Episode Fifty: The Role Of Data In Open Banking

Overcoming The Barriers To Success

You need people to show you that the barriers that sometimes prevent us from doing things are false barriers, and you can knock them down for the right reasons.

We are joined in this episode by Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Founder and Executive Chair at Snoop. Jayne-Anne talks to us about building a career and continuing to innovate in the face of uncertainty, from Norwich Union to Virgin Money and their eventual acquisition of Northern Rock after the financial crisis. Jayne-Anne also talks about how Snoop, and open banking more generally, are responding to customer apathy with traditional banking and delivering meaningful and actionable insight to customers, while offering some reflections on what diversity in business should mean today.

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The Power of Data Podcast

Episode 50: The Role Of Data In Open Banking

Guest: Jayne-Anne Gadhia, Founder and Executive Chair at Snoop
Interviewer: Sam Tidswell-Norrish, International CMO at Dun & Bradstreet

Sam 00:00
Welcome back to the power of data podcast. And today I have the incredible honor of talking to Jayne-Anne Gadhia. Jayne-Anne, it's wonderful to have you here today and I've been looking forward to this, since we caught up recently. In fact I've been looking forward to it a lot longer than that, before you even knew I was gonna ask you to join the Power of Data Podcast. You're incredibly well known in the finance industry, and actually in a number of other industries for various reasons, but perhaps, mostly because of the Virgin association and the fact that you were the founder and CEO of Virgin Money. Could we perhaps start telling our listeners a little bit about your remarkable career history? And all the other little bits in there as well? There's been a number of different nuances.

