Andrés di Fiore is a Senior SAP Banking Consultant at bancon. Having worked in the industry for a number of years, Andrés has been involved in a number of pioneering projects throughout this career, and his time at bancon is no different. Andrés is currently part of the team working with SAP Canada on the world’s first move from SAP Banking Services to SAP Transactional Banking. We sat down with Andrés to hear more about the project and his first-hand experience of the new technology. 

Tell us about your background before you joined bancon?  

I have been working in the banking industry since 2004. I started as a developer at Banca Nazionale del Lavoro in Argentina which was later bought by HSBC, I was an IT Analyst-programmer on the Credit and Risk system merge of both banks. I worked there as a Developer in COBOL Mainframe and then as an Analyst. That’s where I really honed my skills and went and worked for a software company, in charge of finding new talent, training them and building the team to support Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA) in Latin America and Europe.  

That was a really great period of my career. I was 23 and in a management position, making strategic decisions that had a direct impact on our customers and implementations with different banks.  

After that, I joined SAP in a role with Banco Galicia, which was the biggest SAP Banking implementation project in Latin America at the time. While I was there, we changed the whole core banking system which was a huge project with a number of challenges to overcome. Running an implementation in Europe with a European product is not the same when you have to implement that into Latin America. Everything, such as products, payment processes and other standard processes need adapting, but we did a great job. Everyone there is still really proud of the work and they are still running on SAP to this day. 

So, what made you join bancon? 

I was working on the Lloyds Banking Group project, implementing a Real-time Cash Management and payments platform. bancon was in charge of implementing Virtual Accounts and I thought they had created a really interesting and innovative product that is taking digital banking to a new level. The ‘can-do’ attitude of the team excited me. Their future thinking approach and questioning of how things can be done better – I wanted to be part of that. Since joining bancon, Virtual Accounts is still a real passion of mine and were lucky to have people like Brad Jarrett, who helped build the solution when he was at Lloyds Bank, working for bancon. 

What have you been working on since then? 

I’m currently working on a world first. It’s a digital transformation project for ATB Financial, where we’re working together with SAP Canada, moving from SAP Banking Services 8 to the newest version of SAP S4 Transactional Banking, achieving a new SAP ecosystem completely integrated and orchestrated across S4 Financial modules and TRBK. We’re running it with SAP Fiori which provides an easier, more intuitive way to run SAP applications in an organisation. It essentially provides a more intelligent, consistent and integrated user experience to help redefine the way people work, which is especially needed when undertaking such a large digital transformation of the IT landscape. 

It sounds really exciting! 

It is! It’s the first time in the world this will be done, so there is lots of learning and exploring of the technology. We’re in constant contact with SAP, establishing what’s working, what needs improving, what could be adapted, so no two days are the same. It is a challenge. On the one hand you are testing a new product and making sure it works in the client environment, but on the other, you are working with the client bringing them on a journey, encouraging them to use it and showing them how to get the most out of it. 

What are the main benefits of SAP Transactional Banking?  

Well firstly, SAP will be discontinuing support for SAP Banking in five years, so eventually everyone will have to move to this new technology. For ATB Financial, they were using SAP Banking 6, then upgraded to SAP Banking 8, but knowing the shelf life of the support and the upsides of the new technology, they upgraded straight to Transactional Banking, skipping SAP Banking 9. It was a big, brave jump, but it’s paying off.  

They are taking this as an opportunity to do a total clean-up of all the custom coding they have been building on top of a product that wasn’t fully supporting what they wanted it to. This new, much more powerful solution allows them to work faster and the slick user experience makes processes much more efficient.  

Ultimately, it means they can service their customers better and can look at expanding their product offering to improve the all-round customer experience and loyalty.  

What do you love the most about this project? 

I am part of something that has never been done before. That is exactly why I joined bancon and wanted to work with SAP. I get to use my experience in a meaningful way that is paving the path for future banks who need to make this transformation. So many have talked about wanting to do it, but no one, apart from ATB Financial, has taken the leap. Working with a client who isn’t afraid to be a pioneer is really rewarding and I have huge respect for them for being the first. 

How soon will it be until more banks follow this path? 

It can’t be avoided, so in the spring/summer when this project is completed and stories come out about its success, that should alleviate any concerns other banks may have had about moving to SAP Transactional Banking.  

What would you say to those Banks who are yet to implement SAP Transactional Banking? 

bancon, SAP and SAP Fioneer, we are all very experienced people who know what we are doing and how to do it. It is a piece of technology that is definitely going to provide advantages that outweigh any of the perceived risks. It is a powerful product with a lot of capabilities and making that step with S4 HANA means banks will be able to process data much faster, use intelligent automation to speed up processes, simplify the system landscape and make use of APIs and other interfaces which support open-core banking. The SAP Fiori interface also provides a much better customer experience.  

Once implemented, banks have people like us, on hand, to provide that ongoing support. It is what we know and have done for so many years. 

You mentioned SAP Fioneer, what do you think about the partnership with bancon that was announced at the end of 2021? 

It is a fantastic opportunity to start exploring new businesses and develop innovative new products. It will allow us to renew our way of working with SAP becoming more agile and collaborative, really getting to the heart of what the customer wants and needs. Having our two organisations, who are both driven by innovation is something that will benefit all our clients. 

Finally, what would you say to someone who is thinking about joining bancon? 

Well, I would really encourage it, as I have done already with my friends. It is a great company that is expanding all over the globe. We are now in India, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Slovakia, Germany and the UK, but despite this growth there is still a sense of familiarity. I was at our head office in Walldorf at the end of last year, and it is like you’re part of a family. The people at bancon really care about one another and you can feel that whether you are at the HQ or thousands of miles away. 

The work life balance and flexibility are not just empty promises they tell people before they join. I was in Argentina during December and January to see my family and there was no question about whether I could go or not. My manager encouraged me to go and even helped me to get there. I am usually based in London, so we worked out a way that I could do my job while on a different time zone, but ultimately, there is just this implicit trust and respect for you as a professional who knows how to do their job. You can do your job from anywhere. It does not matter as long as you do your job and work as a team. 

That flexibility is something that came up in our interview with Claudia Hoffmann. 

Yes, going back to that care I mentioned earlier, Claudia who is our Head of Recruitment really does go out of her way to make you feel welcome. Especially if you are relocating to Germany. There have been cases of her picking people up from the airport, going to schools to speak to prospective headteachers for our colleagues’ children. In the UK, my manager went and did the food shopping for a colleague who had to quarantine when he relocated with his family to England, during the pandemic. That level of team spirit and camaraderie, right from the very start, carries through in everything we do and since lockdown restrictions have eased, we’ve organised lunches to make sure the family feels as welcome as our new colleague. 

bancon has created an environment where you are not just colleagues doing a job, you are a community of people who genuinely care about each other, which, in an industry full of independent freelancers and consultants, it is nice to feel like you are part of something. Especially for those, like myself, who are starting a new life, in a new country. You can tell some decisions bancon make have nothing to do with business, it is just about making their people comfortable. It is a wonderful value and culture to be a part of.  

If you’re looking for a new career opportunity, take a look at our careers page or get in touch with Claudia Hoffmann