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Episode Summary

David Bruno is Head of Innovation for a large Swiss Bank, and the co-founder of YNOME, a transparent marketplace that rates your financial management providers and helps you assemble your own private bank. David is innovating the fintech industry and discusses how he builds trust and transparency in an industry that’s notoriously very hush-hush and filled with regulations. Tune in for more on this week’s episode!

Disrupting Finance From Within a Leading Swiss Bank

This is Mark Bidwell, host of Innovation Ecosystem podcast. With me today is Dave Bruno who is head of innovation at a major Swiss bank.  Welcome to the show, Dave.

Good Morning Mark.

So, who is Dave Bruno?

In short, I am a guy who founded an innovation function because that’s very “in to do” these days, so I’ve been fortunate to be in the right position at the right time. I originally came from finance so I studied as a US CPA and trained with PWC back in the day. We’ve done quite a lot of different work with international banks over the years and in the past ten years, I had been in the banking industry. When it came time to start kind of self-disrupting or working on innovation full time about three or four years ago and it got in vogue, I jumped on the opportunity and created a function for it.

I think you described yourself and your team as working at the intersection of new business and new technology. The other piece, you’ve say is you used fundamental research to do a search for new business models, so can you explain a bit more about what does that mean?

Yeah. I’m a big believer in trying to do thing with intention so if you’re going to set a goal for yourself or for your team, you need to really go after something that means something to you. From my personal life, when I was skydiving as a younger guy, I set a goal to get on a record attempt and over the next three years, got on to a record attempt. At that time, the world record was around a hundred people for skydiving formation, and I managed to be the youngest guy in that sky dive. No one even knew I was there. I was kind of a ghost who showed up and did it. I think you have to set goals and with innovation, it’s the same. I don’t think you can just randomly look at start-ups and flavour of the day like artificial intelligence this year, or the blockchain and innovate on that. I think you need to fundamentally research what you wanted to achieve, and then set about what you want to bet on and then take the risk to get there.  That’s what I meant by fundamental research.

What are the goals of your team at the moment?  You know, you are always – you operate in an enormous organization with a global reach with, I think close to a trillion dollars of assets. What are your objectives of your team at the moment?

Well, there’s a really fine mix between what you can do, what you want to do, and what you’re able to do. I think that —ie0203-davebruno-key1

Well, you can from a regulatory point of view you mean?

Yeah, from a regulatory perspective. You have to stay within their compliance and legal and regulatory but at the same time, our goals are to be able to disrupt the organization culturally, actually. We’re a little bit like the Seal team. I’d like to use a lot of military analogy because I grew up in a military family. Although I am not a militant myself, I think that our goals and organization are to change fundamentally, to find new business models, to find what’s called new P&L. So, new revenues, new profitability for the firm in places that people weren’t looking already. I give privacy as an example as one of the themes where we think the future of wealth management has a lot to do with the core with trust and privacy and that should be a revenue item as well.

Yup, yup. I am curious. I had a previous guest who studied Swiss organization, as you probably know but maybe our listeners don’t. I mean there’s a lot – I mean there’s Swiss National Service, a lot of the hierarchy in the Swiss National Service tends to find its way into some of the largest Swiss organizations, does this military kind of analogy that you use, how does that land in your — around your Swiss based peers?

It’s funny. A lot of the senior guys really get it because they’re colonels. We don’t have generals in the Swiss army unless we are in times of war but we do have very senior guys who takes senior positions at banks and they actually get what we were trying to do. They’ve been very supportive. The problem that you have within the banking industry is in the middle layer of people whose job it is to stop things that look different. We come, in shorts and t-shirts with a different kind of looking product, right? So when we create an app that kind of looks like Tinder, right? Left and right swipe, you know potential recommendations and that puts up alarms everywhere because it is supposed to by rule. Then you need to be a little bit of a Che Guevara, I’ll say it, my son’s middle name, I actually named him Che Guevara, his middle name is Che. I think you need to be a little bit guerrilla in your tactics and find out who you need to align with and then go explain your story and get their advice rather than running up against people in a committee. It’s really good to have people on board beforehand.