Jayne-Anne 00:39
Oh, gosh, well, you have to interrupt me, then if you get to a bit that you want me to expand on Sam, but thanks very much for having me. I mean, my life has been a sort of accidental business adventure, I think is how I would describe it. In that I never really knew what I wanted to do, which I often think is a good thing. You know, if you set your mind on a particular career, you can get a bit stuck with it. You know, I have a fabulous friend who's an actuary, but she's always defined herself as an actuary and I know she could do much more than that. And so I try and say to my daughter, and other friends and colleagues, don't get too fixated on what you want to do, because I never know, I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up, really. And that's been a good thing. I went to university in London, studied history, and met the man who is still my husband, 40 odd years later. And when we left University, he's Indian and should have had an arranged marriage. And so we just really needed to get away from his home life really, and find a job, any job, anywhere. And we went to Norwich, and we both took up articles, as they called it at the time as trainee chartered accountants, and I was, so what was then called Ernst & Whinney and it's now EY, of course. And as a historian, I've never had very much to do with math, didn't know anything about business and actually didn't really know what chartered accountancy was. And I hated it. I hated all of it for lots of reasons. I found it unnecessarily competitive in the sense that as you took your exams in the whole city, your results were published for all to see, and I never did terribly well. The fact that, you know, we're talking now what 1982-ish, and mixed marriages were still very unusual then and I definitely had some racist issues that I had to deal with. And I was very young and dealing with them. And as I say, you know, going into businesses was a brand new thing. And one of the businesses that I went into as an auditor was a company called Norwich Union, it was the biggest employer in Norwich and it became what is today Aviva. The thing that I loved there was that, you know, it was a really big organization with really interesting people in it. And I spent an awful lot of time chatting to the people and it meant that I found how things connected and I was interested in how decisions were made. And I used to be a bit unhappy that I would go back to the EY offices, the Ernst & Whinney offices, and people would sort of criticize the decisions that have been made. And I would think you know what, actually, rather than being in this office, criticizing the decisions, I'd rather be, if you like, in the room where it happens, you know, making some of them. And it's funny, Sam, we were talking about the current situation, Boris Johnson, earlier, and you know, love him or hate him, he's got to make the decisions. And I think it's ever so easy to criticize people all over the place. But if you're right in the heart of making the decision it’s a different place and a difficult place to be and often I realized I preferred to be making the decisions than criticizing others. So I jumped ship and actually joined Norwich Union as an accountant, when I qualified. And I joined the fund management arm there, it was, you know, a really interesting adventure. And not long after I joined, there was a big market crash, must have been 1987, I can’t remember if it was called Black Monday or Black Friday now, but anyway, one of those days, and of course, it slowed the business down hugely. And so my team and I are always bored at work, we’d do everything that we had to do in the finance department, and by lunchtime we were doing a crossword. And I remember saying to my very brilliant boss, Barry Wingrove, I'm really bored doing this job. You know, I really want this business to grow and thrive what on earth and the sales and marketing team doing that, you know, the business isn't growing faster. This is around Christmas time. And Barry called me into his office and said, look, I know you're disappointed with how sales and marketing are doing so I want you to go home at Christmas and not come back here. And I thought, oh my god, I'm being sacked the first time in my life. And he said, no, no, I'm not sacking you but I'm sending you to sales and marketing because you keep complaining about it and so go and sort it out. And, you know, I had a worried Christmas because I didn't know anything about sales and marketing. And I showed up in this new department in a different part of the city after Christmas. And I met a wonderful man there, David Everett. And he was the retiring Sales Director at Norwich Union and I said to him, David, can you give me a tip on how to be successful? And he said, well, I can and he said there's no real magic to it. You need to get out there, meet all of the people that you want to buy your product and make them want to do it for you. And it was the most brilliant piece of advice. And I remember I was, you know, in the olden days you used to be out on the road a lot in your car, going to see financial advisors and talking about why, in this case, the Norwich Union product was a good product. And I met people, I made friends and astonishingly, genuinely, astonishingly, at the end of the year, sales have gone up by 800%. And I realized that actually, you know, you can see business as being a complex web of all sorts of things but in the end, it's just another way of looking at life. And personal relationships are always really important. And, you know, making friends and having fun is important to the business world, in my view, as it is anywhere else. So it was a hugely interesting time. And then Norwich Union got itself into trouble with the regulators, and got closed down. And perhaps because of the fact that, you know, the business I'd been responsible for had flourished, I don't know. But I got a call from the chief executive one day and he said, can you come down and see me, we've got a problem. And I was a very, you know, junior, I wasn't 30. And I was certainly no more than a middle manager at that point. And he said, the regulators have closed us down, and I need you to handle the project to get us back on the road again, and this is a huge project, you know, it was talked about on the front page of the FT and in the House of Commons, etc. I said, well, why me? And he said, well, everybody else has gone missing. I said what do you mean gone missing? And it turned out that, you know, the older more senior, and I'm afraid just happened to be all male people that were responsible for the crisis and literally couldn't believe the disaster before them and, or they'd lead the business into, and they'd gone off sick or left or whatever. And I somehow the fickle finger of fate points to me to say, you know, you sort it out and I've never really worked out why I was asked to do it, probably partly because of my reputation of being a little bit of a dog with a bone on some things. And the thing that I really learned there was that in a big company like Norwich Union everybody assumes that there are, and there are, of course, rules that shouldn't be broken. But if you've got a crisis to fix, frankly, the rules get thrown out of the window, and you have to do what you have to do to sort things out. And, do you remember, Norwich Union had branches all round the country, there were 72 branches from memory. And we had to get people from the head office in Norwich out to each of these branches one morning, you know, let’s call it tomorrow morning, but it all had to stay very confidential because this big problem hadn't broken on the news yet. But because I'd been well networked, you know, ringing around a lot of people saying can you come in tomorrow with a suitcase packed, I can't tell you why. And I promise you, 72 people dutifully turned up and I stood up in front of them this next morning and asked them if they'd go to these branches. And they all assumed that they were being sent away on a holiday. So I have this terrible thing to do to break this news to them, that actually they're going to be away quite a long time, it's going to be quite difficult. Anyway, we got the thing sorted out. And we got this sales force working again and the Norwich Union reopened again to business. And the guy that had asked me to do it, to handle the project, took me out to dinner one night to thank me. And I thought he was going to sort of hand me on a plate a promotion to, let's say, the sales director of the business that had got us into trouble. And he said, oh, no, no, I'm going to bring back, it was a guy called Colin, to do that. And I said, Colin, but when we got into trouble, he was one of the ones that vanished. Why can't I do it? And I remember Philip saying to me, well Jayne-Anne, you lack two of the skills that are necessary to run a sales force. A thick skin and bullshit. And I can remember it now, ever so clearly, I was so disappointed because I knew that actually, those are the very characteristics that got us into trouble in the first place. He said, well look, I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll give you the biggest compliment. You work out what you want to do next, and I'll see if I can support you. And not long after I was on a train down to London, and I'd been reading Hello magazine, and there was an article in there about Richard Branson. And of course, luck plays a part in everyone's lives, I suspect. And I went to see a friend, and he took me out to lunch, and I said, I'm fed up with Norwich Union, you know, they think I haven't got a thick skin and bullshit. And I’m supposed to be finding my next job and that's really hard. I've been reading about Richard Branson and frankly I just wish I worked for Virgin. And this friend of mine said how funny, my best friend has just gone to work for Virgin, why don't I introduce you? And introduced me to his friend Rowan Gormley, and the two of us set up Virgin and financial services together. And it was just such an amazing journey to get to that point, you know, it’s one I’ve reflected on and told often and it still surprises me that that's where it got to. So that's a long ramble as to how I got to Virgin and I can carry on about Virgin if you'd like me to.

