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24.03.2022 12 min read

Meet Our CEO: René Fischer

René Fischer is the new CEO of Contovista, Switzerland’s leading data-driven banking FinTech. René holds a lic. oec. publ. degree from the University of Zurich and is a lecturer in Business Management at the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland. Contovista combines data, technology and design to create engaging banking experiences for more than 5 million customers in Switzerland. This way, Contovista helps financial institutions to truly understand and offer advice to their clients.

René, you’ve been CEO of Contovista since October 2021. What attracted you to this new role? What makes Contovista stand out in your opinion? And what is your vision for this FinTech company?

At Contovista, it’s the contribution of each and every employee that counts – representing a huge difference to many other companies I know. We demand a high degree of independence, initiative and personal responsibility from all team members. Both being part of such a team and being able to help shape the company’s future is what initially attracted me and continues to motivate me on a daily basis.

What’s my own role in all of this? As an entrepreneur, I want to push the strategic development of Contovista as well as of our products and services. It goes without saying that I also want to ensure the financial health of the company.

My number one goal, however, is to strengthen Contovista’s market position. Contovista is already excellently positioned in the field of data-driven banking, making us the undisputed leader in Switzerland. Our focus now is on addressing and developing “multibanking” for retail and business customers and “data” using contemporary and innovative solutions. Together with customers and our partners in the ecosystem, in the coming months we’ll continue to massively bridge the gap between Switzerland and the rest of the world with regard to Open Banking.

«Contovista is already excellently positioned in the field of data-driven banking, making us the undisputed market leader in Switzerland.»

A central component of this for Contovista is the expansion of our Personal Finance Manager, as we want to ensure we become even more relevant in everyday banking. This also includes continued implementation of new features and functions that are in demand on the market – for example, in the areas of sustainability or geo-location.

… a little further down the line, there’ll be lots of new exciting topics to do with Open Banking for Contovista. For example, by exchanging data via the bLink platform, an individual’s tax return can be fully automated, including the provision of receipts – all at the push of a button.

The market for banks, neobanks and FinTechs is incredibly dynamic. In your view, what are the most important trends at the moment and what do you expect the future to look like?

It’s now common knowledge that the financial industry is undergoing profound change. Yet many traditional institutions are asking themselves how they can keep up with the rapid pace of digitalization. How can they meet the evolving needs of customers who are now accustomed to doing things digitally – without forcing them to make an extra trip to the bank?

Today’s core banking systems often pose a major obstacle to timely, genuine digitalization. The cost implications are also enormous in some cases and thus lead to additional delays.

Let’s look at the current mobile banking solutions or the design of eBanking portals. How good is the user experience? Some international banks, especially challenger banks and FinTechs, show us that the user experience can be much better. They’ve directly implemented the functionalities of the Contovista Personal Finance Manager, such as the categorization of transactions, instant search of transactions (which we also know from Google), the management of budgets and savings goals, and a simple display. This is not only in their mobile apps, but also in eBanking. A fantastic, seamless user experience is paramount across all channels, regardless of the device being used.

Since personal contact with a financial institution is often not all that personal and is therefore often pushed to the background, the design of the digital customer interface is becoming more and more decisive. After all, adopting a “personal” approach is certainly possible digitally, especially if the advice and offerings are tailored to the customer’s needs and are therefore truly relevant.

The bottom line is that the quality of personalization is increasingly determining whether customers stay with a bank or not. This is where the Contovista Enrichment Engine really comes into its own by helping banks to understand their customers much better. Banks can gain insights such as changes in salary, marital status or disposal income from us.

«The bottom line is that the quality of personalization is increasingly determining whether customers stay with a bank or not.»

It’s not only digital channels that benefit from this. The traditional advice meeting is significantly enhanced as bank employees are much better prepared when talking to their customers and may even be able to prepare some concrete, needs-oriented offerings. This both boosts the customer’s satisfaction and increases their trust in the bank.

You mentioned important trends like multibanking and personalization. A somewhat heretical question: do the banks’ customers even want all this?

You bet they do! We know this from our own research. Our consumer study, which we conducted last year, clearly showed that 57% of bank customers want personalised offerings, provided they are truly relevant to them.

One example is financial provision. Many people give a lot of thought to their retirement plans (the second most pressing concern of the Swiss population). With Contovista’s holistic analysis of transaction data, banks can advise their customers in a very concrete way on topics related to their pension. It can even make suggestions about the amount of pillar 3A investments that is compatible with their individual budget. As I said, the important thing here is to present the desired information at exactly the right time to ensure greater relevance and drive engagement on the part of the bank customer.

The topic of multibanking is now also gaining traction in Switzerland. With the bLink platform, SIX has created a solid technological basis for meeting the needs of over 35% of bank customers for multibanking. For some time now, the Contovista Business Finance Manager has enabled business customers to maintain a simple overview of all their bank accounts and to carry out sound liquidity planning directly with our tool.

The Contovista Personal Finance Manager is also made for multibanking. With access to all bank accounts, customers reap significantly more benefits. They can create an integrated budget, set concrete savings targets and implement them directly. What’s more, they can keep track of a large number of bank accounts, including their credit cards, create reports or search for transactions in a simple way, just as they are accustomed to doing with Google & Co.

«With multibanking, a lot of other possible applications can be implemented in the future that go beyond the confines of banks.»

With multibanking, a lot of other possible applications can be implemented in the future that go beyond the confines of banks. 
For example, when it comes to the subject of sustainability. This has become a major focus for many people: they want to make their everyday lives more climate-friendly, get a better overview of their carbon footprint and become more engaged at protecting the environment. Our analyses enable them to make their consumer behaviour even more sustainable. This way, we help banks address relevant issues and support customers in everyday banking. We’re working on a suitable response to the issue of carbon footprint in particular, which our customers can look forward to from summer 2022.

«We want to help banks address relevant issues and support customers in everyday banking.»

And now to you personally – last but not least, of course. What kind of guy are you? Do you have any time for hobbies besides your busy job?

First of all, it’s never just about me – it’s always about us as a whole team at Contovista. I care about our success. That’s what I’ve set my team to strive towards. Claudia Dietschi, who is responsible for sales, and her crew are constantly strengthening the interaction with our customers and technology partners. Amancio Bouza and Remo Arpagaus are responsible for the further development of our product portfolio. Olivier Brin is responsible for ensuring professional and successful implementation for our customers over the long term.

And we’re backed by 30 highly motivated, highly qualified and professional software developers, data scientists, project managers, UX designers and marketing & sales experts. Diversity is also part and parcel of our daily corporate life, with a high percentage of women and employees from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities.

As for me personally – of course I have time for other things. However, I need disciplined time management to make sure it happens. My family is one of my main priorities; some of my hobbies include skiing, endurance sports and reading a good book. If you want to sit down with a great book, I highly recommend The Midnight Library by Matt Haig.

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