How big is your team? Secondly, how do you actually staff the team for you know, how do you put together the different skills given what you talked about, you know the military analogy that you use.

That’s a spot on question. I think stay small. I mean in the Seals, you never send in more than 12 or 20 guys into a mission. We actually base that on our numbers so I have 12 to 15 guys for the last few years. I believe in mix of skills. As I said, I’m a trained finance guy so I can beat up an NPV, business case, or look at whether we have potential revenues pretty well, but I have — the guy sitting next to me as I make this call with you is Giorgio, he is a hard core programmer. He has been able to make a lot of stuff that we want really fast. Sometimes using techniques that we wouldn’t use inside the banking industry. I have a couple of designers on staff. I have a great comms guy. I think this cross pollination of people — I also have a politics guy. If you read your Machiavelli, you know you need a guy who is out there selling your story very well and aligning people. I think you need that mix of people just like in a Seal team, you know there’s guys to breach doors, there’s guys to shoot and there’s guys to think and you need all of that in the team.

Interesting, coming back to the NPV, so you can knock those up in the spreadsheet.  Given the asset base that your bank has and you know the source of very profitable businesses. I mean how can you move the needle? What are you looking for before you start putting resources behind a new business model or a new concept in terms of not so much peak revenues but I mean potential opportunity that you are looking at.

I think for people who are listening to this, that is the key question. If you base all your innovation focus around just NPV, you’ll be doing change the banking industry or changing your industry so you’ll end up in the IT pipeline and be assessed against other projects that probably have a better return. So, to differentiate yourselves as real innovators, you need to take some risk as well and you need to say “We’re not sure this is going to work, the business case is kind of all over the place but this is one that we want to take strategic bet on because the magnitude of the opportunity is so big that it suspends our disbelief like you do when you start reading any kind of novel.” You kind of have to put yourself in that suspense situation and say “we have a higher chance of failing on this one but we’re still going to take the risk.” So it needs executive veto.

Privacy you mentioned, privacy and trust which you think is a big space. Are we in the realms of blockchain here? Is that what you mean by trust? Maybe you can say a little bit about that. What’s the narrative around that particular opportunity once you’ve explained it?

Privacy as a topic is pretty hard and yet, if you look at the core values of any bank, being private about what you were doing is pretty important for people because their money is super important for them. I’m not talking about anything illegal. I’m talking about the fully natural human instinct to not lose all your eggs that you’ve worked hard for all your life and you want to protect and grow them over time and privacy is core to that. I think as an extension of that other than the banking model, there’s a lot of people — are faced with today in the digital world, and that scares the crap out of them. So you know, you can lose a lot of your good investments as people did in bitcoin in their early days, right? If you make some badly informed mistakes, you can also lose your personal reputation which a lot of the people that I’ve talked to who are more wealthy, say the reputation, their family, their health is much more important than their actual bank account. And you know, I feel that way. I think offensive privacy services, right. I’ll use a funny example if you don’t mind. For the listeners, this is meant to be funny so don’t take it too serious. I always say if a very famous country rock stars daughter turns up at Las Vegas stripped half naked, that has serious reputational risk if that hits Instagram. Institutions that protect privacy go after the internet and delete things. They protect people’s privacy actively, they let the person know that the breach has just happened and what are the options that I can do about this? Also, talking over telephones, working in the internet, you’re leaving a lot of trails. And so, if you’re more wealthy, you want those trails to be protected. There is almost no password you can think of that isn’t hackable. That privacy of data and also the transport of your identity in the future, you mentioned the blockchain, I think those are really important things.

