Transformation in times of crisis: 7 questions with Ian Manocha, CEO

COVID 19 has not only changed our world directly but has also acted as a catalyst for other fundamental shifts, particularly in digitalisation and technology.

Ian Manocha, CEO, recently joined the ‘7 questions’ podcast with Gert Raeves of Adox Research to discuss why this means that bold, transformational action is a key priority for executives right now, and what we can expect this to look like in financial services. To listen to the podcast, click here, or read our summary of Ian's thoughts below.

Opportunity in times of crisis: What comes next?

Executives must be brave, bold, and in control to avoid being left behind. After the initial shock and adjustment, customers and the market have been reassessing their project portfolios and realising that time and resources are being spent on activities with only an incremental impact. Playing cautious is not compatible with a time of such fundamental change.

Work from home: The best thing to happen to business?

Gresham’s customer satisfaction scores continued to increase throughout the pandemic, cementing the company’s already strong reputation for customer service. We can attribute this to a business-wide focus on honest, authentic communication in a time of great uncertainty and stress. This applies not only to customer but also colleague relationships and plays a vital role in retaining both customers and staff. This makes it key to value creation, particularly with the crisis shifting attentions to the long-term sustainability of businesses.

Financial services 5 years from now: What will the landscape look like?

Pressures on the fintech start up community and the resulting exit of weaker players is an example of how the landscape is transforming. A key focus for Gresham is helping these businesses digitise in a way that enables them to be more efficient, drive down cost at a meaningful level, and be more in control. 

Alongside control comes the need for connectivity as the financial services ecosystem becomes more complex, with trading partners, counterparties, regulatory venues, and other stakeholders all requiring access to firms’ data and infrastructure. Ultimately, both the control and connect challenges firms face are driven by a move towards real-time enterprise that is connected and digital end to end.

From solving problems to finding opportunity: Has the balance changed?

We’re seeing a cultural shift away from transactional problem solving and towards holistic, root cause analysis of why these problems occur in the first place. This drives analysis of the relationships and processes which aren’t working, resulting in positive engagement with both internal and external stakeholders.

As an example, due to its highly flexible, agile, and open nature, some of our customers are providing white label solutions based on Gresham’s technology to their own clients: whether that’s to enhance reporting services or to enable the development of new products and opportunities with greater agility, taking these firms from administrative partner to value creator. This works because Gresham can deliver value in two different ways – as a niche solution with domain rich capability in an ecosystem with multiple component parts, or as a complete end-to-end solution. An example of the latter is regulatory reporting, where we are able to source and validate data and reconcile it internally, before transforming it into the required format to submit to regulators, handling the submission and any subsequent exceptions and data quality issues too.

The buying process and journey: Focus on enterprise drivers over domain expertise?

Great organisations don’t see this question as a choice. Gresham’s capability to deliver control over data integrity and processes is very much an enterprise play, but companies will never get to this point without rich capabilities in highly relevant areas.

New fintech capabilities: Which are the most exciting?

Gresham’s focus on innovation sees us continuing to put a third of revenues back into research and development, and we have one of the largest development teams working specifically on reconciliations and data integrity and control. Artificial intelligence seems to be the buzzword of the moment in fintech. The interesting thing about AI though is when you can use it to augment human intelligence that is already embedded into technology like the Clareti platform through decades of financial experience and knowledge of customers’ businesses. AI is a tool for enhancing this knowledge rather than replacing it.

Gresham’s AI opportunity lies in using the technology to enhance the work that we have already done around connectivity – providing a menu of options, managed in the cloud, which take away the burden of building and maintaining connectivity – and control. Augmenting these propositions with new developments in artificial intelligence gives the firm an extremely compelling opportunity.

Who needs a systems integrator when your system is integrated?

Clareti marries together its ‘best in breed’ capabilities and cloud connectivity provision. Ultimately, the platform provides customers with the assurance that things will work, knowing that they have a fully functional, end-to-end, integrated solution which doesn’t require them to bolt on or build out things which then become legacy assets, placing a burden on their organisation.

Connectivity and messaging might be topics which have been on banks’ agendas for a while but, in a world of constant change, these are very much today’s problem too. With new APIs emerging all the time and regular standard updates, banks are constantly required to reassess and reconfigure their connectivity capabilities.

In a crisis environment, the danger for firms is in doing nothing. Those holding back on investment in innovation or on tackling the legacy platforms which have plagued them for years, are not going to thrive in a world which has fundamentally changed. There are no prizes for incremental progress in this situation, only for bold, transformational action.

To discover more about how Gresham's Clareti Platform is helping firms take action to connect, reconcile, and control their data, click here, or contact our team below to discuss.

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