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Driving Innovation in the Financial Industry


Episode Summary

In this episode of Behind the Growth, join Mudassar Malik as he sits down with Managing Director of ASG and Simplii Financial, Jimmy Dinh. Jimmy describes his university days as a computer engineer during the transformative dot-com boom, shedding light on the challenges and opportunities he encountered at the start of his career. He was inspired not only by the technology itself, but also by the business of technology and the entrepreneurial spirit he encountered while working in Silicon Valley.

The conversation shifts to innovation, emphasizing the need for execution rather than treating it as theatre. Jimmy emphasizes that it’s crucial to recognize that success doesn’t happen overnight; it often follows numerous failed attempts and iterations. And that the essence of innovation, whether incremental or disruptive, always aims to improve lives. The discussion then turns to AI, which Jimmy sees driving innovation across industries, including Finance.

Finally, Jimmy offers advice to his younger self, advocating for taking more calculated risks, gaining exposure across various industries, aligning oneself with growth and learning, and working in environments that promote change. He stresses the importance of finding inspiring mentors, presenting these elements as key ingredients for success.

Featured Guest

  • Name: Jimmy Dinh
  • What he does: Managing Director
  • Company: ASG & Simplii Financial | CIBC Capital Markets
  • Noteworthy: Jimmy Dinh is Managing Director & Head – Cross-Border Payments, Digital Challenger Bank (Simplii Financial), & Fintech Ventures at CIBC Capital Markets, the wholesale corporate and investment banking arm of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

    In this capacity, Jimmy provides executive leadership and has accountability for commercial P&L Management, Product Development, Digital Platforms, Digital Sales & Marketing, Innovation and Client Experience in order to realize profitable growth for CIBC Capital Markets’ Direct Financial Services (DFS) and Global Markets lines of business.

    Jimmy received a Bachelor’s degree (B.Eng) in Computer Engineering from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada. He is also a graduate of the Ivey Business School – University of Western Ontario, where he received a Master’s of Business Administration (MBA).

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Key Insights

The True Essence of Innovation
Jimmy Dinh emphasizes that genuine innovation goes beyond mere ideation. It’s not just about brainstorming or “blue sky strategy.” The real value in innovation lies in its execution and commercialization. Many organizations fall into the trap of treating innovation as mere “slideware” or a narrative. However, the true test of innovation is its practical application, its ability to hit the market, and its impact on the end-users.

Defining Innovation in Financial Services
For Jimmy, innovation is about creating new products and services that add significant value and have never been done before. In the financial services sector, this means being client-centric and constantly seeking ways to improve. Whether it’s incremental or disruptive, innovation should always aim to better the lives of people. The financial industry, being traditionally conservative, offers ample opportunities for such transformative changes.

The Rise of AI in Financial Services
As we move forward, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is emerging as the next big technological innovation, especially in the financial sector. Jimmy is bullish about the potential of AI, comparing its transformative power to that of mobile devices in the 2000s and cloud services a few years later. However, with the hype surrounding AI, it’s crucial to separate the signal from the noise and focus on applications that genuinely benefit clients and the broader ecosystem.

Inspiration's huge. More mentors working with the people who are bright, intelligent, entrepreneurial, and again, they're growth-minded. They're open-minded. They're curious.

Episode Highlights

The Evolution of Cross-Border Payments

Jimmy Dinh reflects on the challenges of cross-border payments a decade ago. He recalls the cumbersome process of sending money internationally, where clients had to physically visit a bank branch, endure a lengthy procedure, and face uncertainties regarding the transfer’s completion.

“Ten years ago, if I wanted to send money to Pakistan or to India, to the Philippines or to Vietnam… you actually had to walk into a branch… it would cost you about 30 to $70, and you really didn’t know when the money would arrive.”

The Impact of AI on Financial Services

Jimmy discusses the transformative potential of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in various industries, particularly in financial services. He believes that AI is the next big technological platform, akin to mobile devices in the 2000s and cloud services shortly after.

“In the two 2000s, it was mobile and smartphones. Five years later, it was cloud and APIs. I think we’re at the next inflection point now, sitting here in 2023 where AI is that next technology platform.”

The Intersection of Technology and Business

Jimmy shares his early fascination with both the technical aspects of semiconductors and the business side of technology. His experiences in Silicon Valley exposed him to the entrepreneurial spirit, which influenced his career trajectory and approach to innovation.

“During school, I did a few internships in Silicon Valley as well. Saw the entrepreneurial spirit around, building, disrupting, creating new things for people and for clients and for partners.”

The Essence of True Innovation

Jimmy emphasizes the importance of execution in the innovation process. He believes that while ideas are crucial, the real value of innovation is realized when these ideas are executed, tested in the market, and iterated upon.

“I think ideas are great. New ideas are great. The value creation piece of innovation, the where you actually create innovations, is actually in the execution.”

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