Interview with Michelle Joliat – Managing Director and Head, Wealth Digitization, Robotics, and Process Transformation at BMO Financial Group

How to create value instead of just utilities? Michelle Joliat, MD & Head, Wealth Digitization, Robotics & Process Transformation at Bank of Montreal (BMO) addressed a room of senior level digital bankers at the Global Digital Banking Conference, Toronto, last month to address exactly this. Michelle possesses a palpable blend of true understanding of technology and how to leverage its power, as well as being an incredible leader of people and encouraging innovation within her team. The RFi Group team sat down with Michelle to dive further into her key priorities and challenges in digital banking today.

What are you looking at as far as opportunities and development? What are your key priorities at the moment?

We are really focusing on digitization, digital experience and client experience. We also always look at process transformation and automation around the self-serve and assisted channels as well as smart process automation around RPA (Robotic process automation) and machine learning to drive our efforts in making things faster, better and more tailored for our clients.

One of the things that we are currently working on is our onboarding process, making sure that customers can do all of their servicing and onboarding quickly, effectively and efficiently. We have been able to reduce the onboarding forms by about 90%, we’ve taken it from multiple client account agreements to one and we have also been able to reduce the time for onboarding from 14 days to about 30 minutes.

In the RPA space, we are really excited to be able to interface with existing UI’s and go into back-end and front-end systems without having to develop a new UI or spend time having to connect systems. One interface we have just deployed can access 18 different source systems and we have been able to do that for about $100,000, instead of millions of dollars. We have been able to turn it out pretty quickly and we are able to fulfil service requests by customers and automate processes that bankers have to do day-to-day to make it a lot easier to redeploy resources to value-added areas.

What’s next for you beyond keeping up with the speed of change?

We have really been focused on human-centred design, understanding what drives customer needs and values and being able to approach them with empathy. Applying for a mortgage isn’t just about the paperwork, its about all the anxiety of ‘am I asking for the right amount of money’, ‘am I going to get approved’, ‘how fast is this going to go’, ‘are rates going to change’, so when we look at leveraging the insights, we think about making things more human. To do this, we look at utilizing natural language processing and AI (artificial intelligence) to understand more about customer sentiment and driving value from that.

What are the challenges and barriers you see with AI? How are you overcoming them at BMO?

High complexity requires really skilled resources and I think its about attracting and retaining these resources and making the value proposition clear as to why people want to come and work in a bank. I also think process stability, standardization and documentation is really key to moving forward on some of the challenges that we have got.

How does the bank attract and retain talent?

This is something that the bank is really focused on, not just what millennials want in the market or in a job but how they want to grow and what is important to them. I’ve done different things to try to acquire talent, such as running case competitions at different conferences and picking talent out of places that might not otherwise be recruited. It’s also about tailoring what you want, going out and finding those people and then convincing them that they want to work with you.

Michelle Joliat, Managing Director and Head, Wealth Digitization, Robotics, and Process Transformation, BMO Financial Group


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