The Finnovate Show
The Finnovate Show

Episode · 1 year ago

Matt Flenley: Visualizing RegTech - Start Small, Think Big

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In my newest episode I chat with Matt Flenley of Datactics, a RegTech based in Northern Ireland. We discuss the central importance of building a robust data store and how the exploding FinTech marketplace in Belfast is helping banks and others to achieve fully digital capabilities.

In partnership with Invest NI, this is a first of several episodes that will highlight industry leaders eager to bring cutting edge thinking to the North American market.

...as a leader of your company, you must stay up to date with your strategies and execution or risk obsolescence. Welcome to the fin of a show. Financial services Innovators. Bringing You the Future Today and now Here's your host, Jerry Purcell. It's the Innovate Show brought to you by Innovation 3 60 Group I'm Jerry Purcell. Get ready to think about your biggest challenges and capitalize on your biggest opportunity. After this, executives depend on external consultants to fill knowledge and experience gaps or to have an experienced mine audit their thinking. The Innovation 3 60 group brings together a wide range of proven thought leadership from around the globe, and cost effectively makes it available to you. Get the insights, advice and systems you need to succeed. Learn more at www dot innovation 3 60 dot com for today's show. Innovation 3 60 Group and the Best Northern Ireland are delighted to bring the best of Northern Ireland's fintech sector to a North American audience. Invest Northern Ireland is the Economic Development agency for the Northern Ireland region and is responsible for promoting trade and investment opportunities. It services help potential and existing investors to flourish and to connect with trading partners across many sectors. The fintech sector is exploding and it is one of the fastest growing industries in Northern Ireland. In fact, Belfast is the world's number one location for FINTECH investment, with almost 40,000 employees in financial and professional services leveraging an unrivaled talent pool and cost of operations. Fully one in five people who are working in financial services and tech in Northern Ireland are working in Fintech, the highest rate in the UK. Specifically, the Northern Ireland sector focuses on compliance regulation and artificial intelligence. Our guest today is Matt Friendly, marketing and partnerships manager at The Tactics, one of Northern Ireland's finest Frontex, Actually a red Tech. To be precise, The Tactics is now active in North America and offers clients sophisticated data tools to quickly respond to new and emerging regulatory actions. Matt's own experience includes over 10 years of operations, customer experience and marketing and two of the largest banks, Northern Ireland. He's a creative problem solver and writer of reasonable repute will have to check in on that. He's a data fan, conversationalist, optimistic and a serial encourager, And one last thing is, I want to thank Michael Barton, Canadian regional director of Invest Northern Ireland, for his support. I know that Michael would be delighted to provide more information on the tactics, and we look forward to introducing more of the FINTECH players from the Northern Ireland environment. But first, then you're welcome. Mat friendly marketing partnerships manager do tactics to the show. Welcome mat. Thanks for us. So tell me a little bit about the tactics. Well, firstly, obviously you've done such a fantastic job about talking about Northern Ireland, and I'm going to turn up with completely the wrong accent. I've lived in in an eye since since around 2000 and four, when I moved here for love of a person, but obviously then also fell in love with the countryside as well. We're a nearly 16 hour strong passionate about helping our clients to get their data rate. We have over the years developed a very robust platform that is designed to help business users get the most from their data assets for a wide range of practical, as I would call it in my bank days, run the business problems like regulatory compliance and reporting business intelligence and things like your customer and AML. We've clients, including several Tier...

