Interview with Tolga Tavlas

Written by: Fleming. Team

FE: Offer the right product to the right client at the right time – that's the mantra of successful banking. It sounds simple. What's the trouble behind it? What do you think banks have been neglecting the most when analysing their clients needs?

I think this is easy to say but hard to do, for many thanks. Actually, the idea is very simple and clear; the challenge is how to do it. It is obvious you need to know a lot about your client, and at the same time, you should be able to use what you know in the right context. Considering that many banks and financial institutions have descriptive rather than behavioural data about their clients, it is not easy to catch the right moment to provide the service. The only channel that is always ON and always with a client is Mobile – plus, we may even say that the Mobile Phone also knows everything about the respective client. So the key channel is mobile in my opinion, both for gathering data and providing a service. Of course, raw data does not mean anything on its own. There is a need for strong Data Analytics to turn it into knowledge – ideally the knowledge that could be used to suggest the next best action for the client. I cannot say that banks are neglecting something, but rather that the backend systems coming from ages ago – even if the digital frontends were built recently – were not designed for the needs of the current economy. For this reason, a significant change is required in overall bank design; but for many banks, Digital is a just a project, not requiring a radical change. They simply do not get what Fintech companies already understand – those companies which have started to eat the most profitable pieces of the banking pie.

FE: In your book Digital Banking Tips, you mention some tens of useful tips. Could you pick out and describe the three most crucial ones with regard to the current state of the European bancassurance business?

Hmm... This is the hardest question to answer on my side; in my opinion, one way or another all of them touch upon the Bancassurance Business. The tips are about how to respond, help and serve customers with the existing or available tools and technologies. In the book, there are four main chapters: Growing Fast (onboarding new clients), Generating Revenue (selling online), Security and 360 Degree Digital Landscape (what is available). So the coverage is from Digital Marketing to Voice Biometrics – which are all needed to provide a seamless customer experience. One of the biggest challenges the Bancassurance business has is to provide end-to-end Straight-Through Processing and sales experience online. Also, the type of products sold and the way in which customers are engaged are very critical. In other words, there is a huge need to set up a stage for Convenience, Connectivity and Client Relationship Management. I guess the book can help on this. At the end of the day, both banks and insurance companies serve the same clients, with their changing behaviour and expectations.

FE: What's the story behind your writing career?

Everything started with my blog, 'Digital Banking Tips'. The huge response I received to these tips – from professionals all over the globe – encouraged me to turn my blog into a book and extend the scope.

Other books had been written on this subject, but in my opinion, what was missing was an implementation guide. We needed a quick and dirty manual to tell us how to implement digital banking services. This is a short, to-the-point and action-oriented (rather than theoretical) book. My motivation is to share with and learn from others, and then use this knowledge as a basis for creating new tips and sharing them once again.

It’s a quick and easy read, the tips are simple to implement and readers may even find a little banking humour to help them through the process. I also believe the book is a good resource not only for banking professionals but also other people who are in a position to offer services to a financial institution that offers digital banking. It can help them understand what banks need and how can they package their products in a way that will help them move their business forward. There are limitless opportunities for telco operators, software developers and value-added service providers to further cultivate this segment of their market.

FE: Are you working on any new book at the moment? If you are, can you tell us more about it?

Currently not – rather I have been improving the content of Digital Banking Tips in the light of the feedback I've got from the readers. So there will be new editions with enriched content. As the changes are very frequent and fast, there is a need to update all the value you provide – otherwise the content becomes outdated at the speed of light!

FE: What is your greatest source of inspiration when writing?

Two things: the amazing changes we experience thanks to digital disruption and the joy of sharingwhat I have with others and learning from them. I have readers all over the world, Europe, South & North America, Australia, Asia, the Far East and Africa – this is the greatest feeling of all.

Would you like to read more from Tolga? Here is a website dedicated to his book with links to his blog posts right at the bottom of the page.

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