Mr. Hui Hui Li is President of Global Business Management, Deputy GM of Strategic Development, Board of Directors, China HengFeng Bank. Prior to this, he was CEO, Consumer Bank, China HengFeng Bank. As CEO, he developed a 5-year transformation plan for the Bank, defined a pilot branch, and rolled out their digital channel initiatives.
Prior to joining HengFeng, Mr. Li was Head of Consumer Banking, OCBC, responsible for China consumer/retail banking and private banking P&L and transitioning into premium model. He initiated and implemented strategy transformations within 4 months of on-boarding.
He has also held strategically important positions at Citi, first as Senior Vice President – General Manager / Strategic Project Director, and then as Senior Vice President – Head of Customer Segments.
Mr. Hui Hui Li has a Bachelor Degree in Economics from Peking University, a Master’s in Business from Nanyang Technological University, and an MBA in Business Administration and Management from the University of Cambridge.
Q&A with Mr. Hui Hui Li, Hengfeng Bank
Question: Your current role at HengFeng Financial Holding Group, and previous positions at HengFeng Bank, OCBC and even dating back to the work you did at Citibank, all have a common thread – branch transformation. Most other banks and banking leaders have only just started to understand the importance of branch transformation. Can you explain your early interest in this, and what made you think this was going to be a very important transition in the near future?
Mr. Li: Banking industry, as one of the financial service industries, always needs to try hard to anticipate the changing customer needs. Branch transformation is a kind of way to re-shape the customer journey by leveraging emerging technologies, thus not only changing the physical shape of branches, but also re-energize customer experience.
Therefore, just like what ATM technology brought to banking customers, digital transformation within the branches definitely will re-define the competitive landscape of banking. Who will take the lead, who will win at the end?
What is Branch transformation? Definition in human terms
Question: Could you please share your views about branch transformation? How do you define it, and what are the key factors or areas that make branch transformation a success?
Mr. Li: Branch transformation is not about technical upgrades, or physical refurbishment, or convenient locations. The core of branch transformation is to re-define customer experience and banking journeys.
Per my viewpoints, a few key success factors need to be addressed to ensure successful branch transformation:
1. Leadership endorsement.
2. Culture change from “product push” to “customer-driven.”
3. KPI re-setting and organization reshuffle.
5. Operation process re-engineering.
Question: How important a factor are customer personas or profiles when you’re designing a branch, selecting the location, services, etc.?
Mr. Li: Understanding customers is definitely core to the branch transformation. When we try to do branch transformation, we always leverage big data analytics and AI to segment customers’ needs and provide customized and personalized service rather than one-size fits all. Location is turning less important due to digital channel support and omni-channel experience.
How Big Data and AI drive customer engagement
Question: Can you tell us more about your Big Data and customer engagement tech platform that makes use of Transwarp Data Hub (TDH)? How does it work, and what are the enterprise benefits?
Mr. Li: Big data analytics help us to address customers’ unmet needs, but also supports us in forecasting the future trends of customer experience. By means of right segmentation, we leverage our customer engagement platform to design engagement workflow based on MOB cycles.
Question: Have you implemented any other digital technologies or platforms to reduce customer wait times in branches and/or provide better targeted products?
Mr. Li: We leverage big data and AI technologies to channel customers to right customer interface to do banking business. We never want to see customers queuing in the branch. We would like customers to know what they need to do and how to do it prior to arriving in the branches.
Balancing Digital Transformation with Personalized Service
Question: Digital channels have reduced opportunities to engage with customers. How does your bank manage this? Do you have an omnichannel customer solution that retains the engagement part of branch banking while providing the ease and convenience of 24/7 digital channels?
Mr. Li: We utilize segmentation to solve the dilemma between more digital and less selling opportunities. We will channel mass or mass-affluent segment or transactional type service to digital channels. However, we still leverage RMs to serve our premium and private segments and more complex advisory services. We always embed omni-channel solutions in our branch transformation.
Question: What is your vision for the future of branch banking? What kind of branches do you see 5, 10, 20 years down the line?
Mr. Li: Physical branches will still exist but their functions will evolve. No matter how technologies are developing, customers will have more faith and trusts on the banks when they see physical branches nearby. However, the branch will be transformed from “transaction or service center” into an “experience center.”