...one investment banks and major financial services firms in insurance and welfare asset management. We have one Times Square client, as you were saying, active in North America, um, and now have an increasing focus on the North American marketplace and where I am right now. It's a bizarrely sunny March day in the heart of Belfast, and I'm looking forward to some purchased a tomorrow where we'll get a bit of time off and maybe a drink of the black stuff or to home, not out, Of course. So So how is the the business environment evolving? And how is that impacting the tactics? So even even before covid, obviously there's gonna be multiple covid covid klaxons as we go. But we've been seeing a rapid growth in demand for use of data in the day to day running of business rather than just something to be stored away in a vault somewhere. Um, we've we've noticed that there has been a real upsurge, as you have already highlighted in the compliance sector in technology in Northern Ireland, alongside the traditional Big Four having their own tech operations, the likes of PWC and Deloitte KPMG, who are based here in Belfast. A lot of homegrown tech firms who have found opportunities to to support local banks and international banks through a whole range of customer problems and data problems, particularly in the space of things like fraud detection and compliance and regulatory regulatory management. Stewart, whose CEO of the Tactics it's funny his father used to run the Coal yard just over the river. From where I'm based here, back when UM Stewart went, Thank you for saying back when But back from Belfast was obviously a big industrial hub. And it's had that legacy, that history of being a big center of industry and shipbuilding, and we can see the cranes from the office. And now we see this opportunity and this is the way that Northern Ireland has taken up that baton from a technological, um, industrial revolution, I suppose, and lots of extremely bright people throwing themselves into opportunities and perfectly positioned to be able to provide services to the rest of UK and internationally. So it's actually been it's been a bizarre year. It's been bad in terms of the wider impacts on society, but I think nearly all of the firm's of our size and smaller have found opportunities to deliver to customers internationally, probably more than ever before. Hopefully, that goes into a bit of a bit of way of explaining it. Good. Well, thank you. So at the same time as as the data being omnipresent, whatever the regulatory environments are changing and and it must impact the need for data, you know, or precision and data or whatever. Tell me little bit more about that. Yeah, I think people are waking up to the fact that while data quality as an initiative is quite late, nineties early two thousand's idea when people started coining this term of data is the new oil. Now they're actually starting to see that it's central to absolutely everything. If you want to be able to decide grades for exams in a covid environment, you're going to rely on data. If you want to be able to predict what's going to happen in the next next outbreak of an illness, you're gonna need to rely on data if you're going to want to be able to overtake your your your competitors in the marketplace, where margins are extremely tight. and regulations tighter. You're gonna need to rely on data so locally, some of the common challenges have included things like Brexit, obviously. And I guess over the Atlantic, you know, the recent change in the White House is probably more like most likely pointed towards a stricter scrutiny of financial services markets. Expectations of regulators are extremely high. I was at an event last year before all events got cancelled like this in The Hague and one of the European central banks. Regulators were saying the idea of their striving towards is they have full scrutiny of data as it resides in a bank systems,...

...not just what the bank is prepared to submit. That's the regulatory ideal. That's the demand. That's what they're gonna be working to. Um, there's been much quicker change as well, and at the same time incredible availability of new datasets for things like S G, for example, an alternative data. There's loads of stories about the availability of data like that without necessarily the stories around how people have really used it, so you can see people are still struggling to figure out how to how to get a handle on it. I suppose sort of tying all that together. Really, You've got you've got an I T team that's conscious of this and a business that's trying to use the data. And there's a bit of a conflict kind of arising in that space between the people who kind of known protect and secure the data, and then the people who are desperate to use the data to discover an advantage. I will also say you can't do a show like this without mentioning crypto. So you know, if I have how much longer is always value are not perceived to be securities we can't really say, but definitely certain high net worth. Individuals tweeting about stocks being too high and that causing a causing a price crash definitely feels like a security type thing to me. So again, at the bottom of it all, it's all data. So for our listeners, if we were on on video, you see I have much greater hair than Matt does. I can so I can remember when some of these new technologies were introduced into the financial services were, you know, like PCs and that's you know, that's a long time ago. That's even older than me. Um, one of the things that happened at that point was that people started to use them naturally. Um, and one of the big things on PCs at the time were spreadsheets. And so you would get all these reporting things and spreadsheets and data and this and that. And so, as a consultant, we would call it the, uh, you know, basically the the different centers of truth inside an organization, because it would be these little pockets of data that would all necessarily be different And whatever is there like How do you deal with that in this, uh, omnipresent world with all these cool tools? And you could produce this report in that it analyzed and use ai and all this kind of stuff. How do you sort of address the, um, you know the well, Certainly. That having one center of truth, I suppose, But also just controlling, but it's going to be an urge to use data to do everything. Yeah, it's a really, really, really good question. We've seen two approaches. Really? Some people kind of go Well, I've got all these repositories of data. I'm gonna pump them into one Data Lake, and then I'll start to make sense of it once it's all in one place. And there is some logic to that. At the same time, probably the biggest, biggest problem that arises from that is still full of all of its discrepancies and inaccuracies. It's just all in one place. Now, you know, you don't have necessarily all the context that you used to have when it was in its original sort of structured and siloed state. So this isn't obviously me just saying, Why are software is a complete panacea to this? But at the same time, you need a way of being able to string all those elements of data together and implement some kind of centralist control to say this is what the data should be. This is what it's used for and then be able to then better it out to all the various different departments are desperate to use the data for different purposes. Um, that ability to actually use it, report it, put it, put it into business intelligence models, ai models, etcetera. We see this with clients of ours who are currently engaged in one London client of ours currently engaged in this, Uh, this process is exact process of saying How are we going to make sense of all of this? How are we going to secure? How are we gonna not gonna make it a total data? Wild West. They have business analytics driven staff who are in there trying to figure out what what margin that they can extract from the data they have available that's going to make their clients wealth portfolio perform better. There's a really good business case of being able to say only better data for this, but at the same time, all that data is held centrally and it's across multiple different systems are subject...

