IF A leading blue-chip PR firm was commissioned to find a suitable banker to project a different image of banking to the British public, they might plumb for Ashok Vaswani without hesitation.
His appointment to chief digital strategy officer at high street bank Barclays in November 2021 was something of a surprise but then so too was the sudden shock resignation of Jes Staley, the company’s chief executive. He stepped down in the wake of a probe by Britain’s financial regulators, who said the description of his relationship with convicted sex offender billionaire Jeffrey Epstein wasn’t satisfactory.
In the subsequent reshuffle – CS Venkatakrishnan became CEO and moved Vaswani from CEO of global consumer and payments at Barclays to the newly created position of chief digital officer.
Vaswani has put the customer at the very heart of what he does – as the CEO of Consumer Banking and Payments – and for an industry that can sometimes appear very unfriendly, he projects a warmth and humility that isn’t much in general evidence across this sector.
“I think any organisation has to truly know and understand what its purpose is, why you exist.
“When you are purpose-led and you get your focus right, everything else flows from this.
“We have always said, nobody needs another bank! Instead, how can we help people get the things done in their life that truly matter to them?” he told the GG2 Power List in an interview with a previous edition.
For him, there are two further points that guide him in focusing on the fundamentals of what banking is, and should be, about.
“Second, putting the customer first. It’s about listening, truly listening to what the customer is telling you, about their pain points, about what matters to them, and then responding and