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  • Andy Browning V Fsa Article Preview 01
    Keeping the Conversation Going

    One of the benefits of the pandemic is that all of us have had to get more comfortable with change.  Almost overnight we shifted our work lives online – commuting to the kitchen table instead of the City and catching up over video rather than over a beer.  This changed the way we all shared ideas, but as an active participant in the capital markets arena, we made the effort to stay in conversation with the broader fixed income community to better understand the key challenges they face and develop solutions together. ​To keep this conversation going we created the Sell Side Fixed Income Network where we look to regularly review key topics for the industry. We recognised that all of us benefit from regular discussions exploring what others are thinking about, what is driving decisions, and what problems we are facing. We are providing a forum that allows market participants to understand and benchmark their views against their peer group. We kicked off this initiative at the end of 2021 and are seeing excellent growth in the network. Initially created to be online, we will further look to expand on how we engage the network through webinars and in-person events in 2022.From our latest report, we identified a number of key trends, and the community was very clear in highlighting the biggest barrier to growth in 2022 is internal technology limitations. Digging further into the detail, the three key technology issues raised were the inability to change quickly, legacysilo-based data, and total cost of ownership of vendor platforms.​valantic FSA partners with the community to address these three challenges.Strategic Agility – Getting results now. The first is strategic agility and the ability for clients to make changes quickly. Working to be both a change agent by directly helping our clients make changes quicker, but also as an enabler for change providing the tools and frameworks to help our clients build on their existing systems.We are addressing the problems that clients are facing now, and helping them to fix them now, as opposed to them waiting for a multi-year project to be completed. For example, today it is possible to create front ends that source data from both legacy and other 3rd party platforms. In this way, technology debt can be paid off incrementally, and firms can embark on a path of continuous innovation.The Wider View–Better insights. The second is moving from data silos to data centricity. Being able to pull together large data sets from multiple systems and data sources is not easy. Our tools allow firms to move away from a classic silo-based approach and put a layer across all data. This wider view leads to greater insights and the ability to deliver better customer service.Clarity on TCO The final piece is reducing the total cost of ownership by looking at all associated costs of running a platform as opposed to just focusing on the cost of software licensing.  Understanding the elements involved and being able to address all of them is key.In addition to automating our clients’ workflows for pricing, quoting, trading, and data aggregation in Fixed Income, we provide our solutions in a fully managed SaaS offering allowing clear cost reduction strategies to be implemented.As well as addressing these current needs, we have ambitious plans to enhance and develop new tools for the community in the coming year. Continuous platform development - We are continuing to work on our technology transformation capabilities by leveraging our low code development framework.  Using this framework, we assist clients by building around their current legacy systems that aren’t quite cutting it for them.  As new tools become available, they can be easily integrated into existing workflows and put into production with minimal effort or disruption.Growing Opportunities - Our mission is to digitise, augment and evolve the value streams within our clients. We will be expanding our geographical reach and broadening our product line of core software solutions as we grow internationally. This includes specific Capital Markets Solutions but also has application across financial services, building on our success to date.​At valantic FSAwe have successfully digitised the workflow for over 100 firms in the financial industry, building robust and highly innovative systems for trading, workflow management and downstream transaction automation. In the next edition of our Sell Side Fixed Income expert network, we will be digging deeper into the technology issues that are hampering growth – please reach out if you’d like to learn more about the network.​

