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Women in Fintech Series: Deanna Oppenheimer

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Women in Fintech Series: Deanna Oppenheimer


Breaking Banks and Finextra continue their series of Women in FinTech with the illustrious Deanna Oppenheimer.

Very few have made as big a splash in the financial industry as Deanna Oppenheimer,  Known for having a customer centric vision of banking, and welcoming the new players and innovation in the financial services field, Deanna founded Cameoworks LLC, a retail and financial services advisory firm that helps startups in FinTech find their footing and meet up with the global players that can help make their ideas a reality.   She is uniquely qualified as someone  with an unusual combination of banking, retail, innovation, brand, and communication skills.

From 2005 to 2012, Deanna worked at Barclays PLC, where she transformed the Global Retail and Business Banking divisions.  Initially, her position was chief executive of U.K. Retail and Business Banking, with 30,000 employees serving 15 million customers through contact centers, online and mobile banking and 1700 branches.  In 2009, she became vice chair of Global Retail Banking, sharing best practices across Europe and Africa. In 2010, she added the role of chief executive of Europe Retail and Business Banking, helping to stabilize the business lines during the Euro crisis. Customer satisfaction improved from last-place among U.K. banks to first-place under her leadership.

Previous to Barclays, Deanna was employed, from 1985 to 2005, at Washington Mutual, Inc., the largest savings and loan institution in the U.S.  She was marketing director and, later, president of Consumer Banking, where she helped transform the lender from a regional to a national player. During her tenure, Washington Mutual, Inc. was named Best Retail Bank in the Americas by Lafferty International and Top 40 Store Concepts in the World by Retail Industry Leaders Association.

In 2007, Deanna was named Britain’s Business Communicator of the Year and in October 2010 was voted American Banker magazine’s Second Most Powerful Woman in Banking. Her previous corporate board experiences include non-executive director roles at Catellus, a leading U.S. development company, and Plum Creek Timber, the largest private landowner in the U.S.  In November 2014, Deanna was voted one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s Women of Influence, an annual award given to women leaders who have an enormous impact on the community.

Her non-executive director board roles include Tesco PLC, where she chairs the remuneration committee,  Tesco Bank, AXA Group, NCR Corporation, and The Joshua Green Corporation.  Additionally,  she is a senior advisor to Bain Consulting, Brooks Running,  Anthemis Group and Finsphere.

Deanna lives in Seattle with her husband and they have two adult children. She graduated with honors from the University of Puget Sound in Washington State; she is past chair of trustees for Puget Sound and a recipient of the Ernest T. Stewart National Award for university volunteers.  She also has attended the Executive Education program of the Kellogg School of Management.

Catch Deanna’s interview with Liz Lumley of Finextra on Breaking Banks– Customer Relations: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Women in Fintech Series: Kitty Parry, Founder of the Social Media Charter

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Women in Fintech Series: Kitty Parry, Founder of the Social Media Charter


Breaking Banks and Finextra continue their series on Women in Fintech with a profile of Kitty Parry, Founder and CEO of the Social Media Charter.

Kitty is recognized as one of the UK’s most up and coming female entrepreneurs. She has most recently been named Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum at Davos (2014), shortlisted as the Communications Professional of the Year (2013), selected as a finalist as ‘Young Business Woman of the Year’ by the Network She Awards and is one of Britain’s top three PR professionals (2009). Kitty is also founder of the Accelerating Change Network (ACN) (2011), member of the UN Media Coalition and mentor to the Cherie Blair foundation.

Please catch Kitty’s interview on the March 12 episode of Breaking Banks and read the interview here:

FINEXTRA: Give us a rundown of what Social Media Charter is?

KITTY: We are trying to set the standard for compliant social media and this has come about because many financial institutions want to do social media, but are afraid to because of the compliance risks and reputation risks. So we put heads of compliance and heads of digital in a room together with the FCA on Nov 2013 (the day of the Twitter IPO) and out of that came the Charter – which is a set of principals which outlines what compliant social media is for financial services. From that we developed language – both legal-ese and layman’s language and we gave that to the FCA and that has been the bedrock for our process moving forward.

FINEXTRA: Is this a social media charter for the UK or can it be applied globally?

