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Digitalisation and data management are maybe the first ones to come to mind. But let us not forget about sustainability as well.

What is the biggest challenge you are facing in terms of product development nowadays?

The biggest challenge in product development is the agility of embracing new technology and/or vendors required to bring new solutions to market. The governance and processes in most banks are too bureaucratic which stifles enthusiasm and causes frustration. At Lloyds, we have developed a short 6 week on-boarding process to do a Proof of Concept before we take a decision on progressing on a full-scale basis.

How to efficiently collect data from your customers to create the right products to fit their needs?

Client-centricity is at the heart of all we do. At Lloyds, we always ask ourselves the question, what is the client’s problem we are looking to solve. So, client validation becomes the key. We have found client workshops very helpful. Co-creating solutions with clients ensures that we validate our hypotheses and assumptions in relation to solutions we are developing. It also provides an immediate feedback loop. And this engagement does not stop at an initial workshop, any iterative improvements go through a continuous engagement with clients. Even during COVID-19, we held virtual client sessions to get feedback on various new capabilities in pipeline.

Where do you see the future of development concepts and product management?


  • I see more partnerships taking place between banks and FinTech, as banks outsource process-driven part of the equation to tech vendors.
  • I see usual banking industry morph into a network of interoperable ecosystems.


  • Data will play a key role in driving insight-driven strategies.
  • Solutions that provided visibility and proactively call out risks in a business operating model with suggestions towards their remediation will gain favour with clients, coupled of course with easy access to liquidity

Channels & Digitisation

  • Use of APIs and blockchain will increase as clients seek multichannel avenues of doing business, and an increased use of technology and move to digitisation.

Co-Creation with Users

  • I see an increase in experimentation and proof of concepts within product management.
  • I see co-creation with clients becoming a norm.
  • I see user experience a real differentiator as banks compete on commoditised products.
  • I see B2C/Retail user experiences and concepts being brought into corporate banking interactions with clients.
  • I see client perception changing as well, where they do not see banks as necessarily both a solution provider and a solution fulfilment entity. Clients would be happy for a bank to arrange a solution even though it could be a fulfilled by a third party i.e. a FinTech.


  • I see sustainability as a key corner stone of solutions being developed.

Bhavna Saraf is the Head of Trade Product at Lloyds Banking Group. After starting under HSBC’s Graduate programme and a brief stint at Rabobank, she spent most of her banking career at Citi, prior to joining Lloyds. A successful career in banking has allowed her to take up leadership roles in product management, sales, developing inorganic partnerships and people management.  Some of the roles in her career that she has enjoyed the most revolve around building something from the ground up. At Lloyds, she leads the team that drives the strategy and development of trade solutions designed to meet the domestic and international working capital needs of companies. Bhavna harbours a real passion for finding better, frictionless, and sustainable outcomes for clients through use of technology and believes, if the current crisis has taught us anything, it is that we must seek ‘digital first’ strategies to ensure business continuity for clients we serve. With that in mind and desire to shape future of Trade, she is actively engaged with and represents Lloyds at BAFT, ICC, ITFA, SWIFT and UK Finance under various initiatives. Besides her day-job, she has been a founder of a start-up, which she progressed to Seed 3 Funding and is a champion of Diversity & Inclusion.

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