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Unlocking innovation in banking and finance

08 June, 2022

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This podcast was originally aired on 08 June, 2022

Paolo Sironi

Unlocking innovation in banking and finance

We are excited to be in conversation with Paolo Sironi on unlocking innovation in banking and finance, as part our The Thought Leader’s Voice podcast series.

One of the most respected FinTech experts worldwide, Paolo is the Global Research Leader in banking and financial markets at the IBM Institute for Business Value. He provides business expertise and strategic thinking to a network of executives at financial institutions, start-ups, and regulators, driving C-level conversations about business model adaptations in platform economies.

Paolo founded start-up Capitects – acquired by IBM – and headed up the quantitative risk management department at Banca Intesa Sanpaolo. He is a celebrated author of several books on digital transformation, quantitative finance and economics, including his latest bestseller, ‘Banks and Fintech on Platform Economies: Contextual and Conscious Banking’. He is also a keynote speaker at major international events.

Tune in to the podcast for Paolo’s thought-provoking and future-forward insights on driving innovation in banking and financial services, and on how firms can differentiate themselves within competitive markets.

Key Takeaways

  • The financial services sector has seen a massive shift during these times of volatility and is having to adapt to regulatory shifts, geopolitical pressures, digital transformation, and changing customer demands. How can financial services leaders optimize their businesses to deal with these shifts?
  • How can banking and financial services leverage technology in their business models? Is there a need for a different outlook and tailored vision of how technology needs to be integrated within the ecosystem?
  • The macro-economic and regulatory environment impacts how different financial services business models operate. What are some of the key factors that can help firms differentiate in this context? What is the best approach to materialize this?
  • How can humans and technology be leveraged within the framework in a way that improves stickiness with customers? What are some key elements in driving innovation?
  • Who are the stakeholders responsible for transformation, and how do they need to adapt to achieve this?
  • What are some prerequisites for building a sustainable ecosystem with a firm foundation?
  • How can banks and financial services approach ESG, and what is a key takeaway for marketers?

Full Transcript of Podcast with Paolo Sironi

Rachael Kinsella: Hello and welcome to The Thought Leader’s Voice. I'm your host, Rachael Kinsella, Editor in Chief at iResearch Services. Today, we're thrilled to be joined by Paolo Sironi to discuss Unlocking Innovation in Banking and Finance. Paolo is the global research leader in banking and financial markets at the IBM Institute for Business Value. He's one of the most respected fintech voices worldwide, providing business expertise and strategic thinking to a network of executives amongst financial institutions, start-ups, and regulators. He's a senior advisor and drives C-level conversations about business model adaptations in platform economies. Paolo founded the start-up Capitects, which was acquired by IBM, and headed up the Quantitative Risk Management Department at banking in Banca Intesa Sanpaolo. He's the celebrated author of several books on Digital Transformation, Quantitative Finance, and Economics, including his latest bestseller, ‘Banks and Fintech on Platform Economies: Contextual and Conscious Banking’. I’ve got a copy of it here. It's very much been hailed as a playbook and how-to guide for the platformization of financial services and has had very high praise across numerous industry participants. So, it's an excellent book. He's also a keynote speaker, of course, at major international events and regularly talking about these key topics. Very warm welcome to you today, Paolo. It's great to have you here!

Paolo Sironi: Thanks Rachael, for hosting me in this amazing podcast.

Rachael Kinsella: Thank you. So, if we get started with the questions, we've really seen that the financial services sector has seen a massive shift, not only during these times of volatility, but over the past decade or so, post-economic crisis, firms having to adapt to regulatory shifts, to geopolitical pressures, digital transformation, and changing customer demands all at once, from all angles, all sides, and all geographies. How do you think financial services leaders can best optimize their businesses to deal with all these shifts and to differentiate?