Interesting. People understand that viscerally, I guess. I’m sure your executive talked to you in pitching this understand that but what about economics? Is this ultimately a source of differentiation in terms of this will attract new customers or is this about retaining existing customers? How do you make the numbers work? Because ultimately it’s a public company, your bank right?

It is. I think when Dropbox launched, their minimum viable product, the MVP and the insider innovation speak was a YouTube video. When it got to about a hundred thousand clicks, this is the famous story that’s been in Eric Ries’ book, right? You know people jumped on it and the venture capitalist were able to jump in and they got their angels funding. There was already a hundred Dropboxes out there but they simplify it around one proposition and killed it. I mean, I use Dropbox. Everybody I know uses Dropbox. Is it fully private? No. Do I trust that it is private? No. So I never put anything in there like passwords or anything but people need private storage of things so as currencies and other forms. Well, go fully digital. You need to be able to protect those and also your, let’s say your private key eventually for the blockchain, more contract stuff. Your identity becomes more important than the original wealth that you were trying to protect because you could lose everything in one go.

You’re a founder of the company called YNOME which is around– Is it around robo advisors and –?

To an extent, yeah.

To the extent, is that another source of disruption for the bank?

Yeah, I mean for those who are listening from a banking industry, I think you got to look beyond Robo, right. We know at this point, I talked with more than a hundred robos who are in process of launching or have launched. There’s more than 500 on the way. It’s been done since 2011 and there’s a lot of different angles of Robo but that isn’t the end of finance. I don’t see it as particularly disruptive. I know that’s not always du jour to say but I am aware of the landscape of what kind of traction they are able to generate. I think if you look at the big banking industry who have also launched robo, it proves out the fact that it’s just a user experience. It’s building the last mile to a client that is simpler to understand. It’s a little bit more transparent but there are big ones. I mean when Schwab intelligence portfolio is launched, I was watching the stock price on that day, it went up 11%. So you know, they were able to generate many billions of assets in only a few months of time whereas some of the smaller robos struggle to generate their first couple of hundred millions, let’s say. I think the scale, the lever you have in your hands as a big institution to copy what the robos have done is totally there. There is no patent thing going on that I’ve seen. Therefore, I am not threatened by it as much as sort of learning from it and getting to know the founders from it.

ie0203-davebruno-key2And that’s the big question I guess, I mean an incumbent in the industry facing an enormous regulatory pressure where there is a breakdown of trust as result of, not only scandal but also 2008. And you know, this data breach is — I mean there’s lots of — as well as this wave of FinTec startups, many of which you are involved in, I know back into London. I mean there are lots of people who are questioning, I supposed what is the long term sustainable business model of the banking industry? What you’re saying I guess with robo is that this can be a source of competitive advantage for the incumbent.

I think the incumbents who actually embrace it and see that the younger generation — If you watch some of my YouTube videos, you see I’ve had a chat with millennials who are in my team. What they say is all this dramatic banking stuff, we don’t get – I just need this on my iPhone or whatever, my Samsung, and I need it to be super easy and simple. I think a lot of the robos that actually cracked this maybe is simpler. Some of the models like personal capital actually embrace the personal advisor into the concept. The incumbents do that as well, you should know. I think it’s that mix of traditional with the new technologies, and there isn’t much tech in robo but there is actually a great user experience that makes it differentiating. If I’m able to, I wouldn’t mind saying a word about YNOME as well. We’re looking at beyond robo into a greenfield, we call it greenfield. We think that with new financial providers on the market plus the transaction only shops, the asset managers, the hedge funds — as a consumer you are totally confused how you can go about managing your wealth especially if you only have let’s say between 250,000 and 5 million in wealth, which sounds like a lot to most people but there is a big chunk of society that has that amount of wealth and doesn’t know how to go about self-managing it. So, that the YNOME value prop is about making stuff more transparent and simpler and putting the robos in the same platform as the big banks in saying which provider should I use to do which job most effectively for me.

