Wellington Holbrook is chief transformation officer at ATB Financial.
(Supplied by Wil Andruschak, Postmedia Content Works)

Shannon Sutherland-Smith
Postmedia Content Works

In a world where banking professionals often shift  uncomfortably in their seats as potential clients use terms and phrases like “tech startup” or “intangible assets,” ATB team members lean in.

“We want to hear from our tech community. We see our role as that of a catalyst to help create a stronger  technology community in Alberta,” says Wellington Holbrook, chief transformation officer at ATB Financial.

“We want to find the small companies that have exciting ideas and big plans but are working out of the garage of their home or the trunk of their car, and we want to come alongside them.”

He says that traditionally, financial institutions have been very risk averse.

“But if we don’t take some risks, we are missing out on some potentially amazing opportunities,” he says.

ATB Financial has been operating for 79 years, growing from one small branch to become the largest Alberta-based financial institution in the province, with assets of almost $50 billion.

ATB boasts a network of 173 branches, 143 agencies, a Customer Care Centre, two Entrepreneur Centres, along with mobile/online banking and a virtual assistant.

More than 5,300 team members help over 755,000 customers in 247 communities.

But while finances and numbers will always be linked, digits do not define this firm.

“At the individual level, our goal is to just do right by people,” says Holbrook. “Whether it’s our employees or our clients, we want them in the best position possible to succeed, and there is no formula for that.”

For instance, ATB’s journey with tech firm Finn.ai has shown that professional relationships don’t always end up where one expects they will.

Finn.ai is a personal banking and financial management assistant powered by artificial intelligence, and ATB has not only become an ally, it is also a client.

“If that doesn’t say something about how much we believe in a business, I don’t know what does,” says  Holbrook with a laugh. “It is a great example, though, of how, as we work with a  client, we often end up doing a lot of learning ourselves.”

ATB team members are particularly fascinated with transformational technologies such as AI and robotics.

“We definitely have bots at work at ATB, helping us handle some of the work that our people are too smart and too talented to be busy with,” says Holbrook.

“They are nothing to fear, because they are just  helping us maximize the value of human intelligence. They free up our talent from busy work like sharing information, handing off documents or engaging in processes that don’t  require human intelligence.”

He also says it is helping ATB better understand and use team members’ gifts and abilities in other ways.

“The way we communicate changes when we leverage technology appropriately,” says Holbrook. “We have 5,300 team members working at the same time, and many have great ideas, but we want to make sure it’s not just the loudest person in the room who gets to bring those ideas to the table.”

They also want to  continue to ensure potential clients have a voice and audience with ATB.

“This is a call to our tech community here in Alberta,” says Holbrook. “Our doors are open.”

Individuals passionate about innovation and technology are invited to join ATB’s Transformation Talent Community on LinkedIn here to start their transformation journey.

This feature was created by Content Works, Postmedia’s commercial content division, on behalf of Calgary Economic Development.

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