What does the future of banking look like and how fast will change happen? Those are two of the big questions that Vicky Davies is tasked with answering at Danske Bank.
Vicky Davies recently became Danske’s Managing Director of Strategy & Corporate Development – a new position created by CEO Kevin Kingston and seen as crucial to the bank’s future success in Northern Ireland.
A Cambridge University graduate, she started her career as a management consultant working with banks and private equity firms in London. After gaining her MBA at the renowned INSEAD business school in France, Davies came to Belfast in 2004 to join Ulster Bank, before moving across Donegall Square to Danske Bank in 2011 as Head of Business Development.
The key role she has played in driving the success of Danske Bank since then has been reflected in her recent appointment to the Northern Bank plc board – the first female executive board member in the bank’s 200 year local history.
She is now responsible for shaping Danske’s NI-focused strategy and its response to the new economic and digital landscape.
“My job is to drive the direction of the bank, to make sure we are progressing as a modern, innovative bank that meets customer expectations,” explained Davies.
“Digitalisation is changing every single industry, including banking. Banks are now offering customers much more choice. Traditional banking channels remain an important focus, but it is the sheer pace of digital developments that are proving most challenging for the industry. Even traditional branch banking is becoming more digital and automated. Different customers will want different things and we have to ensure we continue to offer variety and choice.”
Davies said that Danske has the advantage of “a strong local team at every level”. “Within our executive leadership team, we are not having to report individually to London or Dublin as the decision makers are here on the ground in Belfast,” she said.
Despite the local autonomy, the bank continues to benefit from the expertise its Danish parent has in the digital space. “Leveraging the ongoing innovation that they have in Scandinavia, where they are typically five years ahead of the UK in terms of development, is critical for us. We are taking the best of digital innovation from Denmark, whilst still keeping a very local focus,” she added.
She has also been instrumental in helping Danske to launch several new products this year, including a reward-based personal current account, offering customers £7 per month cash back. The account has an annual fee of £24 (£2 per month) with customers able to claim a full year cash reward of £84 (£7 per month).
“In making this investment for customers we became the first of the four main local Northern Ireland banks to provide such an account to the marketplace,” said Davies.
The introduction of the new current account was in part a direct response to the aggressive reward offers being pushed by challenger banks from Great Britain hungry for deposits.
Asked what her ambition is for Danske Bank locally, she said: “We have a market leading position in business banking and a strong position in personal banking. We have set ourselves a clear ambition, and that is to be the undisputed number one bank in Northern Ireland for customers, employees, stakeholders and society.”
When pushed for two immediate priorities, Davies cited: “Improving customer experience across all touchpoints at the bank and introducing innovations that make banking easier for our customers.”
Managing Director of Strategy & Corporate Development, Danske Bank