Interesting, interesting. This is Mark Bidwell, founder of Innovation Ecosystem. With me today is Dave Bruno, head of innovation at a large Swiss bank. We’re talking about disruption. We’re talking about robo. What I’d like to do — you’ve mentioned the millennials earlier on Dave. Obviously in a bank your size, there is a huge population of millennials working in that bank. How do you interact with them? How do you take advantage, obviously, of their insights around what they want as consumers in your efforts to innovate for the bank?

That’s a really good question because a lot of our mandate — what I said in the first question was is cultural. We’re seen as a lighthouse for a lot of people so we’re able to play with Oculus Rift and Google Glass and HoloLens’ and things which are let’s say virtual reality related. A lot of the younger people just totally tune in to that. Not just from a tech aspect but also that we have some freedom and are able to do something new. A lot of the people that are –Let’s say half my team is actually trainees or interns. They’re young people who are just with the bank actually six months. They don’t know anything about banking but they know about – is as a consumer, I got new skills and my skills are fully digital. I selfishly then learn all these skills from our millennials. Recently I’ve been playing with  Snapchat. For me, it’s too young of a dynamic. This constant — you know they Instagram me, photograph myself but at the same time, I totally get it. You need to be able to get it to breach the gap as a manager and in a financial institution these days. I know a lot of — you know the most senior folks, they look at the kids and they see this exact dimension and they copy their kids, right? I think everybody got on Facebook reluctantly but at the time got to Snapchat, people just load the app.

Yep, yep, yep. Do you do anything like reverse mentoring? How do you keep the board members connected with the millennial population in your organization? Any mechanisms that you’ve tried that either worked or have failed dismally?

Yeah. The problem for any bank right now, if you look at the statistics around who joins the bank… Back when I was joining the bank, you know they would get 20-30% of the Harvard students or talents. These days, the real talent goes to Silicon Valley. They go to startups and they become entrepreneurs themselves at a young age. I don’t have anybody on my team who doesn’t want another company. The average age in my team is probably 29-30, I’m the the old fart. So, I think the guy who’s running three companies on the side who is sitting next to me before. All his companies are running well because he is able to differentiate between what he can do with what he is learning from the bank and from what he already knew and deploy those skills in those skill sets, and I think this big economy is going to get us better skills in the bank and we have to accept that.

Well, obviously, I can imagine if you were pitching to your senior leadership that you are going to build a team and many of them are going to be working on another project, so running other business would raise eyebrows but I think one of the things here for me is that the management challenge of the late 20th century was managing the matrix. Today, I think it’s managing the ecosystem because the reality is you’re never going to have all the resources you need, the expertise around the table at the right time in the right form so your ability to bring people in and attract them into the organization and bring their skills is a huge source of competitive advantage if you can get it right. What does that mean as a leader? How do you make that case, firstly? Secondly, how do you screen? How do you think about bringing people on if they are saying “Well Dave, I got two other businesses I’m very excited about?” Give us a couple of examples perhaps.  

Oh yeah, I can. The guy sitting across from me filming me right now is a guy named Phil. He’s the latest guy into my team. He’s a startup founder so he actually started up a company in the UK and sold it. Now, he’s gigging with me because we launched YNOME and he sees an opportunity to work on something that can go a little bit even difficult because its in finance industry. I think you have to track people in that way. So, I didn’t wait for him to come in with a tie and beg me for a job and look at his CV. I never looked at his CV in that sense actually, HR does that. What I looked at was the person and does he have hard skills that I don’t have? I think, from a banking industry, that’s going to be the huge cultural shift. If you think how many thousands of people do you have working on product distribution, and yet none of them put up YouTube videos, none of them answered questions on Quora, none of them has a strong LinkedIn profile, and that firms prohibit them for me to putting a background picture to their LinkedIn profile. That’s very well at conferences. And then how comfortable doing something like this they could podcast, I think that’s the past. I think the future is this. You got to be able to share your knowledge and give value and get by your back in the form of potential clients and it’s give to get.

