The rate of change across the capital markets and the pressure it continues to exert on buy- and sell-side firms that need to respond is showing no signs of slowing down. This is due to a variety of drivers—chief among which are the introduction of increasingly complex and costly regulations, the emergence of new technologies and services specifically developed to address those challenges, and the adoption of new strategies and methodologies by capital markets firms and the third-party vendor community serving them to satisfactorily manage their day-to-day operations. Responding to those drivers— and in doing so introducing increased levels of transparency and scalability across the business, while automating manually intensive business processes so staff members can be redeployed across the business in higher-value roles—is no trivial task. However, regulatory scrutiny and investors’ expectations can only be ignored for so long. The effectiveness of capital markets firms’ business and technology strategies going forward are contingent on a number of factors, including the complexity of their incumbent business operations and the technology stacks supporting them, the competence and experience of their internal IT resources and their respective budgets, their propensity to take on often complex and laborious technology projects, and the quality of their existing relationships with their third-party technology partners.
Key to SmartStream’s product and services strategy is ensuring each of its offerings maintains its focus on solving users’ problems, a responsibility that falls to Vincent Kilcoyne, executive vice – president and head of product management at SmartStream Technologies, who is ultimately accountable for developing, implementing and managing the firm’s roadmap from a functionality and technology perspective. Kilcoyne explains that a large part of his remit entails monitoring what is happening across the industry according to three dimensions— technology, regulation and the intersection where technology and technology meet—which he uses to guide the overall direction of SmartStream’s products. “A good example of that intersection is if we take internet technology and encryption and combine them with open banking, we get things such as payment gateways and other forms of disintermediation, which is a classic example of combining technology and regulation to create a new market behavior,” he explains. “Everything we do uses those three lenses and looks at how our products map over the next 12, 24 or 60 months against those emerging landscapes. In essence, we are looking to help our clients solve future problems.”
Kilcoyne explains that SmartStream’s product roadmap for the foreseeable future will largely be shaped by three key technologies: artificial intelligence (AI), including machine learning technology; blockchain; and cloud computing. “We’re increasingly deploying machine learning and AI technology techniques across every one of our solutions in a relevant way,” he says. “But it’s not just AI for the sake of AI—it’s AI that passes the relevance test. What we’re doing is taking all our market practitioners and our 40-plus years of experience to solve real problems in the industry.” SmartStream is also working with a number of organizations to implement distributed ledger technology—specifically blockchain— to solve what Kilcoyne describes as “real operational problems” across fragmented business ecosystems. “We’re using cloud to deliver that functionality to a broader audience, which aligns with many of the banks’ new deployment strategies,” he says. “Additionally, we’re also making is possible for tier two and tier three institutions and new entrants to avail themselves of our investment banking tier one DNA functionality.”
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