I had the pleasure of interviewing the CEO of a 124 year old CBW Bank from Kansas. Suresh Ramamurthi is Chairman of CBW Bank and serves as its CTO as well. He leads CBW Bank’s initiatives to support and foster innovation including working with financial services start-ups. He is founder and serves as CEO of Yantra Financial Technologies, a fintech company focused on serving the financial services industry.
A veteran technology entrepreneur, Suresh has founded and exited two start-ups, and has previously worked at Google Inc. Suresh has a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering, a Master’s degree in Computer Science and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Chicago.
What do you think makes your bank different in these disruptive times? Can you share a specific story?
Our focus on compliance is what differentiates CBW Bank. We have developed a preventative real-time compliance and risk management system to support the modernization of banking and payments processes. With this real-time compliance and risk management system, CBW Bank and Yantra, a fintech startup where I also serve as CEO, have enabled a marketplace approach to banking, driven by the bank’s application programming interfaces (APIs). This means that we can open the CBW’s APIs to third parties and allow other banks and fintech companies to bring new banking and payments products to market faster while ensuring compliance.
In your view, should Conduct risk be among the top risks to be concerned about? Can you elaborate or share a story?
All risks are important by definition.
Building a “Lean Risk Culture” is crucial in strengthening risk management practices at a holistic level. What is your approach in building a lean risk culture? Can you share a story or example?
We have a 360-degree focus on risk on all financial and non-financial activities in the bank. By design, we are focused on good data at the entry points within the bank, which enables us to analyze, understand and effectively manage risk.
For example, CBW’s compliance and risk management tool leverages APIs for real-time integration into core processing systems and offers a comprehensive reporting tool to provide a real-time view of all customer transactions. Financial institutions can use the tool to analyze virtually every aspect of a transaction within seconds, including what other payments the customer recently made and potential concerns regarding a specific transaction. Also, we can assign risk levels to certain transactions based on pre-determined criteria. Ultimately, this gives us an in-depth understanding of what types of activities customers are engaged in and with whom they are transacting, as well as the potential implications for the institution.
With an increasing amount of data breaches and financial crimes , what do you think is the most effective way to manage this risk ?
Our focus in on good hygiene at all entry points into the bank and all data is digitally secured with signatures.
Can you name one area within risk management that will see the most benefit due to advances in technology?
Transaction monitoring will likely see the biggest benefit due to improved access to real-time data. Access to real-time data facilitates real-time monitoring of that data, which means detecting and responding to potential threats can happen much faster. However, most financial institutions still use outdated legacy systems that are siloed by various factors, such as lines of business and geography, among others. This means it is difficult for the institution to form a comprehensive view of their customer and their financial activities, making it challenging to analyze possible risks.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
Focus on execution towards a vision.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Finance, and Investors read this column. If you could have private breakfast with someone who you consider really successful , who would that be and why?