Patrick Hylton, exceptional banking executive turned technology leader


Patrick Hilton, banking giant, now technology leader (Photo: PauI MuIIings)

WITH three decades of success in the financial services industry behind him, Patrick Hylton, CEO of NCB Financial Group, has earned the descriptors of shrewd, formidable and seasoned financial leader. But founder of a technology start-up?

“We’ve been a successful bank for many years, but when I looked around many of the businesses that were doing exceptionally well were digital. They have new ideas and are disrupting established business models – we needed those skills “, admitted Hylton.

A visionary innovator, Hylton has never been limited by popular perception. He led National Commercial Bank Jamaica Limited (NCB) to become the largest and most profitable bank locally before moving on to lead NCB Financial Group, a regional entity with operations in over 21 territories.

While the group has become a force in finance, technology has imposed itself.

Although the National Commercial Bank has long since begun to move towards a digital business model, start-ups need a new set of skills and a new perspective. Lynk, NCB Financial Group’s fintech app, provides an expanded marketplace and digital native financial solution. It’s a laboratory – a testing ground for technology infrastructure, products, ideas and more.

In a recent McKinsey Digital feature, Hylton shared the digital path: “Going digital requires developing true digital operations to generate and scale new business and leverage those capabilities for other parts of the business.”

Nonetheless, for a seasoned business leader, having the audacity to disrupt the business model they lead requires extraordinary courage and a focus on what works and what doesn’t. Hylton explained, “We can’t control external trends, but we can control the transformation of our business model – and with Lynk, we do that on purpose. Blockbuster and Kodak could not control changes in technology but could control changes in their business model.

“Transforming your business model means introducing solutions that compete with your existing business model. Failure to adapt ultimately led to the demise of both companies. The lessons from Blockbuster and Kodak were clear,” Hylton explained.

Once the company decided to develop a fintech operation, Hylton led his team on the journey. “I presented the choices – we could wait to be disrupted or we could disrupt the model. The disruptor has a first-mover advantage, but I had to get everyone on board,” Hylton explained.

“I explained that we had a real opportunity because of our size in the market and our relationships, that we could reach different socio-economic brackets through our digital payment solutions. We could also leverage our reputation for success and confidence to help the company’s new successes,” said Hylton.

However, he pointed out that even if you can present analysis, show projections and identify markets, it is always difficult, in the end, to get senior management and board members to believe in a dream.

“I had to go beyond the dream. I changed my way of being supported by a so-called ‘sources of meaning’ approach, which is particularly useful when dealing with divergent stakeholders”, he shared .

The depth of Hylton’s new knowledge and its application are evident in the achievements to date.

“I took the time to understand each stakeholder’s interests, align the rationale accordingly, and advocate on an individual level. I was involved in hiring the CEO, I’m still involved with the business today. I spend nine to 10 hours a week on Lynk and talk to the CEO daily. I read social media traffic and try to build perspective from multiple points of view. However, with Lynk, I sees me as a mentor – I can’t ask someone to run the business if they don’t do it responsibly,” Hylton added.

With over 120,000 users and 2,000 vendors in just a few months, Lynk has become the nation’s leading financial app. The bold leap has been validated, but Hylton insists there is a long way to go.

“I have huge ambitions for Lynk. I want him to rival and even surpass the starter, and that’s just the start,” Hylton concluded.