Presenting a better future
In a year like no other, with events postponed or cancelled, the Institute decided to run its Young Banker of the Year competition virtually. Although not without its challenges, this provided an opportunity to showcase the ideas of a new generation of bankers and the contribution they offer to an industry that’s played a key role in supporting individuals, businesses and communities through the pandemic.
Speaking about the decision to go ahead, Simon Thompson, Chief Executive, Chartered Banker Institute says: “The enthusiasm of participants and the high calibre of responses and presentations we received throughout the process demonstrates the value of running the competition this year.”
The final, held on 24 September, included an invited audience of regulators, representatives from banks and other industry organisations, as well as a judging panel chaired by Bill McCall, President, Chartered Banker Institute, which comprised:
- Dame Susan Rice, Chairman of the Banking Standards Board
- Simone Dettling, Banking Team Lead, UN Environment Finance Initiative, CCA Global
- Sir Roger Gifford, Chair, Green Finance Institute
- Karina Robinson, Master of the Worshipful Company of International Bankers.
The four finalists presented their response to the question:
“What idea would you implement in your organisation to improve outcomes for customers, colleagues, and communities? Your idea should reflect your vision for the future of the industry and be consistent with the UN Principles for Responsible Banking.”
INTRODUCING THE 2020 YOUNG BANKER OF THE YEAR
After much deliberation, Tippie Malgwi, from Arbuthnot Latham & Co. was named as Young Banker of the Year 2020, for his idea of a financial solution for people living with serious injury and severe medical conditions.
Additionally, Malgwi was awarded the Audience Prize for the candidate who, in the opinion of the viewers, best personified the high professional standards expected of bankers through their presentation.
Simon Thompson, who awarded the Audience Prize, commented: “We may not have met in the Mansion House this year, but despite – or perhaps because of – the challenging circumstances our four Finalists all presented compelling visions for the future of our profession based on responsible banking principles. I enjoyed the variety of approaches: Charles and Matt focused on accelerating the uptake of green finance, Ana on promoting gender equality and Tippie on supporting a very vulnerable group of customers. All will, when implemented, make a significant difference to our customers and communities, and help banks and bankers demonstrate our positive social purpose.
“I had the great pleasure in presenting the Audience Prize to Tippie Malgwi and would like to join our judges in also congratulating him for becoming, the 2020 Chartered Banker Young Banker of the Year. All four finalists inspired with their ideas, enthusiasm and passion for banking, and give me enormous confidence in the future of our sector and profession.”
Bill McCall, Chair, Chartered Banker Institute, added:
“We set all our entrants this year the challenge of generating new ideas that could drive innovation, deliver sustainable growth and reflect the ethos of prudent, professional, responsible banking that the UN Principles of Responsible Banking – and our Institute – stand for. These have never been more important for building back better lives, communities and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This great competition, which has been running for more than 30 years, continues to showcase – the best, the brightest, the most brilliant young people on whom the future of banking will be built.
“All four finalists presented inspiring ideas that show the future of banking is in safe hands. I would like to congratulate all of them and, in particular, Tippie, on becoming our 2020 Young Banker of the Year.”
Speaking after the being awarded the Young Banker of the Year 2020 title, Malgwi, said: “I am delighted the judges have bought into my vision and selected me as winner of this prestigious competition. The principles for responsible banking aim to help the banking industry make a positive contribution to society. This is what I’ve set out to achieve with my proposal and I am positive that this will help further the conversation for offering focused banking solutions to this under-served segment and also highlight the wider societal benefits to be derived from serving this vulnerable sector. I’d like to thank the Chartered Banker Institute for giving me and the other contestants a platform to voice our ideas on how to improve the future of our industry.”
We spoke to the four finalists about their experience and the inspiration behind their ideas in this unprecedented competition year.
Global Commercial Banking Strategy Graduate, HSBC
Associate Director, Commercial Growth and Acquisition Funding, AIB
Commercial Banker, Arbuthnot Latham & Co.
Business Manager, Barclays
Q. With many events cancelled or postponed this year, how important do you think it is that the Young Banker of the Year competition still went ahead and why?
“Arguably, it is more important this year than any other that the Young Banker of the Year competition went ahead,” says Charles Collis, Global Commercial Banking Strategy Graduate, HSBC. “The role of financial institutions has been brought into the spotlight and subject to intense scrutiny. More consumers than ever have been looking to their financial provider for support and will continue to rely on the guidance and partnership of these same institutions as they begin to rebuild. It is in these scenarios that the ideas championed by the Young Banker of the Year competition are needed most, and where platforms such as that provided by the Chartered Banker Institute are required to champion sustainable growth, and improve outcomes for customers, colleagues and communities.”
Ana Xhemalaj, Business Manager, Barclays, agrees: “The competition offers a unique platform to empower bankers to use finance innovation and cross-sector collaboration to make a real difference to pressing social issues captured by the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. This message has never been more important than today. The global health and economic crisis has amplified existing inequalities and challenges for already vulnerable communities, threatening all the progress made so far.”
