Azure for Executives

Protecting Financial Services During the COVID-19 Crisis with Bill Borden, Nick Leimer, and Karen Bailey

Episode Summary

Topics include how Microsoft is empowering customers with high performance computing and large data volumes to help update legacy risk models to factor in today’s new risks. Further, we hear about the power of Microsoft’s three clouds that underlies the ecosystem of Microsoft and partner solutions.

Episode Notes

In this episode we hear how Microsoft and its partners are focused on helping financial services organizations meet the demands of today. Specifically, the guests discuss how Microsoft is helping with the COVID-19 situation, including things like fraud detection and enabling employees.

Additional topics include how Microsoft is empowering customers with high performance computing and large data volumes to help update legacy risk models to factor in today’s new risks. Further, we hear about the power of Microsoft’s three clouds that underlies the ecosystem of Microsoft and partner solutions.

Show Links



Bill Borden

Corporate Vice President for Worldwide Financial Services at Microsoft

Bill leads development and execution of Microsoft’s global financial services strategy, including the prioritization of banking, capital markets and insurance industry solutions and their alignment to Microsoft’s worldwide digital platform and partner ecosystem.

Bill on LinkedIn

Bill Borden's Blog

Nick Leimer

Principal Industry Lead for Azure for Insurance in the Microsoft Industry Experiences Team

Nick recruits partners, ISVs, start-ups, and other influential organizations in the insurance industry to accelerate adoption of the Microsoft Cloud+ AI platforms. One of his core missions is to amplify how our Microsoft cloud solutions meet the business enabling needs across the globe through speaking at conferences, authoring blogs, use cases, whitepapers, and social media posts.

Nick on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Karen Bailey

Financial Services Lead for Banking, Capital Markets and Insurance on the Microsoft Industry Experiences team.

Karen is a passionate Business Technology leader with over 25 years of diverse experiences working to develop strategies for Digital Transformation focused on opti-channel, customer-centric and hyper-personalized experiences aligning Technology Solutions to Go-to Market Strategies, Operational Needs, Growth and Profitably strategies and sector imperatives.

Karen on LinkedIn

Episode Transcription

Welcome to the Azure for Industry Podcast. We're your hosts, David Starr and Paul Maher.


In this podcast, you hear from thought leaders across various industries, discussing technology trends and innovation. Sharing how Azure is helping transform business.


You'll also hear directly from Microsoft thought leaders on how our products and services are meeting industry's continually evolving needs.


Today on the Azure for Industry Podcast, we're talking with several thought leaders about the state and future of financial services, and how Microsoft's ecosystem is providing a solid foundation for FSI companies.


First of all, I want to welcome our special guest Bill Borden, who is corporate vice president for worldwide financial services at Microsoft. He leads developing and execution of Microsoft's global financial services strategy, including the prioritization of banking, capital markets and insurance industry solutions, and their alignment to Microsoft's worldwide digital platform and partner ecosystem.


Also Karen Bailey, who is the financial services lead for banking, capital markets and insurance on the Microsoft Industry Experiences Team.


Finally, Nick Leimer is the principal industry lead for Azure, from Microsoft in the Microsoft Industry Experiences Team.


Bill, before we discuss COVID-19 and its impact on the industry; as I know that's top of mind for just about everyone out there; what has been at the forefront of Microsoft strategy in financial services outside of COVID?


We've been very focused through what we call our industry priority scenarios. Those priority scenarios are based on business outcomes that we think are front and center around how our customers are thinking about their businesses today.


Based on delivering against those scenarios, we're aligning our products and services and our sales force to have not just IT conversations, but real business outcome conversations with our customers.


That's great, Bill. I guess let's jump in. The topic that that's point of mind for most is around COVID-19. What would be interesting, and just listening in here, of course, the best-laid plans thinking about if, when you started the year and you mentioned, of course, the industry priority scenarios, thinking about the opportunity.


