Lucy Dimes 961X460

Lucy Dimes on steering the fintech revolution

26 February 2015

Newly appointed Board Director Lucy Dimes talks about how technology is at the heart of business innovation

Can you tell us a bit about your background and how you got to where you are?

I did a business degree majoring in international marketing, and landed a fabulous first role as Brand Development Manager for Trivial Pursuit – it was the peak of the ‘yuppie’ era so it was great fun! It was what marketeers call a ‘classical’ marketing role, managing everything from the sourcing of the plastic ‘cheeses’, and overseeing the quality of the manufacturing process, to distribution, advertising and promotion – including developing the TV game show concept – which was my idea!! I approached the BBC, we developed the concept, appointed the production company, and launched it successfully, attracting 8m viewers at its peak. I was part of a very small company and a management team of 23, which was then acquired by Hasbro.

I then joined BT, a huge company that had been privatised relatively recently and was going through a huge transformation to a more commercial, customer oriented organisation; it had recently reduced from around 250,000 employees to 150,000. I was the first ‘marketing’ person to join the marketing department – everyone else was an engineer, and my first job was to review the market for telephony, where, extraordinarily, 30% of calls never got completed which represented billions of pounds of wasted revenue opportunity. I launched a project called ‘Trivial Pursuit’ which was about call completion – selling more answering machines, call diversion, call waiting and call forwarding services, and developing new services such as network based call answering, call return and ring back – things today you would know as 1471, 1471-3 and 1571! Snappy!!

I did various innovation and product development management roles for a number of years, including launching BT Interactive TV (which became BT Vision), BT Click and BT Internet – and really enjoyed being at the cutting edge of the technology and the internet revolution. It was a very exciting time. At one point my P&L responsibility was £3.8bn! I then moved into strategy, sales and global partnerships, working with the likes of Microsoft, Intel, Vodafone and Accenture, partnering on new technology platforms and joint outsourcing propositions, culminating in being asked to be MD of our Global JV with HP. This was a fantastic role, I travelled (a bit too much) as I had teams in 4 regions of the world, but we created billions of dollars of joint deals, the biggest was a $450m global contract which I led and signed personally.

I always ask “why would somebody buy this?” and “how easy is it to use?”; these continue to be the two most important questions for us here at Equiniti  

After 19 great years at BT I left to become the CEO for Alcatel-Lucent in the UK and the Global MD for BT and Vodafone.  It was a great opportunity to manage everything from strategy, marketing,  pre and post sales,  operations etc. With a great team around me we managed to turn the UK back into a profitable entity and we went from one of the worse performing country P&L’s (out of 130) to the second highest, which was a huge achievement.

I was then approached about the Equiniti role, which was highly attractive as the telecoms industry was going through considerable market shrinkage and consolidation, and I sought the excitement of the internet revolution era that I had experienced previously. Now I’m at the heart of the ‘fintech’ revolution, which is a new wave of technology enabled services focused in the finance and banking sector. Because of my career origins and experience, I always ask “why would somebody buy this?” and “how easy is it to use?”; these continue to be the two most important questions for us here in Equiniti  – commercialising technology has never been about who has the best technology, but who has steered the best technology available to meet customers’ needs.  That’s what I love to do!

How does it feel to be on the Equiniti Board of Directors?

In two words - very exciting! The opportunities in our markets are immense and we have incredibly strong credentials, relationships and capabilities – particularly in technology of course – that are largely unique.  We have developed a strong position as a technology leader, but importantly we are not a tiny start up, we are a mature, rounded business with significant blue chip customers – and we are trusted to do really complex tasks well. So we are at a really interesting stage of change, growth and expansion.

Regarding your operational role - how have you steered the business and what changes have been made?

The primary transformation has been changing the operating model in order to drive synergies, closer collaboration, and greater focus. We previously had three separate divisions, largely doing their own thing, managing their customers, running their operations, developing their technology. We have now got a ‘classic’ matrix of ‘verticals’ and ‘horizontals’ – the ‘vertical divisions’ face into their respective market spaces and are focused on satisfying current and future customer needs – with a renewed emphasis on growth.  The ‘horizontals’ are organisations that are centres of excellence in certain tasks performed across the group, like HR, operations, managing IT/technology platforms. These ‘horizontals’ create synergies and alignment across the company, and importantly they ‘join us up’ which is vital for driving a better customer experience – no customer likes it if they deal with one part of a company and feel it isn’t joined up with a different part of the company. As our customers increasingly buy multiple services from us, it’s vital that we provide a consistent service to them.

The other key change has been bolstering capabilities to reinforce and underpin Equiniti’s growth, for example I’ve recruited a new Managing Director for the Intelligence business, and a Chief Information Officer.  We have been recruiting for greater cohesion and broader market experience and know-how to fulfil our future ambitions.                        

I have made it a priority for us to keep ahead of the market, to be seen as at the forefront of the digital agenda, innovating and leading the change, particularly in the finance and banking sector.

Where has the focus on technology come from and why will it help shape the future for Equiniti?

We are a technology based company – it’s in our DNA! I don’t think we acknowledged the strength of our technology and platforms enough before – it was maybe seen as part of the ‘furniture’, but it’s a jewel in the crown that’s really valued by our customers. I think all I have done is put it at the top of our agenda, and made it a priority for us to keep ahead of the market, to be seen as at the forefront of the digital agenda, innovating and leading the change, particularly in the finance and banking sector. And we’ve got a lot more focused on what we are investing in.

We have a clear strategy and positioning of being a specialist technology based outsourced services provider – we are not a  ‘jack-of-all-trades’ willing to take on any outsourced contract. We have created unique industrialised modern technology platforms which can process vast volumes of complex data and have immense transactional capability. Combined with a highly skilled workforce and customer intimacy i.e. really understanding what our customers are trying to achieve – this is a magical set of ingredients! 

What are the future plans for Equiniti?

We face a plethora of opportunities but the key is focus, focus, focus. We are strengthening our position in some very key markets and deepening and extending capabilities as well which creates new opportunities. Some notable areas of focus are wealth management, case and complaint services management, pension scheme management and employee share plans and flexible benefits scheme management . Our ‘PeopleSpace’ proposition is a great example of how we can join up a bunch of previously disjointed areas for our customers, giving their employees a one stop shop. We’ve also deepened and extended our capabilities through acquisition over the last year, with the JPM dealing team, PanCredit loan service business, Invigia customer experience and complaint management systems,  and Selftrade’s execution only personal investment management capability.

What does the UK business climate look like in terms of opportunities and challenges?

The UK is at the forefront of the fintech era, Tech City in London is challenging the dominance of Silicon Valley and the UK, as always, punches above its weight in terms of pioneering markets and driving innovation for customers.