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Alex Batlin

Founder and Chief Executive Officer,

A common criticism levelled at FinTech companies – at least those attempting to transform securities markets – is that while their leadership is packed with exemplary technologists, they are often lacking in redundant banking expertise. It is a deficiency which has come back to haunt a number of promising upstarts. This, however, is not a problem that flusters Alex Batlin, CEO and founder of Trustology, a crypto-custodian, which he established in November 2017 after leaving BNY Mellon where he was the bank’s global blockchain lead.

Prior to BNY Mellon, Batlin was a founding head of UBS’ FinTech Innovation Lab, based in the UK’s Level 39 accelerator, and the bank’s Crypto 2.0 Pathfinder research programme into blockchain technologies. As well as nurturing a number of dynamic FinTechs during his tenure at UBS, Batlin was heavily involved in the bank’s various crypto-asset projects, most notably the rollout of its Utility Settlement Coin (now called Fnality).

“It became clear that as crypto-assets became increasingly ubiquitous, there needed to be an institutional custody solution, which merged cutting edge technology with traditional custody services,” says Batlin.

And for good reason too. Many incumbent crypto-exchanges - which look after private keys to crypto-assets in hot storage - are routinely derided as being the Wild West of capitalism by industry experts. The model – while relatively seamless from a transactional perspective– is insecure and vulnerable to hacking, not to mention totally unregulated. Efforts to introduce cold storage solutions, whereby private keys are safekept offline, do provide a superior level of security to investors but the actual trading and settlement processes are chronically inefficient. Trustology was born with seed money from Consensys, a global blockchain company, and Two Sigma Ventures, an early stage venture capital fund. 

“In terms of industry impact, we are developing a custodian wallet for keys. The traditional custody model is excellent at custodying and servicing assets but blockchain is very different. Firstly, there is no need for recordkeeping as it is done on the blockchain, but there is a need for safeguarding and management of the private keys” Batlin comments. “Our service is something of a hybridisation of the cold storage and hot storage models.”

This is enabled through the company’s TrustVault product, which leverages hardware security modules, secure data centres and multiple levels of encryption to mitigate security risks while enabling users to execute transactions through their mobile device or via API integrations, thereby reducing the transactional delays caused by manual processing. Moreover, TrustVault offers its users a segregated account structure with a unique user key per account, eliminating many of the risks long associated with omnibus account set-ups.

Right now, investor attitudes towards crypto-custodians have been clouded by past misbehaviours and perceived security weaknesses at crypto-exchanges. Others are nervous about the absence of balance sheet capital at crypto-custodians vis-à-vis their existing global custodians. “We have digital wallet insurance to protect clients and we are fully compliant with provisions around KYC and anti-money laundering,” says Batlin. As the crypto-custody model increasingly matures, more institutional investors will likely sign up.

Louise Boreham

Senior Product Manager,
Digital Asset Holdings

It seems only fitting that there is representation in this list of innovators and industry pioneers from one of the most notable technology infrastructure projects of the last decade.

Digital Asset turned blockchain hype into reality in 2017, when the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) announced it would replace its equities post-trade clearing and settlement system (CHESS) with a distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform built by Digital Asset.

Louise Boreham is co-head of the company’s Sydney office where she directly manages the client relationship with ASX. Her experience in securities services – 15 years between Deutsche Bank and UBS - has become the perfect bridge between the market and developers working on an initiative which, if delivered to plan, will shape the future of post-trade.

A major part of Boreham’s role is actively engaging with the broader industry of market participants and stakeholders to ensure the value and benefits of DLT, and more specifically the smart contract language of DAML, are understood.

“The biggest thing is around the trust; clients don’t pay you for what they expect, they are paying for the next level, your innovation and your ability to provide information faster and more accurately,” she explains.

As such, the ASX DLT project represents significant opportunities for both custodians and securities service providers in the future.

The CHESS replacement could provide as much as AU$23 billion in cost savings from fees currently paid by Australian firms for investment services, including insurance, online services and more.

Being able to connect directly to ‘source-of-truth’ data will potentially make market information accessible to a broad range of parties, well beyond the direct market participants of today, including fund managers, other asset managers, insurers and listed companies themselves.

“The trust can only increase. Take the golden source of data: that resonates with stakeholders, when it's accurate and in real-time the amount of businesses and workflows that can come off that, and take a new life and offer value to clients and internally is another level,” Boreham adds.

Digital Asset has certainly presented Boreham with a different culture and team setup than the previous roles and she says there isn't a “smarter bunch of people” she’s ever worked with, which complements her own abilities and experience perfectly.

“What I’ve found from an operations perspective is that each product has a lifecycle – it becomes popular, volumes increase, then systems don’t work the way they need to and then there needs to be a tech touch up or big spend to address this,” she continues. “Then the lifecycle becomes that it’s commoditised and then the market moves on and it finds a new product to focus on. As it moves on, expectations increase and the tech catches up.