Paolo Sironi: Well, Rachel, that's a very important question because it allows us to discuss the fact that the problem is deep inside the construction of financial services as they are today. And to understand that, I want to quote the point of view of two central bankers that have been shaping the fate of financial services with their actions since they start with the global financial crisis. So, I want to talk about what Alan Greenspan said to the Senate committee after Lehman Brothers defaulted in 2007/2008 and what Mario Draghi said to the press couple of weeks before he left his office at the European Central Bank. So, let's go back to 2008/2009. Lehman Brothers defaulted, the financial system was at the brink of collapse, and the Senate committee asked the chairman of the Federal Reserve why this was happening, why financial markets were not functioning and banks were at risk of defaulting on a massive scale. Basically, Alan Greenspan responded that he realized there was a flaw in the model. He said that institutions, clients are not rational, that they don't always work in the best interest of the community themselves and survival in the community, and that the markets are not efficient as we thought.

And he said, ‘I'm disrupted and disturbed by the fact that it seemed to work for 40, 50 years. It's not working anymore, and we don't know what to do about it’. So that means that there is a problem that lays inside the construction of the financial system and all the business models that corresponded to the construction. Years after, so that’s two years ago when Mario Draghi left his office at the European Central Bank, a journalist asked him to comment on the opinion of a prominent CEO who was basically saying that negative interest rates, which are dominating the landscape of macroeconomics in European countries for the last years, could collapse and could create the next collapse of the financial system. Mario Draghi said, ‘Well, I'm sure the banks will offer positive rates, right and questionable, but because there are other issues that we need to consider, like the cost-income ratio, especially bureaucratic banks, which is unsustainable’, and then he concludes saying that ‘actually the same thing is to happen is that banks have to adjust their business model to the digitalization of financial services’. Now hear that again, adjusting the business model to digitalisation doesn't mean to digitalize the existing business models. It means to change the business models with technology, to conform to a new macroeconomic environment, to higher uncertainty, to different regulatory requests that came to the forefront in 2007 when the global financial crisis started.

The problem that we see today is that, I think the banks understand what technology is; that's not the problem. They have a harder time to understand how to change the business model and leveraging new technologies. So now what is my work and what is the role of this new book? Banks, FinTech, and Platform Economies? I've been traveling for IBM everywhere in the world before the pandemic, meeting clients, start-ups, entrepreneurs, regulators, the broader public, and I think we can divide the world into three macro areas without forgetting anyone. The United States is where digital technology was born 15 years ago - think about the Silicon Valley. I know that these are becoming very competitive in terms of technology. Then you have Europe, where a lot of regression is born because the European Commission cares about building a common level playing field for the capital markets union, and there is a great focus in terms of attempting to protect the final investor, the final consumer. But Asia in particular, China and India are where fintech revolution is winning these days because that is where most of the new business models were born. So, my role is basically my curiosity to understand the variety of business models, knowing that what can work in China doesn't work in Germany right now or in Brazil, and how every technology can basically help these business models to scale. Not all of the technologies are at the same level of maturity; where AI is today was not where it was 5 years ago. What Quantum is today, is not what it will be five years from now, but keep everything inside the regulatory framework, which is the envelope, but to make sure it is sustainable. So now ‘Banks and Fintech on Platform Economies’ that is my latest seller takes all of these elements together and tries to provide a consistent answer that explains the lesson learnt of the fintech revolution from the last 10 years, and what is the most likely outlook of the industry a few years from now because it is already happening now?

Rachael Kinsella: Well, I mean, that's no mean feat. Bringing all of those different elements together and looking at what's scalable, what is future thinking around how these models can be developed and what the demands are going to be and being able to translate that across different regions and the various different nuances that are in play there. How does it work?

