GlobalFintechSeries Interview with Dheeraj (Raj) Singal, Vice President, Compliance & Product Manager at FINBOA
Dheeraj (Raj) Singal, Vice President, Compliance & Product Manager at FINBOA shares a few thoughts on what financial providers should be catering to, in order to meet today’s digital demands of end-users in this chat with us:
Can you tell us a little about yourself Dheeraj and what inspired FINBOA?
I am the compliance product manager of FINBOA, and I go by Raj! Having worked in financial services and technology for more than 20 years, supporting financial institutions’ efforts and delivering SaaS technology solutions that deliver results is in my DNA.
FINBOA started as a project to streamline the Reg E compliance for Integrity Bank, a local community bank in Houston, Texas. At the time, Integrity Bank’s staff was seeing a rise in claims, customers were frustrated with the manual process of going to branch to sign paperwork and the lack of trained staff to process claims was resulting in regulatory findings. With our SaaS process automation platform, FINBOA solved these three key problems. By digitizing the customer experience using electronic signature and using one-click process automations, it eliminated all the steps required to process a claim for compliance and post credits and debits to customer accounts. Also, it simplified the compliance verification process for auditors. The result was massive productivity gains for institutions and a 20 to 30% decrease in bank losses across all claims. Since, FINBOA has evolved to streamline other back-office workflows for legal, new accounts and lending. When I hear banks tell me how their back offices have been transformed, or how they are doing three times the work with the same staff, it is very gratifying that we are delivering a product that has such a strong impact.
What differentiates FINBOA from other fintech companies?
FINBOA integrates with the FI’s multiple systems to create a seamless end-to-end experience for the back office. Institutions use FINBOA to build their workflows faster and at a lower price point than hiring a new employee. We are putting intelligent digital process automation within reach of any financial institution. FINBOA has an easy setup and allows for quick process customizations. We provide hands-on support to clients, making working with FINBOA super simple and easy. The results are faster product rollouts and high return on financial investments. We see the extremely high renewal rates to validate this.
Can you talk about some of the most interesting platforms and innovations you’ve come across over the last few years that have helped reshape the financial industry?
With the growth of electronic banking, customer expectations to perform tasks digitally are growing at a rapid pace. In addition, the COVID-19 outbreak accelerated many digitization projects. To meet these demands, banks and credit unions are having to collaborate with fintechs more than ever before. This collaboration is taking place in many areas, such as digital marketplaces, peer-to-peer (P2P) payments and digital currency solutions. As the use of e-commerce increases, digital marketplaces are becoming extremely important to businesses and consumers as they generate substantial economic growth online. Financial institutions should be prepared to work with digital marketplaces through an efficient back office.
During the pandemic, we saw the need for P2P payments grow substantially. As we enter into the new year, banks and credit unions will have to continue to implement and maintain new P2P payment offerings. Additionally, digital currency, such as Bitcoin, is being used more frequently. With interest and need increasing, financial institutions must become proficient with digital currency compliance and be prepared to implement them into their core banking systems.
What according to you are some of the biggest challenges banks and credit unions are facing today that fintech platforms are not yet being able to solve?
Digital payments, digital banking and digital marketplaces all demand faster execution. Manually managing regulations is time-consuming, error prone and costly. Many banks and credit unions do not have the time or resources to train employees on all the regulatory requirements and changes. By investing in automation, FIs can meet these challenges with better results.
There is a technical know-how gap at many FIs. Often, banks and credit unions are unable to provide the time to effectively train staff and develop the necessary tools due to budgetary and resource constraints. Therefore, implementing the needed solutions and training staff thoroughly becomes a huge roadblock for many financial institutions.
How are customer trends changing when it comes to banking preferences?
Customers are becoming more and more demanding. Customers want innovative, digital tools, quick responses and mobile access. To meet customers’ expectations, banks and credit unions should consider their rate of responsiveness, platform convenience and ease of the service. Today’s consumers not only value streamlined digital technology, but they also expect it. If a platform does not explicitly and easily bring them to the desired conclusion, they may abandon the platform outright.
Another customer trend is the expectation to have their inquiries answered in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. If this expectation is not met, customers become frustrated and are likely to leave the institution altogether. Next year, financial institutions will have to focus on customer experience and expectations. One way to prepare is to start tracking the rate at which customers’ inquiries are answered. These metrics will be helpful to ensure solutions are delivered on faster response times.
As global fintech trends change and the market shifts due to business environments (and also Covid-19), what are your comments on this and what we should look out for in 2021?
In this coming year, it will be interesting to note where P2P payment systems and digital currency find their place into the global payment system. With the growth of P2P networks and systems in recent years, the overall benefits and trends of this technology are still being determined. P2P networks have the potential to overcome other digital payment platforms as the systems become increasingly popular. In addition, much more research will be done on the risks surrounding digital currency, such as fluctuating value of currency and disputed transaction safety as federal overview and regulations increase. In the coming year, I believe that digital currency will become a frequent talking point.
What are the biggest learnings and tips you’d share with fintech innovators and financial company founders?
When interacting with others, value authenticity and transparency while taking ownership of your mistakes. With these in mind, you will be able to build trust with your partners, clients or colleagues and provide the best value to those around you while being respected by those with whom you interact.
To have real staying power in the industry, having access to financial and people resources is critical. From the perspective of a startup, it is easy to want things to happen faster than they normally do. Having the patience to wait for the right answers and solutions while being open to the idea of helpful criticism is key. A new fintech innovator must be able to switch and pivot as opportunities present themselves.
Before we wrap up, a few words of advice you’d share based on your journey so far?
When I first began my career, every idea seemed to be really new, without many competitors. Now, with so many solution providers in the industry, the market is saturated with extremely fascinating ideas. At one time, you could develop your idea into a completely new offering, but with so many competing offerings in the market, it is more important to differentiate your idea to make it stand out. Innovation for differentiation is key; it is vital to be nimble to set yourself apart from the rest of the crowd.
For a career in the fintech industry, and in any industry, there is benefit in working for innovative companies and surrounding yourself with thought leaders and learning all that you can from them. For those switching to fintech, consider your long-term goals and seek out opportunities through accelerators that can introduce you to companies who are looking for experience and need you to experiment to help them scale.
With more than 20 years of experience in providing software solutions to financial institutions, Dheeraj Singal leads the digital automation efforts for FINBOA. Singal provides insightful guidance while working to grow the business and develop new solutions. Under his expertise, FINBOA partners with financial institutions to reduce compliance cost and reputation risk through FINBOA’s modular framework.
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