“We are being proactive in our approach, because technology had to make a big jump rather than small incremental changes, as a manager in operations it starts to become a bit frustrating that the way to save money was to cut headcount and costs.”

Tom Carey

President of Global Technology and Operations,

As president of Broadridge Financial Solution’s Global Technology and Operations (GTO) branch, Tom Carey’s job specification is a sizeable one, with a remit covering capital markets along with wealth and investment management. Having previously been president of Broadridge International, Carey played a major role in consolidating the group’s multiple business divisions into a single cohesive unit. Carey was also one of the main architects driving the development and evolution of the company’s multi-asset platform.

As someone who has forged a career out of ensuring businesses adapt to changing circumstances, Carey is now at the forefront of delivering innovative technologies to Broadridge’s clients. “A lot of my focus nowadays is on the ABCD technologies, namely artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cloud computing and digital. In particular, I see a lot of benefits to be obtained through leveraging distributed ledger technology” explains Carey.

Broadridge has scored some notable successes with DLT, most notably by streamlining proxy voting by utilising the technology to expedite the voting process itself and making it more transparent. Moving forward, Carey says the company is now applying DLT to drive efficiencies in the bilateral repo market. “The DLT bilateral repo platform provides counterparties with a single version of the truth. We believe this added transparency in the repo market will reduce the number of settlement fails and disputes,” adds Carey.

Through this DLT solution, bilateral repo counterparties will incur operational and risk management benefits in what has been a notoriously opaque and intermediated market. While DLT does not invoke the same exuberance across capital markets that it did four years ago, the technology should not be dismissed out of hand. Instead, providers such as Broadridge are simply becoming clinical in how they use blockchain technology, focusing on a few specific use cases, as opposed to trying to solve more generic problems.

“One area which I am genuinely excited about is AI. AI has been around for a long time but the computational power has simply not been strong enough to enable the tech to meet its full potential until now,” says Carey. AI – if adopted correctly– could prove transformational in capital markets. If data is interrogated accurately by AI tools, then the analysis off the back of it could help firms frame investment decisions and identify operational pain-points. Integration of predictive analytics into decision-making, he adds, will enable financial institutions to make meaningful operational improvements to their business models.

Nadine Chakar

Head of Global Markets,
State Street

Nadine Chakar is back where it all started, but this time around she's armed with years’ worth of experience, in-depth knowledge of the inner workings of the buy-side and a new team ready to deliver innovative products, services and solutions to clients.

The first spell at State Street was only a short one at the start of Chakar’s career and from there she spent decades with BNY Mellon in a variety of global roles, before serving as global head of operations at Manulife Asset Management. In the role at Manulife, Chakar was directly responsible for overseeing more than 2,500 employees and was also executive sponsor of Manulife’s global wealth and asset management’s optimisation program.

“Having worked on both sides of the fence, I have observed a fair amount of similarities,” says Chakar. “At the end of the day, institutional investors are looking to achieve operational alpha by better leveraging technologies such as RPS, machine learning, artificial intelligence, no/low code, etc. My focus, based on that experience, is to develop and offer comprehensive data strategies that will help fuel investment performance and/or operational efficiencies.”

Coming back to State Street in April 2019, Chakar now heads up the Global Markets’ trading, product and operations platform with one objective in mind: help drive successful client solutions.

The individual who nominated Chakar for this list highlighted how she has “adopted a strategic approach to global leadership, a framework of which is anchored in three principals: assemble and empower the most talented and diverse team possible; never lose sight of the client needs; embrace and leverage change as a competitive advantage.”

Chakar is subsequently working to ensure her colleagues see the value of technology. She dedicates her time to understanding how companies can capitalise on technology changes such as blockchain implementation and leveraging insights from big data, by leading new initiatives and developments to deliver successful business growth.

“At the enterprise level, we have made efforts to embrace new, cutting-edge technologies so we can add more augmented intelligence and predictive functions into our daily processes and trading functions,” she adds. “For example, within the Global Markets division, I have teams that are working on making the data we aggregate more intelligent, so we’ll be able to predict certain outcomes more effectively, such as changes to interest rates.”

While not a formally trained technologist, Chakar has made significant investments in her own time and career to ensure that she is comfortable operating in and bridging the worlds of technology and business, something that resonated with Global Custodian’s distinguished judging panel.

Justin Chapman

Global Executive Securities Services and Global Head of Market Advocacy & Innovation,
Northern Trust

Justin Chapman’s career in the securities industry extends more than 30 years, covering diverse roles including strategy, trading, operations, product development, change management, marketing and sales across investment banking, asset management, consulting and asset servicing.

In his current role, Chapman is the global product executive for securities services at Northern Trust, and also leads market advocacy and innovation research, which includes coordinating Northern Trust’s key industry associations and regulatory engagements aligned to the bank’s strategic innovation initiatives.

Chapman has been responsible for researching and framing new market and technology innovations to drive business growth and operational efficiencies. “We are looking to digitise the custody business and look at those opportunities, so I have been involved in planning that out and how it will look in the future. This is probably the most interesting decade of the area we are moving into, and it is a great opportunity to combine the innovation and securities business,” he says.

