by George Nott

CIO50 2018 #26-50: Linda da Silva, BT Financial Group

Nov 22, 2018
Technology Industry

Panorama is BT Financial Group’s innovative wealth management platform that the company says is “the envy of our competitors”.

BT has been building the wealth management platform which integrates a range of investment options – managed portfolios, managed funds, term deposits, BT cash and listed securities as well as SMSF (self-managed superannuation funds) administration – since 2012.

Panorama has significantly changed the way BT delivers services to customers by allowing them to access all their investment and SMSF needs on one platform, utilising a customer-centred design and completely digital experience.

The core build of Panorama was already complete (work led by 2016 CIO50 listee Anastasia Cammaroto) when BT’s chief information officer Linda da Silva took the role in March last year.

Selected to lead the remaining program deliverables and operationalise the platform, da Silva has made significant progress in reorganising both the business and technology delivery teams into a cohesive and high performing unit over the last six months.

“As one of the largest Agile programs ever undertaken by an Australian financial services institution, bringing Panorama into business-as-usual was not your usual transition. To add further complexity, the transition also required the oversight of a multi-year migration of legacy platforms,” da Silva says.

Panorama has now refined its scope, improved its financials and established a robust governance and delivery structure. In that time da Silva’s team has delivered a number of feature releases, including: BT Open, an online adviser services hub with support options such as governance, investment research and training; new pricing; and the launch of BT Panorama Compact, which offers a simpler investment menu, transparent price and grouping capabilities, coupled with all of the benefits of BT Panorama.

Those releases have each made the platform more accessible and easier for advisers, accountants and clients to view, build, manage and protect investment assets, the result of da Silva’s “unwavering focus on the customer”.

The platform has grown its funds under administration by $5.4 billion and the number of independent financial advisers registered to the platform has doubled.

As well as getting Panorama racing, da Silva has transformed BT’s Digital and Innovation capability by “horizontally integrating digital teams into a centralised unit”.

Previously the company’s digital function delivered separate digital solutions to different parts of the business. The new operating model allows the team to support multiple digital priorities, with teams brought together to work across multiple customer segments.

People power

Da Silva is responsible for leading a team of more than 900 technologists (both staff and strategic partners) across Australia and offshore. Her teams are responsible for managing more than 180 systems.

As well as the customer focus, da Silva is always looking out for the people in her team and their individual success. Cultural change has been hard won in a “large and complex business with long-established ways of doing things,” she says.

“My biggest lesson as CIO has been how to make decisions that are not only best for the customer, and the business, but also for our people. Taking on the CIO role required me to challenge and change the way we operate, to move the team to an outsourced model and uplift the team’s commercial understanding, and this was difficult. Change is emotional and leading that change can be extremely challenging,” da Silva says.

“Team culture is based on inclusion and becoming future ready. Irrespective of where or who you work for in BT Technology, you are considered part of the team,” she adds.

Da Silva’s leadership has come at a time when the wealth industry is undergoing increased change, scrutiny and regulation. Technological changes are swift and constant. People need to be brought on the journey, she explains.

“The reality of the industry is that things are moving at exponential speeds. I feel deeply that it is our responsibility to ensure there is a pathway for our people in the future,” she says.

As well as being a sponsor of the Women of Westpac initiative, she is also an active participant in the Women in Technology network. She also spearheads the group’s Workforce Revolution Strategy.

“So while we were navigating the operating change, it was important to me to remember our people and to empower them to upskill their own capability, so that their careers can continue to evolve as the industry does,” she says. “As a leader, I have checkpoints to continuously maintain this balance.”

“If I can make decisions that keep our people, customer and business in mind, then I am confident we will continue to grow,” da Silva says.