Sam 09:59
Well, I've got a few questions if I may? There is a ton there, was that Rowan Gormley of Naked Wines?

Jayne-Anne 10:04
Yes, exactly.

Sam 10:06
How funny.

Jayne-Anne 10:06
He is a brilliant man with a creative mind. And meeting Rowan definitely transformed my life because I had grown up in a very sort of traditional lower middle class family. And I was quite an observer of rules really. And Rowan turned up in my life, and absolutely taught me that you can think about things differently. I remember one occasion that we wanted to create a new pension product and it had never been invented yet. And I said, well, how are we going to do that, then? He said, we're going to go down to HMT, the Treasury in London, we're going to knock on the door, insist on people seeing us and we'll put this product to them. And it's so good, of course they're going to support it. And I thought, Rowan don’t be ridiculous, you can't turn up in London at Whitehall and bang on the door of the Treasury and tell them this is a product that's going to change things. He went come on, let's go and try. So I thought, well, this’ll be fun. We did bang on the door, and they did see us and we did indeed launch the product with their support. And I think you need people to show you that the barriers that sometimes prevent us from doing things are false barriers, and you can knock them down for the right reasons.

Sam 11:12
Absolutely. And there's a lot that you said earlier that I'm fascinated in. And particularly, I mean, it seems like you've done a little bit of everything, having the background of finance, sales, marketing, it really sets you up to be a great entrepreneur. And I was particularly interested in the part that you said, interested in how decisions were made. And I mean, you know, this podcast is all about the power of data and ultimately, the decisions that we can derive from that data, which is in large part what you've done with Snoop, which we're going to come to in just a moment. But before we go to Snoop, let's talk about the Virgin adventure. I mean, it went through so many different cycles of listings, of you moving to RBS, of acquisitions. What were some of the key highlights of that journey for you?