Paolo Sironi: Well, you see, if you think about what happened on the internet 15 years after the internet revolution started, it was clear that the platforms were the winners of the internet economy. LinkedIn is the platform for my professional life, I invite everybody to reach out on LinkedIn, Facebook – if you also want to reach out there is the platform for my personal life. Twitter used to be the platform for my Trump paranoia, which is the platform of all platforms, and that is the platform where I sell books. But what we don't see today is the platform for my financial life. Now on digital, platforms will win as well and those platforms will let you be capable of aggregating the full financial life of an individual to an unprecedented level. Now, most of the fintech, we are focusing on using technology to unbundle financial services and that happened in the last 10 years, but now is the time where they all try to aggregate them back to re-bundle them on the platform economy. That cannot happen without technology because they had digital platforms

Now, the issue is that platform businesses are not easy to run; no business is easy to run, but platform businesses are particularly complex and it requires in terms of working with banking, a set of changes that enforces the opening of the organization. We can discuss a bit during the point about this concept forces to blur the lines not just within the institution of the organization, but also outside of the situation, mixing a bit more banking and non-banking services and solutions, but also learning that technology cannot replace all human relationships. It can do for some banking services but not for other banking services. It can with payments, might not happen that easily for wealth management. Therefore, the platform economy will succeed in financial services if participants will be capable of grading the utilization of technology, partly to automatize them and intermediate trends differently and partly to augment the capability of people to talk to people with better information, with more transparent approaches, and for a lower cost, because that is essentially the problem. That is, the commoditization of lot of financial products, the reduction of margins which benefits the consumers but may also create the complexities in terms of servicing consumers and clients, and that's where technology adds a lot of body.

Rachael Kinsella: Wow. I mean that as you say, there are so many different elements to that, but it's not completely replacing that human element, but it's getting the key automized processes where applicable, and having that relationship where it's appropriate. If everyone is trying to do the same thing in terms of financial services and how are they able to use these technologies and this approach to differentiate?

Paolo Sironi: Oh, it's all about the relationships, because relationships are the new product and that means a lot of financial products are becoming utilities and commodities. Payments are super important for data by the other commodity in terms of degeneration of margins, not everywhere in the world. In the US margins are higher than in Europe, and the trend is called Margin Compression. The same thing happens with the credit function, so it's difficult to price that relationship with negative interest rates, investment products, and commoditised through passive investing, transparency regulations, and so forth. Insurance is still a bit less, but that will happen too. So now the product that used to be the center of the marketing mechanism and the propositional value in front of the clients, and because the products were embedded, they embedded basically the remuneration, now those products are commoditizing. So that pushes the value into your relationship in terms of economics as well, that forces to understand how to differentiate on the relationship. Now differentiating on the relationship needs to be done on both sides of the equation - the human and technology and there are a variety of methods to make sure that you can differentiate them. First of all, technology enables you to be there, where and when the client needs to consume financial services. So, it’s the process of eliminating the friction so that we would recognize that basically, your journey is a better journey because financial services is done in ways that are almost instantaneous right there, sort of quite much about hassle, which today is not always the case, and that you really see on the platform economy. But on the other side, you would differentiate them on the transparent relationship. Transparency builds trust in the relationship, and I can give you a clear example for this one that is taken from the non-banking framework and is an example of Amazon which have Jeff Bezos which I reported in my book ‘Banking and Fintech on Platform Economies’. It is a personal story that tells you when I was a young banker helping my brother in the 90s to build the Amazon of Italy. He wanted to sell the best of Italy furniture, fashion, food, and travel and I guess you never heard about the Amazon of Italy because it never took off. It was a failure. I mean, you know entrepreneurship is not always successful. I was very happy. I mean we had this sleek web design and we had everything we needed but it didn't work.

Now there were many mistakes we made there and many lessons learned we gained, but one in particular, I realized when I heard from Jeff Bezos years after talking on circular economies and the journalist asked Jeff Bezos what's Amazon? And Jeff Bezos responded that Amazon is not the distribution channel of books. And I'm like, No. Well, at that time you know I'm older than you,Amazon was primarily selling books and also the journalist was frowning; he was puzzled. So, Jeff Bezos explained, you see, the publishers are sending me letters complaining that I don't understand marketing and called him stupid, and the reason, he said is because ‘I allow users to publish positive and negative reviews’, and they say just publish the positive reviews because that helps us to sell more distribution channel products. But I said I'm not the distribution channel products. Now, here, what I'm telling you is a bank, a fintech distribution channel of products – digital or not, Amazon was not.