You talked to us a little bit about how you thought about things and how we were hearing from obviously the industry; their need and what the opportunity was.


Now with obviously COVID-19, how much of that has changed? Is it changed dramatically? Is the opportunities for innovation that perhaps will happen now, maybe at a quicker pace that wouldn't have happened before? Or the things that just have dropped off the radar that just need to be reprioritized. We'd love to know your thoughts.


Sure. COVID hits and this industry in particular has felt distress in a dramatic way. Very different than the 2008 financial crisis, where the crisis was driven by the industry itself. This is obviously driven by a pandemic.


As other industries have been hit really hard; as you can imagine, travel, hotel, et cetera; this industry has been hit by the stress of making sure that it's operating, that it's functioning, that it can serve the financial needs of individuals, customers, institutions, and governments, so that transactions can occur and money can flow.


They've been able to do that. And they've done that by focusing on, one, keeping their employees safe and productive. As we all did as companies and institutions, it was all about how do we keep our employees confident and safe and productive working at home? This industry certainly focused on that.


While they were doing that, they focused on business continuity to make sure that their adjustments to processes or systems or products and service capabilities could operate in line to make sure that the critical nature of financial services' needs could be offered to customers that need it most.


There are a lot of obviously individuals, small businesses and large businesses that have been brutally impacted by this. The flow of capital and the flow of liquidity to help these individuals and businesses to actually be able to survive has been critically served by this industry.


Employee safety and productivity, getting 90-plus percent of individuals at home working remotely, this industry has responded to in terms of doing that. Adjusting processes and controls has really been exemplified by the fact that in banking, the banks have worked. You have been able to get lending, you have been able to go get your money out of the bank. Organizations in the capital markets have been open for business. So access to capital has occurred and markets have been functioning.


Insurance companies have been writing policies and supporting the policies of their [inaudible 00:05:10] in terms of insuring risks. The industry has itself has happened and occurred, but starting with keeping the employees productive and keeping operations and continuity of business flowing has been a key part of it.


Now they're starting to adjust, right? Now that things have been battened down and a lot of the heavy blows have been absorbed.


Now, the institutions are starting to think about how to prioritize what to expect to think about the next corner, right? What's around the corner next? Then starting to think potentially around what is the new normal that everybody talks about? What does that really start to look like?


How is Microsoft going to be involved in that new normal, helping FSI organizations weather that COVID-19 storm?


Yeah. I mentioned our industry priority scenarios. At a high level, those are about helping our customers grow their businesses responsibly and serve their customers with the best products and services that they can. And how do we help them do that and protect their customer base? That's core at the mission of how we think about serving this industry.


Then the priority scenarios that I mentioned earlier have been about creating differentiated customer experiences to serve customers differently, based on their expectations in the digital space and the digital world.


How do we help these institutions think about modernizing their core systems, payment systems and core operating systems? Whether it's banking or underwriting and insurance, or trading platforms and capital markets. How do we help them think about managing risk and thinking about their risk models?


If you think about the data inputs that go into their risk models, that's all been blown out of the water. We've never seen a global pandemic before. All the risk models are being adjusted. So how do we help them think about risk?


Combating financial crime is huge right now. The fraudsters, as you can imagine, who have access to technologies as well, are continuing to find ways to hit these institutions from a cyber crime perspective. The investment there, and how we help them think through that, is critical.


Then, how do we help them make their employees feel empowered? How do we help their employees collaborate with information at their fingertips and an ability to operate and serve customers through multiple channels the way they want to be served? How do we empower their employee base?


Those are all the things that we're focused on. And now, with COVID, the intensity of how projects are prioritized in those areas is really what's come to the forefront.


If you think about navigating the now two key areas that we've been very focused on is, as I mentioned before, empowering employees. That relates to employees working at home, being able to work effectively, remotely through a secure environment, that they can get access to their systems and their data. Clearly, Microsoft in 365 and Teams has played a critical role in doing that.