Jayne-Anne 11:54
Oh, goodness, me. I think the first obviously has to be the first time I met Richard Branson. And I mean, it is so interesting. My 18-year-old daughter has just got a year off job, who deferred going to university, and she just got a job in Notting Hill. And I dropped at her off her local Pret last week. And I could not believe it was in the same building that I got out of the tube and sat down in, of course it wasn't Pret, and had a coffee there myself, the day that I first met Richard Branson. I mean, what are the chances of that it was crazy. And I said to him, you know, it's amazing that your sort of work life is starting in exactly the same place as my Virgin life started, just unbelievable. You know, the thing about Richard Branson that was amazing was that the very first day I met him at, his house was in Holland Park. And I remember walking from that tube station up through Holland Park and walk through the front door of his fabulous house and on the doorstep inside the house, as opposed to outside, there were crates of unbranded white cans. I looked at them in surprise, and said to somebody what are they? And they said, well, they’re Virgin Cola, that haven't been branded yet. And it was the day of the launch of Virgin Cola, for those that remember it. The thing about Richard is, he is so welcoming to people. He hadn’t met me before, you know, I was asked to talk about Virgin and financial services, what we called Virgin Direct at the time, but before we focused on that, he wanted to get this Virgin Cola thing launched. And so he used to always drive a Range Rover because he'd had an accident in a Range Rover and all the family walked out safe. So he was constantly sure that they were the safest car on the road. And there must have been four or five of them. And I remember him saying, come on, hop in, come with me to the launch of Virgin Cola, and off we went. And he's always been like that. I mean, I remember very wonderfully a couple of years ago, you know, he has management meetings on Necker Island in the Caribbean. And he'll just take a few people at a time. And he’d invited me and my husband to go and be part of a group of eight, including him and his wife, Joan, and my husband, funnily enough, was going to Everest at that point or training for Everest at that point, and so he couldn't come. And so I said to Richard, can my daughter come and she would have been 15 at the time. He said yeah, yeah, bring her along. And we were there for perhaps three nights. And every meeting we had and dinner we had he insisted that my daughter Amy came as well. And at the end, he would always say to her once we'd had all sorts of business conversations about you know, financial services, space, airlines, or whatever. So Amy, what do you think about that? And he’d properly listen, and I think that part of his success and other people's success is making sure that you do listen to everyone that's in the room, regardless of who they are. Maybe especially because they're young with a different perspective. I just thought that's very clever and positive and wasn't just being nice. I think that sort of approach from Richard perhaps hasn't ever been thought about before and I think it's an important one. So meeting him, of course, was a highlight. Setting up Virgin Direct, the very first early days, a real highlight. You know, we had very little money, it was 2 million pounds from Norwich Union because they did support me as they promised in that enterprise and 2 million pounds from Richard Branson. And we set up what became Virgin Money for in total 4 million quid and sold it for over $2 billion, you know, nearly 2 billion sterling. And it was a great journey along the way. But when we first set it up, I remember looking after that money very carefully, and we got to the launch day, which would have been March 1995. And we'd hired on temporary contracts only about 40 people and that was the extent of the business as we started it. And we really put our backs into setting this thing up. And of course, overnight, the weather turned really bad and the snow was absolutely hammering down. And of course, I was in the office with a small bunch of people trying to make sure everything was ready for the next morning, we were sleeping on the floor and just making sure we're ready for the phones to ring. And we were all really worried that the roads were going to be so bad with this snow that nobody would turn up and I can remember even now, it was still pitch black and the snow was still falling. And somebody looked out the window and said look at this, and the guys only on temporary contracts had walked in the middle of the night through the snow to get into the office in Norwich to make sure that Virgin Direct launched on time. And it was just one of those brilliant moments. And it was a fantastic atmosphere to get that business launch. It was super exciting in the way that so many entrepreneurial exercises and adventures are really exciting. So that was great. That went very successfully. And as a consequence, this was a business that because it was born out of my experiences at Norwich Union really, and many of my friends at Norwich Union, it was involved with insurance and asset management and it wasn't in banking. And so because of the success of the brand in financial services, a number of the banks got in touch with Richard to say, well, why don’t you launch a bank with us? And we chose in the end to work with RBS. That was really because the other banks really just wanted the brand on their products. And RBS, Sir George Matheson, absolutely wanted the creativity that they thought that we at Virgin could bring, not just the brand. And I remember George coming up to see us, or coming down from Scotland to see us in Norwich. And he actually had the idea for what was a very innovative account called the Virgin One account, which became the predecessor really of what's called an offset mortgage. And it did save people a lot of money. And he came down and I said to him, George, why do you want to do this with us? Why don't you do it yourself as RBS? George said, well, we might have all of the technical knowledge, but we don't have the culture to be able to launch something so innovative and it's extremely clear that you do have that culture. Very interesting moment for me that I think I’d probably not realized before how important culture in business is to try and create something new and innovative. So that was also memorable. And we launched the Virgin One account with RBS that was very successful and they partnered us initially in that business. And then in 2001, I think, they bought it and by that point, Fred Goodwin was the CEO. And Fred acquired the full 100% stake in the Virgin One account. And I and all of my team went to work at RBS. And, you know, obviously, that was also an adventure in good ways and in bad. And we all know the history of RBS around that time, and that it all ended in tears. And thankfully, you know, I wasn't part of that I'd left in 2006. But you know, I learned a huge amount about banking, what to do and what not to do