Over the past several years, Chapman has led the initiative to launch the first commercial deployment of blockchain technology for the private equity market, as well as the use of legal clauses as smart contracts to enable audits. He has also been involved in developing a number of proof of value projects for robotic automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence that are being implemented across fund administration, securities lending, and other back- and middle-office functions.

Chapman believes in the future such services will become standard. “Looking back over 30 years to the days of paper certificates, the industry is now engaged in rapid transformation after a long period of slow evolution and very little change to actual business models. We are focusing on the technologies and markets where digitisation is likely to occur quickly, and make sure Northern Trust continues to be positioned well for the digital future,” he adds.

His work deploying smart contracts on a private equity blockchain was a significant step towards digitising the manual, paper-based processes. Chapman is now pressing on with other ways to digitise the business, including servicing new asset types such as digital keys and crypto-currency. These initiatives will lead the way in how the global custody business model will evolve, providing new options for client interaction, delivering real-time data, and ensuring transparency of assets.

“We are backing good initiatives anywhere in the world that furthers our digital agenda. Part of our architecture is event-driven, which enables that from a technology perspective, and it is bringing everything together into the new digital market, the new digital custody business that we think will be around in the coming years,” Chapman says.

Pete Cherecwich

President of Corporate & Institutional Services,
Northern Trust

Global Custodian was aware of Pete Cherecwich’s pioneering work at Northern Trust after he earnt our Industry Person of the Year award for North America in 2017, so it was no surprise to see his name pop up on this list of people who will shape the future.

Cherecwich has been at the forefront of technology developments at Northern Trust transforming the bank’s core architecture to enable a faster, more intuitive, more useful digital experience for clients.

One example has been Northern Trust Matrix, an event-driven architecture in which all data is captured, validated, and processed in a single, independent data fabric.

“Matrix positions us to capitalise on the FinTech revolution,” says Cherecwich. “Matrix uses event-driven architecture to process all the data captured by our custody, fund administration and transfer agency platforms.

“This data becomes a single point of truth, which increases productivity and cost efficiency by changing operations jobs from reconciling and correction to fixing the root cause.”

The custodian has described this as the next generation of the single data repository, which will sit on top of existing custody and fund administration platforms, helping significantly to reduce workflow costs and increase productivity by centralising all data captured.

Longer term, an event-driven architecture using modern code lays the groundwork for Northern Trust to develop new and powerful tools that will change how all clients receive and manage data. Data automation also enables faster introduction of analytics services and emerging technologies like machine learning and other artificial intelligence applications.

This is something that Cherecwich calls ‘Big I Innovation’ that will reconstruct the traditional custody infrastructure to provide the data clients needed, when they want it, in the format that suits them best, and deliver valuable insights.

Matrix is ambitious, in line with Pete Cherecwich’s leadership in the development of new and emerging technologies such as AI, robotics, blockchain and other ways to automate industry-wide manual processes.

Cherecwich has shown time and time again in recent years that he is committed to innovation that solves problems for clients and increases accuracy and efficiency in asset servicing. More importantly, he understands the significance of asset servicing providers in the financial ecosystem and believes technology innovation will support sustainable growth for global custodians as the industry evolves over the next 30 years.

“What I like about the industry is that new investment strategies and vehicles are always being invented. The asset servicing industry applies brains and ingenuity to solve the problems of valuation, trade support and other back- and middle-office operations. Our approach to innovation is that it should bring meaningful benefits to our clients and the market as a whole. We build technology to supplement and enhance not to replace.”

Arnaud Claudon

Head of Asset Managers and Owners,
BNP Paribas Securities Services

Over the course of his career at BNP Paribas Securities Services, Arnaud Claudon has gained extensive experience across different geographies, including the US, Europe and Australasia, playing a key role in folding various acquisitions into the business. In 2002, he managed the integration of fund administrator Cogent into BNP Paribas Securities Services and more recently has been overseeing the addition of the Janus Henderson Investors’ US middle- and back-office into the bank’s operations.

Now, as head of the asset managers and owners client line, Claudon is not only responsible for strategy, product development, client solutions and P&L management for this client base, but is also leading the digital transformation of the bank’s fund administration and depositary banking business.

“The decisions that asset management companies are making today will help to determine the shape of the industry in the future and are likely to have profound consequences in the years ahead,” says Claudon. “From our perspective, there are four key structural consequences: the continued growth in outsourcing of non-core processes; the search for greater end-to-end efficiencies; the consolidation among industry players; and the changing nature of the relationship between asset managers and their banking partners.”

To minimise manual processes, Claudon is drawing on state-of-the-art artificial intelligence and natural language generation technologies, including a new set of fund accounting APIs that automatically update clients’ systems with information specific to their business. This information includes data sets such as NAV calculations and distribution, and settlement instructions and status. 

