SPARKS! were flying, and so were creative ideas for change


We all enjoy the opportunity to attend an informational conference once or twice a year. At least for me, it is an excellent opportunity to hear thought leaders and business executives discuss the latest trends and recent problems that have been solved with technology. It can also be an excellent venue to gather best practice ideas and build relationships. Recently, SAS hosted a Financial Services Executive Summit, called SPARK!.

This event brought together key executives in banking, capital markets and insurance to collaborate on a number of pressing topics in the industry. The format for this event took on a different twist from typical executive conferences that I have attended. SAS worked with a company called Matter Solutions, which specializes in a unique format for organizing random, small groups of teams to brainstorm on a series of questions. These pre-designed questions are positioned to entice people to think out of the box and collectively come up with new ideas for improving business all through culture, technology and processes.

While the conference began as most conferences do, with a keynote speaker, the audience seemed to be captured at the very start. Our keynote, James B Stewart, spoke on the topic of perjury with compelling excerpts from his latest book, Tangled Web. If you think about what has been happening to our country over the last several years, this topic of “brazen” lies as he so eloquently phrased it, leaves us to ponder why so many leaders and well respected people in all facets of our country have been willing to risk losing everything to commit perjury

Following this keynote, the first power session of collaboration, was to get everyone thinking about trust. This was a time to think about what actions financial services companies can take to show the public that they are serious about rebuilding trust in the wake of one of the worst financial crises of all times.

Some of the key themes for change:

  • Build personal relationships with customers.
  • Acknowledge and follow up on customer complaints.
  • Increase transparency – no fine print!
  • Educate the investing public.
  • Self-regulate and hold ourselves accountable.
  • Use data and analytics to make informed decisions.

While this may seem like an easy task, the many silos and pace of innovation in business today has caused many organizations to stray from some of the key foundational principals that made this industry so successful to begin with. To borrow a quote from one attendee, “We need to understand who our customers are and how they want to do business.”

With that, the discussion moved to the obvious next step of harnessing the massive volume of data firms already have. Using Business Analytics, firms can gain insights from customer data - enterprise wide. Armed with the right tool and the fresh new ideas from this powerful one day session, many of the summit attendees will be reengaging with their customers and regaining trust.


About Author

Ellen Joyner-Roberson

Global Marketing Advisor

Ellen Joyner-Roberson, CFE is Global Marketing Advisor at SAS, where she defines industry strategy and messaging for the global fraud and security markets in banking, insurance, health care and government. With more than thirty years of experience in information technology, she helps clients capitalize on the power of analytics to combat fraud and keep the public safe. This includes bringing greater awareness of how to apply machine learning and AI to detect evolving fraud tactics, while realizing ROI in technology investments. In addition, she consults with clients to reduce fraud losses and mitigate risk across their enterprise. Joyner-Roberson graduated from Sweet Brier College with a degree in Math and Computer Science. Most recently, Ellen has brought to market our Intelligence and Law Enforcement solution called SAS® Intelligence and Investigation Management and a cross industry solution focused on Procurement Integrity.

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