Workday Podcast: How Banking and Capital Markets Can Innovate and Thrive

Banks and investment organizations face increased pressure and complexity with reporting and accounting requirements that call for speed, accuracy, and data insights. John Van Puffelen of PwC and Jay Rabinowitz from Workday discuss financial services trends and the role of Workday’s Industry Accelerator for Banking and Capital Markets in empowering companies to more quickly innovate and streamline their operations.

Audio also available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

With constant change bringing uncertainty, financial services organizations need to leverage new technologies to help them stay agile and gain the type of insights they need to successfully run their businesses. 

“More and more clients are looking to a Workday cloud-based solution across their entire finance landscape,” said John Van Puffelen, director of the finance transformation practice at PwC. “It’s streamlining the controllership. It’s making access to data easier. And it’s also about supporting profitable growth strategies that really are going to help an organization stay competitive.”

According to Jay Rabinowitz, vice president of financial services and insurance at Workday, the hybrid model of working from home and the office will continue to require a high level of collaboration. Cloud technology will play a pivotal role. 

“When you think about the role that technology can play in making things better, it’s really evolving our ability to collaborate,” said Rabinowitz. “It lets finance professionals control their own destiny.” 

To help ​​financial services companies, Workday has created an Industry Accelerator for Banking and Capital Markets. We collaborated with PwC to uniquely combine industry practices, proven solutions, and ecosystem connectors with Workday Enterprise Management Cloud to transform business for our customers.

In this episode of the Workday Podcast, Jim Gahagan, senior director of financial services industry solutions marketing at Workday, talked to Van Puffelen and Rabinowitz about how the Industry Accelerator program will benefit banks and capital markets. Here are a few highlights from the conversation, edited for clarity. You can also find our other podcast episodes here

  • “What we’re going through post-COVID is an acceleration of digital transformation. We’re at this inflection of disruption. The disruptors were the fintechs before. All of our customers are now disruptors. They need to get there faster.” —John Van Puffelen

  • “Think about why our colleagues in engineering are leaving. It’s because they’re not being challenged. They’re using old, antiquated technology. Same thing with our finance professionals, actually. And they want to learn. They want opportunities to do new things on newer technology. They want opportunities to grow and change.” —Jay Rabinowitz

  • “First, we’re focused on a set of solution use cases that we developed internally with our customers and with our alliances like PwC to help articulate our understanding of the business. Second, we’re really opening up our ecosystem to our partners to help us build solutions that help support those use cases.” —Jay Rabinowitz

Jim Gahagan: Hello everyone and welcome to today's banking and capital markets Industry Accelerator podcast. My name is Jim Gahagan. I'm the senior director of financial services industry, solution marketing at Workday. Today, banking and capital markets organizations expect industry talent engagement and partnership from their cloud vendors. Organizations want their cloud vendor to be a partner who can guide their move from legacy ERP to the cloud and help them gain ongoing value to serve their industry needs. One of the most exciting announcements in recent days was the launch of the Industry Accelerator program from Workday. To highlight this, I'm joined by Jay Rabinowitz from Workday, and John Van Puffelen from PwC. Today, we'll chat about the new program and how it will drive and accelerate value for banking and capital markets organizations. Let's meet our guests. First off, Jay could you tell us a little bit about yourself and the work you do at Workday?

Jay Rabinowitz: Sure. I'm new to Workday, and have been here for about four months. I started my career at Deloitte, where I was a consultant for eight years focused mostly on insurance in the ERP space. The next 10 years of my career, I spent at Goldman where I was the CFO for global operations, and then led finance transformation. And prior to coming here, I spent two years at Wells Fargo, where I was the CFO of corporate functions, covering all aspects of finance.

Gahagan: And John, introduce yourself to our guests.

John Van Puffelen: Sure. John Van Puffelen, I'm a director in our finance transformation practice at PwC. I focus mainly on the Office of the CFO, specifically around Enterprise Performance Management capabilities. Prior to PwC, I was head of performance measurement at SunTrust Bank in Atlanta. And then prior to that at ta so I've spent most of my career really focused around financial planning & analysis (FP&A). And when we get into the accelerator around sort of expense, transparency, and expense management.

Gahagan: So guys, can you kind of set the scene for us and share some of the trends that you're seeing in banking and capital markets? John, let me start with you. 

