Wharton FinTech
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Wharton FinTech

S&P Global CEO, Doug Peterson — The Future of Finance, Power of Data, and Global Business Trend‪s‬

Miguel Armaza is joined by the wonderful Doug Peterson, President and CEO of S&P Global, one of the largest companies in the US that specializes in providing ratings, benchmarks, analytics and data to the capital and commodity markets worldwide.

Prior to S&P, Doug held multiple leadership positions at Citigroup, including roles around the world as CEO of Citi Japan and Uruguay. He is also a proud alum of our amazing Wharton School!

In this episode, we talk about:

  • Doug’s journey, from childhood in New Mexico, to international student in South America, to global corporate leader
  • The important role that Wharton had on his career and sparking his love for Finance
  • Why S&P Global is focusing on data analytics and artificial intelligence and has built a fintech portfolio around these topics
  • The rise of Environmental, Social, and Governance factors in capital markets around the world, particularly over the last year
  • Leadership advice and Doug’s approach to managing an organization with tens of thousands of professionals
  • The important difference between visiting and actually living in a new place and why he actively pursued an international career from early on
  • And a whole lot more

Full interview → Spotify | Soundcloud | Apple

Growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Doug always dreamed of having a career that would take him around the world. His first international experience was a year abroad during college in Bogota, Colombia, where he learned how to speak Spanish and fell in love with the region.

“I realized that there’s a difference between visiting and traveling somewhere for a week or a few days and actually living there. And when you live somewhere, you really can absorb the culture.”

After a three-year stint as a Data Scientist at Chevron, Doug joined Wharton to pursue his MBA. Wharton’s rigorous financial curriculum opened his eyes and made him realize how much he loved finance.

“I had an amazing experience there [Wharton]. For me, it was an inflection point in my life.”

His MBA experience convinced him to join Citibank, where he envisioned having the possibility of a global career focused on financial services. He stayed at Citi for almost three decades and after holding multiple leadership roles as a banker, country manager, and enterprise-wide manager, he was recruited to join S&P Global right after the financial crisis.

Data, Analytics, and Research

Doug came in to the top job at S&P on the heels of a major company transformation, just as the firm was transitioning from being a publishing company to a financial services company driven by acquisitions, divestitures, and organic growth. The organization recognized that the industry will be increasingly reliant on technology, and Mr. Peterson and team decided to double down and invest in fintech technologies and companies, with a particular emphasis on data analysis at the core of their strategy.

“10 years from now, people will still be making decisions, you’re still gonna have a trader, a risk manager, a CFO, a treasurer, an executive who has to make decisions about which countries to go in and out of. But we said that a lot of those decisions are going to be assisted by machines, whether it’s algorithms, it’s modeling, it’s advanced technology, or advanced data analytics that are going to be used to make decisions. And then that’s when we said, okay, not only are we going to invest in this, we’re actually gonna start doing it ourselves.”

ESG is Here to Stay

One of the most important trends for Doug and S&P Global over the last few years has been the rise of Environmental, Social, and Governance factors (ESG). These categories have become a really important way for people to evaluate their investment portfolios and asset owners around the world are increasingly worried about the ultimate impact of their investments. They are also demanding their funds be invested in companies with high standards that are positively contributing to the world. So, over the last five years, a major area of growth across S&P has been offering solutions and data research and analytics on ESG to the markets as well as ensuring they also hold themselves to the highest ESG standards possible.

Interestingly, the COVID pandemic has only accelerated this trend. People are now even more interested and more invested in it — it has awakened people’s interest in responsible business practices.

“The pandemic started with people kind of thinking, what if everyone’s going to just stick their head in the sand and be worried about risk, but it’s actually gone in a different direction with ESG.”

Leadership Lessons

After decades of successfully leading multiple organizations with tens of thousands of people, Doug had some insightful leadership lessons for corporate leaders and entrepreneurs.

  • Stay Informed — “I love going out around the world visiting our offices and spending an extra day meeting with our employees doing roundtables. (…) by me getting to know all of our leaders personally one on one, it gives me a network of knowledge around the organization and people that I check-in with and they check in with me (…) It’s really important to keep the communication channel open.”
  • Invest in People and Listen — “I’m a big believer in people development and that people need to have opportunities to grow and to progress in their careers (…) and you have to learn how to listen, not just talk, but one of the things you have to read very carefully in is cues of understanding what the questions mean that you’re getting.”
  • Always Remember your North Star — “You have to always remember — what is your North Star? And by that I mean, what’s your direction? What’s your strategy? What’s your vision, and that in this day and age, it has to be around a customer. Who is your customer? What is the solution you’re trying to bring? What is the problem you’re trying to solve? What are you trying to do? to disrupt? And the reason I say that direction is so important is because it means you can always come back to something and say, well, this is where we’re headed.”

Douglas L. Peterson, President and Chief Executive Officer at S&P Global

Doug Peterson has served as President, Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors of S&P Global since 2013. He joined the Company in 2011 as President of Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services.

Mr. Peterson has repositioned S&P Global to power the global capital and commodity markets of the future with transparent, innovative and independent credit ratings, benchmarks, analytics and data. His long-term business strategy for S&P Global focuses on six key priorities essential to the Company’s ongoing growth and success: global expansion, customer orientation, technology, innovation, operational excellence and people.

Doug Peterson speaks at the 2018 WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland

Previously, Mr. Peterson was the Chief Operating Officer of Citibank, N.A., Citigroup’s principal banking entity that operates in more than 100 countries. Mr. Peterson was with Citigroup for 26 years. His prior roles include CEO of Citigroup Japan, Chief Auditor of Citigroup, Country Manager for Uruguay, and earlier he served as Country Manager for Costa Rica.

Mr. Peterson is a member of the Boards of Directors of Business Roundtable, the Japan Society, the National Bureau of Economic Research, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the New York Stock Exchange Board Advisory Council and the U.S.-India CEO Forum. He is co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Stewardship Board of the Platform for Shaping the Future of Cities, Infrastructure and Urban Services. In addition, he serves on the Advisory Boards of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Systemic Resolution Advisory Committee, the US-China Business Council and the Kravis Leadership Institute, and the Boards of Trustees of Claremont McKenna College and the Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Mr. Peterson received an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and an undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College.

About S&P Global

S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI) is the world’s foremost provider of credit ratings, benchmarks and analytics in the global capital and commodity markets, offering ESG solutions, deep data and insights on critical economic, market and business factors. We’ve been providing essential intelligence that unlocks opportunity, fosters growth and accelerates progress for more than 160 years. Our divisions include S&P Global Ratings, S&P Global Market Intelligence, S&P Dow Jones Indices and S&P Global Platts. For more information, visit www.spglobal.com.

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Miguel Armaza is Co-Host of the Wharton Fintech Podcast and Co-Founder of Gilgamesh Ventures, a seed-stage investment fund focused on fintech in the Americas.

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Miguel Armaza

Miguel Armaza

🎙Co-President/Podcast Host @WhartonFintech. Fintech investor @ Gilgamesh. 📚MBA/MA Candidate @Wharton/@LauderInstitute. Author of Fintech Leaders Newsletter✍️