You've read about we're up to 75 million Teams users globally, which is growing daily. The financial services industry has been a critical component of adding to that number.


There's one institution whose name I can't mention in the UK, that's looking at rolling out 100,000 Teams seats. So the idea of empowering employees through the use of Teams in our modern workplace, in our virtual desktop, has been huge.


Then the element of managing risk, as I mentioned before, which is obviously top of mind. We're continuing to help customers in their risk environments. There's two things that customers have been focused on.


One, the compute intensity of risk model that's needed. The idea of high-performance compute tools that we have in Azure. Providing institutions with the ability to manage the scale of compute that's needed to move forward, [inaudible 00:08:45] and to work on improving risk models has been key.


The other area of risk has been just the sheer size of data and managing the size of data. Two names that come to mind. UVS, we've helped UVS improve their risk scalability. We've cut their compute times in half in terms of models that they run.


And Munich Re, which manages terabytes and terabytes of natural disaster data. We've been helping them in terms of managing that scope and scale of that data again, in Azure and high performance compute, to allow them to think about doing their modeling differently.


Those are two areas and the thinking about the here and now that we've been very focused on.


Now let's take a moment out to listen to this very important message.


Did you know the Microsoft commercial marketplace allows you to find and purchase leading Microsoft-certified solutions from Microsoft partners?


The Microsoft commercial marketplace includes Microsoft AppSource and Azure marketplace. Each storefront serves unique customer requirements and different target audiences. So publishers can ensure solutions are available to the right customers.


For applications that integrate with Microsoft 365 products, visit Get solutions tailored to your industry that work with the products you already use.


For B2B Azure base solutions, visit Here you can discover, try, and deploy the cloud software solutions you want.


We've heard from Bill on Microsoft's responses. But what about our partners? Karen, do you have some stories you might be able to share about our partner ecosystem and banking and capital markets? Supporting current trends, emerging technologies, things like that?


Yeah, absolutely. I think particularly during this time of crisis, one of the things that's been most amazing are really the solutions that our partners have been coming up with that solve pain points inside of our financial institutions. They really range in a wide set of areas.


Everything from the green initiatives; we have a partner that has come on board that provides investment-grade ESG metrics to asset managers so they can better manage their portfolios. Essentially looking for sustainable companies and companies that actually have outperformed other companies during this time.


We've got companies that do predictive loan information, understanding when loan losses will actually occur, both in the commercial marketplace and in the consumer marketplace as well. And really ramping up those solutions in order to support that risk management and risk modeling.


We have loan origination software from our partners that actually is running through trillions of dollars in loans to commercial organizations as part of the current stimulus package.


So really, a lot of different kinds of partner solutions that solve those financial services challenges.


Nick, what kind of trends are you seeing from insurance partners and the solutions they're bringing?


So tying together some of the things that Karen talked about as well as Bill, what I think is really interesting with some of our partners, they're delivering solutions that are currently live our marketplace to really help in a couple of different key areas.


Both in automated underwriting and claims processing through video capture, and really addressing some of the concerns with COVID-19, where you can't send an underwriter out to go view property or interview a customer. It's really how you do this remotely.


Then how do you capture information about a claim if you can't, again, send people out directly to do that? So we have tools that our partners have developed for video capture for both underwriting and claims. Then tying it together with some of the things that Bill had talked about on the fraud side.


We have a couple of new partners that just went live on our marketplace that deliver fraud solutions that can really help address some of this increased demand for fraud detection, both in the underwriting and claims processing for insurance.


Awesome, thanks, Nick.


Bill, as we think about Microsoft and our three clouds, thinking about Azure dynamics, Office 365, and Microsoft 365. Can you share a little bit about your perspective about the opportunity for innovation, the cloud and platform and services bring to our customers and partners?


Yeah, I'm excited about the ability for us to make things even simpler for our customers. Lots of discussion when we think strategically around where we want to continue to drive our ability to serve this industry with agility. That's led to conversations around our three clouds, and how historically this industry has been a huge user of our Office products and our Office Suite. As that has moved to cloud, they're certainly adopting and moving that way.