Van Puffelen: We just received the August inflation report. So this economic uncertainty I think is going to persist for the next couple of years. And we're seeing our clients that aren't leveraging technologies like Workday, to really give them the type of insights that they need to run the business, are really struggling. And so from a trend perspective, we see more and more clients are looking to a Workday cloud-based solution across their entire finance landscape. It's streamlining the controllership. It's making access to data easier. And it's also about supporting profitable growth strategies that really are going to help an organization stay competitive in these uncertain economic times.

Gahagan: That's great. In similar lines, Jay, what would you say that some of the biggest challenges that organizations are facing today?

Rabinowitz: I think talent is kind of an interesting one. When you look across just the past couple years, there's been the Great Resignation that didn’t leave any industry out. And financial services is certainly facing that. And think about why our colleagues in engineering are leaving. It's because they're not being challenged. They're on old antiquated technology. Same thing with our finance professionals, actually. And they want to learn. They want opportunities to do new things on newer technology. They want opportunities to grow and change. Older mainframe systems, putting on that your resume is not like the most exciting thing. And they're looking for opportunities where they could really thrive and learn new technology. That's a really big one that we all need to keep our eye on.

Gahagan: Yeah. And I'd probably add to that. The hybrid model clearly is here to stay in financial services, particularly in banking and capital markets. Probably more than any other industry, I think there's much more of a tendency to getting people back in the office full time. And I think that's something that organizations are going to have to grapple with in the future. And what role is technology going to play in that? Because we're still going to be in that balancing mode. There still will be some people who are working remotely, but the majority of the people will probably end up back in the office.

Rabinowitz: I'll start and just say collaboration, right? When you think about the role that technology can play in making things better, it’s really evolving our ability to collaborate. And, something that we'll talk about is the ability to let finance professionals control their own destiny, I think that's huge. It's really insightful. With the technology platform, in the cloud, in the collaboration tools, and then empowering our functional individuals to drive. I think people will enjoy it. I think it'll drive people to want to be back and work together to solve business problems.

Gahagan: Yeah. John, just to add on to that, what are you seeing in your clients in terms of this balancing act that they're going through?

Van Puffelen: Yeah, so it's interesting, I think it's very client specific. The one point I will make though is coming off of this finance transformation, which was across the entire finance landscape at KeyBank, the innovative Workday technology allowed us to collaborate remotely. And my opinion is that if we had not had that type of technology to enable that, it would have been a struggle. We would have made it, but it enabled that collaboration remotely easier to get the project delivered on time.

Gahagan: Great. Thanks, John. Thanks, Jay. So Jay, first off for you, if you had a minute or two in an elevator to explain what the industry accelerator program from workday is for banking and capital markets organizations, how would you explain it?

Rabinowitz: I think, to me, it's really three things. The first is focused on a set of solutions use cases that we developed internally with our customers and with our partners like PwC, to really help articulate our understanding of the business. The second is really opening up our ecosystem to our partners, to help us build solutions that help support those use cases. And with that, we're also partnering with third parties. We call them ISVs. But they're third-party companies that again, we want to open up our infrastructure with the goal of making things faster. That accelerator word is really important. We're trying to accelerate time to value. And then the last thing, which is the thing I'm most excited about, is actually bringing our customers to the table. There's a set of industry forums, industry capabilities, and really listening and having our customers drive the journey that we're about to go on from an accelerator perspective.

Gahagan: So, Jay, to follow up on that. At this point in time, what does it really matter to the industry now? What is it that the accelerator program is going to bring that's different from their traditional approach to implementing systems?

Rabinowitz: Well, the market is different, right? And what we're going through post COVID is an acceleration of digital transformation number one. And number two, we're kind of at this inflection of disruption. The disruptors were kind of the fintechs before. All of our customers are now disruptors. They need to get there faster. By being able to solve your core infrastructure, that baseline faster in a more cohesive way with best practices, it's going to get us there in a thoughtful way and really add value to our customers a lot faster than it might have before.

Gahagan: Thanks, Jay. John, can you talk a little bit about PwC and your role as a global system integrator in the accelerator program, and the strengths that your organization brings to the program?

Van Puffelen: Sure, absolutely. Look around. These are really unprecedented and uncertain economic times. And part of our role specifically is really to help companies innovate by leveraging Workday technology differently to address head on the challenges to profitable growth. And we’re really focused on what we call “strategic cost management” to help organizations have the ability to establish this cost management mindset with your level of expense as transparent, where business leaders have the information that they need to actually make profitable growth decisions.

Gahagan: I guess his question to both of you. First off to you, Jay, so why is it that banks are moving to the cloud? And why is there such a need as they move to the cloud to be able to optimize their overall cloud ecosystem?

