The COO community unexpectedly found themselves central stage in March 2020, when promoted to a heightened position of visibility and responsibility.
This responsibility was to manage the complexity and myriad of challenges presented by the pandemic. Whether this enhancement of position and influence are temporary or will reshape the mandate of the COO and business management is yet to be determined.
What is materialising is a review of the role and mandate of the COO, aimed at determining how best can this central role and function serve the business.
In any group that has multiple businesses and operates in many locations, the division and allocation of business management responsibilities have historically been reviewed regularly, non-less so than in APAC. Here the multi-jurisdictional, cultural, and complex regulatory landscape across the region lends itself to a unique portfolio of challenges for the COO community, and the CEO who needs to use this function to best serve the interests of the business.
More recently a question is being asked by some is how best to meet this challenge, but in context to meeting the uniqueness of the challenges presented by the complexity of operating within financial markets. At the centre of this debate is the splitting of responsibilities between the country or entity COO and the regional COO Markets, who is charged to manage disparate Markets’ activities?
This survey aims to establish what the market norm is in relation to this point of debate. Undertaken by 22 Global banks, all members of the International COO Community (iCOOC), and representing the international community with operations in APAC (Canada, the US, UK, mainland Europe, Japan and Singapore) the results present a clear picture:
The business management operating model and how Markets activities are supported by the COO function is overwhelmingly dictated by the size of the bank in region and specifically its Markets’ franchise.
All banks with a mid to significant Market’s business, except one, operate with a regional Markets COO, with locational COOs and/or business managers all reporting into this regional COO.
Markets related activities are managed by a Markets specialist in location, reporting to the regional COO, but working hand in hand with local and regional compliance partners and where the impact of a regulation may be strategic, with the country COO, but not led or owned by the country COO.
Note 1: where the locational Markets activities and operations are notional, there may be exceptions and the entity COO may manage Markets taskings, but this is the exception.
Note 2: with comparatively smaller regional Markets’ businesses, where activities are minimal in all but the regional hub, no Markets head count is warranted and aligned activities