And now with Dynamics and the ability to have Power BI to actually have low code, no code work going on to actually take advantage of data. And to talk about data at the center of how we drive the ability to create products and services, and create new offerings for our customers.


Bringing that to the fold, along with Azure, as a platform with those capabilities to actually move workloads, to take advantage of infinite compute in the cloud and the security services and the infrastructure services around that.


That capability set, when we think about it in the individual three clouds, is obviously powerful. But when we can bring that together; when we can talk about solutions that interface and our capabilities across that to actually solve problems now. Then when you factor in the partners that Karen and Nick were talking about, who are building on top of that platform.


As we make that platform more seamless and bring the capabilities for our customers to create solutions within that platform, combined with partners, there's really no capability set that can go front, middle and back Office against these institutions that can help them solve their problems. There's really nobody that can compete with us.


The excitement around how we bring these together in a much richer way; the excitement around how these capabilities in the three clouds actually create building blocks to allow for the movement of data, the creation of workflows, the ability to enable multiple channel communications with your customers.


The ability to have predictive analytics to actually provide information real time, so that people combined with technology can serve customers differently.


The ability to augment that with powerful, powerful AI tools and powerful, powerful application tools that our ecosystem of partners provides on top of that is really mind boggling.


And the ability for us to bring that to customers and not only implement it, but also serve them in terms of our service capabilities; and our field teams that can actually continue to have conversations and serve our customers' needs on a global basis, again, is unmatched.


So our three cloud capabilities, along with our scale and reach; along with our focus on specific solutions to meet this industry's challenges today, and our ability to offer up ideas and help our customers envision what they can do tomorrow, to me is really unmatched. Which is why, again, I'm super excited to be here.


Yeah, Bill. I'm just picking up on some of the points you've made there for our listeners. It was really good to hear about the three cloud strategy, enabling innovation. I heard the better together while we're partnering with our customers and our partners.


And some of the key benefits; it's thinking about the operational agility, quicker time to market. Of course, when we think about the three clouds, we think about things like it could have reduced IT costs; to not switch from CapEx to operating costs, and moving to that pay as you go model.


And at the core, I think which is super, super important. As you mentioned earlier on about you throw out all [inaudible 00:16:45] concerns around that is having with the three cloud security and reliability of the core, I think is key. Some great points landed there.


Anyway, back to you, David.


Well, as we get down to the end of our discussion, I'm wondering what thoughts, or maybe even some resources, Bill, you'd like to leave listeners with so that they can learn a little more. Anything that's of interest to you, of course, we'll link up in the Show Notes. But do you have any thoughts you'd like to leave us with?


Yeah. We are working hard to create an update. Tons and tons of information regarding where we're at today with our solution set; with specificity around what we're doing around COVID. And thought leadership items around where we think these industries are positioning themselves, and how we're looking to actually support them down the road.


Our listeners can certainly go to the FSI industry blog. We also have Microsoft banking and capital markets, as well as Microsoft insurance links as well, to get more information. There are additional links with learning resources associated with this industry.


There's a Microsoft financial services blog, and there are other Microsoft sites at that you can certainly drill down into, to go through the industries. You'll find the financial services industry layouts there as well.


Then within our product areas, Azure has a financial services link, and 365 also has a financial services link. Lots of information available that I know you'll make your listeners aware of.


Absolutely. We'll also include your social links to include your blog.


Yeah. Thank you for that. Appreciate that.


You bet. Now I'd just like to thank our guests for joining us, Paul and me on today's show. Bill, Karen and Nick, it was a pleasure having you on the program.


We appreciate your time to help our listeners better understand how Microsoft and its partner ecosystem is helping FSI work smarter today and plan new ways of serving customers in the future. It's been really great having all of you. Thank you.


Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Azure for Industry Podcast. The show that explores how industry experts are transforming our world with Azure.


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