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As you sit in a meeting room (virtual or in-person), take a moment to think through the perspectives, experiences and insights of those around you being brought to that meeting.  

We did just that and quickly realized the wealth of knowledge from our colleagues at the table from around the world, who were former financial services leaders. Our "bankers," as we call them, have a broad and deep understanding of financial services because they’ve experienced it first-hand.

Meet Monica Sasso, our "banker"

Monica Sasso, our EMEA Financial Services Chief Technologist, brings a breadth of experience from many global organizations and functional roles to drive change via innovation - ranging from regulatory and risk change to mergers and acquisitions, digital business development, wealth management operations and even MiFID II & GDPR. Her knowledge spans several industries within financial services, regulations and commercial growth.

Not every role was the stereotypical depiction of banking – one in particular was the necessary, and vitally practical function of global records management and deletion for a multi-national bank. Not glamorous, but critical to protect the client, organization, and comply with data privacy laws.  It also had its part to play in sustainability – every document, physical or electronic has a carbon footprint.

Sasso is passionate about education and the accessibility of financial products and services, for the unbanked and under-banked. Everyone needs help with planning for later in life and emergencies, especially the aforementioned audience. It’s why she joined a technology firm,

Sasso says she felt like she would be able to drive more meaningful digital transformations from the outside in. Red Hat has gladly given her a platform to help firms across EMEA drive these initiatives.

Beyond  working across financial services and in technology, Sasso also dedicates her time to her local Girl Guides unit and STEMettes, where she mentors girls and young women in industry and STEM fields –  helping young talent get roles where they can make an impact across industries, including the banking industry.

Insight from Sasso: Opportunities ahead

Financial Services firms have an opportunity to modernize so they are attractive to the next generation of consumers and employees, as well as different market segments.  Many products and services are becoming commodities. A good portion of banks have successfully revitalised their brand after the 2008/2009 financial crisis, and the market continues to evolve. The way people use money, engage with a bank, and even work remotely has changed what people want from a bank. The needs remain and  help in daily life, and with planning ahead. This change gives banks the opportunity, combined with client data, to deepen the customer relationship and interaction.

A takeaway and hindsight 

When asked what the greatest takeaway was from working at various financial services firms, her response was immediate, "Everything should start with the customer.  It is not just about the money - the people, process and technology all need to be informed by the client journey." 

Joining Red Hat allowed Sasso to reflect upon a wish she had in her financial services days. 

"More about technology. I could have been more collaborative and developed solutions with IT leaders had I better understood the technological abilities." said Sasso. "It’s not about knowing the details about various technologies but how they can help solve business problems, and what the impact of those on other processes, people and technologies." 

While she didn’t have that knowledge then, she enjoys getting to help clients understand what she wished she’d have known, "To help them get a bit into the technology and collaborate with their technical teams."

Sasso says she believes business leaders will find more success if they adjust their approach, "Share the problem you are trying to solve and why you are solving it. Be open about your comfort level and technical depth so the IT experts can collaborate on ideas to solve your challenge." Her advice to IT leaders is to "Find the business pain points and explain how technology, not in technical terms, solves their business problem in a secure and reliable way."

Moving forward

To continue in the digital transformation journey to benefit organizations, Sasso says "I would start with some additional education about technology. If business, compliance and risk leaders can understand how technology can be used, the possibilities for innovation are endless".  Additionally, she recommends more questions are asked. "Assume you don’t know the answer and see what input you get – you might find strong ideas come forward".  

That’s a benefit to finding strong partners as well, and how Red Hat "bankers" bring an outsider's and insider’s view to your challenges. 

Request time with Sasso and get to know our other Red Hat Bankers here.

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