Yeah, absolutely. Now, I remember at Syngenta we tried to create a lot of YouTube videos and we couldn’t get access. So we want around through a Vimeo account and that works but I mean reality is that they are constant. You and I have experiences trying to set up the original conversation. I mean there are lots of reasons for this not to work but I guess you got to demonstrate a little bit of resilience and resourcefulness around workarounds. I mean when we spoke the other day Dave, you talked about two books that you gave out. Oddly enough, that was exactly what I used to do in Syngenta. So it’s a the Business Model Canvas by Alex Osterwalder and Lean Startup by Eric Ries. Beyond those, what else do you do to equip your team to do battle because you did use that language as well, you talked about this as being your war, internally I think the proposal was. How do you gear up these people who you brought in to actually be effective and what can be probably quite a challenging environment in the whole ways of the executive suite of the bank, for instance?

Well, I’ll tell you one painful example. I hired a young  designer, she came to change the world and she left after three weeks because she couldn’t get used to the fact that part of the job is to actually still do PowerPoint. I am a big hater of PowerPoints, I like to make stuff, and I like my team to accept the fact that you still need to do — inside the financial institutions — you have to take the good with the bad. The average startup founder is fighting to get the next angel round, he’s fighting to get customer traction, he’s fighting to get a good brand out there that people get. You can get all that for free when you are coming from finance. The stuff you have to fight with is legal compliance. Does this make sense to launch in that market? Have I aligned the senior guy, that senior guy? But you just have a different set of challenges. One of my guys who came out of Silicon Valley, in the last 15 years he spent there launching companies and products, he always says that I’m quoting a guy named Alexander. I think his perspective is exactly right. So, If you’re under 30 you kind of get that if you’re coming to a financial institution, you are going to have a different challenge and you’re going to have to take some of the bad stuff but you get a lot of good as well. So, that lever you have in your hands to change the world is actually pretty huge.

Have you had examples of people in your team who have gone on — started to pursue a more traditional career in the banking industry or are these people essentially unemployable by a large organization because they are constantly exposed to some fantastic startup opportunities from people who are actually moving far more quickly?

Yeah, I’m actually describing the most employable people I’ve ever met. I needed the most deployable troops I’ve seen in the last ten years, right? The problem is if you’re trying to hire and all of my fellow banking managers out there who are trying to hire, I tell you, you have to go about this in kind of a weird way. So, everybody is kind of the project manager, right? Because if you go about the traditional way of hiring, when you let HR kind of find the right guy, they find a sort of centric guy who went to the right universities, speaks the right way, came in for the interview — that guy usually doesn’t have enough shot skills. If you really want to be an innovation chief you got to seek the outsiders, The Outliers, that’s another favorite in my books from Malcolm Gladwell, right. I only work on my strengths, and my weaknesses as a person are  that whole alignment thing, staying in project management, organized and informing people, and so I hire people to cover those weaknesses. I think if everybody in the team is enabled to do their strengths at the strongest and just work on those, and you know cover the weaknesses with other people you are running a really good function. I think that diversity that I described earlier is what you got to go for.ie0203-davebruno-key3

Yeah. Now, I mean let’s get practical. Back into the realms of the core organization, I don’t know how many hundreds of thousands of employees or certainly tens of thousands of employees the bank has got but many of them are let’s say, they’ve been in the industry for 20 years, they’ve got their good client base there, they are probably going to stay in the industry assuming the company remains you know viable in the future longer term. What do you look for — what’s the emerging model of leadership if you like? What do these individuals need to do differently to, I don’t want to say get with the program because that sounds a bit derogatory but I mean essentially to really take advantage of some of the opportunities that you are seeing in the market and that you are bringing to them?