“With this new set of APIs, our clients will receive information in real time rather than wait for files to come through,” he says. “This will make for better risk controls, better decision making and will also help improve straight-through processing rates.” At the same time, he notes, system-to-system communication and real-time status updates via APIs will enable the bank to enhance both its client experience and its own operational efficiency.

Claudon acknowledges the need to be realistic about such technologies. “We are not waiting for a single system that will provide a perfect solution to all the challenges, but we are proactively investing in technology to introduce better processes and to improve legacy processes and make them more efficient,” he says. “As with all the changes happening in the industry these days, it is the ability to recognise important trends and adapt to the changing needs of clients which helps determine success.”

Kevin Cook

Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder,

The common misconception with start-ups is that they are perceived to be overnight successes, but few people will be close enough to the projects to understand the long journey and the hard-work that behind the scenes. For Kevin Cook and TreasurySpring, the beginning of the story dates back to 2006 when he met his current business partners.

Previously a lawyer, Cook, along with his two companions, worked in the front-office of a multi-billion-dollar hedge fund before they set off on their own to create Autumn Capital in 2010. Here they advised some of the world's largest hedge funds and corporations in the world as to how to navigate post-financial crisis regulatory and market changes in the context of cash management and short-term fixed income investing and funding.

After selling the hedge fund, Cook spent three years as head of short-dated fixed income for AgFe, and it was the combination of all these experiences which spurred the idea of TreasurySpring, a platform delivering non-financial cash into the repo and securities lending markets in scale.

The realisation from Cook and his partners was that direct access to investment grade, short-term fixed income, reverse repo and securities finance for the purposes of cash management was only available to the best-resourced financial institutional treasury teams.

Prior to the launch of TreasurySpring, the conversations with potential users of such a service ended up with people telling Cook the idea was too complicated, either clients didn’t have the risk management framework or the resources.

“We had to ask: 'how do we find a way to deliver something that’s simple and easy, but enables people to do things that large institutions are doing?',” Cook explains. “A survey came out looking at the balances of the five largest US tech companies – the split was 50% in government bonds, 30% in corporate bonds, a few percent here and there, and 1% in deposits.

“The rest of the world is 100% in deposits, maybe 50/50 in money funds. Either all of the banks, hedge funds and asset managers are wrong or the rest of the world is wrong.”

“We knew if we’re ever going to do something it had to look like a bank deposit or a money fund. Our FTF is a totally new instrument which was a figment of our imagination until summer last year. Unlike a bank account where it’s difficult opening up, we have simple onboarding, and are fully regulated for KYC/AML. We had the benefit of building it all from scratch.”

FTFs offer one-click access to the reverse repo and securities lending markets to clients who would never dream of putting the infrastructure in place directly, bringing new, diverse and uncorrelated sources of funding to the market.

It’s a testament to Cook that in the nomination, an industry expert said “I have seen countless people, including institutions that I have been involved with and have worked for, trying various different ways to solve this problem over the last two decades and all of them have failed. But TreasurySpring has done something that I believe can be truly game-changing for the industry and Kevin is at the forefront of those changes.”

When asked what the long-term goal is, Cook explains: “that anybody, any institution in any major country can finance any other institution in another country at a click of a button.”

Claudine Gallagher

Head of Securities Services, Americas,
BNP Paribas Securities Services

Claudine Gallagher’s path to leading BNP Paribas to be the first bank in over 20 years to build a custody business in the US hasn’t been a straight line, but it has been a poetic one. Before she was bringing Paris to America, she was an American in Paris who fell for her new home.

“I began my career in securities services very fortuitously. I had been studying in Paris and when I graduated my parents said if I wanted to stay, I had to find a job, and they gave me until Labor Day to do that,” explains Gallagher. “So I literally went to the French American Chamber of Commerce and wrote to basically every American company that had a presence in Paris, regardless of industry. And it just so happens that the first employer to make me an offer was JP Morgan.”

After rising up the ranks while in Europe, BNP Paribas recruited Gallagher in 2012 for a new challenge in the US, a market with a maturity that has tended to keep other custodians from trying to break in.

“That was at a time when the senior management of the bank had made a very bold and committed decision to invest in the development of the securities services business in the Americas. So it was an exciting time and still is,” says Gallagher. “We have been in a constant state of rolling out products, bringing on board new clients, adding new locations, and integrating acquisitions. It's been a whirlwind of growth and excitement.”

Under Gallagher’s leadership, BNP Paribas has grown from $0 in assets under custody to over $500 billion in seven years. In addition to custody, she is also leading BNP Paribas’ growth in areas such as fund administration.

“One of the really innovative projects we're working on now is our ETF administration platform, which will leverage the ‘40 Act operations capabilities we acquired from Janus Henderson,” she says. “I think we've taken a new approach to the ETF space because we're looking at that platform not just from the perspective of the asset manager sponsor of the ETF, but also from the viewpoint of the sell side and all their authorised participants. We want to make that communication and the flows between parties much smoother and more integrated.”

Combined with her role on the board at the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Gallagher has become one of the most influential leaders in securities services and continues to shape its development for the better.