Jeff Bezos says that, ‘you see, I am not the distribution channel product; my role is to advise the clients, the people on the platform on which is the best book to buy, and as I cannot take the book in their hands, smell the globe, open and look at the pages. The way I resolved this gap between their intention, the motivation, and the execution is to use reviews to build a trust with this transparency element only after I created the trust for their consumption. I use other analytics in order to improve the relationship and the engagement on the platform’. So that means that transparency builds a differentiating value because we create trust that then makes the relationship stickiness and that means enabling clients to be capable of consuming financial services more autonomously. Also, in their relationship what they are empowered to understand more, builds the differentiating element which is called the trust, and only after data-driven banking, it can basically take its place and be optimized because we can start producing more and more informational opportunities that benefit the client. But the trust element based on transparency is the one that differentiates banks going forward on the platform economy.

Rachael Kinsella: Well, yes, I think it's a really interesting example that you've shared and you just have to think of it through a different lens, and that's got me thinking whether FinTechs and Tech focused firms have more of an advantage over the traditional financial services because they're already set up with those sorts of models in mind. Would you say that's the case?

Paolo Sironi: I don't think so. The advantage is in the middle.

Rachael Kinsella: Right.

Paolo Sironi: Because I saw a lot of FinTech, new banks, that are thinking of becoming marketplaces of products. They thought we are selling products with transaction fees, but the embedded commissions are lower and lower, therefore it should become a bigger in Apple volume. That doesn't always happen, right at that scale all the time, only payments can happen not in other businesses. On the other side, they have the capability of understanding how to build a business based on more agile, lean and less expensive technology; they are more cognitive. Banks on their side, might have lot of issues in terms of the way they manage that complex business which later show in a variety of decisions taking us through 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 100 years but they have the human relationship that we used to play right now.

You see that some of the most prominent Fintech learned that they had to bring the human relationship inside the framework. For example, the Ropes Advisor, so once the test is successful, they opened it to the human relationship, but they're not only digitally savvy model. Banks on the other side are learning how to transform their infrastructure with every cloud technology, not just to lift and shift what they do, but basically to start embracing this new way of thinking that this mindset shift that you were mentioning, they will enable them to go through the journey and then we will see if you like it. Most likely the convergence between them. The strength of a bank and the strength of the fintech there in the middle is where most of the value is for clients.

Rachael Kinsella: I see. Yes, so they're both working towards these frictionless digital relationships that you talk about, and rather than promoting digital products or digital-only relationships, they're coming at it from different angles.

Paolo Sironi: Yes, there's always space for products right there, but the generation is different. So, what happens is that the relationship, which is the engagement element, needs to take center place and that it will imply by the time the transformation of the way the revenue is generated. So, what the client is really paying for is accessing the platform, whether it is a contextualized platform from a non-banking perspective or it is an advisor relationship that is built around the human and digital relationships, but that is the way the money will be collected by banks in front of the client, which forces them to be more transparent, more trustworthy, and more frictionless.

Rachael Kinsella: So, it's that loop between relationship, transparency, and trust.

Paolo Sironi:Yes, it doesn't happen in one day, but we clearly see that it’s happening now at different intensities around the world according to the jurisdiction, the regulation, and the client adaptation to digital services and so on so forth. But that is the direction.

Rachael Kinsella: Have you got some good examples of organizations that are doing this well?

Paolo Sironi: Well, in banks and fintech, and platform economies they build the bank innovation quadrant down there. Basically, the map that enables the banks to go through these uncharted waters of digital transformation to generate value and then setting the transparency principles as they can't pass for them to understand how to box out from the existing product distribution, mindset, and land into this outcome-oriented digital human perspective that enables them to see and rate the relationship as the core element of the financial services engagement model. Now there are two strategies in this quadrant. One is called Contextual Banking Platform Strategy and the one is called Conscious Banking Platform Strategy. Basically, it is the need to eliminate the friction that makes banking contextualized, that means embedded into another industry journey, and that's one way of doing it, where the bank gets just 20 minutes of friction. And there are banks that give an example that are doing this, and then these other one, the conscious banking that starts from the fact that they need to demonstrate value that clients have to pay for access saying the financial services platform forces banks to be transparent

