Mark Thundercliffe’s switch to CYBG caught many by surprise – not least his former bosses at HSBC, where he was stationed as CRO for the retail bank and wealth management business.
But as he describes to Credit Strategy editor Marcel Le Gouais, the lure of a business serving his own heartland makes perfect sense.
In an interview covering collections, debt sale and pragmatism between first and second line, he explained his rationale.
MLG: So why this job, why now?
MT: “A sequence of events led to the move. I had a great job at HSBC. I was there for just over seven years with a big remit across Europe, the middle east and Africa. I didn’t envisage seeing my career out anywhere other than at HSBC.
“But then I got a call from CYBG towards the end of 2015. Two things struck me about that call. The first is it’s in the name – Yorkshire Bank. I’m from Yorkshire. As simple as that sounds, there was far more to that than people realised.
“I’ve travelled the world all my life. I lived in Russia for four years, China for two years and in India for two years. Vietnam also for a year.
“When you travel a lot for the job, to then get the opportunity to work for a bank my mother and father banked with for 40 years, was unique.
“For the first time in a long time, it felt like I was coming home.
“These two banks also gave me a great feeling of offering something for the British economy. It resonated so well with me, so I started talking to them.
“It became increasingly evident when I was meeting board members and the CEO David Duffy that they were looking for the chief risk officer of what was going to be a new plc. What gripped me was the prospect of joining a new plc.”
MLG: So that’s why you made the move, tell me about the role.
MT: “I’m responsible for the group risk function. That means the enterprise risk framework, how the bank manages its risk appetite, operational risk, financial crime compliance, fraud and regulatory compliance.
“It also means the credit function and the strategies within that, along with liquidity risk, pension risk.
“So we’re a second line of defence function. Part of the reason of taking this job is to manage all risk across the firm – previously I was responsible for retail risk.”
MLG: If we look at your responsibilities in relation to collections in the first line, how do you ensure pragmatism between first and second line, to help the bank deliver the right customer outcomes?
MT: “In terms of pragmatism as it relates directly to customers, agents should show they are interested in what might be going on in customers’ lives at that time. These can be more open discussions and you can get a lot more from that.
“But you do get customers who just don’t want to pay you back. If they don’t want to, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an inbound or outbound call.
“Having said that, the sophistication around segmentation and data strategies to reach customers at the right point, are areas where the industry can continue to do more.
“But that requires the right tone from the top, the right culture, to ensure good customer outcomes are delivered.
“So, as we do in credit management through the credit cycle, that’s about ensuring you lend the right amount of money at the right point in time, but also ensuring collections and recoveries strategies are designed to recover money in the right moments, in the right way.
“The sophistication of strategies for collections and recoveries should be equally calibrated with how sophisticated you can be at the front end.”
MLG: But on this point about the relationship between first and second line, how do you ensure this works in a way that delivers the right outcomes?
MT: “The second line question, I have strong views on this.
“Collections should be done in the second line. I’ve seen it done in both, and there are pros and cons of both approaches. What cannot be done in the first line, is collections strategies.
“Strategy setting, risk appetite and where you set all your tools such as forbearance and policies, they should always be set in the second line.”
See Credit Strategy’s December issue for the full interview with Mark Thundercliffe.