as a result of being at RBS. But when Fred and RBS had bought the Virgin One account, I had a lesson from Richard Branson and basically he said, dear Jayne-Anne I'm really sorry that you're going to be leaving the Virgin Group and going to RBS. If ever you decide you don't like corporate life, give me a ring and you can always come back. I never really thought too much more about it. I actually quite enjoyed myself in Scotland. And you know, my team had come with me. But by 2006, it was pretty clear that funnily enough, some of the culture at RBS wasn't what we were comfortable with. And two of my colleagues, both of whom are at Snoop with me now, come to think of it, Dave and Paul, came into my RBS office one day and said, look, time for us to move on from RBS. Richard always said, we could go back if we didn't like it, pick up the phone and give him a ring. And this was a Thursday and by the Tuesday, we'd agreed to go back to Virgin and for me to become the CEO of the renamed Virgin Direct. It was Virgin Money then. And by May 2007 I and 82 of my friends and colleagues from RBS, were back at Virgin. So that was an amazing moment really. And our intention had been to reignite the Virgin One account back at its home base as it were, but then, of course, the financial crisis hit and we saw the queue starting outside Northern Rock and it just occurred to me you know, I had run a big mortgage business at RBS. Richard was obviously at that point, really interestingly, more trusted by the British public than the Chancellor or the governor of the Bank of England. And the virgin brand was very strong. And so I remember one night in my house in Edinburgh, sending out an email to a bunch of people saying, you know, Northern Rocks in crisis, why don't we try and help sort it out? Why don't we acquire it? I probably sent this email to about 50 people, and literally 49 of them came back and said, don't be ridiculous. And one of them came back and said, yeah, let's do it. And of course, the lucky thing for me was that that one person was Richard Branson. And funnily enough, everybody soon got behind it and we embarked on an extraordinary journey through the financial crisis, which was to look at whether or not we could help to save Northern Rock and take it out of this terrible position that it was in. But of course, it turned out that it wasn't just Northern Rock that had the crisis. It was the first of the many casualties of the 2008 financial crisis. So in the end, by February 2008, Northern Rock was nationalized, and in itself, at that time, it was obviously a very downbeat moment. We'd put everything our money, our hearts and souls, our future purpose into acquiring Northern Rock and turning it around. And, you know, we weren't even told that the government made a decision to nationalize. I remember my husband rushing down to a place I was in saying, Alistair Darling, he was the chancellor at the time, he's just been on the radio, they've nationalized it. And I couldn't believe it, you know, we'd never been led to believe that would be the case. So we were, as I say, very downbeat. And two brilliant things happened, well many brilliant things happened, but two brilliant things happened out of that. The first was that Richard Branson not that long afterwards rang me and said, I'm sure you're disappointed after the Northern Rock problem but I've got brilliant idea. Why doesn't the Virgin Group sponsor the London Marathon? Virgin Money, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Media and Virgin Active, you know, you could take a quarter of the cost each and sponsor it, wouldn't that be brilliant, that'd be really good fun to get behind. But of course, the problem was that as time went on, the other companies dropped out and we Virgin Money, we're left on our own, sponsoring the marathon and, of course, paying the bill. And so I had to work out how on earth I was going to get enough money during the financial crisis and without a bank to help. And in other words, because we hadn't done the Northern Rock, do, I have to begin to commercialize this so that we could support the London Marathon. And the idea came to us that we knew that Just Giving, were doing well as a site that enables people to make online donations to charities. We decided, frankly, that we could copy Just Giving but do it cheaper, and perhaps do it better, we hoped because of our banking experience. And we were supported by our board, by the Virgin Group, in doing that, through this difficult time. And we built what I hope is quite well known today a company called Virgin Money Giving, which enables people to sponsor others through that site. And it's raised, oh, you know, multiple tens of millions of pounds for charities and, and that's been a brilliant, brilliant thing that you know, I will always remember. And then the second thing that I'll always remember, of course, is that when we were looking to buy Northern Rock, we were supported by a financial backer called Wilbur Ross. And Wilbur Ross was a banker in the US, he had launched a very successful private equity fund. And he had got in touch with us to say, if you’re looking at Northern Rock, I'd be interested in seeing if I could back you financially, if my fund could back you financially. And of course, we worked closely together. And when Northern Rock was nationalized, of course, that fell away, and we said farewell. And then in 2010, I'd raised some money to buy a little bank called Church House Trust to enable us to actually get into banking. It was a really complicated, difficult deal, very hard to raise money to buy a bank through the financial crisis, it you know, absolutely went to the 11th hour, but we managed to do it. And I was sat at home not very long after that, and my mobile rang, and this American voice was on the other end, and he said, its Wilbur here, I've seen what you've done to buy that bank and I think that's been a brilliant job. So I'm going to invest 100 million dollars in your business, can you just think about it, tell me what you want to do with it. And it was one of those unbelievable moments, because it literally came out of nowhere, which must be you know, so unusual, you know, who knows, if ever that happens again. But as I always say to people now, especially to my daughter, whatever happens, remember, people are watching you. And that worked out brilliantly, because for 100 million dollars at that point, he bought half of the company from Richard Branson, and together the Virgin Group and Wilbur Ross, their financial clout, meant that we were actually able to acquire Northern Rock after the financial crisis in 2012. And that was a wonderful moment on the first of January 2012, when all of that hard work actually came to a place where Northern Rock became Virgin Money and you know, we were able to become a significant force in banking and we were able to list that business in 2014 and then sell it to the Clydesdale Bank in 2018, two years ago. And it's been an amazing journey, I miss it very much. But gosh, I had some fun, I met some great people and really enjoyed some adventures along the way,