Rachael Kinsella: Of course

>Paolo Sironi:Then they can accept this new direct, more transparent, and visible relationship. Now some banks in particular in Asia-Pacific, but also in Latin America and another one of these is SBI, State Bank of India. State Bank of India used to be a very traditional bank; 350 million customers that is bigger than the US population. And they realized few years ago that they needed to make a leap forward into the digital future, right? So, India has been investing a lot into coding and the digital identities, the units of payment systems and so forth, and so SBI decided to build ‘you only need one’, which is a marketplace that interesting like Amazon, more successful than Amazon for some products, but that is based on a digital wallet. That enables to start transforming the new relationships and into a digital payment mechanism with a client onboarding, and there is an underside with the digital bank that helps them to position investment opportunities or insurance opportunities. So, this is the example of a bank that created an ecosystem platform in order to onboard clients in a different way and mix and match them towards the regulated market because India is a regulated market.

Rachael Kinsella: Of course, yes.

Paolo Sironi: On the other side, instead, where banks are not contextualizing, but banks are building conscious relationships with clients, so that clients know, they claim the clients know they are into this relationship. We can think about what happens in the wealth manager space because wealth management owning planning is the new secret sauce if you like. If you center of the inverted business model of banks and the reason is because if you need to build the personalized relationship in a bank, you cannot do it with investment products, but you need to do it discussing the liabilities of people. That means their loans, their mortgage, their debt, their human capital. You know, their education for their children. Now the problem is that a lot of these things are not remunerative for the bank because of low-interest rates, increasing product still are, but they're commoditized. So, combining them into the financial wealthiness discussion, which is a planning exercise that is centered on the wealth management discussion brought down to the level of the affluent is basically the new business model. Now, if I ask you which is the biggest Swiss bank? You may say it's UBS, if asked which is the second largest bank in Switzerland, you may say it’s basically Credit Suisse.

Not rightly so and the reason is because of FTSE Russell that makes this stock indices took UBS and Credit Suisse out of the banking index two years ago. Saying they're not banks anymore, they are the first in asset manager, the second diversified financial conglomerate, and the reason they said is because most of their revenue doesn't come from core banking, traditional businesses like credit, like this kind of stuff payments but comes from the word ‘management relationship’. Now that we manage our relationship, which is based on products that are getting more and more commoditized is forcing banks like UBS. It's not offering to introduce market, for example portfolio management for zero commission, and then ask clients to enter into a paid relationship, right? Which is a few businesses in order to basically continue the conversation to have a more thoughtful conversation. So that's a mix between digital orientation and then a human advisory method. So that's an indication of where the industry is going to.

We can think about what Morgan Stanley did after the global financial crisis, shifting from an investment bank to one of the largest wealth management institutions and Goldman Sachs is attempting a more ambitious but similar route. So, you just need to be if you like attentive to understand that how the revenue mix is shifting and where technology is inserting into the transformation of the relationship to see basically these two trends are happening. Contextual banking and conscious banking both on platform economies.

Rachael Kinsella: It's fascinating and you know so much of that has come through the regulatory shift, but also the changing needs and demands of the end customers and being able to use technology to leverage those offerings and to be able to differentiate in these tight markets.

Paolo Sironi: Yes, it’s a mix of both, the client is adapting to digital and is demanding more, but the clients cannot tell you give me this business model because they are not capable of that. So, it's about the banks being capable of responding. Regulators had to act after the global financial crisis, but I will not find the solution of the crisis inside the existing model. That’s what Mario Draghi said – adjust the business model through the digitalization of financial services, and regulation is important. I always have an institutional approach in my research, discussions with industries and in my literature and I would say that everybody needs to do its part, so the regulators need to change somehow what they ask; it's because digital is a different framework because the world is in a different stage. Clients need to learn more, that’s who use digital in a different way. Banks need to change their business model, fintech needs to adjust their perspective and their ambition and when they all understand how to do that together on the platform economy, building ecosystem platforms and user rental platforms, I believe that we will still see get faster transformation compared to what we see today. It does take time, but I believe it is happening.

