This August, I moved back to Singapore to join Atlantis as the COO of its South East Asia operations.
An Economist by training, I have spent my career thus far working in banking and venture capital, in two major financial hubs — London and Singapore. I have worked in a wide range of roles from investment selection and advisory to strategy formulation and execution.
Through these experiences, I gained a deep understanding of financial products and consumer behaviour. I also witnessed first-hand how changing consumer expectations and technology were disrupting traditional models of banking.
To delve further into these changes and to learn how to tackle these dynamic and complex issues, I embarked on an MBA at London Business School. As part of this experience, I also spent 6 months in New York at Columbia Business School, where I had the chance to hear from leading founders, CEOs, and serial entrepreneurs driving digital disruption in the US.
Having recently graduated from my MBA programme, I feel very confident that my business school experience has equipped me with the network, operational and leadership skills needed to drive change in the FinTech space.
At Atlantis, I am most excited to be working alongside a team of highly motivated and intelligent entrepreneurs, technologists, and technology enthusiasts on building the bank of the future.
The SMB Opportunity
In SE Asia, SMBs form the backbone of the economy. They are estimated to account for between 89% and 99% of all existing enterprises, between 52% and 97% of total employment, and contribute to 70% of GDP.
Moreover, these businesses are closest to the end-consumers and as a result, are in the unique position of being the first to spot trends in consumer preferences and purchases.
Over 90% of SMBs in SE Asia rely on their own savings for funding purposes due to a lack of access to credit. The SME Finance forum has estimated that this amounts to a funding gap of c. $300 billion in SE Asia. SMBs also tend to be the most open for innovation and experimentation. Consequently, a majority of them are keen to access alternative sources of financing.
For traditional banks, the cost to serve this segment is high, as their risk models tend to favour larger businesses that have defined cash flows and audited financial statements.
Over the past decade, the emergence of technologies such as Open APIs and Artificial Intelligence have played a fundamental role driving in the growth of a data-centric economy.
This presents a tremendous opportunity for Atlantis to help SMBs bridge this funding gap by building solutions centred on intelligent data capture mechanisms and risk evaluation models that accurately reflect their unique cash flow dynamics.
Today, Millennials and Gen-Z constitute c. 38% of the workforce and are estimated to account for $3 trillion of spending power. In the next decade, these two demographic groups will constitute c. 60% of the total workforce, cementing their importance in the global economy.
What makes us Millennials so different from our predecessors is our consumption patterns — we spend a LOT more time online, prefer renting to buying, and are very comfortable with purchasing almost anything online.
As digital natives, transparency, ease-of-use, and personalisation are mantras that we live by and it has shaped our expectations in all our digital interactions, including those with our banks and financial services providers.
SE Asia and India are especially well placed to benefit from the purchasing potential of Millennials — countries in this region have very youthful populations, rising income levels, and have seen an increase in the pace of de-regulation in banking and financial services.
Existing banking solutions are very-product centric owing to both regulatory requirements and strategic constraints. As a result, we tend to rely on multiple apps for our financial needs, from making payments to budgeting and investing. This is both time consuming and inefficient.
While traditional banks have started offering digital banking services, there isn’t a bank in Asia that is purpose-built for Millennials — this is the problem that Neo-Bank is looking to solve.
Finding the Right Fit
The chance to build a truly customer centric bank from scratch is what first drew me to Atlantis. Over the past two months, I have had many conversations with Gaurav (the CEO and founder of Atlantis).
What stood out to me was his vision of ‘Autonomous Finance’, which reimagines financial services delivery mechanisms from the ground up, using technology and insights to improve customer outcomes.
I thoroughly enjoyed the interview process, which was extremely detailed and focused on both my technical and cultural fit for the role. Through this process it was clear to me that we were very aligned in our values and expectations.
Interestingly, we also discovered our mutual appreciation of Carl Sagan and philosophy — it was then I knew for certain that Atlantis was the place for me.
We are hiring! If the idea of building the future of banking with a smart, fun, and motivated team sounds right up your alley, drop us a note — firstname.lastname@example.org.