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Yolande Steyn is head of RMB’s new digital interactions team. Picture: SUPPLIED/RMB
Yolande Steyn is head of RMB’s new digital interactions team. Picture: SUPPLIED/RMB

If Yolande Steyn was a character in a movie, I reckon she would be Ripley, Sigourney Weaver’s iconic character who fought off a killer alien beast from another planet in director Ridley Scott’s Aliens. That phrase — “killer alien beast” — might be an apt way to describe technology in general, but also deploying these vastly complex platforms that need to blend in with legacy systems. 

As part of RMB’s digital enabling process they hired Yolande Steyn, a digital banking pioneer who knows and understands technology, and uses it to create new ways of banking.

As head of RMB’s new digital interactions team, Steyn oversees RMB’s digital channel evolution. Steyn was part of the original pioneering team that created FNB’s cellphone banking service. Later she was responsible for creating and building the bank’s widely used eWallet. After a spell running digital channels for a large SA telecoms company, she rejoined FirstRand in the FNB commercial team before being brought over to RMB. 

Her retail and consumer background is one of the ways in which RMB is leveraging digital transformation learning from retail banking into the corporate and investment banking space. “I come with a fresh eye, not being an expert at corporate banking,” she says self-deprecatingly. It sometimes amazes me how complex our business is.”

Like all technologists, Steyn has a keen eye for both the big picture and fine detail, as well as a habit of stating any problem that needs tackling clearly. Her vision is to grow RMB’s innovative thinking through digital technologies, where each client’s engagement experience is vital. “Having a good experience is where many firms are moving their customer satisfaction goals. Our vision involves the creation of an emotionally connected experience.” This is much harder in corporate and institutional banking though, she says.

“Corporate and institutional banking is complex. Not only do corporate clients now insist on world-class digital experiences, many interact with us purely through computer-to-computer interactions. But when you drill down to its most fundamental, it’s about relationships. You always have a human being on the other side of the screen or the system,” Steyn says. “What I learnt from retail banking is that you can create an emotional connection with a person by offering a great experience. An emotionally connected customer is twice as valuable as just a satisfied customer. This holds true for corporate and institutional banking as well.” 

“Experience ownership” is the most important aspect of doing things digitally — not just for financial service providers, but all industries that have digital interfaces for clients. Online banking offers financial managers the ability to do bulk payments and approve payments, while treasurers need access to real, actionable, precise data to give them the agility to act. The ever-evolving application programming interface and host-to-host ecosystems now driving huge growth in financial services is another area corporate and institutional banks such as RMB will also be focusing on.

“What we want to do is take the data and create personalised experiences based on who you are as a user, and your specific requirements. If you log in as the client’s CEO or company treasurer, you’ll see your positions as a group, or subsidiary, essentially what is relevant to you,” she says. 

“A great digital experience is the anchor point for our relationships with our clients.”

But like all the RMB leaders driving this process, the value proposition for staff always remains uppermost in their plans. Happy staff make happy customers, as the adage goes.

“When I speak of the person at the end of the screen, it doesn’t mean clients only or represent just the end users. It’s also about our employees, who we ask so much of, to own and create these relationships. This is about creating a digital experience and emotional connectedness across the board.”

Everything RMB does is aimed at finding solutions in the most innovative way, which is “also our approach when it comes to relationships”. Steyn’s job is to add the emotion and make these relationships as real and vibrant as in-person engagements. 

This article was paid for by Rand Merchant Bank.

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