Rachel Kinsella: And are you seeing partnerships emerge through the process of the platformization of the industry?

Paolo Sironi: Oh yes, so ecosystem platforms require a partnership between a variety of actors. It is a principle of organizations and open innovation in essence, and you don't have to reinvent the wheel.

Rachael Kinsella: Ok

Paolo Sironi: You need to control what you believe is your key part of the business and touchpoints and then you need to partner with everyone else that basically is better at resolving one problem. The issue here is that to do that you need to have a very good architecture underneath that makes sense. A secured one at that, which enables you to build services which are portable, interoperable on hybrid, multi-cloud approaches, perspectives and technologies, and that's another type of work that I do. Understanding how this technology needs to be configured to make sure that when we start building these, there’s a consistent partner connection they can go through a banking as a service so that they can get a platform in a way that they are compliant. They're easy to integrate, they are transparent right, they are secure, and so forth. So, there is a work to be done to set the foundations right from monthly to flexible architectures and that enables you to start moving and shifting towards the customer interface or the customer ecosystem, bringing the partners in, in order to basically make a better job. But that is an essential precondition without which would not be really possible.

Rachael Kinsella: That's a vitally important point. Absolutely, and would you have particular recommendations for how organizations can go about having those firm foundations and the right kind of architecture?

Paolo Sironi: For that you need to wait a couple of months as I have a new research insight from IBM discussing exactly this topic, but it's like you need to work on four types of practicing capabilities. First of all, embracing hybrid cloud technologies and architecture is about the mindset shift in the way you work. So, there's a first step. Right? And really, isn't just about agile per se, it is about how you open the organization of shared information, how you interact with partners and how you think about relationships instead of products and so forth. Secondly, that needs to be underpinned by clearer and cloud-oriented security culture. Cloud and securities are always a journey because you're never done right that needs to be there.

Rachael Kinsella: Of course.

Paolo Sironi: And you need to shift security to the left so to embed it in every development process so that the new thing you do in continuous innovation does not require you to reinvent the wheel again of security. So, you really fit for that type of necessity. Then you need to access data differently within distribution and outside distribution to be transparent, filtered, understood, shareable, and so forth and then the last but not least is about Artificial Intelligence. So, you need to do a couple of things. Automation is needed, because you're working faster, working at scale so you need to automatize things and that was super important with the pandemic. Those banks that did not have enough automation had a problem because people could not access the premises basic right through the work, so it becomes an essential problem issue not just to try, but also to survive at some point, right?

Rachael Kinsella: Right.

Paolo Sironi: So, you need to have it. Automation is important. This is sort of costly, but also AI augments the relationship by providing new ways of looking at a problem, building new insights and so it's not in itself autonomous, and it's to be enveloped in self-regulation, but is essential in order to do a better business and if you like every cloud and trusted data, artificial intelligence relationships and automation are the elements that make the foundations of my bank innovation quadrant will see merging these contextual banking and conscious banking platform strategies. So that's where I bring them all together.

Rachael Kinsella: Excellent, it's really useful to be able to picture those pillars and to be able to categorize it in those terms. One thing that we haven't talked about at all is sustainability, and of course you know that feeds into evolving regulation. It feeds into evolving investor and customer demand and it feeds into purpose and what's driving financial services organizations and indeed technology firms. Where does this fit into the platform economy approach and how can you see this approach and these sorts of technologies working together be a force for good?

