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The evolving role of the chief data officer in financial services

From marshal and steward to business strategist

As organizations discover that they need to proactively and effectively manage their information assets at the enterprise level, this report explores the evolving role of Chief Data Officers in the global financial services industry and how it’s transforming from senior data marshal and steward to strategic business-enablement leader and innovator.

How to realize embedded value?

Over the past few years, financial institutions (FIs) have increasingly come to recognize that their data assets represent highly strategic sources of insight and leverage for a wide array of business functions, including risk management, regulatory compliance, sales and marketing, product development, and operational performance, among others.

To realize this embedded value, however, organizations need to proactively and effectively manage their information assets at the enterprise level. In response, they have been appointing chief data officers (CDOs) to provide required strategic guidance and execution support, and also to assure access to and the quality of critical data. In addition, CDOs will undoubtedly play a strategic role in helping FIs adapt and transform their data ecosystems in response to rapid technology innovation in digital, mobile payments, Big Data management, advanced analytics, blockchain, robotics, cognitive learning, and automation. This report explores the evolving role of CDOs in the global financial services industry–from senior data marshal and steward to strategic business-enablement leader and innovator.

The evolving role of the chief data officer in financial services

Wanted: Executives to protect and create value from data assets

One might argue that the role of CDO really came into vogue in the aftermath of the 2008 global financial crisis. The need was clear: Too little attention had been paid by most institutions to their data, which, some believe, if managed more effectively, might have provided an advance warning of the forthcoming meltdown – or, at a minimum, a more resilient response. A senior, C-level executive was needed to marshal and govern critical data assets – someone with a balanced understanding of the institution’s core businesses, products, customers, and supporting data infrastructure’s capabilities and needs.

More recently, the CDO’s job description – for the most progressive organizations – has evolved from its initial focus on data asset gathering, governance, and stewardship to proactive business enablement, with many institutions even marrying the CDO and chief analytics officer (CAO) roles into a single senior-level position. This is especially true for organizations that aggressively seek to leverage data science and advanced analytical modelling to generate new insights into the markets and customers they serve, the products they build and price, the risks they assume or pass on, and the means by which they operate the business to benefit stakeholders. Globally, the CDO’s have been appointed first in the Banking sector.

This is also true for the Netherlands, the four largest banks of the country now all have a Chief Data Officer or CDO or a similar senior officer with a different title. Especially in the Netherlands we see the combination of the Chief Data Officer and the Chief Architect combined in one senior function, who strategically advises the Board of Directors on enterprise wide themes as Data, Advanced Analytics and IT Strategy & Architecture. In Insurance, we now see the Dutch institutions starting to organize their data assets more and more at the enterprise level including the required governance and they are starting to appoint CDO’s as well.   

Organizations today need senior leaders to not only manage and govern the data, but also to leverage the data using emerging technologies that can generate actionable analytical insights and tangible business benefits. For most FIs, a huge amount of work in the data space remains to be done–especially in the face of new and emerging technology innovations, and regulatory changes around data reporting and data privacy, for which traditional management strategies and approaches may be less than well-suited.

In view of such external forces and dimensions, the role of the CDO in financial services should continue to expand in both influence and value. This is particularly important as corporate boards and executive teams increasingly appreciate the need for–and empower and fund–transformation of their businesses into information-centric, analytics-driven, and agile data consumers.

More information on the evolving role of the chief data officer in financial services

Want to know how organizations can benefit from the potential of Chief Data Officers? Please contact René Theunissen via RTheunissen@deloitte.nl or (+31)088 288 1082

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