Sam 25:11
I can only imagine. And thank you for sharing that with us that, that really was quite something. And one of the things that I picked up through what you've just told us is how much serendipity struck, now, whether it be the meeting of Richard Branson, whether it be you know, the time during the pandemic, when you're setting up your new business, and you're taking your daughter for her first day, and it's where you met Richard, or whether it be the fact that for Virgin Direct, you raised about 4 million pounds, and you raised a similar amount recently for Snoop. I'm a big believer in making your own luck. And Snoop really is a way for people to have luck working in their favor. It's not a bank. In fact, it's almost like every bank and that much more. Can you tell us a little bit about what Snoop is? What it does? And why open banking was the avenue you wanted to go down rather than traditional banking?

Jayne-Anne 26:00
Yes, sure. Thank you. When we sold the Virgin Money to the Clydesdale, we at Virgin Money, were setting up our own digital bank. And we were inspired by the likes of Monzo and Starling and Revolut to do that. And I had a great digital team there, we were working with Anthony Jenkins, who set up a business called 10X, to really deliver a new technology to banking going forwards. But when the Clydesdale bought Virgin Money, they had their own digital plans, their own digital team. And as a result, my Virgin Money digital team, if you like, were made redundant. And that was a shame because they were talented, we’d made so much progress, and I think had been innovative and creative. And so, not long after the deal completed, that team came to see me and said, look, why don't we set up our own bank? Why don't we, you know, do it ourselves, we've done all of the hard thinking, let's just do it. And one of my colleagues and friends who I mentioned before, actually, Dave Dyer, had been my CFO for years, said, I'm just not going to do another bank, let's not do another bank, you know, we've got enough banks in the country, they have all sorts of problems. There's all sorts of technology now and regulation, being open banking, that means that we can we can bring all of our banking skills to the table and our technical skills to the table. But we don't have to have all of the problems, we can do something better for customers. And, you know, he was the one that made that impassioned speech. And we all thought you know what? He's absolutely right, you know, we can do something better for customers than build another bank. And so using open banking, which initially across Europe, and particularly in the UK, there was a real focus from regulators and government on making sure that banks are not the only organizations that can own customer data and use it to their own advantage. The question, first of all, was, you know, to use an Ed Miliband expression, should we break up the banks? That didn't happen, probably rightly so. And therefore, the next step really was, well, if we don't break up the banks, how can we democratize the data of banks to give customers the power that so far has resided in the hands of the banks over their own data. And that's really what open banking is, you know, a customer can give regulated companies like Snoop permission to look at their banking transactions and analyze them for the benefit of the consumer. And that's what Snoop does, you know, we've had well over 100,000 downloads, 75% of people that download connect their bank accounts, they become customers, and we can therefore analyze their historic and current transactions and we can see where they could spend better or save more. And we give them tips we give them snoops, which is, you know, if you like to watch Netflix, you can get it more cheaply by going through Sky or whatever, than going direct. And people love those sorts of tips. And it came very much from the fact that we realized in running a bank that banking profits tend to come from the apathy of customers, the fact that customers don't really like their banking, it's boring, it's dull, it's complicated. It's expensive sometimes. And because of that apathy, you know, banks do tend to make more money. I mean, it's really interesting, very relevant, not just banks, it's insurance companies, too. And today, the day we're talking, I see that, very unusually, the regulator has made an intervention to say that insurance companies now must offer existing customers the same good pricing deal that they would offer a new customer. So, you know, if you went to a new insurer on the first of October, and I was already at that insurer, normally, as a new customer, you get a better deal than me when I renew. And everybody has always said that that doesn't make logical sense, because you should be treating loyal customers better than new ones, probably. But it's always made economic and competitive sense. Well, today, the regulators have intervened. I think that's brilliant. And Snoop is trying to do a similar thing, which is not just make sure that people have equal terms, but to make sure that we're always helping our customers get the best terms possible on anything that they do. And people can save a lot of money as a consequence, you know, we think conservatively probably Snoop can save people 1500 pounds a year, because we're the ones that shop around, we’re the ones that snoop out the best deals, we’re the ones that can see where rip-offs happen. And we can make sure at the touch of a button, that customers can make changes that save them money, and they don't have to worry about doing all that hard work themselves. And, you know, it's going extremely well. And we're getting very highly rated in the App Store. I mean, to our delight, and surprise, to be honest, at this stage in our development, we found ourselves in the FinTech 50 last week, which is, you know, we've been rated as one of the top 50 FinTechs in Europe. And that's really satisfying. And I hope it's all because what we're trying to do at Snoop is also what we were trying to do at Virgin Money. And it's this ethos of trying to make everyone better off. You know, I always believe in business, that you can only have win-win deals, you can't have win-lose deals, because in the end, they always unravel. And so we've always tried to make decisions, build products and interface with customers in a way where, you know, all stakeholders are getting something positive out of working together. And you know, we enjoy it, it feels like it has a bit of positive purpose. We like the fact that customers love it. And we like the fact that, frankly, we're a team of people that have worked together for years working together, again, building on our experiences and skills, and hopefully bringing something better to market with new technology and new regulations.