  • White Men & Dei Ashley Botten Tipalti Thumbnail 01
    White Men and DE&I

    I feel like a fraud writing about DE&I, fearing groans of “what could he know”? Perhaps that’s why we don’t hear enough from people ‘like me’ on the topic. And let’s face it, any groaners would be right. I’ve never myself experienced deficits of respect, safety or equity just because of who I am, how I look, or who I love. As I write this, I realise I’ve likely benefited, directly or not, by others being held back; leaving the field on which I play, a little less crowded maybe? It’s not a nice thought. Aware, but not aware enough, I hadn’t approached DE&I consciously enough until certain events this last decade brought endemic discrimination to life for me. Of course, these events weren’t new, they just added up for me for the first time. By simply asking questions I hadn’t before, I was soon confronted by the experiences of loved ones and those in my charge. Cat-called, followed, marginalised, belittled, passed over. Stories shared were confronting enough, but what really surprised me was the casual nature with which such behaviour was dismissed as normal. Worse still, I found myself questioning… “Really? Surely not, could you have misread that”? And so the problem compounds. You don’t need to be among the marginalised to appreciate that barriers to equal access and treatment are wrong. If you’ve ever felt that subtle relief that this doesn’t affect you, you’ve answered the question of whether you should care already. Those of us in positions of leadership have an obligation to do right by our people and by our business. Speaking and acting on DE&I is key to both. Beyond the moral obligation, diversity in team and leadership has been shown over and over to improve results. I work in tech sales; a largely male-dominated space, although it really shouldn’t be. Despite any ‘machismo’ reputation to the contrary, sales requires curiosity, listening, empathy, solving problems and having great attention to detail. I happen to have observed that the women I have worked with often best their male counterparts in these areas and despite a male majority, women have led the pack in individual sales performance and leadership. Bigger brains and datasets agree; in 2019, a BCG study found that “Sales organisations that don’t actively promote women into positions of leadership run the risk of underperforming.” If, like me, you’re male, pale and tasked with growing the top line, removing barriers for others is key to your success. In recent years, my action toward gender equity in particular has been more conscious. Balanced representation has been hard to achieve, but committing to tip the scale away from a male-dominated norm has never backfired. The sales leaders I work alongside today are 50% female. We experience less groupthink and a broader range of ideas, skills and collaboration. Given the hyper-growth our business is experiencing - and this may sound familiar to Fintech readers, this ratio may be hard to maintain in the short term as we race for talent in a field that is largely male, but commitment to diversity will remain. This formula works. Action is more important than words in so many regards, but in this connected world, words can travel a lot further. White men are too quiet on this topic. For all the groups, forums and movements on DE&I, the voices are almost entirely of those who are under-represented and fighting for a seat at the table. Women advocating for women, LGBTQ communities, black and Asian forums demanding access. These efforts will drive real change and are a major learning resource for people like me opening their mind to what others are experiencing. Throughout history, the oppressed have had to challenge the established to affect change. It’s been slow and bloody, but it’s happened. Wouldn’t it be better for the established to advocate change, to welcome it, to heed the data, to improve their businesses and to contribute to the betterment of society today, rather than clinging on to a status quo that will see naysayers displaced over time? I haven’t known where to add my voice, or whether it would always be appreciated, but it’s obvious that overcoming my own discomfort is essential if I want to contribute. The more I engage, the more I learn, the more I realise the fear of getting it wrong is insignificant compared to the value of participating and being an ally. Having asked my female peers to proof my words, a theme emerged. “So what’s the call to action here?” Gulp. Ask more questions and learn what others have experienced. What comes back may surprise and motivate you.Don’t dismiss something as untrue just because you don’t experience it yourself.Engage in forums where white men aren’t present enough. Company diversity councils, Women’s groups on LinkedIn. Ironically, these groups which advocate for diversity and representation often do so without the presence and support of enough white men. Change needs to happen together.Build networks of future colleagues ahead of positions needing to be filled. When we hire reactively and need to fill roles fast, picking from a candidate pool that represents the status quo leaves little room to affect change. And speak up. I can’t profess to have gotten this right yet. But if we wait until we’ve ‘got it right’ to speak up on DE&I, we’ll leave those who deserve our support without it for too long.​Article from The Financial Technologist, Issue 1 2022 'The Most Influential FinTech Firms of 2022'. Read the full magazine here.​

  • 6[1]
    BancorpSouth Bank Partnership with Global Credit Risk Firm to Assess Emerging Risks Amidst Pandemic

    ​​ 4most Provides Credit Risk Support to BancorpSouth Bank as risks shift from the virus to pandemic recovery  4most is providing its USA CECL Economics Service to help the Bank to assess emerging risks as the economy recovers from the pandemic 15 June 2021, [London] – Global risk analytics consultancy, 4most, has announced the provision of its USA CECL Economics Service to BancorpSouth Bank amidst the ongoing pandemic. The partnership sees 4most supporting the Bank through the pandemic recovery period, while gauging new risks, as part of its range of credit risk initiatives.The pandemic has caused volatility and uncertainty for many lenders and as the economy recovers 4most will provide invaluable insight and economic forecasting for the Bank’s CECL models and stress testing efforts. To better understand the changeable risk environment BancorpSouth has been working closely with 4most to undertake a tailored analysis of key risk drivers including, the labor market, wages and prices, household finances, financial variables and residential and commercial property prices.While rapid short-term growth is a certainty, it is important to appreciate what might go wrong. With this in mind, 4most has developed an ‘overheating’ scenario for the Bank in which pre-crisis levels of output are regained in Q2, but a resurgence of inflation then depresses real incomes. During this unprecedented period of easy money and loose fiscal policy, this could be a catalyst for a reassessment of the value of riskier assets, such as property and equities, which could in turn, lead to another recession as we head into 2022.Keith Church, Head of Economics at 4most explained: “BancorpSouth, like all Banks, is keen to understand the current risk environment and how that might change over the coming months as we emerge from the crisis. Our team are providing both reasoning and narrative to support forecasts, so that the bank can fully understand the immediate and emerging economic environment and be in a stronger position to assess threats and maximise opportunities.”Speaking about the partnership, Ty Lambert, CRO at BancorpSouth added: “We’re delighted to be continuing our partnership with 4most. The team’s expertise and guidance in interpreting the economic downturn and recovery prospects during these challenging times, have been and are, of enormous value to BancorpSouth.” 

