Expect to see more execs from a technology background - Starling CIO

Financial services sector faces challenge of persuading consumers to change bank, says John Mountain

21st February, 2017
Challenges ahead...John Mountain

What's your name?

John Mountain

What’s your company and describe your role?

CIO Starling Bank. Starling is a new challenger bank - a digital only bank built from scratch with the grand ambition to shake up the banking establishment. Building services for digital savvy customers, we are aiming to deliver something really different that will be a step-change in the banking experience. I am the business-technical design authority and data owner for Starling Bank.

How long have you held the position?

6 months (since the role was created)

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

Day-to-day I direct the systems integration work being performed across four engineering groups in the bank and ensure that the complete solution being delivered is both fit for purpose and what’s been promised to our customers, board and the regulators. I also spend time each day with different functions of the bank in order to determine the required strategy over the next six to 18 months. The majority of the role during the set up and launch of a retail bank has involved our integration to payment systems in the UK and internationally, implementation of the core banking system and information security.

What is your professional background?

I have held a variety of roles across technology including software development, architecture and implementation work in finance and other sectors. My interest in programming started at school and I still write code occasionally outside work.

Tell me about yourself away from work?

During the licensing and launch phase of Starling there has not been a huge amount of time away from work, but I like to get down to the coast and go sailing, doubly so if the sun is out.

Tell us something very few people know about you?

I would love to own a goat, perhaps two goats. Time and space in London are currently limiting this ambition.

You are speaking at the 2017 CIO Summit. What are you speaking about?

I will be talking about the story so far at Starling as a case study.

What challenges do you see for your business/sector and the CIOs role with in?

There is a new generation of financial services available and the sector sees new companies and ideas all the time. The biggest challenge will probably be persuading consumers outside the “fintech bubble” to use the new services. There is a myriad of brilliant products around travel, money management, savings and lending – but because of customer inertia (one stat says you’re more likely to get divorced than to change bank), they’re underused. I suspect this reluctance to move will be a key hurdle for us.

Where would you like to see the role of the CIO in 10 years time?

I expect to see more and more executives with some technology background over the next ten years. At Starling the CEO, COO and CPO have all held technology roles in other businesses. As such CIOs may become more focused on data and the increasing problem of data ownership, mastering and compliance with data legislation.

Starling Bank CIO John Mountain will be a panelist at the CIO Summit on March 30 at the AVIVA Stadium. See CIOSummit.ie for tickets and information.

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