Yeah, I think to speak to people’s hearts and to really keep them working on our problem. I say that now as a bank manager, right. I’m an innovation but a bank manager as well. You know the work on our financial thing is it’s not one of the world’s biggest problems. The world’s biggest problems were about transporting our thought leadership out into the universe and replicating ourselves before we use the resource. It’s a big big problems, right. Money itself is not a problem as an industry and how money is managed. The scalability of it, the user interface of it, whether people actually are still attracted to it, how they get advice in the digital world, these are problems we’re working on. They are smaller. You need to motivate people from the heart because this is worth working on. I think that’s — for people who don’t come from wealth and are hungry for a lot and they want to think big, it’s really how to attract them into the finance industry. So, you have to show them it’s more than just Wolf of Wall Street, you might get a boat out of this someday, right because people don’t really want a boat or a nice car anymore. I mean I don’t. I don’t even have a car. The older generation who are in the bank are still attracted to cars and things. And so there is a generational difference happening and I’m trying to bridge the gap because the younger folks are coming on, they are never going to get that search for Maseratis. They are after life. They are after going in to Indonesia next week and then the following week to Scotland and getting new experiences. Our clients are just like that too.

It’s fascinating you say that. One of our guest from the previous season was a guy whose Gerald Adams who sold his business Elite Daily to the Daily Mail for 50 million at the age of 27. He’s based in New York, amazing guy. I mean his big insight was success without fulfillment is the ultimate failure. I guess I’m wondering, they say the next generation, the millennials want to bring their dreams to work, they want to bring their purpose to work. What can you offer for let’s say the person who’s achieved the level of success from the industry but they are still in the industry, still wants to continue. I mean, how do you get them to switch from the Maserati to the purpose mindset?

That’s really funny. That’s a great question. You know a lot of them have. Especially the ones with self-confidence and who are influential in the organization. I’ll give you an example, when Apple watch came out. In the pre-release phase, you know there are buzz around it right. The non-financial industry does that really well, creating buzz around the product that wasn’t released yet. If you look at Tesla or whatever. They did inspire by that even the 40-year old’s, the 50-year old’s, the almost 60-year olds. I don’t know a single senior bank manager who didn’t have an Apple watch the week it got released. They are into tech, they are  into the new world, they are quite comfortable with it yet in terms of executing in their business but they are trying. I mean I use the fighting analogy not in the sense of fighting against the organization but bringing the fight to the world because if you just go around biting people and saying you are not good enough to handle this, you are not getting anywhere as an innovation manager. You got to go and say “Look, I know where you are at. I understand. I talked to your team. We think this might fit, what do you think?” And get advice. I think you are bringing that older generation backwards and you are bringing the guys forward. It’s really not that hard to convert people. I’ll give you an example again working on voice products. Amazon has a voice product out in the market. Every call I’ve gotten on, the more senior compliance and legal guys — oh yeah I got one for my kids. My kid uses it for the following. Is that a problem? And so I’m giving them advice about how to use a tech product with their kid which is really weird but that builds trust. I don’t think – there’s no bad guys.

Five years ago, it could’ve been a completely different story I guess. I would imagine that the time is very ripe for doing this kind of work in your environment.

It seems timely and that’s why I kind of jumped on it but I don’t know when the good days end. I always assume this was kind of my last day but that gives me full power every day and I just work on those strengths and where should we be? So you know, open finance is one other thing that we have. The concept of open API, if you know what I mean, so the applications that are open to the outside world from the banking industry is just a forbidden topic. I’ve been trying to breakthrough that through an icebreaker every day in every conversation we had. It’s important to let people know what the millennials want. The generation coming thats about to get the wealth, they want to be able to compare horses in the race and they want to see how is this provider and that provider and how are these products doing because they wanted to be simple and comparable. So, the concept developed in API just has to be there. Yet it’s going to take a long time to move the finance industry towards that. It hasn’t had the regulatory support and it’s difficult to change policies in a day.

Yeah. Absolutely. And enormously threatening for the incumbents who done very well out of avoiding that kind of model.