Teresa Heitsenrether

Global Head of Securities Services,
JP Morgan

Teresa Heitsenrether has emerged as one of the standout individuals within the global securities services industry. She took on responsibility for JP Morgan’s securities services business four years ago, after building a substantial career in prime brokerage with the investment bank and has made waves during her time in the role.

Heitsenrether’s tenure leading the securities services division has focused on enhancing the bank’s custody and fund services capabilities by leveraging her experience in markets and investment banking. In 2017, that experience payed off when JP Morgan won a $1 trillion custody deal from BlackRock, the largest custody mandate awarded to a bank and a deal that Heitsenrether played a prominent part in.

“The conversion was executed flawlessly against a very aggressive timeline, in large part because of great partnership and collaboration with the client, not just in planning the largest move of assets ever done in our industry, but in how we thought about and reimagined the downstream workflow,” explained Heitsenrether to Global Custodian.

Heitsenrether has also overseen a significant transformation programme for the securities services business, centring the custodian’s efforts on technology, experience, and global capabilities. To a large extent, she has redefined what a modern-day global custodian looks like.

“Our technology investments have also allowed us to build tremendous scale and, as a result, our operational efficiency has improved due to automation,” she added. “In addition to technology, we have also been focused on data-driven analysis of operational processes overall – everything from where our teams are located to process reengineering and working with clients on improving straight-through-processing, which has paid significant dividends.

“We have evolved our operating model by adopting a proactive broker-dealer approach to how we service clients, particularly in the settlements area. Our custody middle-office team proactively engages with counterparties, making sure we get out in front of any issues.

“Whether in settlements or corporate actions, it has been a real distinguishing feature for us.

"Finally, for servicing we have achieved and maintained record levels of client satisfaction, and that is notable given some very large transitions that have happened during that period, including for BlackRock among others. We have a very strong pipeline, which speaks to the model in terms of results.”

Peter Hughes

Chief Executive Officer, Apex Group

Apex’s sudden ascendency over the last two years has been nothing short of exceptional. Less than one year after being bought out by private equity company Genstar, Apex had already cemented itself as one of the top five fund administrators by assets under administration (AUA). Apex achieved this impressive milestone through a rapid acquisition strategy, and the company does not plan on slowing down, a point made by founder and CEO Peter Hughes. “I want Apex to be a top three global fund services provider in the next five to ten years,” he adds.

From 2017 to the end of 2018, Apex has procured Equinoxe Alternative Investments, Deutsche Bank’s Alternative Fund Services business, MM Warburg Asset Services, Ipes, LRI Group and Custom House. In the first four months of 2019, Apex had purchased three US administrators – Atlantic Fund Services, Broadscope and Beacon Fund Services, in addition to the Private Client Services and the Throgmorton business from Link Asset Services. “In the last two and a half years, we have bought 11 businesses, and grown headcount from 600 to around 3,500,” says Hughes. “The integration went smoothly, evidenced by the fact we did not lose a single client.”

At the heart of this growth strategy is product diversification. While Apex began life in 2003 as a pure hedge fund administrator, the firm now offers a multi-asset class solution. In addition to traditional fund administration, Hughes highlights that Apex Group has morphed into a provider of middle-office, depositary, banking, corporate services, and technology.

“Our acquisition strategy is not simply about being bigger,” comments Hughes. “It centres around listening to our clients and being aware of the market. We are evolving our business to better service our clients as their needs change. Integrating all of these different businesses enables us to enhance the client experience through the ability to deliver a single-source solution. By consolidating multiple service providers, asset managers can now obtain a variety of products under a single roof, as opposed to engaging with five or six different providers and managing multiple vendors.”

Looking ahead, Hughes believes the environment, social, governance (ESG) and sustainable investment market – estimated to be worth circa $23 trillion, roughly equivalent to 26% of all global assets under management (AUM) – presents a massive opportunity.  While the concept of sustainability is certainly in vogue with asset managers and institutional clients, ESG data is often found, wanting, leading to growing concerns about a "greenwashing" of the wider investment universe.

Increasingly, service providers are responding to this by developing customised ESG ratings for clients and Apex is no exception. Having launched ESG reporting capabilities for listed assets in 2018, Hughes says the company is now developing a solution – Apex GreenLight ESG Ratings – to deliver the first independent ESG rating solution for non-listed companies. Such a tool is likely to draw interest from private equity managers, a number of whom are attempting to muscle in on ESG.

Hani Kablawi

Chief Executive Officer of Asset Servicing and Chairman of EMEA,
BNY Mellon

While Global Custodian has decided not to publish the number of votes each of our 30 individuals who made this list received, we can reveal that Hani Kablawi gained the most.

A combination of his experience, work towards equality and landmark business moves over the past 12 months undoubtedly swayed our judges in Kablawi’s favour on their ballot, selecting an individual who has become one of the faces of the world’s largest global custodian.

