george-nast-refocuses-standard-chartereds-transaction-banking-product-suite

George Nast refocuses Standard CharteredÆs transaction banking product suite

Clients to drive George NastÆs work as global head of product management at Standard Chartered.
 George Nast, Standard Chartered
George Nast, Standard Chartered

George Nast has a lot resting on his shoulders. As Standard Chartered Bank's new global head of product management for transaction banking, he is responsible for what group head of transaction banking Karen Fawcett has termed a "refocus" of the bank's products to be entirely driven by customer needs.

Having joined the bank in January, Nast comes prepared. Previously a partner in McKinsey & Company's Asia-Pacific wholesale banking practice, he has experience advising corporates and financial institutions on matters related to transaction, corporate and investment banking as well as capital markets, exchanges and securitisation. This gives him insight to both sides of the equation -- what corporates want and don't want from their banking partners.

As product management head, Nast is responsible for all of Standard Chartered's cash management, trade finance and securities services products. He replaced Tom McCabe who was appointed group head of DBS's global transaction services business, also in January.

Last week, Nast sat down with FinanceAsia to discuss why he decided to join the financial sector and his plans for Standard Chartered's transaction banking products.

What prompted you to leave consulting for banking?

I have had an extraordinary set of experiences from my 12-and-a-half years in consulting, serving different types of financial institutions in many corners of the world. But I felt it was time to leverage my experiences, apply and be responsible for an actual business. Standard Chartered was the natural choice for me given its commitment to grow transaction banking and its footprint across the fastest growing parts of the world.

Based on your experience with McKinsey & Company, what insights into the transaction banking industry do you feel you bring to Standard Chartered's team?

Banks and other financial institutions are important client segments for Standard Chartered. Having served both local and multi-national institutions as a consultant gives me insights into their needs and buying behaviours, as well as their perceptions of banks like Standard Chartered. Secondly, I have extensive experience in many of the key markets where Standard Chartered is present, such as Greater China, Korea, Indonesia and India, which will help me more quickly grasp the varying opportunities in these key markets. Finally, I have seen the best and "not so good" practices at the many institutions that I have served -- not just in transaction banking, but also in the functions of their organisation -- that I can apply in my role at Standard Chartered.

Corporate treasurers have their pick of banks. How do you plan to set Standard Chartered apart from its competitors in Asia-Pacific?

The market is indeed competitive and setting Standard Chartered apart is a challenge. We are a leader in the region across our transaction banking capabilities, typically voted in the top three in trade, cash and securities services. For the bank to have a distinctive lead, our product management approach has to take on a much more obsessive client focus. Since I joined the Bank, I have had the privilege to interact with numerous clients and what became clear to me is that they are looking to us to help solve their problems, in the areas of working capital for example. We add value by delivering tailored solutions, not just by introducing products. 

As head of global product management for transaction banking, what innovations or developments spark your interest?

Ensuring that Standard Chartered continuously delivers on our client focus is a big interest for me in this new role. Beyond that, there are many other developments that excite me too. For example, facilitating the increasing trade between Asia and our network in the Middle East and Africa; expanding our specialised products focused on agricultural finance, thereby benefiting from the continuing growth of agricultural commerce; and building new integrated solutions to help corporates improve their working capital efficiency. This role gives me plenty of opportunities to sink my teeth into many interesting areas.

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