how do you maintain that and wellness is obviously a very big topic across the board in the occupational world. How do you maintain your health when you have to travel so far when you have to do so much?
Bill Winters 31:42
Thank you for the flattery. I don't know if I can agree to it. I don't feel so well, all the time. Evident stuff, we had an event at Standard Chartered night before last night with one of our colleagues who is a former UK paratrooper. He's now become a bestselling author. He launched his second book, I think it was called being Para- Fit. It's a wellness book, basically talking about how you maintain, in his case from the perspective of a top end military guy, but how you maintain a physical, mental and professional health because the three things are inextricably linked, that mental health has been a neglected topic area for I think, for all of us in the business community probably in the world. It’s coming to prevalence now with through the, I think the good work of some strong ambassadors, but also just the realization that it's an epidemic proportions in a lot of cases, but the link between physical health and just maintaining a level of fitness and mental health, which is, you know, identifying issues early on and, and diffusing them as quickly as possible. And professional health, which is staying relevant, skills requirements are changing very fast. So when I talked to my colleagues in HR, human resources, now, we look at the three things together, and we'll have a training course to improve somebody or transform somebody's personal professional skills that will help them deal with the mental health issues that could go along with that with the pressures that one feels when you have to transform yourself at a much more rapid clip that has been the case in the past, or else your job goes away. And then at the same time, maintaining a level of physical fitness now, these are all great ideas. I would love to say that I practice it well myself. I don't feel that I do, but I try. I'm on the board of a company where the CEO is particularly focused on balance. Young guy, and he focuses on the balance between physical, mental and professional. No, but he starts his day, okay, doing a 40 minutes of yoga and half an hour meditation. And he's very focused on physical fitness as well in terms of what he eats and what he consumes. And he's got a very regimented system of professional Personal Training, physical, mental, professional and getting the balance right between those three things. You have to have all three. People that are exclusively focused on physical fitness, are going to miss something. I mean, maybe go crazy, I guess. And you certainly lose yourself professionally. You got to have all three. I try. I wish I had some great tips. I can observe lots of people that do a lot better than me.
Sam TN 33:50
It's tough, but I think as the world speeds up every day and you got a personal mobile phone and a professional mobile phone, you have hundreds of applications. You have most people don't realize this, but you have over typically on average 25 different mediums for people to contact you. It's constant. How do you find the time? And it's not necessarily a question for you. But in general, it's getting harder and harder. And we just come out of the Christmas break, which was a lovely period. It's now two weeks where people really take time out. And I think it's so important. Final question, which I ask everyone because I think it's a fascinating question when you're asking someone so accomplished. Mentors, you must have had some real role models in your career, who have those been?
Bill Winters 34:30
I've had quite a few. I always start with your parents. My father was kind of a self made man in the sense that he was born into the steel mills of West Virginia and managed to provide a good education for us kids, just through hard work and diligence. Had a boss early on, when I was in my early 20s, probably, he gave me the example of a lesson my father taught me my father's he didn't give me a lot of business advice, but he said, Bill, you must understand the difference between people that use honesty as a strategy versus people who are honest, because they seem the same, and the people who use honestly as a strategy at some point will let you down. People who are honest, will never let you down. And just, you know, try to understand the difference. And I liked the idea. I didn't know exactly what it meant until I had a boss who use honesty as a strategy. And it was quite disappointing to realize that when the pressure really became severe, the honesty, it disappeared. But he was a great mentor at the same time. And I think mentors, sometimes you can learn from their faults as well as learning from the good things, but he taught me some good things. I worked with a guy named Peter Hancock for a long time, who, most recently in terms of a big public role was the CEO of AIG, but he was as responsible as anybody for the development of the derivative business at JP Morgan and he was my boss at that time. And he just had a different way of thinking, extremely creative, extremely thoughtful, very smart. I mean, probably goes without saying, and extremely successful without being particularly hard driving. I mean, he's not like he was a taskmaster. He excited us. And what was the JP Morgan derivative growth of that business through the late 80s 90s 2000s, which, in many ways, what made the bank but also allowed the bank to survive the financial crisis as well as it did, which was very well, but I put down to that leadership from Peter Hancock. Jamie Diamond, I mean, I learned a lot and worked for Jamie four or five years after Bank One bought JPMorgan Chase, renamed JPMorgan Chase. I'll say they bought JP Morgan Chase because Jamie came in and brought his team and ran it and dealt with me for five years. He's a phenomenal business manager, he taught me some great lessons about the disciplined approach to managing a very big, complex organization. I don't know that he mentored me, per se, but I took a lot out of the relationship.
Sam TN 36:25
I think there's definitely a blurred line between mentorship and being a role model. Final part and to continue the train. Something that I've come across a lot recently is reverse mentorship. In this technology infused world where things are getting pretty complicated, boards aren't necessarily always equipped to understand next generation technologies. They're not equipped to necessarily understand data and analytics applications. Have you come across reverse mentoring and how powerful do you think that is for someone in your position?
Bill Winters 36:52
It’s extremely helpful. And I think in many cases that the best mentoring relationships are ones that aren't either mentoring or reverse. They're both and my first mentoring experience was probably in the 90s. We were focused on gender relationships. So the management team of my business at the time was dominated by men. And we had a woman who's younger, who was mentoring us. I remember sitting with her and she said, Look, I don't know what all this diversity crap is about. And I'm a senior manager on the trading floor. I'm doing very well. It doesn't matter that I'm a woman. So I don't really want to spend any time talking about diversity if that’s okay. That's your prerogative surprised that, that you feel that there's no issue in the 90s on a trading floor in London. But seriously, if you've never had an issue with the fact that you're a woman, she said, Well, no, I never have a little bit later in the conversation. She said, you know, there's one thing I want to talk to you about. I'm pregnant, five months pregnant. So you're five months pregnant? I mean, normally, I can tell when somebody's five months pregnant. She said, No, no, I'm very carefully covering this up. I don't want anybody to know. Why don't you want anybody to know? Because it's October. I'm concerned that my bonus will be docked if I'm if I'm out. Or that I won't get my job back. And I said, Okay, what are the odds that I'm pregnant? She said, Well, there's no chance that you're pregnant. You're a man. Okay. Do you think there might be A diversity issue there. So that was, it was devastating for me to hear that this woman was wearing whatever uncomfortable clothes she had to wear to avoid acknowledging something that's very basic, which is that women have children. I took a tremendous amount from that, and will continue to I hope that she got something for me as well, which is, you know, she did then tell her boss the next day that she was pregnant. And of course, she was not mistreated. And at least I really don't believe she was mistreated. Anyway, I'm a big believer in mentoring going both ways.
Sam TN 38:26
Bill, I'm going finish it there. It's been it's been perfect. I think we've ever run because I've asked too many questions. But thank you so much for your insights. Thank you for joining us on the Power of Data. And we'll look forward to seeing you soon.
Bill Winters 38:37
It's my great pleasure. Thank you.