KITTY: Initially, for the UK. We want to get this right in the UK first. But we have used Finra and the SEC and the European directives to develop our guidelines – we will become global very quickly. Obviously, many of the companies we work with IN the UK are global institutions. If you tweet in the UK and you are going to be read by the SEC, you need to be very careful.

FINEXTRA: You mentioned the FCA and Finra and regulations – do you think a lot of bank hide behind regulations? Do you think a lot of banks claim that regulations stop them using social media effectively?

KITTY: The need for regulations, especially over the past ten years is important. It makes us as customers and clients feel safe that we are being conversed with in a manner that is fair. The issue lies where the industry doesn’t know where to interpret the regulation. And that is what we are trying to do now – pulling the industry together so we can interpret it and learn from different best practices and problems to make sure that the future is much brighter than it has been for financial services to date.

FINEXTRA: Although social media is global – are there any compliance issues unique to the UK market that global banks should be aware of?

KITTY: The policy based approach of the FCA and London means that there are many different interpretations of the rules. While social media is media neutral – we will be seeing guidance later on this year 2015 – social media managers still aren’t sure how certain aspects will play out. We are setting standards on what social media compliance looks like – proper archiving; assuring employees are trained and know what they are doing on social media; hat product information should look like and making sure it is fair compliant and so on.

FINEXTRA: How do you advise compliance officers?

KITTY: Initially we go in with an audit – which is 170 questions – which runs from the CRO, COO, head of HR etc…We assess the company, look through all the policies and social media practices and then pull together a report. That report gets pulled together with intelligence from lawyers, communications experts, and social media experts. From that we then do the training – again done by barristers – throughout and learning continuously throughout the business.

FINEXTRA: Which banks do social media correctly?

KITTY: One firm that have done it, as almost an extension of their customer service to date, and done very well, is First Direct. They deserve to be praised for how they run their social media. They are an example of being human on social media – they do it in a natural manner – they put a human face in front of the brand. It makes customers feel confident that there are real people inside that institution.

FINEXTRA: I am glad you mentioned First Direct, because I feel that they saw social media a communication channel , rather than an ‘alternative’ communication channel – do you think that mind set is still prevalent at banks – that social media is an ‘alternative’ channel?

KITTY: Our line is social media is to email what email was to fax. That is what of the most terrifying phrases that came out of Davos. Many CEOs hear it and realise it is increasing in prevalence, but don’t understand A: Why this is happening? or B. Is this long term?

Now obviously it is. And it is not just a communication channel, it is far more valuable as a listening tool – understanding what customers want. Focus groups are so specific and so often biased. Social media is honest and real and allows firms to create innovative products rather than products that are ‘suitable’.

FINEXTRA: What has been your biggest lesson?

KITTY: The biggest lesson is not to give up. In America you are celebrated when you fail a business because that is half of the learning curve – you fail and you build you fail and you build, etc… In the UK it is much more frowned upon. The biggest lesson is just to keep going. Or just call it a day, and at the end of the day, you get up the next day and keep going.
It is the hard graft that pays off.

FINEXTRA: What was Davos like?

KITTY: From an outside view it can look like a lot of people, with a lot of money coming together and having parties – it is far from that. It is a celebration of those who work very hard. There is never a time of the day where you wouldn’t talk about work. And it isn’t frowned upon because everyone out there is trying to help each other. That is what the World Economic Forum have done very well. They have really tried to focus on people working together and helping each other.

FINEXTRA: What was the conversation like at Davos?

KITTY: We have a really interesting panel called ‘social media friend or foe’. The outcome of that was not whether [social media] is a ‘friend or foe’ but that it is happening and we need to move forward further conversations, particularly with the disruptive finance group at the WEF. Whilst last year many of the of the delegates we rather fearful of [disruptive finance] – this year it is being embraced and understood particularly as it is beginning to take significant margins off of big corporates.

FINEXTRA: What advice would you give to an entrepreneur?

KITTY: I will never make a decision unless I have all the information at my fingertips. Fact gathering, not anecdotes, so you can make a real decision not an emotional decision. In financial services we are going to see more technology changes in the next five years than in the past 20 years.

Women in Fintech Series: Claire Cockerton, CEO of Innovate Finance

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Women in Fintech Series: Claire Cockerton, CEO of Innovate Finance


Breaking Banks and Finextra continued their profiles of Women in Fintech with Claire Cockerton of Innovate Finance. Claire, originally from Canada, has become a champion of FinTech development in the UK and a huge proponent for tech innovation in the financial sectors. Please catch Claire’s interview on the February 26th episode of Breaking Banks and read the interview here:
FINEXTRA: What is Innovate Finance?

