Talking Heads Q&A
Written by Scott Thompson
FStech chats to Ashish Gupta, president, UK corporate and global banking & financial markets, BT Global Services
FStech: How did you get into the FS/technology sector?
AG: As a graduate in Computer Science, the technology sector was a natural choice for me. After completing my degree, I started working on IT platforms in the Business-to-Business space. Over the last six years, I’ve been responsible for BT Global Services product and portfolio strategy. Financial services is BT Global Services' largest division by IT expenditure, and so creating and developing products and services for these organisations was my first foray into the sector.
FStech: Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
AG: I’ve worked for a number of good leaders in my career and all have provided different insights and influences. Perhaps the individual I’ve learnt the most from is Clive Selley, who was CIO of BT Wholesale when I first joined the company. In many ways he has shaped how I think and operate as well as instilling good habits from a leadership perspective.
FStech: Who in the sector inspires you and why?
AG: Rather than ‘who’, for me it’s more about the ‘what’. What I find inspiring is the power of technology to drive business transformation both from a productivity and changing business model perspective. In my job at the moment I come across lots of innovative companies doing just that. For example, a very well established mining business is using our technology to improve the quality of assets in their mines. We also count a number of significant banks and financial services institutions among our customers, both in retail and trading. The way they are using technology to drive change is simply phenomenal. Closer to home I’m also inspired by the creation of a digital economy on the back of High Street broadband.
FStech: Is there anything that you dislike or that frustrates you about the sector?
AG: I’m not sure that there’s anything specific that frustrates me. However, regulation and compliance continues to challenge the sector. A number of our customers are grappling with maintaining agility and flexibility while simultaneously facing the pressures of addressing the compliance measures from both UK and EU regulations as well as global policies. As a result, decision-making can, at times, be complex.
FStech: What technology can't you live without?
AG: Mobile devices; I use my phone for everything…reading, running, booking flights, checking my stocks…you name it! This go-to tech is now wired into every life process. How many of us still use an alarm clock for example?
FStech: How do you relax?
AG: Like most people I enjoy a nice glass of wine, watching movies, travelling, and outdoor pursuits such as cricket and F1. I’m increasingly starting to like going to the gym now too.
FStech: What was your last banking experience both online and on the High Street and were they positive experiences?
AG: The majority of my banking interactions tend to take place online, whether that be applying for a mortgage, executing my day-to-day transactions or trading equity; overall I find these to be very positive experiences. The digitisation of this sector has been particularly noticeable, and is something that is now changing the branch experience, with a rise in the likes of digital and interactive signage and biometrics, all underpinned by improved connectivity and Wi-Fi. There has also been a huge amount of innovation coming through from FinTech companies, which will make for more interesting developments in the coming future.