  • 4[1]
    The Art of Listening: Highly Effective Financial Technology Leaders listen to customers and look to solve their problems

    ​In this second article in our series on the 7 habits of highly effective financial technology leaders we speak to Colin Slight of The Realization Group and Liam Huxley, CEO & Founder, Cassini Systems about the art of listening, creating customer value and building trust and how these skills have helped them navigate the tumultuous market conditions of the past 18 months. The Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges at all levels of society and the economy. The financial services community has faced a particular pressure, in continuing to perform and to support and underpin economic activity, whilst individual employees cope with the demands of working from home whilst home-schooling and caring for children, social isolation and uncertainty about the future. For financial institutions, the importance of all employees – not just sales and traders, but also middle and back office, technology and support staff, and legal and compliance teams – was vital in ensuring their smooth continued operation. And, often unrecognised and overlooked, behind the scenes these institutions and teams are supported and enabled by an array of financial technology providers. Organisations are defined by their leadership. Leadership sets the culture, tone and values which then permeate down and through the wider organisation. The strongest organisations are those with leaders who actively define the culture and values that they want to espouse to both employees and clients and take steps to ensure that these are instilled across the organisation. ​The Art of ListeningA business of any kind would not have a market, if it didn’t understand customer needs and wants, and how to add value to the customer throughout their journey. In financial technology, leaders need to keep their ear close to the ground, to understand the challenges facing their customer base and spot the opportunities to address these. The pandemic didn’t only create new market opportunities; it also highlighted certain client needs that had been there all along but were exacerbated by market conditions, and gave financial technologists the opportunity to respond to these and to strengthen their client relationships. The phased introduction of new regulatory requirements around margin and collateral for uncleared trades has created a need, amongst financial institutions that are subject to those Uncleared Margin Rules (UMR), for a better understanding of margin and collateral data and exposures. In order to fully understand the cost of trading, firms need to be able to assess, on a pre-trade basis, comparative trading routes on different exchanges or with different counterparties, and the costs of collateralising each of those options. ​Responding to Customer DemandCassini Systems provides a margin analytics platform that addresses precisely this need, having identified it as a growing problem for clients, as the rollout of the UMR progressed. In the early stages of the pandemic, markets became extremely volatile, all over the world. This created huge spikes in demand for margin and collateral and made collateral liquidity a front and centre issue for market participants. Firms were being called for hundreds of millions of dollars in collateral and having to unwind huge portions of their book just to free up cash to meet their margin calls. This helped to emphasise Cassini’s key message, around visibility of data, cost management and risk management. As that sort of stress in the market came to the fore, it emphasised, for Cassini and its clients, the role that their product could play in addressing these challenges and solving clients’ problems.​Building Long-Lasting TrustLiam Huxley, CEO and Founder of Cassini Systems, describes the importance of listening and adding value to customers: “I think that listening to customers is in our DNA. We position ourselves to our customers as partners, rather than as a vendor – we want to create a long-term engagement with them, and to have an ongoing understanding of their needs and how we can evolve to address them. We have quarterly review sessions with our clients, and actively respond to them in terms of the types of data and analytics that they need. That’s not just about Covid, it’s our general business approach – but as a principle it has served us and our clients very well during this time and enabled us to better respond to their needs. Customers need to know that they’re going to get a great level of support, and that they can trust us to deliver and to help them. That trust creates a bedrock on which to grow the business over time.” 

