With similar economic and geographic make-up, Canada is often compared with Australia, especially when it comes to financial services. To shed light on this comparison, Todd Copeland, Senior Vice President of Digital at TD Bank, sat down with Chloé James of RFi Group, who have both moved to Canada from Australia, with Todd previously heading up Digital at one of the largest banks in the region, NAB. They discussed making AI work in a traditional environment and how digital developments are changing things internally for the banks, as well as for their customers.
You’ve been at TD for just over a year now. Tell me, how’s it all going?
My family and I all moved over here, I’ve got three kids and that’s been quite a challenge; moving countries, moving schools, moving friendships etc. But no regrets, TD is an amazing organisation and that was one of the attractions to move here. Obviously, there are a lot of similarities between the Australian and Canadian markets when it comes to banking. You’ve got four major banks in Australia that make up 85% of the market share, and Canada has 5-6 banks here that do a similar thing, however, there are a lot of differences as well. I think the opportunity with TD is as a large North American organisation – a top 10 bank here in North America and a very large footprints both in the US and Canada. So, it’s a very exciting role and I have thoroughly enjoyed my 12 months here.
I mentioned we were going to talk about AI and how the business is working closely with AI. We know that you acquired Layer 6, a local Fintech, and I wanted to talk to you about how that came about and the importance to TD when it comes to personalization and what that’s then providing your customers?
"Toronto is really seen as a world leader when it comes to AI and from a technology job perspective"
It’s a really exciting time actually. Canada in particular – if I just touch on that for a little bit – Toronto is really seen as a world leader when it comes to AI and from a technology job perspective, there have been more jobs created in the Toronto region in the last twelve months in the technology space than in New York and San Francisco put together. So as hub of North America and recognized area of subject expertise, Toronto is a pretty exciting place.
Layer 6 is one of those organisations that was tightly connected into the vector institute here. Through the opportunity, TD was looking at how to maintain 165+ years of customer relationships and looking forward, what are the relationships that we want to have and how do we maintain that trust level?
Looking at some of the inside analytics capabilities that were coming, the opportunity that Layer 6 presented was hence what drove a lot of the acquisition and the capability that comes with that. It has really injected a lot of excitement and enthusiasm across this organisation, more than I thought it would have. A lot of that is because we have embraced what I call an incubated fintech in our world itself; we’ve got a Fintech without having to become that fintech in itself.
The team has grown by 50% since January, when the acquisition was finalised, as a result of the attraction of what the team is doing. People want to come and work for a great organisation and work with great people. The brand that Layer 6 and the team had generated globally was recognised and has been an opportunity for us really attract new talent to the organisation, which has been super exciting.
Talking about capabilities, thinking about goals and ambitions when it comes to AI technologies and the ones you’re implementing into TD, what are your greatest goals and ambitions for the implementation? How are they going to change the lives of your customers as well as people within the bank?
The interesting one for us is if you look at where TD is at - how do we blend the capability that comes with Layer 6 to take that to the next level and truly be that next layer of competitiveness? If you look at the engagements, TD across the Canadian banks has a high level of engagement with a digitally engaged customer base. The opportunity there is how do we extend that relationship we’ve got from a digital engagement perspective to create this ultrapersonalized experience at the next level.
"We know when you can win in that engagement game you win that experience game, which ultimately means you win the customer overall."
We know when you can win in that engagement game you win that experience game, which ultimately means you win the customer overall. So, we are really looking to Layer 6 to bring some of that to life for us.
There are some really exciting things we are doing at the moment with our design team, working closely with Layer 6, looking at personalized, proactive and contextual type of experiences and we’re blending in there some of the other partnerships we have got with the likes of Flybits, a great Canadian start-up here in Toronto.
"There are a lot of pressing factors in successful banking these days, but trust and relationships are going to be the ones that need to be maintained through generational change."
There are a lot of pressing factors in successful banking these days, but trust and relationships are going to be the ones that need to be maintained through generational change. If you don’t maintain that trust or have a way to truly engage in those enriched experiences, then as an organisation you are going to struggle to compete. All of those attributes add value and Layer 6 really provides an injection of a different perspective, as well as driving some of the automation and improvement in how we execute things internally which also gives value.