UOB takes standards control up a notch with Project Honeycomb

Safeguarding reputation and bringing long-term value to stakeholders are critical elements of any bank’s operations. UOB has given this new meaning in the past year through Project Honeycomb, a data-driven product to analyse a relationship manager’s conduct and standards, identify issues – and take early measures to ensure a long-term sustainable business.

UOB’s Project Honeycomb is the result of a collaboration between the bank’s retail business risk and control management team, and the data management office, aimed at conducting risk surveillance and management.

The idea is to leverage data analytics to provide a timely and holistic view of how a relationship manager conducts himself and his business over the course of the wealth sales and customer relationship management journey. Honeycomb allows for predictive conduct risk management to support proactive early intervention by the risk managers, tightened supervision and target coaching, as well as thematic deep dives into systemic observations around behaviour and work ethic.

The result? A desirable risk culture within the bank’s sales platform and customer experience, which will in turn protect UOB’s reputation and bring long-term value to its shareholders.

But Honeycomb, which was unveiled in October 2022, doesn’t stop there. Its proposition gets a further fillip because it was developed by some exemplary ex-relationship managers, and is built for today’s relationship managers based on the belief that a good relationship manager upholds UOB’s values of being honourable, enterprising, united and committed.

This means the metrics used by Honeycomb and the scoring it provides managers is determined by those with first-hand experience in the market.

BIG AMBITIONS

The development is certainly a landmark both in the fields of technology and risk management, and rightly won The Digital Banker award for Best Data Analytics Initiative – Singapore in the 2023 Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards.

Honeycomb works by drawing insights on a relationship manager’s quality of work by analysing the way he conducts himself – captured through incidents data based on the bank’s policies, guidelines and code of conduct – and overlaying that with the types and volumes of transactions he has executed.

Armed with this information, Honeycomb is able to uncover trends and patterns to weed out any improper conduct, making for a predictive approach to risk management.

The success of Honeycomb means the UOB management has big plans for the product. Full adoption of Honeycomb in the bank’s sales platform is in the plans for 2024, as is the addition of new metrics and scenarios to enhance Honeycomb’s profiling of relation managers.

UOB has also set sights on large scale adoption of Honeycomb with the aim to make it a cornerstone of its conduct surveillance programme – an approach that will only make the bank even more stable and resilient in the long term.

EMPOWERING EMPLOYEES

UOB took another award in The Digital Banker’s 2023 Global Retail Banking Innovation Awards: the Best Retail Bank for Employee Experience.

As a leading back in Asia, UOB certainly takes employee happiness seriously. As part of its people strategy, UOB Group’s Channels and Digitalisation (GCD) team focuses on attracting the right talent and retaining them for the long haul. This has involved refreshing its job portal to make diverse hires, leveraging digital assessment tools like Pymetrics assessment and improving the way competence interviews are conducted. This is combined with behavioural science to ensure employees are embedded well into UOB’s culture, and mentorship programmes that help new hires adapt to the working environment.

Such initiatives and more are paying off. The GCD’s 2022 employee engagement score rose to 88% – 8% higher than in 2019 and a significant jump from the 70% score in 2017. Attrition rates among employees who have been with UOB for fewer than 12 months reduced by 50% in the 2023 first quarter versus the same period in 2022.

This goes to show that UOB’s commitment to creating a great employee experience – while tightening standards and ensuring its long-term health – have not only set new industry benchmarks but have also cemented the bank’s credentials as a leader in the financial industry.

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