  • 1[1]
    British Patient Capital Announces $75m Commitment to $680m Balderton Capital Growth fund

    ​British Patient Capital announces a $75m cornerstone commitment to Balderton Capital Growth I, as Balderton Capital announces its final close today at $680m.  Balderton is one of the most established technology investors in the UK, with over two decades of experience of backing some of the country’s most ambitious founders from a very early stage. Darktrace and The Hut Group, which have both recently listed in London, are two notable Balderton successes. This new venture growth fund, one of the largest in the UK and Europe, is able to support founders as they scale their businesses with the ambition to become global industry leaders. The fund is sector agnostic, and expects to invest between $25m and $50m per company.  The commitment follows British Patient Capital’s investments in two previous Balderton Capital funds which focussed on investing at Series A. Several companies from these funds have now reached growth stage, such as AI drug discovery specialist, Healx, self-driving software provider Wayve, eco-friendly homecare product provider smol, cybersecurity specialist, Tessian, and Zego, the UK’s first insurtech unicorn.   Judith Hartley, CEO, British Patient Capital said: “We are pleased to provide this $75m cornerstone commitment to Balderton’s inaugural growth fund. Balderton’s track record in identifying and backing some of the UK’s most successful innovative companies from seed and Series A means they now hold one of the largest growth stage portfolios in the UK and Europe. A venture growth fund builds on that momentum. This commitment is well aligned with our strategy to invest with fund managers that can back our most promising innovative companies through larger, later-stage funding rounds, and deliver compelling returns. We are delighted to help one of the country’s most seasoned technology investors bring a new venture growth fund to market.  Rana Yared, General Partner at Balderton Capitalsaid: “We see an unprecedented opportunity for growth stage investing in the UK and Europe. Multiple maturing technology ecosystems have resulted in global winners being born and scaling from Europe. We’re looking for fifteen or so really exceptional companies that have the potential to be sector leaders and disrupt global industries. British Patient Capital is a long-standing partner in our ambitions to support the next generation of global leaders in innovation and technology. Their cornerstone investment has been instrumental in enabling us to raise our first growth fund. We are proud to have them as an LP.”

  • 6[1]
    EQT Ventures: German Gen Z financial advisory app wajve secures €5 million seed funding to accelerate roll-out + drive expansion

    ​wajve secures €5 million seed funding led by EQT Ventures to accelerate financial advisory app for Gen Z wajve provides daily financial advice to Gen Z, empowering the new generation to take control of their finances and supporting great decisions, all through one appNew funding -- led by EQT Ventures with participation from 468 Capital -- will be used to accelerate product roll-out and drive expansion in Germany  Second fintech of 24-year old founder Bastian Krautwald, after successfully building leading study financing platform in Germany  Berlin, Germany – Thursday 10th June 2021: wajve -- the Berlin-based financial app for Gen Z – has raised a €5 million seed round, led by EQT Ventures with participation from 468 Capital. The funding will be used to accelerate the roll-out of the platform, which has just launched, for the first customers in Germany before expanding into other European markets. A frictionless experience, wajve enables excellent financial decisions in seconds for the younger generation, combining banking, financial education, and advice in one app -- with a special focus on Gen Z. Now the largest generation, constituting 32% of the global population, these digital natives have unique spending habits and growing expectations of a digital-first economy.  Having experienced huge financial upheavals -- including the COVID-19 crisis (young workers were more than twice as likely to lose their jobs than older workers) and rising student loan costs -- Gen Z are becoming increasingly mindful in planning for their financial futures. Wajve is a trusted advisor to this new generation, helping them become active participants in the new digital-first global economy.  To be launched in full later this year by 24-year-old Bastian Krautwald (CEO and co-founder), alongside David Meyer (co-founder), wajve was created following the success of their first fintech, deineStudienfinanzierung -- an app that enables students to find the best loans and scholarships to finance their studies. Students can apply online and get a reply within 18 minutes, minimising the financial stresses of going to university. In November 2020, deineStudienfinanzierung was approved as the first digital platform to offer the German government-backed study loan from KFW. The student financing app now has over 100,000 registered students and earns a 6-digit monthly EBITDA. It will operate a ‘lock-in’ model to make money, leveraging initial customer acquisition to increase sales of financial products. The company now employs 20 people, with 20 more positions to fill, and has been profitable since late 2020. Along with EQT Ventures and 468 Capital, the new fintech wajve has attracted support from Finleap -- Europe's largest fintech ecosystem -- and top tier business angels including Lucas von Cranach (CEO of OneFootball), Roland Grenke (co-founder of Dubsmash and Acapela Group), and Christian Gaiser (CEO of COSI).  Bastian Krautwald, CEO and Co-Founder commented: “EQT Ventures expertise in fintech and scaling companies internationally made them stand out as an investor. It’s our ambition to become a trusted financial advisor to Gen Z across Europe, supporting the next generation to achieve financial stability and independence. It was clear that the EQT Ventures team joined by the 468 team understood the importance of this, so working together was a natural fit."   Lars Jörnow, Founding Partner of EQT Ventures: "Swiftly after initial discussions, we saw the team’s unparalleled understanding of the needs of Gen Z. As a trusted financial advisory app, wajve has the opportunity to become a key fintech player in the European market, going where no company has before. Bastian’s long-term vision and the company’s strong go-to market strategy made wajve an irresistible opportunity for EQT Ventures to team up with”.   Alexander Kudlich, General Partner of 468 Capital, adds: "We currently see a very large potential for reimagined banking solutions that also really solve needs for Bastian's generation. With wajve, we will aim to fill this gap in Europe and provide the new generation with guidance in the sometimes overwhelming financial ocean." 

