This week’s tech news, filtered for financial services execs

December 27

Hello and welcome to Insights Distilled, a weekly email briefing that curates tactical technology news for financial services execs. Every Tuesday morning, we send you the top five stories you need to know – and explain why they matter. Our tech news roundup helps you stay on top of the innovations driving business agility in your industry. To get next week’s edition in your inbox, sign up here.


As the end of the year draws near and we prepare to launch into 2023, we’re feeling reflective – both on the top features and trends of the past six months and on our gratefulness for subscribers like you. 

Thank you for being a reader in 2022. Since launching this newsletter in August, we’ve brought you fascinating case studies, actionable advice, exclusive executive interviews, need-to-know product news, and more.  

We hope that our insights have been valuable to you – if so, please consider sharing this newsletter with a colleague or friend. And if you have advice on ways we could improve in the new year, please let us know (you can simply reply to this email with your thoughts).   

Now, on to our review of the themes and stories that shaped the year – let’s dive in: 

  1. Automation everywhere: How the likes of JPMorgan and KeyBank increase efficiency
  2. Customer delight: Revealing the partnerships behind innovative features
  3. Culture shift: Top leaders share their advice
  4. Compliance matters: The RegTech software helping banks mitigate risk
  5. Ways of working: Why DevOps tools drive better products

Top financial firms have saved countless hours (and lots of money) by automating back-office obligations and empowering workers to focus on value-add objectives.  

Automation is fulfilling its promise of transforming time-consuming, expensive, and labor-intensive processes into seamless and efficient operations.  

This year, automation maintained the spotlight as banks applied it to many different parts of their business.  

For example, understanding customer behavior and rooting out product issues no longer needs to take forever: Customer analytics firm FullStory has “helped clients find anything from millions to tens-of-millions in conversion opportunities, or lost customers through churn, or in costs for engineering and development,” Kirsten Newbold-Knipp told Insights Distilled. Finicity, a financial data aggregation firm owned by Mastercard, increased its funnel conversions by 15% and reduced its ticket resolution time by 80% using FullStory.    

Banks have also focused on using AI-powered digital assistants to beef up their customer service, since they can handle basic queries and give human agents more time to tackle complicated tasks. Many FinServs have leaned on technology partners to launch sophisticated chatbots, faster. For example, Kasisto counts WestPac, JPMorgan Chase, Standard Chartered, and TD as customers, Amazon Lex has hooked Truist, and Personetics powers tools for US Bank, Ally, and Santander

Trade finance document review has also been an area ripe for automation: JPMorgan used to “massively improve efficiency” and slash the time it takes to review documents from three hours down to ten minutes, while Deutsche Bank partnered with Traydstream, which can drive a ~60% cost reduction over human document processing.  

Finally, KeyBank has turned to fraud-fighting fintech Quavo to both increase its efficiency and reduce its losses. “We anticipate our back-office hand-offs and processes will reduce in half while improving chargeback effectiveness,” a KeyBank spokesperson told Insights Distilled, adding that Quavo’s platform “takes out errors and manual processes, giving us capacity to provide more support to our clients and dispute investigations.”   


Fintech partnerships have made it possible for the likes of UBS, TD Bank, NatWest and others to quickly launch innovative features that delight their customers.  

Partnering with fast-moving startups helps incumbents upgrade their customer offerings more quickly, as they compete against fintechs and each other.

Big financial firms continued to embrace startups this year to help them hook their customers with useful features or revamped processes.  

For example, HSBC, TD Bank, Barclays, and Standard Chartered are all relying on partnerships to offer unique or improved tools to their business clients: 

Consumers are reaping the benefits too:  


Tech executives share their tips for evaluating technology products and partners, as well as for motivating engineers.  

Leaders need a framework for choosing technology experiments and partners on their quest to “disrupt” themselves – and a gameplan for helping workers find meaning and value in their work. 

We received a wealth of advice from the tech execs who have shaped financial firms’ strategies.  

