Mary Munro: Finding the right recipe for innovation integration

By Mary Munro
VP of Innovation (Compliance, Ombudsman, Legal and Anti-Money Laundering) 
TD Bank Group

Believe it or not, figuring out the right way to integrate new technological advances and innovations into areas of the bank such as compliance and legal is a bit like baking the perfect loaf of bread.

As a sourdough baking enthusiast, I like to think I know a thing or two about really great bread. But the perfect recipe for a good crumb and impressive oven spring doesn't usually come together all at once. It takes trial, error, and patience. Once you've figured out the recipe and method, it needs to be carefully documented to ensure it can be repeated until it becomes the standard.

There's no recipe for how new digital technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics processing automation, and cybersecurity considerations should be baked into an organization, including corporate functions teams like compliance, legal, and anti-money laundering (AML).

Successfully navigating the digital landscape as fast as it's developing can be challenging for any large organization and doing so within the highly regulated financial services industry presents its own set of unique challenges and opportunities. Within our compliance, legal, and AML teams, we're focused on building our capabilities, while at the same time putting the right guardrails in place around how we use and leverage these emerging technologies.

While the focus is often on how technology can create value for our customers in new and evolving ways, there's equal opportunity within corporate functions to improve our internal processes and how we meet our compliance and regulatory requirements. As technology is evolving and we seek to keep pace with our customers' changing needs, it's equally important for us to be innovating within the centre of the bank – thoughtfully, and at the right pace.

"Innovation" is a word that can be interpreted in many ways. I see it as doing something new, improving a process, or finding a new way to produce something different and better. And the only way to do that effectively is to cultivate a 'culture of innovation'.

So how do you apply that to departments that prioritize prudence? We are focused on evolving the way we think – establishing ongoing educational programs for our colleagues to stay ahead of the curve and encourage more creative, out-of-the-box thinking so we can identify issues and propose solutions before they even arise. This is the approach and type of thinking that leads to "anything is possible within the right guardrails."

It's not about re-writing the recipe, it's about fine-tuning it and focusing on the right method to refine the flavours and deliver something better.   

Operating within this culture of innovation means we understand emerging technologies, their impacts, and applicable regulations. We are innovating with a purpose, both to improve our processes within the bank's corporate functions, and to help other areas of the bank as they innovate to better serve and protect our customers.

There have been numerous studies and articles on the characteristics of successful innovators: often they are those among us that can identify gaps in the market, who are persistent and prudent, and who can work with teams and build relationships to capitalize off mutual knowledge. These are the characteristics, skills, and capabilities we're focused on developing and hiring for in our corporate functions.

At TD, there's so much innovation already happening within our teams; writing, creating, and testing algorithms and robotic process automation – capabilities that you wouldn’t traditionally expect to find in these departments.

We know new technologies are going to change the way we operate, and our obligation is to integrate them responsibly to harness their power effectively. Our corporate functions are enhancing and helping to accelerate innovation at TD in an appropriate and purposeful way.

Innovation is both a science and an art. We need important ingredients like key performance indicators and data to start the baking process, but it's about understanding the insights from the data and applying it the right way – much like baking artisanal bread.

I believe that with the right recipe for innovation, anything is possible.

Mary Munro

VP of Innovation, Compliance, Ombudsman, Legal and Anti-Money Laundering

TD Bank Group