Investec CFO Nishlan Samujh talks tech

How Investec uses technology to improve business processes and improve user experience.

Investec group FD Nishlan Samujh believes that technology is an extension of our capabilities as humans and brings well-thought solutions within reach.

In an interview with CFO South Africa in 2017, Nishlan said that the next big thing was technology. “How do we partner with tech in a way that transforms platforms and the way we interact with the world?,” he asked at the time, pointing out that people spend 60 to 70 percent of their time on tasks and only 30 to 40 percent on problem solving and new ways of doing things. “With the aid of new technology, tasks are being shifted to a different space, so the human mind can work more effectively.”

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Little did he know that the technology would become the new world of work and that those figures have been switched around.

Since Covid-19 has changed the way we work by forcing people to work from home, Investec has had to make use of technology to continue its business operations. “During the lockdown, we were able to use technology to interact with all the business constituents, including external parties, regulators and auditors,” he explains. “It also provided us with the tools we needed to transfer data and information virtually, keep accurate records of data, as well as access and process data.”

Now, CFOs spend 70 percent of their time on problem solving and only 30 percent of their time on mundane finance tasks.

But technology is no stranger to the business, as Investec has been using technology to help with its automation, efficiency and analytics. “We use technology when we are interacting with our clients, whether it’s data processing, analytics, workflow, receipt or solutions, and with our staff by monitoring the flow of data, keeping records and computation. We also use it with auditors to monitor workflow, transfer data and access information, or our regulators,” Nishlan says.

However, he explains that this is just the start. “Technology touches so much. What is challenging is ensuring that it is relevant and adding value. Technology can’t be deployed if there is no purpose or buy-in.

Asked what his favorite app was at the moment, Nishlan says that it’s hard to pick a specific one. “They serve so many different purposes.” However, one of them is his Investec banking app. “It may be a bit biased, but I can access my local and offshore bank accounts when I want to, have full perspective on my investments and, as an employee, I can access internal personal aspects like my share awards, all in one app.”