We caught up with CEO at Barclays Partner Finance, Antony Stephen, to talk about his career, joining BPF and his vision for the future.
Antony has over 25 years of experience in payments and financial services and joined Barclays Partner Finance in October 2022.
Antony’s focus is on scaling the point-of-sale (POS) finance business in the UK and providing senior leadership to Barclays’ next-generation commerce platform.
1) Tell us about your career and why you decided to move from Amazon to BPF.
I started my career in banking back in the US, working for Citibank in their cards business, then moving to MasterCard where I spent six years. Capital One was my next move – I spent six years in financial services lending, and then four years as CFO to their commercial bank before moving on to JP Morgan consumer bank.
In 2016, I joined Amazon, and was there for six years, helping them grow the business into new countries, continents and product streams. I was then approached to move from my CFO role into the role of CEO for their Payments business in Europe. This new role would mean myself and my family relocating to London and it was one of the easiest decisions I have made. I grew up in India and love cricket, and the UK has some of the best cricketers. It’s the culture, history and accessibility to other major cities in Europe that makes the UK special, and I also feel London has soul.
At Amazon, I launched BNPL and instalment products across several new countries, as well as launching co-brand credit cards in the UK and Germany and running the global gift card business.While launching the instalments programme in Germany, I got to work with Barclays. Multiple banks competed for the tender – I picked Barclays because of their approach, mind-set and culture. As my relationship continued to grow with Barclays, I got to know the team very well, and when the opportunity to head up BPF came up, it was a no brainer.
2) Over your career, what have you learnt that you feel you are able to bring to BPF?
I know how to instil good morale, to get teams motivated and excited about the work they do. I also know about lending, networks and banking but it was not just my technical experience BPF needed from me, they needed a leader. I made sure that I started working straight away on giving the teams a mission, a vision and a strategy that sets everyone on the same path. The team were excited to see a three-year road map giving them clear, defined responsibilities and objectives. I wanted to make sure everyone knew how dedicated I felt. For me it’s not a job, we’re a family and everyone works together.
Being customer-obsessed and knowing you can build great tech to solve their problems is what I bring to BPF. Everything we do must make sense for both BPF, our partners and the customer.
3) Now that it’s been six months into your role here at BPF, what are your initial impressions and what is your biggest achievement so far?
I see opportunities to grow as a business – we know there’s a huge demand for retail finance and we have an incredible brand.
In 2022, my priorities are getting our tech scalable to meet the growing demands of our clients and consumers and I’m working hard to achieve that. In my first 100 days here, I communicated with the board our mission and vision and then spent time with our clients, meeting all the teams at BPF, from Cardiff to India, spending time with those who make our business a success.
Also, when we looked at previous engagement surveys, they showed that there was some work to be done to make colleagues feel more motivated. And now, six months on, our teams have said they feel re-energised and engaged.
4) What three things do you feel BPF/Barclays needs to focus on this year and beyond from a client and customer perspective?
- Keeping promises – so far, I’ve promised new products and capabilities to give us a best in class product offering for clients and consumers and to help with our growth aspirations
- Introduce capabilities and technology that create greater outcomes – we need a smooth customer journey that is easily accessible to clients and consumers.
- Customer reviews – we need to provide a five star journey and service to every single person who interacts with us.
5) How do you make sure that you’re bringing people on the journey with you to achieve goals?
It’s about being transparent, honest and direct. That means no filters and sharing both the good news and the bad news. When I say something, people can trust that is what I’m going to do and there’s no hidden agenda. Sharing feedback with teams directly is also hugely important to me.
I want to create confidence and give people the opportunity to feedback to me too. Hearing from colleagues that deal directly with the customers, everyone who executes and deals with the day-to-day tasks.
The strategy wasn’t created with me sitting in a room coming up with what I thought would work. It’s been possible through everyone sitting in a room and factoring in their feedback to inform the strategy. By including the team, their voice is heard and the strategy is theirs too. It becomes a shared goal. And from this, everyone is invested in their own objectives. From there, it’s about checking in and seeing how they’re progressing, coaching as you go along and breaking down obstacles to achieve goals.
6) How does BPF as a business, and you as an individual, stay on the front foot and respond to market challenges and changes?
The great news is that I have some very talented people on my team, who are always in touch with what’s going on in the industry. We’re able to share and openly work with our partners as they’re the gateway to our end consumer.
I listen to customer feedback and look at satisfaction scores to understand the first-hand view of the customer. If we’re not listening and learning what the consumer wants all the time, we’ll get left behind.
7) What inspires and motivates you to succeed?
One word – ownership. It’s not just work, it’s your life. It’s an integral part of me – I live and breathe BPF. It’s a passion and a mission and that’s part of who I am. Getting BPF to achieve its full potential feels personal to me.