Q. How did you find the whole virtual experience?
“At first, the idea of the competition moving onto a virtual platform was daunting,” says Matt Jennings, Associate Director, Commercial Growth and Acquisition Funding, AIB. “However, as the competition progressed, I became more confident in my ability to present virtually and less nervous that my laptop could go up in smoke mid-presentation! Working alongside the video production team to bring my proposal to life was a real highlight.”
Tippie Malgwi, Commercial Banker, Arbuthnot Latham, saw the experience as a mirror of the wider changes across the industry. “Banking, and how we offer services to our clients, has had to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and I’m pleased that the Institute has tapped into this zeitgeist and evolved its proposition by continuing with its flagship seminars and events via a virtual experience. It is a testament to the Institute’s perseverance, and serves as an inspiration to its members, that we, as a sector, are open to change.”
Q. What was your idea and the inspiration behind it?
“My Albanian heritage has definitely shaped and fuelled my commitment to use my voice, my network and the platform at my disposal to contribute to gender equality strides,” says Xhemalaj. “My proposal is a Gender Linked Lending Framework, enabling financial institutions to facilitate and incentivise financing with purpose, specifically to enhance gender equity. My ultimate vision is to make gender equality a strategic, value driven decision enabling companies to build resilient businesses, rely on sustainable and equitable supply chains and create a positive, long-lasting legacy in the communities they touch.”
Jennings says: “My proposal has been built around the idea that we can have a sustainable banking system that delivers economic growth while actively reducing our impact on the environment. Key initiatives would see the transformation of redundant outside office space into green sites that promote biodiversity and support local ecosystems in urban areas. These settings could then be used to educate and inform customers and communities about the role that green funding can play in supporting their green projects. Indoor office space would also be turned into modern green working environments by incorporating natural elements and plant life into the design and partnering with responsible suppliers to create a framework to facilitate green ways of working.”
Personal experience underpins Collis’ idea. “I strongly believe that we have an obligation to support our customers in dealing with the financial challenges facing them, and I saw that providing SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] with a simple way to obtain an ESG [environmental, social and governance] score is a perfect way for me personally to champion this responsibility,” he explains. “Despite increasing interest in ESG scores as a means to signal the sustainability of a company’s business practices, my research found that SMEs are incredibly underserved in this space. ‘Shift’ is, in its simplest form, an ESG-scoring app for SMEs.”
Meanwhile, Malgwi is driven by a desire to make a positive contribution to society. “It is not often that we, as bankers, get an opportunity to impact on life-changing circumstances, but presenting my idea has provided an opportunity to further the discussion. The Serious Injury Life Care account, or SILC, is a banking solution for people living with serious injury or severe medical conditions under the Court of Protection umbrella. It seeks to offer targeted solutions for the protected person, the deputy, any carers or close family members, with additional tools for long-term financial planning to aid their quality of life. As a trustee for Disabled Living, a Manchester-based charity that provides advice about products and services for people living with disabilities, I have seen first-hand the importance of practical solutions for people in this space.”
“All four finalists inspired with their ideas, enthusiasm and passion for banking, and give me enormous confidence in the future of our sector and profession.”
- Simon Thompson, Chartered Banker Institute
Q. What opportunities does the industry now have to help build a more sustainable future post-COVID?
“We have an opportunity to collectively design and build a better future together,” says Jennings. “The banking industry must play a central role in this process and I believe that we have a strong social licence to operate and communicate in this space. After all, we are uniquely placed to work collaboratively with our customers and local communities to support green projects that reflect this shared vision of a sustainable future.”
Collis agrees: “It is vital that we remain champions of sustainable growth, ensuring that all of our customers have access to the products and services necessary to support them in their own transition. There is a need to be agile, to innovate quickly, and provide data-driven insights that lead to actionable outcomes for our customers.”
Both Xhemalaj and Malgwi believe that it is an opportunity to improve outcomes across society. “Being a sustainable business is, at its core, about the choices and the decisions that are made every single day across all ESG elements,” says Xhemalaj. “Do businesses nurture a diverse and inclusive workforce? Do they have the appropriate programmes to support returning mothers or fathers after a break? Are they cautious about the amount of paper printing that they are doing? Are they responding to the crisis by taking account of its different impact on women versus men or on people of colour as opposed to white people? And so on.”
Malgwi describes how responsibility to seize opportunity from crisis falls on both the industry and the individual. “COVID-19 has laid bare the fact that certain sectors of society are more vulnerable than others, and this needs to be made right. The etymology of the word ‘sustainable’ derives from ‘to level up’ and ‘to support’. It is imperative that we, as bankers, seek out new and innovative ways to improve society using our individual skill sets.”
With so much passion and insight into how bankers and the industry can support society to emerge from the pandemic in a more resilient and sustainable way, this year’s finalists demonstrate that the future of the banking industry is in safe hands.