“Banks are thinking more like tech companies”: Alice Altemaire, Mobilize Financial Services

Headshot of Alice Altemaire, CEO of Mobilize Financial Services

“Banks are thinking more like tech companies”: Alice Altemaire, Mobilize Financial Services

In the face of ongoing challenges, how a combination of skills and technology is driving transformation in the world of car finance.

3 minute read

“Banks are thinking like tech companies,” says Alice Altemaire, CEO of Mobilize Financial Services for the UK market, describing how her organisation has invested in technology to transform its services and operations.

Mobilize Financial Services sits at the nexus of two major industries - automotive and financial services - providing financing solutions for customers buying vehicles from car brands Renault, Dacia, Nissan and Alpine. As such, it is experiencing challenges present in both industries. A cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation have seen consumers pulling back from big purchases such as new cars and managing their budgets more closely.

That has led to Mobilize diversifying. In August 2023, the company acquired a 36.6% stake in Select Car Leasing and launched a new vehicle leasing brand – Select Lease by Mobilize, entering the UK leasing market.

But the organisation has also been heavily focused on technology investments.

The right skills, systems and technologies

“Diversification is very important, enabling us to balance our portfolio and find different ways of growing in the UK market and growing our balance sheet. But transformation of the company through the development of our core banking and technology platforms, and the digitalisation of processes is a priority”, she says.

“I am focused on getting the right skills, leading systems, and new technologies in place to support that.”

Much of that effort is focused on improving customer experience, including helping Mobilize identify and assist vulnerable customers in line with the Financial Conduct Authority’s Consumer Duty regulation. But there has also been an emphasis on establishing the foundations for ongoing transformation, ensuring infrastructure is in place that provides continued improvement and innovation.

“Our core banking system was implemented in 2013 and we’ve not changed that, but we've restructured our infrastructure to be fully API and microservice-centric, so it's very easy to plug and play new services.”

Altemaire says this approach - making a virtue of the underlying core banking system rather than seeing it as a limiting factor - has helped resist the temptation to take a big ‘rip and replace’ approach to transformation, and focus on creating the agility to deliver strategic change, where and when it is needed.

“I look at my system today, it's probably 60% different from the system I had in 2013. So instead of thinking ‘I'm going to change everything’ I'm now just changing it bit by bit, every year and creating a suite that is future-proof and exceeds customers’ expectations. The infrastructure we have in place is giving us that ability.”

Securing in-demand tech skills

Such a focus on tech-powered transformation raises an inevitable question about how Altemaire is ensuring the organisation has the sought-after tech skills it needs.

“We have a wide variety of skillsets,” she says, of an approach that goes well beyond recruitment and includes teams in Ukraine and India.

“We do a lot of upskilling, and we have many people in the tech team now that have come from other roles. That's proven to be working very well, providing many exciting opportunities.”

“We also have a big focus for diversity in tech, visiting schools to encourage women to apply for technology careers. In addition, we’ve built relationships with universities to get the right level of graduates for the future,” she says. “Furthermore, I firmly believe in the importance of creating a strong and positive culture within the organisation to attract and retain the best talent.”

Mobilize has been recognised as a UK Best Workplace for Women™ in 2023 and UK Best Workplace™ (Large Organisation) for five years in a row by Great Place to Work UK®, certifications Altemaire is clearly proud of.  

AI to drive efficiency and productivity

One area where Altemaire says the organisation needs to upskill is AI. But while the organisation, like all businesses, has been getting up to speed, she says steps were taken to avoid potential issues early on.

“Beginning of last year, we designed a policy framework for the use of AI within the organisation, because of the risk of data sharing,” she says. “But we recognise AI overall will have a strong impact in our organisation, on productivity and on delivering services to customers. We will follow the successful approach we took with robotic process automation - a progressive roll-out plan across the business, with the creation of a centre of excellence.”

“In a nutshell, AI and technology must be used in the service of our customers.”

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Marco Amitrano

Marco Amitrano

Alliance Senior Partner, PwC UK & Middle East, PwC United Kingdom

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