One rainy day in 1992, Darren Buckley, who had been working at PwC in London for 5 years, received a call from a headhunter asking him to take a job in Kenya. The dry and hot climate in Africa was quite the exact opposite of the downpour outside his window that very moment, so he said, “Why not?”.
At that time, Darren didn’t know that call would be the start of his 35-year journey in global financial services across London, New York City, Tokyo, and Shanghai - some of the world’s leading financial centers.
He has 22 years of working in leadership positions at Citi’s Asian institutional businesses like CEO at Citigroup Japan and Country Head at Citi Thailand. He was the Country Business Manager at Citibank China before joining Techcombank Vietnam as its Chief Retail Banking Group Officer (CRBGO) in August 2021.
Before making any decision, Darren always asks himself, “Why not?”. The same spirit of adventure and courage allowed him to grow Techcombank Aspire — a bank for young Vietnamese, or the “Why not” generation, as Darren calls it.
Why did you decide to come to Vietnam?
Before Vietnam, I spent six years working in Southeast Asia countries like Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, then moved to China. I noticed that many of my corporate clients started moving some of their investments in China and Thailand to Vietnam, which meant the country’s growth prospects were starting to be recognized.
In recent years, Vietnam’s increasing inward investment, stable government, good international relationships, and a young, energetic, driven, ambitious population have made it an exciting destination for business. Besides, I believe that working at Techcombank, a bank with a strong and strategic vision, would open the door to new opportunities in this country.
That’s why I was very excited to come here.
How has Techcombank’s strategy and vision changed over the past year?
Our ambition is to go paperless to give customers greater convenience in their banking needs. When it comes to digitalization, we are spending time and effort to provide customers better solutions to access banking services with one touch anywhere, anytime.
Recently at The Asian Banking & Finance (ABF) Retail Banking Awards 2022, Techcombank won Domestic Bank of the Year – Vietnam, and Credit Card Initiative of the Year - Vietnam. These are a recognition of Techcombank’s customer-centric approach, industry-leading digital capabilities, and commitment to delivering outstanding product offerings and digital customer experiences. The banking services should be designed to provide customers with optimal experiences and time efficiency to help them focus on their goals better.
With a customer-centric strategy, we spend a lot of time listening to their needs. The process helps us realize the importance of personal financial management. Good financial management is a gate for us to achieve our goals, live the life we want, and fulfill our dreams. And this needs to be done as soon as possible.
25 seems to be a defining phase in life. What were your dreams and goals when you were at this age?
At the age of 25, I was filled with big dreams. I wished England could beat Germany in World Cup. I dreamed of running my own business, travelling around the world, or becoming a pop star. I did play in a band and had the '80s hairstyle.
However, I ended up going to university and pursuing financial services. I didn’t want to do that locally, so I aimed to join global financial institutions at the beginning of my career. That gave me a huge opportunity to pursue my passions, which are very much related to travel. I have been to Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
I usually tell young people that we spend approximately 30% of our life asleep, 30% working, and the remaining 30% being either too young or too old to enjoy it. So, you should follow your passions through what you do and ensure that you have a proper work-life balance. If you are doing something you don’t like, find a new path. You should be excited and smiling about what you do.
In Vietnam, I see a young generation thirsty for experiences and the courage to go out of their comfort zone — a “Why not?” generation, if I may say. As simple as the question is, if you dare to take a big step forward, you can go far in your life and in your career.
How do you define the “Why not” generation?
I see boldness, a sense of freedom, and a desire for new experiences.
The youth now have different views on wealth. It’s not only about money; it’s about the richness of experience.
They also expand the concept of freedom, not only physical but rather financial. The young now have the sense of freedom to make their own choice instead of following their parents’ footsteps or living up to social expectations. They have multiple ways and options to enrich their life experiences. As you can see, the change in concept results in a change in actions and way of thinking.
I love this liberality. I want to empower the financial freedom of this "Why not" generation with practical solutions to help them pursue their dream lives.
Why is Techcombank Aspire called a bank for the “Why not” generation?
Traditionally, financial services are designed to meet the specific needs of each age. For example, a 25-year-old would rather save money to marry and raise children. With Techcombank Aspire, we understand that the “Why not” generation has different priorities and changing needs. We are changing the way we do banking so we can move alongside this specific market.
At the same age, some people would save money to support their family; some further their education, travel around the world, conquer a personal challenge, or live alone with their cats. Each demand would require different savings plans.
Techcombank Aspire is designed to enable customers to achieve their goals, whatever they may be. We offer diverse solutions and customized products based on the real needs of our customers. Customers pursue freedom; we deliver total flexibility.
How is Techcombank Aspire doing that?
Techcombank Aspire is designed to help individual consumers get full access to the full range of benefits we can provide. We want them to be able to choose what they need. What we advise our customers is not how to save more money, but the most effective solutions to achieve their personal goals.
Are you going over the budget? Are you spending your income properly to not empty your pocket before the next payday? Is your financial situation being overlooked?
We can offer you detailed savings plan to help you manage and avoid as many pain points as possible — how to invest, manage your surplus cash flow, and balance your savings interest rates. If you want to buy a house, you’re getting a mortgage as an Aspire customer, and we will prioritize your mortgage to help you ensure you can get the home you’re looking for.
These benefits are wrapped together in a single package delivered completely seamlessly through our mobile banking app.
With Techcombank Aspire, what do you want to change in the financial habits of the “Why not” generation?
Techcombank Aspire is not a single campaign that will end within a few months. We have the ambition to build this into a whole service model. We are committed to accompanying Techcombank Aspire customers from the first steps toward achieving their smallest needs.
I think most of us don’t receive formal education for financial matters at school. We are all taught how to solve calculus problems, but not how to manage our cash flow. We can only educate ourselves through trials and errors, which is time-consuming and could “cost” you quite a lot.
Therefore, we aim to change your financial habits by giving you advice and accompanying you as you practice it. Techcombank Aspire acts as a companion, reminding you not to forget your intentions and goals — whether big or small, short-term or long-term. As long as you dare to dream, we will support you until you get there.