CLAIRE: It is a new industry organisation, a ‘movement’ we call it, that is dedicated to accelerating tech-led transformation in financial services. We are focused on supporting new FinTech businesses and entrepreneurs who have come to the UK with new business models and technologies. We are helping them transform the sector making it more diverse, more inclusive, and more competitive.

So our work involves lobbying, it involves policy and regulatory roundtables; it involves driving more investment into our member firms as well as showcasing career development opportunities in FinTech. It is a very new industry and our organisation is dedicated to creating this rich, lively flourishing FinTech ecosystem in the UK and showcasing it to the world.

FINEXTRA: What sets the UK apart as the capital of FinTech?

CLAIRE: Many reasons. If can go backwards, I would say history, we have such a strong financial services sector. We are such an epicentre of financial services to start with. Then geography. We can trade with East and West we are seen as a gateway to Europe.

I would also point to our talent and I don’t just mean financial services talent – I mean technology, entrepreneurial, design talent. We have this wonderful community here in Tech City and beyond … that is really showcasing our multi-cultural, multi-disciplinary, multi-generational, talent bed.

We also have a simpler regulatory environment for some of these young companies to navigate and we historically set some forward looking policies in this space. Equity-based crowdfunders, for example, flourish here. The alternative finance space is so important not just to FinTech but for driving economic recovery. If you are a young restaurateur or fashion designer you can now access new alternative forms of financing. I can pitch my business on a crowdfunding site and get seed funding from a bunch of people. That is an incredibly powerful financial tool in a macro economic sense that is potentially driving our recovery in other industries as well.

That is FinTech supporting other tech and other business

FINEXTRA: Is it important that the UK has the same funding culture that we see in more established centres like Silicon Valley?

CLAIRE: It is a good question. It is one of our priorities as an organisation to look at the investment landscape here in the UK and to try and think about new ways we can drive greater investment into the FinTech sector. It is different here in the UK then it is in the US. It is different for a number of reasons.

The US and Silicon Valley has gained a reputation for having a greater appetite to risk; of not wanting to miss out on the next greatest company or deal. That is a great approach to take to developing a tech ecosystem. And here in the UK perhaps, culturally, we are a little bit more concerned about making the right choice or concerned with the losses we could incur…

FINEXTRA: Would you say that Silicon Valley is concerned with short term gains, while the UK takes a more long term view?

CLAIRE: I think there are these subtle cultural differences about how we make our investment decisions. We tend to be a little bit more conservative here, but that is changing. In the last two or three years we are really embracing the entrepreneurial culture the creative culture the ‘build it yourself and go out there’ and I think that entrepreneurial culture is also spurring that investment landscape as well.

I also want to say we don’t have to look like Silicon Valley. They have their own brand or tech cluster. And our cluster has our own unique attributes that we need think about.

FINEXTRA: What is your background?

CLAIRE: I studied architecture at the University of Toronto. I came to the UK five years ago after I sold my first business. I have always had an entrepreneurial drive. I grew my first business in the first year at university in sustainable architecture. I grew it over seven years, then sold it to a competitor. I then came over to Imperial Collage to do an MBA.

FINEXTRA: Entrepreneurship is in your back ground?

CLAIRE: Absolutely, I sometimes attribute it to growing up outside in the countryside in Canada where my Mom kicked me out of the house for six hours and said: “Go have fun in the wilderness!” I think that in part fostered a sense of independence and imagination which I think entrepreneurs really need.

FINEXTRA: What about the FinTech sector surprises you?

CLAIRE: I suppose what has been a surprise and a delight has been this great momentum over the past two or three years that we are seeing here that we are seeing in London and the UK…this movement towards change. We want a different financial services sector. Consumers are fed up. We want better products and services, lower cost, we want accountability. We want to be able to make our own choices about how our own capital gets used when we put it into a bank. This momentum has been a great inspiration to me.

FINEXTRA: What advice would you give a new FinTech startup?

CLAIRE: Go for it. There is nothing as exhilarating and mind boggling as trying to take your idea to the marketplace. We all want to leave a legacy and leave a mark.

My advice is: Just go for it.

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