Interviewed By Foo Boon Ping
Jennifer Scott-Gray, head of corporate bank, Australia at Deutsche Bank, speaks about building out a cash management branch in Australia and expanding the bank’s current offerings.
Foo Boon Ping (FBP): We’re speaking to Jennifer Scott-Gray. You've been appointed in the new role to look after the corporate banking business in Australia. Tell us a little bit about this new role and all the opportunities we’re seeing in Australia.
Jennifer Scott-Gray (JSG): I've been appointed about four months ago to the head of the corporate bank in Australia. The reason for that is that we don't currently have a cash management branch in Australia, so it's super important. And you may or may not have heard Christian Sewing’s, chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank, view from the top this morning. He was talking about how important the corporate bank is. And that baseline product is the cash management component being brought into Australia to actually build out the cash management for our key clients, which are predominantly the multinational clients coming out of Europe inbound into Australia. It is super exciting, and a lot of opportunity in that space to actually expand what we're currently offering.
FBP: It’s an interesting time. There’s quite a lot of turmoil around the macroeconomic landscape. Even amid that, how are you adjusting the business in Australia, keeping in mind it’s a new business?
JSG: I don't think there's been a more tumultuous period of time, where you’ve got issues between China and the US. You’ve got the Brexit issue occurring here in London. Very interesting time, clearly with the announcement about bourse yesterday. It is a really interesting time, but if you take the macroeconomics to one side and you think about what we're actually here to do, it's to service our clients. Our clients’ very basic need is that requirement to collect receipt of money, hold money and then move that money around the globe to support their growing businesses. What we're seeing from Australia is, being a net exporter, corporations that have predominantly just been Australian-based are now branching out. They're building subsidiaries into China, who's our greatest trading partner, and that means they need to have a trusted partner to work with. If Deutsche Bank can be there to actually support our clients, both onshore in Australia and offshore, outbound and inbound, that's what we're actually looking for. We're stripping out all of the complexity and saying, “What's the basic need of the client and how do we service that?”
FBP: A lot of the clients that are going into Australia previously were managed out of the regional office in Singapore. Being in Australia obviously is very difficult. Tell us, how key is the role in Australia itself?
JSG: That's been actually a bit of a gap in our offering in the Australian space. The senior management has recognised that that's a gap in our offering. We currently support our European clients and our core multinational clients via a referral agreement in Australia, but this is actually really ensuring that we do have that end-to-end transparency of the client. We manage them from Europe through to Australia, and they have a consistent offering. There's not one internet platform they're logging into for Deutsche Bank, another one for a different partner in a different jurisdiction. We're trying to actually create an efficiency and an ease of operation with Deutsche Bank by offering that branch in Australia, and we feel that it will be very successful.
FBP: In terms of serving the needs of the Australian corporates that are moving cross-border, tell us a little bit about the technology aspect of the solution.
JSG: Technology and I were joined at the hip. Because building out a branch requires the integration into existing systems, finance, tax and the more regulatory systems, like being able to sanction screen, transaction monitor and International Funds Transfer Instructions reporting, technology and that link of integration, with our existing platform, is a key requirement. We've actually looked at what we're doing globally from a Deutsche Bank perspective, and what we're trying to do with Australia is leverage off our existing infrastructure, but also do core build. Do something that actually strips out some of the complexities that we currently have and create a much more efficient platform for our customers to serve their businesses for.
FBP: In a sense, how lean is the operation going to be in Australia?
JSG: We run what is called a hub and spoke model at Deutsche Bank. We have key hubs in Singapore and Hong Kong. They will perform a lot of the service elements of the branch requirement for Australia. We will have sufficient people on the ground to be able to originate and service the client, but when it comes to the business as usual service components, they will be done out of our regional hubs. And currently we do that. We use that sort of structure, and it works very well with our trade finance business that is already up and running in Australia. It's leveraging the growth of what will occur and where we want to grow moving forward.
FBP: I know you've just been newly appointed, but are there priorities, key initiatives that you'll be holding out in the next six or 12 months?
JSG: The key requirements are to get the core functionality better down, to get our clients comfortable with our system and make sure that that's running very smoothly. We then have plans to actually expand that to make sure that we're offering our clients state of the art products that help a treasurer and the broader corporate facilitate their business. Looking at things like virtual accounts, looking at treasury dashboards, where we can help treasurers actually reconcile their cash management position, it's those type of products that we will add on to the core product offering.
FBP: So, you have your Autobahn (Deutsche Bank’s electronic service offering) and FX4Cash (Deutsche Bank’s foreign exchange payments product).
JSG: We have our Autobahn. We have our FX4Cash. We will leverage all of that great infrastructure and build it out more holistically in Australia.
FBP: Great. Thank you.
JSG: Thank you so much.