Accounting and Finance

How HSBC and M&G plc use Slack to transform their financial services

A digital transformation is helping these firms better serve their customers

frontiers tour london hsbc mandg plc

“We work in a highly regulated industry, but despite all that, it is possible to have Slack in a bank,” said Chris Miller, HSBC’s head of technology, originations experiences, at Slack’s Frontiers Tour London earlier this year. During the conference, guest speakers from financial services companies HSBC and M&G plc spoke about how Slack empowered their organizations to undergo a digital transformation, helping them stay competitive and save precious resources in the process.

What a digital business looks like today

While digital transformation looks different at every company, digital businesses share the following fundamental characteristics.

Collaborative: Every member of the organization is meaningfully involved in achieving a shared vision. This means working together at different levels of the organization and across teams to build trust, promote transparency and engage employees.

Cultural: Requires shifting away from traditional business structures and hierarchies and empowering employees to make decisions and contribute ideas.

Cloud-based: Cloud-based services are economical and agile, allowing businesses to choose the ones that meet their needs and streamline their IT and infrastructure costs.

Mobile: Customers expect ease and convenience from businesses. That means they need to be on mobile, where more than half of all web traffic is generated.

Innovative: Digital businesses are always experimenting and then learning from the outcomes to inform larger changes across the company.

Continuous: This isn’t a project with a start and end date. Technology will continue to evolve and call for adaptations to current processes, which means you need to keep learning and evolving.

Data-driven: This includes not only collecting and analyzing data about your customers but measuring what’s happening inside your company too.

Customer-centric: Ultimately, these shifts are all focused on providing better service and a better experience for your customers.

HSBC: modernizing global banking

As one of the world’s largest banks, HSBC wants to make it easier than ever for customers to use financial services without having to go into a branch. “Customer needs are drastically evolving,” said Jamie Newham, HSBC’s digital collaboration tooling lead. “They want everything quicker, and easily accessible online.”

So over the past three years, HSBC has made it a priority to make online customer experiences both enjoyable and easy to navigate. To accomplish this, its retail banking division built a digital team known as D3: Digital, Data and Development.

D3’s mission, according to Newham, was to “challenge the internal status quo and future-proof the bank.” Here’s how HSBC accomplished just that, with a little help from Slack.

Jamie Newham HSBC digital collaboration tooling lead slack frontiers tour london

“Previously, when things would go wrong, there’d be this chaos. Emails flying around, people running around. But Slack is really able to pull it all together to help organize and prioritize, ultimately reducing a lot of duplication and getting things back up and running quicker.”

Jamie Newham
HSBC’s digital collaboration tooling lead

Strategy: using Slack to streamline product innovation

After HSBC rapidly grew its global team to 5,000 people, D3 used Slack to execute the company’s digital transformation process. Developers created Cardsbot, a Slack bot Newham described as “the glue” that brings together GitHub, Jenkins and Jira Cloud, allowing all three apps to operate entirely within Slack.

“A byproduct of this [integration] is it enables us to use a wider range of people and skill sets,” Newham said. “We don’t have to teach everybody how to use a Jenkins pipeline or how to use a pull request. We can just teach them how to use the slash command in Slack.”

With Slack, HSBC’s developer platforms team—made up of approximately 1,000 employees— can also communicate more proactively with other teams whenever technical issues arise. “Previously, when things would go wrong, there’d be this chaos,” said Newham. “Emails flying around, people running around, escalations left, right and center. But Slack is really able to pull it all together to really organize and prioritize, ultimately reducing a lot of duplication and getting things back up and running quicker.”

Results: improving customer offerings and resolving incidents faster

HSBC’s Slack strategy has radically improved its ability to serve its customers. In just three years, Newham’s teams report being able to launch a whopping 31 times as many customer journeys digitally—from seven to roughly 220. Customer journeys could range from ordering a checkbook onsite to getting a mortgage quote.