...to load of duplication. So if you implement centralize controls on that, being able to say what good looks like your business input into saying it should be these things and at the same time, somebody who is self serving for analytics can detect differences will be shown the differences and the problems that exist. And, as I said, because they know what good looks like for that purpose recommend propose a change that allows you that opportunity to connect the dots between a business application of the data and its own integrity and security its repository. It means that if you're trying to do some kind of data transformation program, you don't have to sit there and say craps better do governance first and then I'll go off and do some data quality metrics. It means you can do both at the same time. You can start from a standing start. You can start small as we like to say and think big. That just tells me that I should go into a bank and say, Tell me the truth or not the truth so much, but the number on X, y and Z and they should have the same, the same number everywhere. That's that's exactly that's exactly the case. And I think we've was an irony. You know, one of my former employers was that if you search for my name on one of the systems, you couldn't find my mortgage, which would have been really good if that had been that they just totally forgotten about my mortgage. But regrettably, I still had to keep paying. So So I you know, there's certainly some obvious benefits to banks and others. Um, you know of the data. So tell me a little bit about why all this stuff is good for banks. Well, one of the things I was a recent rec tec mission that was supported by the Department for International Trade based out of New York and the team they have, they're trying to kind of again do what a lot of people are doing. Connect the dots between banking technology and phones like ours who are technology for banking, you know? And we, you know, I sat there on a number of different pictures for firms that did things like better K Y C data or firms that did horizon scanning for regulatory requirements that you could. Then you can understand how that matched your data sort of anything changes in the regular can see what you need to update in your data stores. And the thing is that each one of those each one of those is doing something absolutely fabulous at that particular point in time. But at the same time, you're gonna have to find a way of being able to kind of orchestrate those together and sort of shift your culture to being able to say as I say starts one and think big. Get that better The journey, right? Push, push the bubble to the next bit. Get that bit right. Push the bubbles the next bit. Keep iterating and working towards being able to actually tie these together. The why it's good, which is your question is, it's all there like it is all there now. You can engage with these firms. A lot of them have really good backers there. Either bootstrapped or they've been backed by VCs up to sort of series a series B. Maybe that they're not. They're not going bust in the morning. You know, loads of them are API driven. So as you don't, you don't even have to necessarily on board a whole software platform to be able to utilize them. Why I should say that we're still very much because of what we're doing? Very, very often, banks kind of go. No, no, no. We absolutely wanted to implement you in our private player, and you say that's absolutely fine. But why it's good is the sheer availability of technology for each of those different parts along the break tech value chains. I like to call it the world is moving fast, it's difficult to keep up. Your executive team routinely needs new ideas to keep them ahead of the competition. Imagine having a plan in place in 30 days to focus your innovation efforts, improve customer experience, accelerate your move to digitization or increased speed...

