Q2 2024 COO Magazine

Pragmatism supersedes opportunism

Funding and resource constraints limit the COO’s ability to take advantage of technological advancements

3 Points to Win for the COO in 2024

Captaincy  •  Controls  •  Cost Management

At the 2024 Q2 iCOOC Chief Operating Officer and Chief Control Officer dinners in New York and London, we will investigate three key areas of challenge.

These agenda items are set and defined by members of our global community. They are the top-of-mind challenges, the here and now, taking up a disproportionate amount of the COO and CCO’s time:

  • People
  • Data
  • Cost

The COO is a milliner: the maker, and the wearer, of many hats, but here we focus on three:

  • The Chief Control Officer
  • The Chief Financial Officer
  • The Chief of Staff

Captaincy is to be caring, courageous, and consistent. Leadership is to direct, create a vision and inspire those around you to make it happen.

The sector is adjusting, reshaping, and manoeuvring itself amidst multiple challenges. Common refrains include the perpetual news of redundancies, the resizing of banks and asset managers, and the provision of uncertainty to the workforce. Many would ask, quite correctly, what is novel about this.

This is not new, merely a replay of the past, and a forward play that will be found in the future. For some it will be the first time, but for most it will not be the last time this dynamic arises. The COO will have experienced turbulent waters many times before and will be the pilot that the CEO and company look to for guidance to bring the ship through storms to calmer waters.

The COO is invariably positioned so as to report into the leader, the CEO, as opposed to being a principal leader themselves. The leadership credentials of the COO are invariably tested in hard times, being required to deliver the difficult messages, to execute the directives of the CEO. 2024 is a year when such credentials will once more be tested, and the question is how much resilience is embedded in the COO community by personality and experience?

How much has been developed through investment in leadership is a moot point, as our ongoing discussions suggest that investing in pure leadership training in a sustainable, ongoing manner is still on a token or spot basis.

The qualitative benefits of having leadership in depth are a component part of resilience that many believe is underestimated. Process, protocol, and risk management need people to be able to operate under pressure and be effective in unforeseen circumstances. The ability to do so will come from investment in preparation for the unforeseen, this creates resilience.

They say, however, that only 50% of investment in leadership training pays dividends, but you are never sure which 50%!

A commonly heard siren: the news of redundancies.


The bowl of tasks and responsibilities of the CCO is finite, the tasks found within it often overflow.  Regulation is also not finite, but meeting its obligations are absolute. Efficiencies are required, where innovative technologies and Al are presenting a tidal wave of opportunities for advancement to the CCO community, but this advancement is curtailed by limitations of capital and people. The technology and consultancy sectors can present the theory, optionality and benefit, but pragmatism and getting the job done with what you have is a common refrain, the mantra of the CCO. The iCOOC Q2 CCO forums will assess the problem:

Data quality and completeness

Discuss: with limited resources and capital, Chief Control Officers must find an acceptable path between theory and implementation in practice

Cost Management

The COO will have frequently received the following directives beforehand, they are a resident echo and permanently sit within the COO’s mandate: “Do it better, cheaper and with less people.”

Recognising this inevitability: in Q2 we have gathered the perspectives of several COOs to frame the debate on how best to meet this ongoing challenge:

An organisational, leadership or management challenge?

We discuss different perspectives:

  • How to maintain momentum, and morale, and meet target savings while sustaining business performance?
  • Do we have the right organisational structure?
  • Do we have the right incentives for participation in areas such as data that get people aligned to programmes that address the topic?
  • Do we have the right skill sets to drive meaningful productivity and efficiencies?
  • Is enabling leadership within your teams a better way to drive productivity, efficiencies and deliver cost benefits?

If you are a COO or 1st Line Controls Officer / CCO at Managing Director level within banking, financial markets or asset management and would be interested in attending our Q2 COO or CCO forums please contact

Maurice Evlyn-Bufton

CEO, Armstrong Wolfe

Q2 2024 Content

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The Armstrong Wolfe Event Summary: Q1 2024

This quarter, Armstrong Wolfe has come together with the iCOOC membership community to host a range of events that underscore its commitment to leadership, innovation, and inclusivity, all within a Chatham House Rule environment. We ran dinners and events themed around artificial intelligence (AI), Controls, Risk, Leadership and Performance, Regulatory Change and Operational Resilience, with communities of Chief Operating Officers and Chief Control Officers alike.

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Paul Blodgett: CEO of HeliNY

Paul Blodgett was former America’s CAO – Asset & Wealth Management, Deutsche Bank

Paul is a graduate from Ohio State University, with a double major in Accounting & Finance, later attaining an MBA from Fordham Gabelli School of Business in NYC. He entered Financial Services in 1993 and spent most of his career at Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management division, latterly DWS.

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Heidi Toribio: Standard Chartered

Chief Operating Officer, CIB Client Coverage

Heidi is the global Chief Operating Officer for Corporate & Investment Banking (CIB) Client Coverage since January 2023.

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2024 – 2026 Tooling executive leadership to meet the challenges ahead.

Leadership training for Executive managers. Over the past two years Armstrong Wolfe and Amicus have come together to run bespoke development programmes for selected cohorts of senior executives of some our client banks. In the process we have generated a core offering that has obvious utility for the wider banking sector.

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Balance the workforce, balance the books.

Over the last year, focus has been increasing at pace on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

On the 25th of September 2023, the FCA and PRA both released consultation papers containing complimentary proposals to boost diversity and inclusion in financial services with the goal to support healthy work cultures, reduce groupthink and unlock talent.

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Graeme Greenaway: Standard Chartered

Global Chief Operating Officer, Corporate & Investment Banking (CIB)

Graeme is the global Chief Operating Officer for Corporate & Investment Banking (CIB) from September 2021.

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Voice Monitoring – to be or not to be?

Our company was founded with the idea of phone calls being one of the most important channels of communication to understand human behavior. We even put this belief in the name of our company – Behavox, which combines behavior and voice in latin.

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GCF100: Charity Ride

Join us in our efforts to raise £100,000 and to renovate and re-equip the school gymnasium, which will be renamed as the Queen Elizabeth II Sports Hall. This year we have ambitious plans to capitalise on the rewarding and uplifting experiences by people from the COO Community.

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