Rabinowitz: There's a couple of drivers of it. One is the total cost of ownership. I think that's probably the place to start. Financial institutions, generally, feel that when something works and it's not a revenue generator, or it's not a strategic differentiator: “if it ain't broke, don't fix it.” Just kind of leave it alone. The idea that we want to get more value for our dollar, from an engineering perspective, moving to the cloud is going to get you there. I think the other thing is just, as we just talked about earlier, the disruption in the market and the disruption in the economy. We need to really rethink our processes and have the opportunity to streamline those and move to the cloud. Updating your ERP is going to give you that flexibility to think about those two things. And again, be thoughtful and create more value for the company.

Gahagan: That sounds great. Thanks, Jay. So, John, same question for you: what are you hearing from your clients and your banking clients as they embark on the journey to move to the cloud and some of the challenges that they face?

Van Puffelen: Sure.  really approach this from the finance lens. And it really can be summed up in one word: “empowering.” What cloud-based technologies like Workday have done for finance organizations is give them the ability to control their destiny. The applications have progressed drastically from on-prem, which was a little more structured and harder to maintain from a business perspective. And moving to the cloud has really put the power of building out the right capabilities into the hands of finance users themselves.

Gahagan: So John, your organization's been on the forefront of building additional solutions on top of Workday products, and most recently, you guys created a strategic cost intelligence solution. Can share more about that solution with our listeners?

Van Puffelen: Sure. So strategic cost intelligence, a product by PwC, was really the culmination of a lot of work that we did at KeyBank recently. We actually won an Innovation Award for financial services based upon how we are harnessing the power of the PwC product in concert with Workday Prism Analytics. And really what it's going to provide the industry is the ability to have deeper cost analytics. Having the ability to model out these complex scenarios based on business drivers is going to allow finance organizations to measure profitability impacts and make decisions with confidence.

Gahagan: That sounds great. John, you just mentioned KeyBank. Can you talk a little bit more about the journey that they took with both Workday, as well as you and PwC? And some of the significant outcomes or metrics that they were able to achieve in their organization that you can share?

Van Puffelen: Sure, yeah. So this was an enterprise wide finance transformation, covering not only the controllership FP&A, as well as the information that's really needed from a plan and forecast perspective to support the business unit finance organization. I'll actually use a quote from Joseph Huffman, who's a finance director at KeyBank. He partnered with us on the strategic cost intelligence product along with Workday Prism Analytics. 

“Leveraging PwC strategic cost intelligence platform with innovative Workday Prism Technology, KeyBank was able to increase expense transparency, to be the catalyst in transforming the way lines of businesses view and understand their cost allocations. Workday Prism Analytics allowed us to apply one set of rules and methodologies across all scenarios, including actuals forecast and plan to enable consistent and transparent analysis.” 

And that's absolutely what is happening now. One year into their journey after going live, we’re seeing them leverage the information for better product pricing decisions. It’s an extremely competitive market on the retail landscape. For instance, from our deposit pricing, they now have insights into how the expense structures within the broader organization need to be a part of that modeling analysis to make the right type of pricing decisions.

Gahagan: That's great. Thank you. If you had one closing comment that you would want to make to our listeners about what they should do next, what would that be?

Rabinowitz: I think it's really a data driven exercise. And what I would do is sit back and take a look at my data landscape. And to some of the things that John was talking about: “Do I have the right data to make decisions? Do I have the right data to kind of manage my process and be thoughtful about how we're running the business?” And if the answer's “no,” then I think it's time to step back and look at a more holistic solution that will help you along that journey. Because with the environment we're in and with where we're headed, every thoughtful insight that you get could be a differentiator. And that's really the goal is to differentiate and move forward as quickly as you can.

Gahagan: Awesome. So John, anything you'd add to that?

Van Puffelen: So, again, it's really about financial efficiency. All finance organizations are being asked to do more with less personnel. And leveraging a very innovative platform like Workday is giving finance organizations the ability to stay lean, but also do more and provide the type of business insights that the broader enterprise is expecting from them. 

Gahagan: That's fantastic. So thank you to both of you. I really appreciate you guys taking the time and talking about Industry Accelerators with us today. We've been talking about the accelerators for banking and capital markets, with Jay Rabinowitz from Workday and John Van Puffelen from PwC. So don't forget to follow us wherever you listen to your favorite podcast. And remember, you can find our entire podcast catalog at I'm your host, Jim Gahagan. And I hope you have a great work day.

More Reading