...to market. Our guide to accelerating your innovation agenda provides you with insights and time saving resources. To plan your path forward, Contact Jerry to book a quick call or for your complimentary copy at www dot linkedin dot com. Backslash in backslash Jerry Purcell G E r r Y P U R c e l l or email Jerry at jerry dot Purcell at innovation 3 60 group dot com So you talk about being all there, and so what that must do is open up the floodgates a little bit around new needs and and innovation, capability and development of new services and stuff. So So tell me what you see, uh, sort of both today and in the future in terms of the kinds of things that customers will be looking for. So I think I mean our particular customers within banks, Okay, so that that's the first kind of customer effectively of ours is they need to be able to visualize things. They need it speedy. They need it not in excel. Typically, Excel is everywhere. I used Excel all the time when I was in a bank, but the problem is the availability of data consistency. There's no audit controls. All the rest of it. That's That's one of the problems and I need to be able to get into. I need to see what I'm doing, and I need to be able to report that. So I'm not sitting and typing that into something in PowerPoint and then presenting it in a throwaway deck that no one's ever gonna read again. The needs from a customer's point of view about being able to say what is wrong, what can I do to fix it? So as I say, data visualization built on really solid data is, I would say number one thing, Um, systemic risk things like supply chains, which have been under massive strain during covid, in particular Brexit. Locally, you've got a big thing around data availability, so it's not just a case of saying, you know is now. Now I can visualize it. It's actually can try and use it as a really, really good story I heard today, which was two things that have come out of the UK's response to Kobe. One of them is a phenomenally successful vaccination campaign, and a big big part of that is because patient data on uh for vaccination is available can be shared between the parties and it doesn't. You know, there's no data sharing issues there, and they can very rapidly push out a vaccine rollout being able to go right Off you go. It's this group. This group is vulnerable. We already have the vulnerable, vulnerable persons register away, it goes. But when it comes to the test and trace thing, one piece of data that's missing is Who does Jerry know? Who does Jerry normally spend his time with? You know, who does Mac normally spend his time with? That's just that's not a data set that's available. So this is where society succeeds or falls. Right now. That's not even the future. It's It's based on saying what data is available, so anything that's going to make that sort of capped that sort of data and make it available it's big if I could say to other things on this. I think one thing we've seen is there is a big culture change necessary when it comes to understanding and using data. I know that DBS Bank in Singapore have taken this whole idea of being digital and not just digitalized, so I know it sounds like a bit of a semantic thing. But if you think about the end customer and what they are trying to do, you know whether it's coming to a bank and talk to you about something exactly your example and just have one iteration of you. Rather than trying to sift out which one you are based on your addresses and your systems and stuff. There's a massive tendency in banks, and I know because I was there that rather than thinking about the digital process, you think about digital izing my manual process. So now, instead of a manual form that I filled out and scan and send off, and I have an electronic form that I fill out and send off, almost done nothing for the process and I do the interacting by...

Zoom and now it's, uh, digitized. Yeah, exactly. exactly, But I think there's There's so much I'm trying to think about this one really, really good example of how people have managed the international events since Covid has occurred because some people have attempted to replicate an in person event on a digital platform, and it always always fails. In my experience, you cannot go around a show room of booths and really get to know the vendors. You know, digital digital platform that just says, Let's try to have, like, an auditorium where people can go and do it just doesn't work. So actually, it's funny. The D I t guys and Hayden and the team down there in New York. They they did these speed dating sessions, and then they did teams meetings between banks and the red text on the show, and they just hosted so many more things. They thought about the digital process that connected end, user and buyer and just found the best way of doing that. Hands down one of the best things of them. Pretty cool. So you mentioned International and you actually mentioned New York. So So this must be a bit of a culture shift coming into North America. And so what kind of challenges and learnings says, uh, have you had from entering in this new market? So I think we're I've just picked up digital processes, but at the same time, we're very much into boots on the ground type of activity. I want to get to know people we all want to get to know people were very personal. We know that we do very well with, you know, So we call the data visionaries people who get the idea of what sort of a democratized data culture looks like. Um And then they go, Yeah, you're my partner, partner for that. But the reality is that come on the back of us, meeting them multiple times, grabbing a coffee and saying, Wouldn't it be great, you know, coming up with these ideas for the future? The biggest thing we've probably learned about exporting and really taking North America seriously, in that sense is having somebody available in market talk is a guarantee. We absolutely have to have that the At the same time, we have to be able to engage in rates meaningful for them. So it sort of comes back to why you would have someone on the ground just being available, available to listen and to soak up some of those on the ground data challenges. Because you know as well as I do that the meeting about whether or not going to buy a piece of software it doesn't happen when you're actually being pitched. What happens after? So having a person in the room, their tactics in the room is the big thing for us. We've probably got a whole lot of learning to do on on whatever is going to happen with visas. Now, um, it's been tough over the last four years to increasingly tough to get visas for North America for us, anyway, um, say we're gonna discover scale to a bit more exploration there. We've been supported, actually, by invest in Northern Ireland. Um, in putting somebody into market from September, Hopefully, all the travel will be up and running by then on their graduate to export scheme. A fellow called Brendan who's currently being indoctrinated in the day tactics way, um, in a room behind me and, uh, but he'll be he'll be hitting the ground in September, so we're really looking forward to getting that on the road? Well, as a as a technology company, uh, and I think it's in general terms. Innovation often is associated with technology, you know, technology improvements and like that. And there's all kinds of innovation that can make change and make things better now. So well, including technology, I guess. What do you think 2030 is going to look like? And then how would you advise today's business executives to prepare for that? Yeah, okay, to to really good questions, I think on the innovation front, I like to think of the 22 sides of innovation. So you've got new tech old problem, and you've also got a new problem all tech, you know. So I think...

