Revolutionising Risk: How QBS Shift the Operations Culture at a Major Bank

In a rapidly evolving financial landscape, the Risk Division of a major bank faced a unique set of challenges. Unlike other divisions that had embraced process maturity and business excellence initiatives, they perceived themselves differently. They believed they didn’t have processes; they had specialists. The result was an accumulation of requirements, reports, and actions, leading to inefficiency, especially with an ageing specialist workforce.

Before engaging with QBS, the Risk Division encountered several challenges:

  • Resistance to Change: There was resistance to viewing the Risk Division as an operational entity that could benefit from operational management principles.
  • Accumulating Complexity: Operational complexity increased with time, while little was removed or redesigned.
  • Ageing Workforce: The specialised workforce was ageing, and there was a lack of systematic operational improvements.

A culture shift was missing

Prior efforts involved appointing a specialist black belt to improve credit risk processes. While results were positive, they were limited in scope compared to the broader accountabilities of the Risk Division. What was missing was a shift in culture that would make every function contribute to operational excellence.

QBS introduced a structured approach to address the barriers within the Risk Division. The journey began with a three-pronged approach:

Leadership Engagement: QBS conducted introductory sessions for senior leaders, who then selected candidates for the COE program within their teams.

Collaborative Leadership: One leader partnered with an operations management specialist to demonstrate the potential improvements, achieving quick wins.

Customisation and Co-Design: Recognising that the standard program wasn’t entirely suitable for Risk’s unique processes, QBS adapted by emphasising skills and tools relevant to Risk’s operations.

Key Outcomes and Learnings

The Risk Division underwent a transformation that led to remarkable outcomes:

  • Business maturity scores that quickly rose to be amongst the highest in the organisation.
  • A 25% uplift in productivity.
  • A 6% reduction in rework.
  • Capacity savings of approximately $1 million through process standardisation and role realignment.
  • Additional savings of $250,000 by investing in continuous improvement within a year.

Key takeaways included the growing understanding of operational and business excellence within Risk. Operational goals became an integral part of their language, with 80% of leaders actively participating in training and selecting candidates for improvement initiatives.

This won’t work here!

Not unlike many other organisations QBS has led through this leadership transformation, several barriers had to be overcome to achieve this outcome.

Changing belief systems, such as “Risk doesn’t operate processes” and “this won’t work here – we are different.”

Securing funding through negotiations and involving leaders in candidate sponsorship.

Maintaining credibility through QBS and the coaches, who facilitated issue resolution and prioritised impactful tasks.

The success of their transformation journey underscores the value of addressing business needs, overcoming belief barriers, and obtaining strong stakeholder engagement. A “leader-led and professionally executed” program was crucial, with QBS and COE coaches playing pivotal roles.

It was a revelation how beneficial this was to the division

The Risk Division’s experience demonstrates the transformative power of QBS’s operational excellence program. By addressing belief systems, fostering leadership engagement, and focusing on high-impact initiatives, they achieved substantial improvements, making operational excellence an integral part of their culture and operations.

“I would recommend COE to anyone who runs a team and wants their operation to improve, even a small team of three or four professional services will benefit from this approach. It was a revelation how beneficial this was to the division, contributing to engagement and collaboration as well as tangible business outcomes.” Jo Cunningham (Head of Operational Excellence Risk)

If you are a leader ready to work on high impact initiatives and address the belief systems in your team, you might be ready to book a call with QBS here.

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