Kablawi is the CEO of BNY Mellon’s global asset servicing business, as well as chairman of the bank in the EMEA region, having joined the custodian in 1997. Since then, he has held a number of client, regional and business management roles. Including CEO of Middle East and Africa, Global Client Management, and EMEA Asset Servicing businesses, and then CEO of Investment Services.

Kablawi’s bio doesn’t stop there. He is a member of the bank’s executive committee and and is deputy chairman of the Advisory Council for the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF), the independent financial think tank for central banks and public investment.

He has also established himself as a voice for change, leading initiatives to narrow the gender pay gap at the bank and promote a more balanced representation of men and women at every level of the organisation.

Incredibly, we’ve got this far without even mentioning the day-to-day work for which Kablawi earned the bulk of his votes.

Under his guidance, BNY Mellon set a clear strategy at the beginning of the year: to adopt an open architecture model by partnering with the front-office platforms its clients use. This was a clear break away from its main rival, and instead of gaining a front-office service through acquisitions, the custodian decided to strike an alliance with two of the most used buy-side trading platforms.

The project started in April when BNY Mellon struck a landmark partnership with BlackRock, where it would integrate its custody data, accounting and asset servicing tools to the Aladdin platform. BNY Mellon would deliver real-time trade data, asset prices and cash positions to the 40-50 clients it shares with Aladdin.

Then in September, the bank partnered with Bloomberg to combine its custody and fund accounting data with the AIM order management system (OMS), enabling buy-side firms to gain direct access to BNY Mellon’s data and analytical workflow tools.

Both moves reflect BNY Mellon’s focus on creating a full front-to-back office data service, placing it at the centre of its clients’ investment data flows.

“No two OMS are the same, and no two alliances will be exactly the same, which is why it plays into our open architecture strategy,” says Kablawi.

“Clients want freedom of choice – they might find one OMS is more functional or more efficient than the other for a certain asset class – so we will work with them to integrate the data and get the dashboards out to ensure the end-client experience is as good as possible.”

Rahul Kanwar

President and Chief Operating Officer, SS&C

Prior to joining SS&C, Rahul Kanwar was a happy client of the firm. “During my first job, we licensed a product from SS&C called Total Return, which is one of our hedge fund accounting systems,” he explains. “I was involved in the implementation and ran Total Return in real life. I became one of the super users. The experience helped me appreciate the value of technology, how it can change the way people do their jobs, and was one of the most formative in my career.”

Now president and COO of SS&C Technologies, Kanwar sums up the rationale for his current role. “As a company, we try to figure out what information is useful and how individuals and organisations make decisions or perform their daily activities,” he says. “Teaching machines to analyse and present insights to improve decision-making is an integral part of what we're trying to do as a company.”

Kanwar sees the rise of intelligent processing as potentially as transformative as the internet. “AI, broadly classified, and machine learning are starting to revolutionise financial and healthcare processing,” he says.

One problem with the current innovation fervour in the industry is how to separate promise from reality. Kanwar advocates a pragmatic approach. “If there’s something we think is promising, we're willing to invest in getting to where we have a prototype and a functional system. For most people, it's easier to see and react to something tangible,” he says. “Once we get to that point, we'll show it to five or 10 customers and figure out which ones would be good to partner with us. We might be making the majority of the investment, but if our clients are willing to invest their money, that provides a further degree of validation. From there, we can incrementally build and gain access to their knowledge and expertise.”

Kanwar suggests with some confidence that most investment managers five years from now will be using a terminal or a mobile device to communicate with their operations staff, who will be sitting inside a technology or software company. “Getting to this operational model might take seven years instead of five years, but that's where it's heading,” he says. “This paradigm is the one we have been working towards at SS&C. Many of our accomplishments over the past decade have been building blocks for the next generation of transformation.”

Joan Kehoe

Global Head of Alternative Investment Services,
JP Morgan

Many would argue that Joan Kehoe has already played a major part in shaping the fund administration industry of today, but what a testament it is to her work, that our judges also believe she will be integral to the future as well.

Her 30 years of experience began when she was one of the first employees of PFPC where she helped grow the firm's assets under administration to $120 billion and became head of Europe.

Kehoe then turned entrepreneur in 2006 and truly cemented her status as an industry legend when she founded Dublin-based alternatives specialist firm Quintillion, overseeing years of growth before the business was purchased by US Bancorp in 2013.

Now in her third year at JP Morgan, Kehoe has become an integral part of the bank's fund administration business. She is on a mission to optimise the vast amounts of data it handles and deliver it to fund managers in the most effective way. Even compared with the extensive list of achievements and innovations in her career-to-date, Kehoe believes this role stands out.

“This has been the most forward-thinking role I have taken on in my career,” says Kehoe.

“The current work we are doing is revolutionising the way we do business from a data and business operating perspective. We are focussed on technology and thus providing our clients with better access to their data.”

Kehoe is leading a programme where JP Morgan is attempting to combine all of the bank’s alternatives fund data with a high-touch service model, and provide near real-time data services that can support front-office decisions, capitalising on a growing trend in the industry. This could be in areas such as performance analytics, regulatory reporting and risk reporting.

