10 Most Innovative CEOs in Banking 2017

Fintechs are partnering with banks, banks are using blockchain technology, artificial intelligence, and cryptocurrency and financial regulation is still undergoing massive changes.

Challengers to traditional banking, payment, and loan products have all launched this year, and FIs are fighting fraud, hacks, and scams with an increasing number of biometric security measures.

2017 has been a year that could bring profound changes to the world of banking, all in all, and of course, it wouldn’t have been possible without the people who keep the banks moving forward. That’s why Bank Innovation has compiled its annual list of the Top 10 Most Innovative CEOs in banking (which after 2017, definitely includes fintechs). This year, we couldn’t keep to just 10, so take a look at our list of the top eleven below.

1.Yolande Piazza, Citi Fintech 

Taking over the driving force behind Citi’s relentless financial innovation lands Yolande Piazza at the top of this list. Since her appointment in March 2017, Piazza has been bringing her banking expertise (honed by 30+ years in the industry, the majority of them spent with Citi) to bear on the FI. Piazza has kept Citi Fintech focused on mobile innovation, expanding the mobile features available to retail banking customers as well as partnering with desirable fintechs.

Piazza’s strength is that  narrow focus; the group approaches everything “with the mindset that we are either going to build, buy, or partner,” Piazza said in June. In keeping with that goal, the group completed six successful new partnerships and two projects in 2016. Under that same steady hand, the goal is to triple that number by the end of this year. Piazza — or as colleagues call her, ‘Yo’ — doesn’t seem to be sweating this. Bank Innovation isn’t either.

2. Jason Mars, Clinc

At this point, providing an AI-powered banking assistant probably won’t make someone stand out in the industry: but providing a banking assistant powered by artificial intelligence that consumers can talk to “like a human in a room” via text, voice, or Alexa does, as Clinc’s Jason Mars could tell.

Clinc’s Finie assistant was built like a brain, not an AI, in that it understands natural language–so no need for command phrases or keywords–and uses that data to share relevant spending and financial insight to the customer. Mars debuted his assistant in 2016 and has only expanded it since; his startup now powers the USAA Alexa skill for voice banking.

3. Anne Boden, Starling Bank

Launching a challenger bank in the United Kingdom isn’t much of a feat nowadays: but launching a U.K. challenger bank in 2014, gaining a banking license, partnering with fintechs, and integrating mobile payment and third-party services into the bank definitely is. Boden, who started Starling Bank with banking innovation in mind, never really stopped: in 2017 alone, the bank has built out its APIs to include support for devices like Google Home, integrated both Apple and Android Pay, announced a push for B2P payments, and opened a “marketplace” for third-party fintechs to weld seamlessly into the app for better customer experiences.

Boden keeps Starling’s mission in mind with each innovation, and will doubtless continue to do so with the new funding the challenger is seeking; as Boden said of the funding, “This is yet another stepping stone in Starling’s mission to realign the retail banking sector in the interest of consumers. On each occasion I set out to secure further funding, I am reminded of my objective to ensure everybody has an offer of a healthier financial life.”

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