Mike Downing, CEO - Bison Bank

Convene Customer Success

Bison Bank

We spoke to Afonso Cardoso de Menezes, Company Secretary of Bison Bank, in Portugal to discuss the ways Convene has helped the bank move from a more traditional approach towards the digital sphere.

Image: Mike Downing, COO

Bison Bank, established in 2000, has a business network spanning across China, Hong Kong, Europe, and Africa. The bank provides a solid and seamless connection between the markets, covering a wide range of activities in the financial services including private banking, investment banking, institutional sales, and asset management.

Traditional meeting process before Convene

Here at Bison bank, as is often the case with banks, there was a strong traditional ethos. This fed into our meetings processes, which relied upon high volumes of documents. As the company secretary, I would have access to all documents, then meeting items would be discussed, and minutes would be prepared in the usual way after Board meetings. When action items were agreed, our Directors would be required to enter information into pro forma sections in documents that would then need to be signed off and circulated to the relevant individuals.

Streamlined Governance and board collaboration

Bison Bank underwent a large scale transition from its position as a country-specific bank to one with a strong international focus. With Convene, information is now accessible to Board members internationally in an instant. For example to the Chinese and Dutch members who are often not in Portugal, all of whom were averse to the paper-based system, now have instant access to all the relevant documents.

'In essence, Convene facilitates and encourages vital international collaboration which is critical for success.'

Meeting items are discussed in advance, decisions are assessed prior to meetings, and company secretaries now have the ability to disclose relevant information prior to sending it to the relevant parties. Before Convene, the processes described generated high volumes of internal documents which as well as having a broader environmental impact, also slowed down the overall process.

Straightforward procurement

Convene was the initial solution we looked at, and it seemed to offer the complete range of benefits we were looking for. Others were considered but Convene was at the top of the list. Cost is always a consideration, however, we felt that Convene understood Bison Bank’s background, and ways of working.

The decision to implement Convene was made jointly between the IT Department and the Company Secretaries, with the two separate divisions seeing the added value Convene brought to the table. Antonio Henriques, our Board member with IT responsibility, was a keen proponent of Convene.

Widely used across our organisation

Currently, we are running 20 Convene licenses across our operations. Our supervisory board has access, as do all board members. Access is also granted to all Heads of Departments in the bank. We have a Board of seven members who meet monthly, and an executive committee of five members who meet weekly. The meetings result in a large number of action items that are now effectively managed by Convene’s functionality. Aside from our Board and executive committee, it has been adopted by two further committees.

Intuitive usability with useful Voting function

As a system, we find it very user friendly. In terms of specific functionality, it is useful to be able to drag and move documents. We also find the annotations tool a useful feature. We also like the mobility of the app and the fact that it can be used outside the boardroom, for example when traveling, or on offline devices.

With Convene, votes are now cast by our board following each agenda item that is discussed during the meeting, as opposed to votes being cast collectively once the meeting has closed. This means that Company Secretaries can audit all agenda items individually after meetings have finished, confirming who has cast votes and to find out if any have been left out.

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