JP Morgan has also partnered with post-trade technology provider Arcesium to automate the two-way transfer of information between the bank and its hedge fund clients.

The partnership is part of JP Morgan’s larger efforts to invest in its fund administration business, which Kehoe is responsible for managing and utilising this investment.

“Future proofing is about meeting clients’ needs,” Kehoe adds. “The asset management industry is transforming and experiencing fee and regulatory pressures, therefore the trend of using data as efficiently as you can across multiple parts of the business is going to be key. APIs, robotics and blockchain will play a bigger role in the fund services industry.”

Emma Johnson

Director, Regulatory and Market Initiatives,
Deutsche Bank

As head of securities services regulation and market reform, Emma Johnson has played a pivotal role at Deutsche Bank in an era defined by the implementation of new rules and requirements.

Johnson’s primary focus is reviewing European regulations to assess their impact on securities services products and clients, and advocating for change. This ability to look at regulation through the eyes of the client has propelled her reputation throughout the industry in recent years and Johnson has become a sought-after spokesperson and go-to source for regulatory insight.

With the Central Securities Depositories Regulation (CSDR) on the horizon, Johnson has become a key individual for both Deutsche Bank and the industry as a whole, with a focus on a safe implementation internally and on how the industry will react and respond to the settlement discipline regime and its implications for the European markets. 

“Something I’m excited about is that we’re using real-time data analytics and platforms –technology used by Vimeo, eBay and Netflix - to predict client behaviours and seeing where there are weaknesses, settlement failures and then proposing solutions such as realignments,” she explains. “We’re giving clients a risk view of their exposure, calculating penalties in step with the CSDs and calculating buy-in risk. It’s very European centric at the moment with CSDR looming next September, but it can be and will be a global tool for us.”

Johnson has built her experience through roles in the operations divisions of Cantor Fitzgerald, ABN Amro and UBS, and has been responsible for settlement, clearing, custody, collateral, asset services, client services, trade support and new issues, along the way supporting business lines such as cash, repo, securities lending and prime services.

This experience and her role at Deutsche Bank has provided her with the scope to build relationships both within the industry, and with clients and regulators, giving Johnson a unique outlook on the post-trade space.

From that view she is keen on collaboration as a means to move forward. 

“We are a relationship business and it is part of the broader ecosystem,” she says. “If one link is weak, then it invites risk and contagion to the rest of the chain. We have a responsibility to protect our clients and the industry as a whole.”

In this regard, she is a leading figure for the International Securities Services Association (ISSA) in shaping the guidance for cyber risks in the securities chain and the roll-out of digital assets within the industry.

In a particularly standout year for Johnson, she has also produced a guide to help clients prepare for CSDR, and more recently authored a forward-looking whitepaper on transitioning to the future of securities post-trade where she explores how the future of the sector might look and the opportunities presented by regulation, infrastructure change and technology to reshape the roles of various participants within the post-trade securities value chain. 

Chris Jones

Global Head of Strategy, Innovation and Architecture,
HSBC Securities Services

As global head of strategy, innovation and architecture at HSBC Securities Services’ Change and IT function, Chris Jones is at the forefront of the bank’s digitalisation strategy. Now in his tenth year at HSBC, Jones’ career has also spanned consultancy, asset management and payments with stints at Andersen Consulting, Fidelity and American Express.

“I have worked in technology at a number of different organisations, and I co-founded an online multi-market stockbroker during the dotcom era, which gave me a valuable insight into FinTechs,” he explains.

Jones has also been a driving force behind the technology strategy for HSBC’s OneCustody platform, an initiative to create a single infrastructure and operating model for the bank’s global custody and clearing businesses. The end result being a simplified, digitally enabled gateway to HSBC’s custody network that enables clients to freely transact and support securities investments as if they were investing locally.

Elsewhere within the bank, Jones is helping to spearhead innovation programmes focussing on application programming interfaces (APIs), blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, e-channels, data-as-a-service and digital assets. 

“The bank is engaging with a number of FinTech companies to deliver new solutions for our institutional clients,” he says. “While we are fairly advanced in terms of rolling out robotic process automation, we are now trying to go up a level by introducing AI and machine learning. As part of this strategy, we are working with several FinTechs on the West Coast along with internal expert groups.”

Digital assets and tokenisation – namely the process of issuing a blockchain token that represents a tangible, tradable asset - also feature highly on HSBC’s priority list. In theory, tokenisation could make markets more accessible by fractionalising assets, allowing for the cost of investing to drop significantly.

Moreover, assets considered illiquid can also be tokenised and then traded, which would facilitate even greater liquidity. “When I speak to asset managers, a growing number are starting to talk about the benefits of tokenisation. I believe this could be a massive opportunity for the custodians,” says Jones. 

By this, he is talking about an institutional crypto-custody model. While there are non-bank crypto-custodians operating in the market, few banks have taken the plunge and developed custody solutions for digital assets.