Yeah. I mean keeping the fences up, right. Yeah, it has been a traditional strength set of the banking industry. I don’t say that as a man in banking. I work in banking but it’s been one of our things, put up big walls and shields. If you walk through the City of London, past the Bank of England, I always do when I’m on my way to work in London. It’s massive. The walls are like, something like 25 meters high. This big white impenetrable stone with big steel gates, that’s the image that people have with banking. And so, when we say open API and we try to yell it over that wall, you just wait for burning oil to drop down on you.

As you say, it worked very well but I mean the times are changing very quickly. Quick question, Alibaba, I’ve done quite a load of research into them for a previous interview. They completely disrupted, well not disrupted, they were able to access enormous resources very, very quickly from you know deposits from their customer base. How active do you see them? How much of a threat are they for you sitting in Zurich thinking about the long term banking industry?

I think that they’re — you know now on an international perspective, I think Switzerland is like other locations — US, UK, Guernsey. They expand in these locations with attractive wealth not for any illegal reasons, just for reason that they are neutral alternative, safe and a little bit boring. I think that the new providers, coming out of the emerging market where most of the wealth is being grown these days. If you read your wealth ex reports to give them a plug. In China and Southeast Asia, that’s where the wealth is coming from and it’s a young wealth and it is new wealth and it is trying to acquire itself culture, as it goes along. Alibaba is probably doing an awesome job. Tencent is doing an awesome job. Even Line as a social media channel because it got millions and millions of eyeballs a day. And as long as you got that, just like Facebook, you’ve got access to potential customers and you can tell your story.

Yeah, and they’ve also got a lot of trust, you know as a result of the quality of the relationships they have with those eyeballs I guess.

Yes, it’s true. It’s true. I mean people do trust direct messenger in Facebook, don’t they? It has replaced the telephone for millennials already so.

Yeah, interesting. So just beginning to wrap up. I’m with Dave Bruno, who is head of Innovations — This is Mark Bidwell — Head of Innovation at a major Swiss Bank.  So Dave, I sent you three questions earlier on before we came on the show. First one, what have you changed your mind about recently?

I came up with two things and I’ll do them real quick. One is my approach to health, I switched over from being a long distance athlete back to strength training because I’m with my young people and my team members. They all do CrossFit and strong is the new skinny so I changed my mind about being a business athlete which is what most 40-year old’s do but I changed that and went back to dead lifting, which sounds funny but there we go. The second thing is handing over what I built recently. It’s kind of an innovation thing. It’s super exhausting. If you’re going to try to be an innovation spearhead in your company, I tell you be in for long term, be in for the marathon on this one because every day is pretty exhausting, if you have to run into roadblocks and fail 95% of the time in what you were trying to do, you have to really savour those 5% moments when you actually get a product out and a client looks at it or somebody looks at it and says “hey I really love this.”  You got to celebrate it, take the team out for beers and you feed off that energy because 90% of what you’re doing is really hard but I changed my mind about just kind of walking away from it because you know over the summer break, you always have that thinking, what am I doing? Is it worth it to keep going at this pace? But this is kind of the gear I’m in and it still feels pretty good so I changed my mind. I’m sticking with it.ie0203-dave-bruno-summary-framed

Okay. Good. What do you do to remain creative and innovative and fresh if you like, and get your obvious energy that you’ve — that comes through this call, what do you do?

Really basic stuff like, we talked about young people quite a lot of culture which I am really appreciative of today. I’ve been snapchatting the past two weeks. I find that super fun, you know because you know just personally with people who you know, learning new skills like doing video, using new interactive chat. Tweeting for me two years ago wasn’t something that I’ve done, now, I do it all the time. I think these new skills in the digital world are really important to learning because it gives people a lot of pleasure. The second one is also simple, I’ve been reading about gravitational waves since that story broke, about six months ago. I kind of throw the random dice in Wikipedia quite a lot especially on the topics of universe. I find it that Einstein’s theory of relativity, I still don’t get, you know that time is not constant. It blows me away so you know, remaining creative and innovative is your question. I think reading about stuff that isn’t from what you’re looking at every day. So, I don’t want to read anything more about the banking industry. I only read about the universe and time travel and things which inspire me to keep active. A lot of guys do that as well that I know.