Former Credit Suisse CIO Radhika Venkatraman built a “well-oiled machine” for scaling innovation across the investment bank by evaluating experiments based on whether they were risky, creative, and scalable. “If your experiment is outlandishly successful, but your output is tantamount to giving birth to a mouse, that’s not an experiment you want to spend your precious money on,” Venkatraman told Insights Distilled

Meanwhile, executives from TD Bank and Wells Fargo shared advice for working with fintech partners: They recommend creating quick, snappy proof-of-concepts to vet partnerships from both a technology and a relationship perspective. If you do decide to work together with a startup, you should understand their business continuity plan from the outset. Running through worst-case scenarios is crucial, says Wells Fargo head of digital Michelle Moore: “My legal, risk, and compliance partners are my best friends.”   

Execs from Visa, Capital One, and Goldman Sachs outlined how to build an innovative, motivated workforce by recruiting underrepresented tech talent (and keeping your firm accountable for its progress) while reducing the amount of manual, repetitive work for engineers through automation. You should help workers understand how their efforts impact the firm’s bigger-picture goals: “They need to feel like they’re on the front line of the business,” according to Goldman Sachs’ chief information officer, Marco Argenti.  


As swamped compliance teams struggle to keep up with increased scrutiny and legislation, RegTech software can help reduce errors, improve productivity, and cut down on reputational damage and fines.  

Highly regulated financial services firms now have a bevy of software options as they strive to stay compliant. As one exec put it: Technology is “transforming the culture of compliance to be real-time, continuous, and complete.” 

The era of robust RegTech software is upon us.  

One of the hottest areas of interest – communications surveillance software – saw an uptick after lawmakers hammered the likes of JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, and Bank of America with a combined $2 billion in fines for failing to properly monitor all employee messaging. Platforms like SteelEye give FinServ clients a holistic view so they can “connect the dots,” while firms like LeapXpert have seen “an incredible rise in interest due to the regulatory crackdown,” as have other providers Movius, SteelEye, Symphony, and Nice Actimize.   

Meanwhile, AI-powered software that scans, synthesizes, and provides recommendations for compliance teams has attracted attention, as have platforms that help FinServs stay abreast of know-your-customer regulations. For example, Standard Chartered is using tools from Chekk for real-time risk assessment and anti-money laundering. 

Ultimately, these kinds of tools can help firms understand their risk and compliance posture internally, for their boards and decisions makers, but also externally. For example risk data network Acin, which has buy-in from BNP Paribas, Citi, and Lloyds, has “changed the nature and quality of [firms’] conversations with regulators,” an exec told Insights Distilled. 


DevOps tools have helped Citi, Wells Fargo, Mastercard, ABN Amro, and others launch safer, more resilient products, faster.  

DevOps tools for observability and low-code development can help teams understand their tech stacks, troubleshoot, build safer products, and keep costs under control. 

What do developers want? “To simplify their stack and ship code faster,” according to Insight Partners’ managing director Michael Yamnitsky. Correspondingly, this year brought a surge of adoption for DevOps tools that make workers’ lives easier.  

For example, Netherlands-based ABN Amro used IriusRisk’s automation-powered platform to move threat modeling into its initial phase of software development. This “shift left” has helped its engineers save at least 11 months of effort.  

Meanwhile, a consortium of global banks built an electronic-trading platform in record time because of low-code tool Genesis Global, which has raised more than $250 million from the likes of Citi, Bank of America, BNY Mellon, and Insight Partners. “The world is changing, the pace of development is changing, and we’re trying to change with it,” Citi exec Vitaliy Kozak told Insights Distilled, about using Genesis’ platform. 

Finally, FinServs flocked to tools for incident response that help flag IT issues and “toxic workloads” before they cause cascading problems. Mastercard saw an “immediate impact” on its platform’s efficiency and reliability by integrating observability tool Unravel, while Wells Fargo and UBS turned to Insight Partner’s portfolio company BigPanda to increase transparency, reduce downtime, and simplify an otherwise costly incident-management process.

Quick Bits:

Personnel news: BNP Paribas has appointed Stéphanie Maarek as head of compliance. Meanwhile, Citigroup hired Sirisha Kadamalakalva to be its head of AI banking.

Money moves: Morgan Stanley led the $50 million growth capital funding round of CyberCube, a cyber risk analysis startup focused on the insurance industry. And as fintech funding slows, startups are turning to accelerators hosted by other financial services firms.  

Industry happenings: A Bank of America exec shares the firm’s process for updating its virtual assistant, Erica. American Banker rounded up five ways that banks pushed deeper into the cloud this year.  


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