Global Head of Payments and Cash Management, HSBC

Though technology is remaking the banking industry in all sorts of ways, payments could be the sector where the most sweeping changes of all are happening.

So innovation — whether nurturing it internally or keeping up with it externally — is of the highest priority for Diane Reyes. In keeping with that objective, she oversaw the launch of a fintech innovation lab in Singapore last fall. The lab is charged with generating new ideas in payments and trade finance. Later on it also will be expected to develop technology to improve financial crimes compliance.

Reyes said having this incubator is helping HSBC broadly rethink its services. "It's changed how we behave," she said. "We're a lot more open and proactive and willing to offer more to the customers."

Reyes has also made a series of smaller changes to drive innovation. For instance, she advocated for the use of social media to recruit new employees from fintech competitors.

"I think we're making a lot more strides internally in partnering with people who think differently," she said.

Reyes, the highest-ranking woman in the U.S. division of HSBC, was promoted last year to group general manager. There are only about 60 executives at that level across the company, 10 of them women. As global head of payments and cash management, she oversees approximately 11,000 employees, responsible for businesses ranging from corporate and small-business cards to cash-management services.

Over the past year, she has represented HSBC at global events like the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos. One of her goals in doing so is to send a message that HSBC is committed to being at the forefront of the fast-changing payments business and to developing new technology.

HSBC has faced regulatory challenges — on issues ranging from currency rigging to money laundering.

In looking out for the morale of her employees, one tactic Reyes employs is to keep her team well informed. During a recent off-site meeting, she invited HSBC compliance executives to talk to her management team to provide insight about internal investigations. Another is to encourage senior leaders to use their vacation days and disconnect from work. "I've had to say to a few of them, 'I'm coming to your country next week and do not want to see you,'"Reyes said.

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