Reshaping The Retail Banking Industry With Appro.ae – Iftekhar Salim: We got a chance to interview Iftekhar Salim. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Appro.ae. With over 17 years of experience in the banking industry, Iftekhar is dedicated towards the field. With his partner and an exceptional team, Iftekhar is focusing on providing a unique and disruptive proposition in the retail banking industry. Through our interview, let’s learn more about the company and Iftekhar’s journey.
The Idea Behind It
“What’s the idea behind Your Company?” We asked.
Iftekhar replies, “At present, clients (retail banking product applicants) experience several challenges and prolonged waiting times when applying for any Retail Banking lending product. Clients usually go through multistage processes when applying for any lending product to figure out the best product; based on their requirements.
Clients who are looking for a retail banking product can use the Appro platform to submit a single application expressing their interest. Based on the captured data and processing engine, Appro will provide the client with multiple pre-approved offers from multiple banks for the requested banking product Client will then be able to navigate, sort, and select the best deal, thus creating a superior experience that solves for A) Complicated application process B) Best fit product selection.”
“How did you begin your career journey? Do you have some advice for beginners?”
“I started my career back in 2004, something related to my graduation major, which was in Chemical Engineering. During my MBA, I joined the Banking Industry and started my journey with Standard Chartered Bank. For all the beginners and new joiners, the only suggestion from my side is that if you want to build your career in a specific industry, ‘first believe in yourself and second be patient as building a career is a journey itself’” he further continues.
Goal & Teamwork
“What’s the goal of Your Company?” We further asked.
Iftekhar shares, “We want to streamline the retail banking onboarding process by leveraging on the existing ecosystem to provide the customers with a better solution. We want to contribute to the existing financial sector ecosystem to create synergies between the users and the Banks.”
We also wanted to know his views on teamwork and motivation, so we continued with a few questions regarding the same.
“What makes the team successful, in your opinion?”
“The bonding that a team can build based on trust is the core for any team’s success. On top of that, you need to make sure the culture promotes creativity, recognizes the performers and continuous learning of the team members,” he says.
We continued, “How important are employees’ energy levels to your company’s success?”
As Iftekhar says, “It is one of the key factors. But we can’t expect everyone to come to the office with the same energy level 5 days a week. We need to consider the human aspect and understand that of the team members and speak to them personally if required to motivate them continuously. As mentioned, it depends on the work culture, and as leaders, we need to encourage the team members to feel confident, even for 1 or 2 days within a week for some reason if the energy level is down a bit.”
We also wanted to know how he motivates his team, so we asked him about the ways through which he motivates them. With which he replied:
“We promote continuous learning in the company. Sometimes, learning can be for new things or technology or, most of the time. It should be from the past or the failures. We must emphasize turning around and learning quickly from failures and mistakes. And once you help the employees to have this confidence, your team members will always aspire to raise the bar.”
“What keeps Your Company moving forward even during challenges?”
“A clear direction and self-belief. We know what we are trying to do and where we want to take it, and to make this happen, the co-founders of Appro and the team members always go beyond to get things done, even if there is any obstacle and challenges. The feedback from clients and our partners encourages us all the time.” he continues.
Technology & Innovation
“How do you think technology is leading to changes in businesses? Do you feel it’s helping Your Company grow?”
“We need to understand the fact that disruption is taking place in every business sector. It depends on how we want to place ourselves and our strategy to cope with this. We all know the story of Blockbuster and Netflix. Things would have been different for Block Buster if they had adapted to the new technologies. Eventually, the advancement that we have observed during the product development has helped us streamline the client journey better.” he continues.
We further asked Iftekhar if he uses innovative ideas to be unique. With that, he says:
“If you want to disrupt the industry and challenge something, it has to be unique. We have seen a successful replication of ideas and technologies in different geographies. Still, the unique happiness comes when you innovate something new and see that it’s eventually positively disrupting the industry.”
Lastly, we asked him to share something about Appro’s services and upcoming plans.
“Appro brings to market a solution that dramatically simplifies the application and onboarding process for customers, requiring them to complete just a single application per product. The application captures customers’ full background information and preferences. These data points are then shared with all participating banks, allowing them to qualify customers and, in turn, recommend their most relevant products for each customer. Appro’s platform then collates the best product offerings for each customer. It ranks them based on the customer’s indicated preferences, enabling an easier as well as more informed and intelligent decision-making process.” Iftekhar concludes.
Connect with Iftekhar Salim on LinkedIn.