  • 5[1]
    LemonEdge raises $2.5 million in mission to digitise complex accounting for the private equity and financial services industries

    ​The round, led by Sidekick Partners, with participation from Lauren Iaslovits (co-founder of Investran and a pioneer of private capital market technologies) and Tikhon Bernstam (founder of Parse and Scribd), will drive LemonEdge’s growth in North America and Europe. London, 10th June 2021 – London-based fintech LemonEdge (formerly LemonTree Software), has secured funding of $2.5 million USD in a heavily oversubscribed fundraising round led by Sidekick Partners, a venture firm with deep ties to the North American private equity industry. Sidekick Partners is joined in this round by investors Tikhon Bernstam, founder of Parse and Scribd, and Lauren Iaslovits, founder of Investran and a pioneer of private capital market technologies.  LemonEdge enables firms in the private equity and financial services industries to digitise complex accounting, many of whom still run on old, ‘insecure’ legacy systems or spreadsheets. The Global Financial Services Application Software Market is worth $144bn and expected to grow by 8% by 2025[1]. Modern technology platforms will be at the heart at this transformation. They’re growing at 45% CAGR in a market projected at $54bn by 2024[2]. It’s predicted that by then, 67% of the medium and large organizations will be using low-code tools to speed up application delivery at reduced costs[3].  LemonEdge’s low code platform is fully customisable and automates the complex and time consuming tasks required for shadow accounting, LP specific performance calculations, and fund administration.  The platform also enables real-time scenario modelling with its unique Canvas function. Analysis that typically requires days or weeks on legacy platforms can be completed in seconds using LemonEdge’s platform. LemonEdge founders Gareth Hewitt (CEO) and Jamie Nascimento (CCO) draw on 20 years of financial, business & marketing experience each, honed from founding previous software companies managing over $50bn of alternative assets across three continents. They will use the funding to recruit top talent for development, implementation, and sales in the company’s London and New York offices. Gareth Hewitt, Co-Founder and CEO of LemonEdge, commented: “We are pleased to have completed a highly successful funding round, and to have the support of such well-renowned investors. For more than 20 years, I’ve seen an astonishing amount of financial data inside legacy applications or spreadsheets that do not communicate and that are insecure. LemonEdge’s low-code platform delivers the next generation of private equity performance and accounting software, without dependence on workarounds. LemonEdge is 10x faster to develop and deploy, and it is scalable, adaptable, and secure.” Lauren Iaslovits founded Investran, the widely used private capital markets technology solution, and sold the business to Sungard (currently FIS) in 2004. Iaslovits currently serves as special advisor to CEPRES, a platform for private market investment professionals.  Iaslovits commented: “LemonEdge brings a complete no- and low-code solution to the challenges of general ledger accounting for the private capital market. The ability to simulate scenarios without risking reporting data is fundamentally empowering, and I can see clear benefit to fund administrators in terms of cost and time saving in the enterprise data space. This is the natural evolution of private capital technology, driven by a dynamic team.” Tikhon Bernstam founded technology companies Scribd (private) and Parse, which he sold to Facebook for $85 million. Bernstam commented: “LemonEdge is the first instance of proper low-code, platform-led software to address the needs and development challenges faced by financial services. The ability to rapidly deploy off-the-shelf solutions, and to empower a 10x reduction in development time, will open up this hugely under-served segment in the same way that low-code platforms empowered the mobile software boom.” Jamie Nascimento, Co-Founder and CCO of LemonEdge, added: “We drive informed decision-making with the future of tailored and complete accounting solutions. Our product is best-in-class, and we are focused on building the best possible team to help grow LemonEdge. Our customers are the next generation of financial services professionals who have grown up in an ever-smarter and more connected world – they expect solutions which not only match their needs, but empower their capabilities.”[1] Gartner, 2019[2] Gartner, 2019[3] Gartner, 2019