Getting ‘Phygital’ - banks embrace industry disruption


Societe Generale is at the forefront of this transformation

It is not news to say that banks face great disruption. But in a world characterised by volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, “Digital is both the problem and the solution,” according to Jean-François Mazaud, Head of Societe Generale Private Banking (SGPB).

Speaking to students at Warwick University last week he unveiled the bank’s pledge to be the “benchmark ‘phygital’ private bank in Europe by 2020” - aiming to use digital technology in all channels across the entire ecosystem of the organisation.

There are three main challenges facing traditional banking models, explained Jean-Francois: continuing regulatory changes, volatile market conditions and new entrants to the market. Added to this, he said, “Overall, client expectations are more diverse and higher than ever. The banking industry is forcefully embracing digital to meet these increasing expectations.” 

Today’s clients increasingly require simplicity, transparency and confidentiality, according to Jean-Francois, “They expect seamless interactions with their bank, mobility, automation of the simplest tasks and digital interactions with their relationship manager.”

All this can only be achieved with, “an innovation mindset, out-of-the-box thinking, quality systems, quality data and a test-and-learn/right-to-fail spirit.” All things that Societe Generale is embracing with zeal with a diverse range of projects under way across the organisation.

One initiative set to boost disruptive innovation within the bank is the Internal Start-up Call. The ‘intrapreneurship’ programme, open to all Societe Generale staff, invites employees to pitch their business plans to senior management. So far more than 600 projects have been submitted, 8,440 staff members are involved and over 140 projects have been pitched to the Group Management Committee. Successful start-ups will be funded by the newly-created Innovation Fund with €150m to be invested in internal and external start-ups over the next three years.