Sam 31:23
There's a lot in there that resonates. I love the win-win deals part, by the way, it reminds me a little bit, have you seen Jerry Maguire, the movie?

Jayne-Anne 31:29
Yes I have.

Sam 31:30
There's a guy called Dickie Fox, who's his mentor, Jerry Maguire’s mentor, and he says, unless you love everybody, you can't sell anybody. And a lot of the lessons today have been like that. I have to say, Jayne-Anne, I'm a big fan of Snoop, and you know, you and I spoke not too long ago. And I actually downloaded the app shortly afterwards and signed up. And the first thing it did, once I connected it to my Barclays account, was it told me that I have for the last eight years been paying a monthly, but thankfully pretty small one, monthly fee for a dongle that I barely remember having. It was one of those things you got sold when you took a new mobile phone out. I would never have known that, I could’ve gone my whole life spending that money and now I'm not. Sometimes it's the small things, but it's the small things that actually add up. And Snoop is already adding value to my life. So I'm a massive advocate for it. But let's talk for a moment about the technology that allows you to do that for me. What is it that allows Snoop to deliver this kind of efficiency generating service for its customers?

Jayne-Anne 32:27
Well it's built on AWS. And often because I'm not really a technical person, I use the wrong words. Now I say that we use AI in order to analyze the transactions. And that's through partners that we've worked with called Inawisdom who've helped us to build that sort of data analysis. And at the moment, it's not AI in the fullest sense of the word. It's really, you know, very high-end data analysis. And we're gonna keep on moving towards real deep AI. But broadly, what we're doing is we're, as you imagine, we're processing and analyzing historic transactions and current transactions and learning about where customers have historically spent and currently spend their money so that we can identify relevant snoops for them. I mean, it is amazing, I can hardly believe myself, I had to check this number when my team told me at last month, we are producing both, you know, through technology and human interaction, we're producing over a quarter of a million snoops a month. And when Paul, my marketing director said to me, we produced a quarter of a million snoops, I said, wow, that's incredible since we went live, and he said, no, not since we went live just last month. And I think it's being able to put those two things together, Sam, through the technology that makes this such a powerful tool, that we're able to look at an enormous range of opportunities for customers, and tailor them to personal circumstances in a very specific way. And that really is the sort of insight of Snoop, it's something that, to your point really about finding the thing that you would have forgotten completely, it's being able to get right under the skin and be that personal. I mean, interestingly, identifying those snoops and delivering them on a daily basis. It's almost like an editorial meeting that Paul holds every evening so that, you know, we know what the new snoops are, that are going live tonight in terms of category. Some journalistic approach that goes on there and that's really important. People love that. But what they also love, it's really interesting, we get the most engagement from our customers on a Sunday, early evening, when what we send to people is an analysis from what we can see of what their spend is going to be next week and what their cash position is next week. And people love it. Because, you know, many people say to us, you know, I used to do that myself, or I used to tell myself, I ought to do it on a Sunday evening, you know, what's my cash flow gonna be like next week, and I couldn't ever really be bothered because it's a bit dull. But actually, when you send it to me, it's not dull. I can see that I'm in control or I'm not in control, and I can make adjustments accordingly. And so we're not just, how can I put it, I hope managing very high end personalized data and moving towards AI in terms of the way in which we present snoops, but we're also doing pretty sort of grunt stuff that help people to manage their finances in a way that they could do themselves, but frankly, this is just much more efficient. So I hope that we cover a real spectrum of financial management for everybody on a personalized basis. And it feels as if it's pretty powerful.

Sam 35:27
And not to sound too cheesy, given you're on this podcast, but that really is the power of data to take it and derive actionable insights. But to do it in a way that may create huge efficiencies for the customer. And to be able to do it using open banking across so many different API integrations is just incredible. And it shows how far we've come in financial services in the last 5-10 years. Before we wrap up, there's a couple of areas that are really non-financial services related that I'd love to take the opportunity to ask. And as well as founding Snoop, you're the government's women in finance champion. That's an area that both at Dun and Bradstreet and personally, I'm a big champion and my teams are a big champion of and you're a strong advocate for diversity across all of finance. However, it's not necessarily an industry that's covered itself in glory historically, how do you think the industry is progressing? And what more can we do?