...very often it can be a new application of something that's gone before. I think from a 2030 point of view, a lot of what we've seen happen this year is going to be established as a new normal, so it's no longer a given that the biggest brands, for example, are going to have the biggest booths at an event and they're going to get all of the all of the footfall nowadays. It's as easy for me to go because I didn't at the last two weeks to do a series of events in Southeast Asia and the week before we do a series of events in New York, and it is geared around me being in that region and being able to engage in a digital context. That's not just try and sit there in the corner and watch this, you know, live stream from 50,000 ft. So firstly, I think that's gonna be a big difference. You're going to have less money into that sector, definitely from a from a sponsorship point of view, But it's all of a sudden Where's the incentive, you know, previously used to be you get you get your branding on the biggest booth now less so. I think when when you think about the availability of data as we talked about five G volumes of data that exists, I think we're gonna we're gonna see 2030 just absolute and utter reliance on data even more so than now. We saw that the narrative through covid was controlled hugely by what data was available. Einstein has a fantastic quote, which was, you know, not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted. You know, at the minute we've got a availability problem around what data we can report, whether it's infections or deaths or hospitalizations or whatever else. And not all of that is consistent. It's not all the consistent measure, even internally, in the UK Come 2030. Those sort of vagaries just won't be permitted. I don't think society is going to tolerate them. So I think the firms are going to have to get to grips with the fact that right now is the time to be saying, Let's get my data right, because by 2030 if I don't, I won't exist, which is a nice, chilling vision of the future. So, advice? What do I think? So, yeah, Ready to fail fast and again. This is not just a vendor centric view. One of the things that I have found moving from being in a bank to being a vendor like ours is that you can try anything by comparison, A banquet you really can't, uh, you can fail quickly again. You really shouldn't fail in a bank, and you can learn and you can grow and you can move on from that. I think I think the slightly arcane processes of procurement and, uh, in Passaic and all those sorts of things can sometimes stymie the ability to actually engage. What's one of the things I'm most proud about? The financial conduct authority in the UK having their sandbox? They provide this fantastic platform available for banks and phones like ours to collaborate in a safe space, prove out a concept without ever having to trouble. You know, info, sec and data management within a bank demonstrate the worth of what you're trying to do and then roll it out. I think banks just need to get a bit more creative in doing that themselves. Create those holding places to be able to test those rather than just kind of innovate themselves. I would take orchestration is key. So by that I mean, I've talked about those point solutions I n g Bank in the Netherlands demonstrated 18 months ago a platform whereby they've taken five or six different firms like ours, and they've gone well. That's the best for that. That's the best for that. We're going to host those in our own platform, which we facilitated. And then that means that whenever I'm trying to do my i r f i f. R s nine reporting or I'm trying to do something on solvency two. Then I can see all of the impacts...

...across the best of each of these breeds. And then again, the last thing is digitization, not digitalization. That's my That's my absolute advice. Find out why your people are using Excel and then go off and find the digital world digital native alternative to that. And if it's if it's us, that's great. That's what we want and then make them stop is the eagerness is there The eagerness to make a difference? Is there, But very often the connection to the tools just isn't, um so anything we can do to kind of smooth those smooth those peaks is beneficial. Perfect, very, very thought provoking. So that wraps up our episode. And, as always, I look forward to hearing thoughts from you, our listeners about today's show. Please keep the conversation going. If you like the show, tell your friends and please take a minute to radar show or to comment on LinkedIn. Go to www dot Innovation 3 60 dot com or your favorite podcast site to find out more and to listen to our shows. Thank you very much for chatting with me that thank you. So everybody stays safe and we'll see you next week. You've been listening to the fine of eight Show with Jerry Purcell. If you like the show, share it on your network and subscribe on iTunes or wherever. You listen to podcasts, and you can go to www dot innovation 3 60 dot com to listen to more shows. Download the transcription from today's show or to contact today's guest. This is the Innovate Show Financial Services innovators. Bringing You the Future Today.

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