Building a bank for the future: an interview with Debra Shields, Capital International Group

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John Hunter, Head of Banking for the Isle of Man Department for Enterprise caught up with Debra Shields, Commercial Director for Capital International to discuss building a bank for the future.

Having worked for many large banks on the island and globally, Debra was appointed by Capital to work on the development of their first digital bank. An exciting addition to the Isle of Man’s ever-growing financial landscape, Capital International Bank although based in the Isle of Man is due to launch globally in April.

Debra, you have worked for many large banks on the island and globally so what appealed to you in regard to Capital International Group?

 The appealing thing about Capital International Group was that I already knew the founder and the CEO from my past roles and really liked the family style service proposition of the business. The business had already seen a lot of success in its 20+ years of operation and they had a clear strategy in regard to their journey to become a digital Bank. Once I saw the technology that was being deployed coupled with the pragmatic approach to decision making, my mind was made up for me! Capital had fully embraced the opportunities that arose with the introduction of the Isle of Man Government’s Alternative Banking Regime and by the time I came onboard, the Group was progressing with the application side of things very well. I was delighted to then see the class 1 (2) provisional licence approved and it will be very rewarding to be part of that team when the virtual doors to the digital bank open.

I know that developing a bank from a white sheet of paper is an incredibly difficult and complex task, and that is probably an understatement – so how is that journey going?

Long before I joined, the team at Capital had been working hard on building the bank. I don’t think anyone would believe me if I told them how much work actually has to go into such a project. The journey has taken some 4 years, as we really wanted to build something different and use the feedback from our target audience on how we could best support them and their clients going forward, in order to build long term relationships.

When do you think that CIB will be formally open for business?

We are hopeful to go live mid-2021 subject to the usual regulatory approvals.

And what do you think will make your bank unique?

We will only be dealing with corporate clients and high net-worth individuals, not retail client in line with our Class 1(2) licence. The offering is built to appeal to Corporate Service Providers, professional services firms and their underlying clients. We have worked hard to make their experience as slick as possible by way of swift onboarding, transparent fee structures, and by giving control to our clients when it comes to their authority limits over mandates and payment thresholds. Clients also won’t have to chase for account numbers and opening status as they will have control over that process within the digital onboarding portal.

Will you be offering your services to just IOM based clients or to a wider (global) client base?

Although a number of our clients are Isle of Man based, CIB will provide banking services to clients across the globe (subject to jurisdictional risk appetite). We also have offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town in South Africa and have a significant client base there, some of whom might be interested in our banking offering.

We hear the term Digital Banking frequently but what will this actually mean for your future clients?

CIB’s approach to digital banking replaces the long-winded form filling with an online data capture portal that will give the client a 200 second pre-application decision on whether they will be able to open an account and how much it might cost. This way, potential new clients avoid having to fill in a full application only to later be told that we don’t have the appetite for their business.

This may be very new to many clients of different demographics albeit in the corporate B2B space and HNWI how will you ensure all can get access and use the system?

We understand that whilst we are living in a more digital age some clients will still need support and help with what is a very intuitive system to use. Within my team I have Client Engagement Leads who could be described as our “foot soldiers”. Once the bank goes live, they will be available to train clients on VELTA, our digital portal, face to face or via Microsoft Teams and deal with any questions or concerns the client may have. As the bank is not available for retail clients, our research has shown a high level of digital capability within our target markets.

This is an exciting development both for Capital International Group and the Isle of Man and everyone who has been working on this should be congratulated on getting to where you are as a business. The Isle of Man is very special to all of us for different reasons, but what makes the IOM a special place for you to call it home?

The Isle of Man does hold a special place in my heart as my children grew up here, and the island really did act as a platform for my offshore career. I’m very grateful for the amazing opportunities that have come my way and the opportunity to live in some amazing places. My son and his wife also live on the island, and my daughter lives just a short plane ride away which made returning to the Isle of Man an easy decision. Whilst small island life may not appeal to everyone, in recent times I have felt very fortunate to be living on a safe and very well-run island.

"Debra, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts with me and naturally we wish CIB all the very best for a successful launch in 2021" John Hunter, Head of Banking, Isle of Man Department for Enterprise.


Disclaimer: The views, thoughts and opinions expressed within this article are those of the author, and not those of any company within the Capital International Group (CIG) and as such are neither given nor endorsed by CIG. Information in this article does not constitute investment advice or an offer or an invitation by or on behalf of any company within the Capital International Group of companies to buy or sell any product or security.



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