Jayne-Anne 36:20
Well, I think financial services is doing better than tech, actually, so I need to make a start in the world of tech. So I'm re-framing some of my thinking about diversity at the moment, I think in the same way as the world is. And you know, we were always concerned that focusing just on women in finance meant that we were narrowing down our approach to, you know, the full richness of diversity that we all know exists and needs to exist in our lives and workplaces. But we made a conscious decision that we should start there. And I think that has made a positive difference. You know, we've got nearly 400 companies in financial services now signed up to the women in finance charter, setting their own targets to achieve gender diversity, and many of them are reporting very positively against that, positively both in terms of numbers and outcomes, I should say. And so you know, it feels like a good step forward. But for me, the new thought I've had which I need to work out what to do with, you know how to, how to get it out there really, is that what I've realized, latterly, is that many business people agree that diversity is important. Many people have sort of go on to say jump on the bandwagon. It's a terrible way of putting it but, but in some senses, it's right. But nobody can argue the social and economic imperative of welcoming diversity into the workplace. And I've worked with a number of people now who say, well, you know, you keep on talking about diversity, as if it's something that I don't want, I really want it. You know, look, I'm bringing in women, I'm bringing in people from all sorts of different ethnicities and sexualities. So you know, here I am a fully diverse business leader. And the thing that I've noticed is that often when that’s said, by, you know, the cadre of white men that have always run the city previously, what many of them still mean is, of course, I'm not, you know, racist, or misogynistic or homophobic. You know, of course, people can join my team. But of course, I expect them to behave like I do. And it's that bit that I'm really focused on, you know, how can we get not just diversity of person, but how can we build diverse views to become the norm? And you know, the thing that I've always found in my career is people have always said, oh god, she's difficult. And again, I was reflecting on it during lockdown actually, I watched that documentary about Hillary Clinton. And it just struck me that people said of her a lot, she’s so difficult. And of course, then Theresa May made that comment about somebody calling her bloody difficult woman, and I thought gosh that’s interesting. I don't think that all women that make it to those sort of roles are unnecessarily difficult. I don't think that things that I do or say necessarily would be claimed difficult behavior from a man in my position. I just think that some of these things are just not the way in which our culture expects women or people or, you know, challenge to happen around a board table. And I think when we can start to break that down and realize that sometimes the challenging conversations that come from different backgrounds aren’t about being difficult, they're about getting to a better place, then I think we'll have real diversity, and I'm excited about that. But I think there's a real long way to go to get there. But I do think it's very exciting.

Sam 39:42
So Jayne-Anne, final question for the day. And I was gonna ask you, what's the one piece of advice you'd give your younger self as you are embarking on your career, but I suspect is probably to be an accidental business adventurer. So I'm going to change the question, unless I'm wrong.

Jayne-Anne 39:57
Well. So you're wrong in some ways because you see, I don't know that I would give the advice to my younger self to be an accidental business adventure, because that is sort of what I did, if you see what I mean. So I've thought about it often and I've said it to my daughter as well. I do think sometimes that, you know, we all drive ourselves in business really hard, and drive other people really hard to. And I think if I look back, I would just be a bit kinder to myself and to everybody else, actually, in terms of what and how we're achieving things. Because, you know, I've had a twenty-four seven life and I've loved it, and it's been really fast paced and full on and actually, would I really change it? I don't know. But I’d be saying to my daughter, now, certainly, you know, when I take the time off to go to that gig or to travel to Thailand or, you know what I mean? And I used to sacrifice those things for the job. And I'm not sure I think these days, particularly perhaps with Zoom, and with the new ways of working, I think we can take advantage of that. And think about using technology so that we can live life in a more balanced way and just be kinder to ourselves.

Sam 41:03
That's wonderful advice. And I'm sure it's advice that over the last six, seven months really resonates with people. I know, the pace of life has just been exponential, you know sat at home, which feels somewhat ironic, but it really has speeded up and perspective has been lost as well. So perfect time, apt advice. Jayne-Anne, thank you so much. And we haven't spoken as much as I wanted about Snoop and there's a sneaky reason for that, I'd love to get you back on this podcast. And I think I'd like to talk in the future about where you see Snoop going. Because I see so many different applications for it. I really do. And one of them that you and I touched on briefly historically is around the business financial management side, providing that always on advice for small businesses or even larger businesses. So I think the future is very, very exciting for Snoop.

Jayne-Anne 41:50
Sam, Thank you so much. I look forward to that myself. Thank you.

Sam 41:53
Thank you, Jayne-Anne.