Westpac’s outgoing CIO, Dave Curran, has warned that the big tech companies are not pulling their full weight in the finance industry. He used one of his final big speeches to rail against what he called ‘hippos of the banking ecosystem.’

He said that there was a clear need for these companies to raise their offering for banks to create better partnerships between the two sectors.

The finance sector as a whole has increasingly been seeing new technologies used to improve processes, but much of this has occurred with the smaller players in the market. Blockchain is seeing a slow introduction into the industry, but Curran feels that there is not enough coming from the bigger tech players in terms of helping this evolution.

Speaking at the Trans-Tasman Business Circle late last week, he told the audience that there is an urgent need for everyone involved in the sector to come together and help drive necessary progress.

According to Curran, regulators, businesses, government and those training the public all need to deliver a pathway that will ensure that Australia will not fall behind other countries in terms of finance.

Curran said: ‘Even though I am an eternal optimist, I still worry about how Australia will fare in this new tech-driven world.’ He feels that Australia is already lagging in several areas.

He used his speech to say: ‘Australia’s economic prosperity is critically dependent on having a world standard tech capability that informs everything that we do – from mining to architecture, retail to manufacturing, finance to media, architecture to entertainment.’ According to Curran, the only way to make this possible is to ensure that technology will ‘be deeply integrated with people and processes.’

Curran’s speech echoes many of the recent developments in Australian finance, as the industry tries to take large strides forward and embrace new technological advances to provide a better offering for clients.

However, Curran was clear that although the technology may now be available, there is a problem with the bigger vendors having too much of a focus on getting sales through rather than concentrating on how well they deliver the technology.

Railing against a lack of concerted relationships between big banks and big tech, he lamented: ‘Sometimes, global tech companies don’t give Australia the focus we deserve or need.’

He cited an example where staff from a tech provider that he was working with were present on one business day but not the next, thanks to what he described as ‘a decision we didn’t know about made in some offshore intergalactic HQ.’

Curran suggested that this issue is part a wider problem of companies not based in Australia failing to develop strategic partnerships with the country. This lead to instances of big tech providers selling provisions that are not ‘compatible with Westpac’s overall strategy or systems.’

While some of the audience members were sympathetic and in agreement with Curran, several suppliers showed their discontent with the subject matter.

Curran maintained that big tech companies could be ‘showy and consequential’ in their actions and that this would not lead to them being ‘long-term collaborators.’

He called on these companies to match their words with their delivery and wants them to be ‘more flexible and aligning more closely to our strategic goals.’