Yeah. Interesting. Interesting. Thank you for that. Final question, and to what would you attribute to your success in life to this point?

Yes, I’ve like the mindset that I’ve been able to deploy. I mean, I think being able to pivot on the fly, and thrive in chaos and like I’ve said, I come from that kind of military way of being, so being in the middle of the fight is where I want to be. There’s only a certain number of people like that and you got to be able to understand these three guys, they don’t want to be in the fight but I need them. So, what would I do with them? How do I deploy them? That long term team thing, but for me personally it’s like thriving on chaos and taking on a no fear approach. So don’t conform, don’t try to fit in, is my kind of advice especially if you’re going to try to be innovative, which is what this podcast is about. You know, don’t wear the tie if you don’t want to, or do if it fits you but do it your way and be authentic about yourself. Speak the way you really speak and people, they flock to that like moths to a flame right?  They love when people are really authentic. I think that’s what the older generation is still trying to learn. It’s that authenticity. Don’t use slides, just tell stories.

Yeah, yup absolutely. It’s interesting you say that. I think that’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this show actually because to your early point the skills, the tools, when you’ve been in the large organization for many years or in the corporate environment, as you come out and start interacting with the world in a very different way, it’s remarkable what one can expose oneself to. From a personal point of view, I’ve learned a huge amount. I have to say also Dave, I mean when we set this up, this was not the conversation I expected to have with the head of innovation for a large Swiss bank.  This is very, very fresh.  This is very reassuring in many respects and I’m sure a lot of our listeners will agree with me. Now, where can people get in touch with you?

Probably over twitter. And once you have the contact, then direct message is the easiest way. It’s easier than email. So I’m @superdavebruno on twitter. It’s probably the best way or you can find me on Quora as well.

Super. We’ll put all that in the show notes. So, well Dave, it’s been a great pleasure having you on the show today. I mean, I’m sure our audience will have enjoyed it as much as I did. And many thanks for your time.

You’re very welcome. That was a real pleasure. Thanks for the great questions Mark.

What Was Covered

  • 01:55 – Who is David Bruno?
  • 03:45 – What are some of David’s current goals?
  • 06:25 – David currently has a staff of around 12-15 people.
  • 07:25 – How does David find new opportunities?
  • 08:30 – How does David build trust among his peers and clients?
  • 09:25 – The client’s reputation, family and health is much more important than their bank account.
  • 10:20 – All passwords are hackable.
  • 14:30 – What does YNOME do?
  • 15:35 – How does David work with millennials to innovate for the millennial market?
  • 17:10 – How does David keep his board members engaged with the younger generation?
  • 19:10 – David talks on how he attracts and retains talent.
  • 20:50 – How does David properly educate and train his team?
  • 22:35 – Banking managers have to hire in a different way based on the current marketplace.
  • 25:10 – You have to motivate people from the heart.
  • 28:20 – Millennials want to be able to compare financial institutions and choose the best option for them.
  • 31:40 – What has David changed his mind about recently?
  • 33:00 – What does David do to remain creative?
  • 34:15 – To what does David contribute his success in life?


[Tweet “Our goals are to disrupt the organization culturally. We’re a little bit like a Seal team”] [Tweet “Problem in banking is middle management whose job to stop things that look different”] [Tweet “A lot of wealthy people say their reputation, family, health much more important than their actual bank account”]

Links Mentioned

YNOME Website
YNOME on Facebook
David on LinkedIn
@SuperDaveBruno on Twitter
Rabobank Website

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