Additionally, Slack helped the platforms team reduce duplicate tickets per outage on the website by more than 80%: from around 600 incidents raised per outage to about 100. “Outages cost us customers, cost us time and our bottom lines,” said Newham. “This is really helping us reduce that.”

Ultimately, Newham said, HSBC’s goal is to fully integrate Jira, Confluence and xMatters into its workspace. That way, the whole system is seamlessly controllable and accessible from Slack. And anyone can raise an incident directly into Jira, helping teams quickly triage and escalate information to the right people.

M&G plc: driving innovation in investment

Headquartered in London, M&G manages more than £341 billion in assets, savings and investments. Its private credit division, led by co-head of private credit Alex Seddon, has a core “front office” unit that consists of four teams: client services, which liaises with the firm’s customers; fund management, which maintains portfolios and advocates for customers internally; credit research, which analyzes lending and investment risks; and origination, which finds new investments.

For the past year and a half, the front office team has grown rapidly. To enable this evolution, it’s embarking on a digital transformation that will help expand its private-asset investment-solution offerings globally, improve the scalability of its investment asset origination and fund management platform, and enhance and reinforce a culture of knowledge sharing at the firm as it expands.

“Crucially, as we grow the business into multiple locations, into new geographies, we’ve got to make sure that we can actually collaborate across those different locations,” said Seddon.

Alex Seddon mandg plc slack frontiers tour london

“We’re looking at using Slack as a mechanism to gather all of the interest from all the portfolio managers for any specific deal that we have in our pipeline. It’s open—but crucially, it’s also auditable. Our compliance department can be on these channels as well.”

Alex Seddon
M&G plc's co-head of private credit


Strategy: create and optimize a knowledge-sharing culture

About a year ago, M&G implemented Slack to establish an “open by default” working culture, one that allows teams to share knowledge and expertise with one another; improve visibility around individual work and teamwork, particularly investment deals; and help teams stay on the same page and invest more effectively for customers.

“As the name suggests, there can be a tendency in private credit to hoard information,” said Seddon. “We wanted to break down the silos and make the work more visible, [because] I strongly believe these lateral connections between slightly unrelated activities are what really drive innovation.”

The public nature of Slack channels—a place for teams to share messages, tools and files—became the engine of this transformation. With Slack channels, investment data and real-time trade information could be shared widely throughout M&G.

Plus, a Trello app integration in Slack helps smaller teams share their deal flow with the front office, making the whole pipeline visible in real time. Users can create automatic notifications for when an investment might be relevant to an individual portfolio or an investment manager’s portfolio.

“We’re looking at using Slack as a mechanism to gather all of the interest from all the portfolio managers for any specific deal that we have in our pipeline,” said Seddon. “Slack is good for that because, again, it’s open—but crucially, it’s also auditable. Our compliance department can be on these channels as well, so they can see what’s going on and make sure that customers are being treated fairly.”

With Slack, M&G also effectively uses the sheer volume of information it’s collecting about investment markets in Aladdin, its portfolio management system. M&G developed Tradebot, an integration that pulls trade information specifically relevant to a group of analysts directly from Aladdin and drops it into a Slack channel.

“Our portfolio management systems have a huge amount of data within them, but often one of the challenges is getting the relevant data out,” said Seddon. “In the past, [analysts] had to go through a long spreadsheet, on a daily basis, of all of the trading information across M&G and try to pick out the ones that were relevant to them.”

Results: delivering faster investment trading and analysis

With Tradebot, analysts at M&G are saving an estimated 45 minutes a day that they would ordinarily have spent finding trades, which adds up to about half a day per week saved per analyst. The time saved “is quite extraordinary when you have these highly skilled, and frankly quite expensive, [people] sitting in London, doing this mindless manual work,” Seddon said.

“Just freeing that time up so they can be focused on value-add activity is a real saving for the business. The potential for Slack to transform our business, and to make us more collaborative and agile, is pretty clear to me.”

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