Paolo Sironi: So ESG is about transparency. Otherwise, it isn’t working, and transparency can be delivered with three things. First of all, Consciousness, the second one is Data Sharing and the third one is basically AI to understand the level weight. So why is that? Well, first of all and I place ESG around the creation of an engagement platform with customers where the advisory relationship enables a conversation about uncertainty. ESG is about uncertainty, that means we can be certain that the climate risk is there somewhere. We debate it, but we don't know exactly how accelerated it is, which are the consequences, and so forth, right? So, we need to start learning in discussing this problem, understanding that is not easy to be resolved; it's not just buying one product that will resolve the problems, there is a continuous effort and that means that being part of an ongoing advice. The economic risk is there, but it's a reason to get it right. It’s the reminding ourselves about the long-term perspective, not just the social-economic incentives.

Second, when you do that, you need to start differentiating among the companies you want to invest into. For example, banks lend tools that are effectively complying with the ESG perspective, and I believe that the European perspective is kind of nice because it's about the double materiality. So just proving that there is effectively an impact beyond the performance of the product on capital markets, the impact on the social responsibility space, or the environment which if you like, is easier to think of, and is the most discussed. Now, how do you know that had happened? So that means that for those banks to think like they are capable about creating an ecosystem of clients right, they are connected with the platform that are opening the data co-offer to demonstrate that effectively they are ESG compliant, and they might differentiate that in front of the clients.

So, I think that there is a space for FinTech and Banks to clearly get these platform ecosystems where data enables them to differentiate this to onboard clients better and ask that would be more and more. So, you see the plans the ESG is creating is deeper in connectivity, data-driven between non-banking industry and financial services. That basically is the center place for the motivation for ESG today, and then of course, there is artificial intelligence because there's so much data information which is not there. Data that is quantitative that you need to make an interpretation of and that also you need the AI in order to make sure that you start systematizing and then bring back the insights which are needed. So that's the way I see the ESG evolution. Without this there would be a problem, right? Also, that people would not be able to demonstrate effectively that they put the money and the effort where their mouth is, and we are releasing a wonderful sustainability report from IBM in a few weeks, which is the CEO Study. So, I invite everybody to wait and check the event pages to read it through. It's truly revealing, and yes, that's what I think.

Rachael Kinsella: Excellent! I think there's almost a big challenge there, but there's also an opportunity to use those pillars and create that real transparency and then to be able to differentiate it.

Paolo Sironi: You see, again, if you're transparent in history, you can differentiate against the others, because we will trust that it is not greenwashing. So, it goes again to the same principle. It's difficult to see as a differentiating element because it may contradict our usual way of thinking about marketing and selling, but that's exactly the problem that most corporations have to deal with. They need to move out of the marketing perspective of the 80s, and get into the responsible marketing perspective, which is about stakeholder capitalism and shredding, right? So, more transparency could be more trusted to have real impact, but without that, it would be very complex. So those that can make it happen can learn about it. I believe that they will have a huge advantage against the others.

Rachael Kinsella: Yeah, so as you say, that shift in mindset that's going to be the key differentiator. If you can turn your thinking away from the old ways which should be happening anyway.

Paolo Sironi: Nobody said it's easy, but it’s needed!

Rachael Kinsella: Yeah, absolutely. It's a journey, and as you say these things take time, but there’s a very real need there because otherwise organizations are going to fail and deal with all the various different challenges and various different demands in today's market. So, I think that's a really good note to sum up on. Actually, I think transparency, shift of mindset, making sure that you've got the right architecture and the right foundations in place, and ways of focusing those around those core pillars that you've discussed. Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us. We're looking forward to seeing the two new research pieces coming up that you mentioned and hopefully shedding some more light on them, and perhaps we'll be able to talk to you again once those are released and discuss some of the findings.

Paolo Sironi: Absolutely! Thank you very much for hosting me. It was a wonderful conversation Rachel.

Rachael Kinsella: Thank you. It's been a great conversation. Thank you very much indeed. I'm sure there's a lot that our audience can learn from what we've been discussing, and certainly quite a lot that I'm going to take away in terms of how the markets are evolving and how organizations are needing to evolve in order to compete in the current marketplace. Thank you.

Paolo Sironi: Ciao!

Rachael Kinsella: Ciao.

 

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