Jones expects this will change fairly imminently and is confident banks will eventually attract mandates from institutional investors trading digital assets. “Balance sheet will be essential to attracting institutional business. While many crypto-custodians say they have insurance to mitigate against losses, this has seemingly never been tested,” he says.

Ryan Marsh

Director and Head of Custody Innovation & Product Development,

Having accumulated 23 years’ experience at Citi’s Securities Services business, Ryan Marsh, director of the bank’s custody product development, is visibly excited about what the future holds for market infrastructures.

It is an area of the business which the bank knows all too well. “One of the unique things about Citi is that it has the world’s largest sub-custody franchise, meaning it is connected to more market infrastructures than any of its competitors. It has played an instrumental role in supporting the establishment of market infrastructures and multilateral trading facilities (MTFs) across multiple regions,” explains Marsh.

Marsh is also the bank’s global custody lead for FinTech and innovation initiatives. While some leaders inside the securities services industry are becoming increasingly sceptical about blockchain owing to the lack of success across a number of proof of concepts (POCs), Marsh is confident the technology will have a meaningful impact on operating models at market infrastructures, especially central securities depositories (CSDs).

“We have about a dozen blockchain initiatives involving market infrastructures globally. I believe these will have a transformational impact on the operational processes at intermediaries,” he comments.

In particular, Marsh believes blockchain’s single version of the truth will put an end to some of the inefficiencies and duplication which proliferate during the investment lifecycle process. “We are working with a number of incumbent market infrastructures on various blockchain initiatives. Simultaneously, we are also engaging with fintechs and new market infrastructures, who are looking to launch and compete with traditional providers by leveraging innovative technologies,” he says.

Among its current initiatives, Citi is working closely with existing market infrastructures such as the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), which is presently remodelling its post-trade infrastructure for cash equities by replacing the underlying technology with distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Even though Marsh is bullish on blockchain, he is pragmatic and firmly acknowledges the technology is not universally applicable throughout the entire industry. “It is important to distinguish between the technology and the process. While blockchain can support real time atomic trading and settlement, this has several practical challenges such as forecasting liquidity requirements, and a probable increase in the overall amount of liquidity required to settle on a RTGS (real-time gross settlement) basis,” concedes Marsh.

Lou Maiuri

Chief Operating Officer,
State Street

For over 30 years, Lou Maiuri has been at the forefront of technological change in the securities services industry, but his inclusion in this list is a testament to what is he set to achieve in addition to his wealth of experience. From his early days as a vice president in technology at State Street, to his time as CEO of Eagle Investment Systems, Maiuri has long been advancing the industry’s use of technology.

Now, after being promoted to chief operating officer of State Street in early 2019, Maiuri is in an even more visible role and committed to creating a front-to-back-office investment servicing platform through the integration of Charles River, which State Street views as the future of industry infrastructure.

“When fully implemented, the platform will harmonise data, technology and services across the investment lifecycle so our clients can overcome silos, work smarter and stay in sync,” explains Maiuri. “With a single source of data truth, it will enable institutional clients to make better investment decisions and better manage their business on a completely open platform.”

While advancing data and technology capabilities has been part of Maiuri’s past, and part of the evolution of the industry as a whole, he sees the pace of change picking up significantly.

“It is certainly a continued evolution; however, I’ve noticed that cycle of change now is relative to several months and no longer counted in years,” he says. “Significant changes are happening across all aspects of the financial services industry, including within the liquidity and servicing businesses, as well as asset and wealth management segments. Harnessing and properly leveraging data and technology has become an arms race and it is speeding up each and every day.”

Thriving in this environment of rapid change and continuing to propel State Street and the securities services industry forward requires not only someone with experience, but also someone who is willing to be bold.

“I believe one of my most valuable personality traits is that I was never afraid to take risks on and throw myself into completely different situations,” says Maiuri. “That approach, in retrospect, served me very well as I was seeking out new challenges and building new skills every few years. I also pride myself on being naturally curious and a lifelong learner. To this day, I continue to be interested in and motivated by learning more about new business models, technologies and how companies are solving complex challenges.”

Stephanie Miller

Chief Executive Officer,

If a strong leader and a bold growth strategy are essential components to thriving in the current fund administration environment, then Intertrust shareholders can sleep easy with Stephanie Miller at the helm.

An industry veteran who has soaked up experience from some of the largest administration players in the world, Miller was selected for the chief executive role in December 2017.

Having established Citco’s middle-office services business 10 years ago, Miller earned the coveted role of head of global fund services at JP Morgan, before joining fund administration giant SS&C as a managing director.

Intertrust represented a whole new arena, with assets under administration of $3.74 billion, but critically this was set to be a role where Miller’s ambitions were matched by the company’s desire for growth.

In September 2018, Miller, outlined an ambitious three-year strategy with a vision for the firm to become a globally renowned, tech-enabled corporate and fund solutions provider.

“Disciplined M&A is back on the agenda with the United States and Asia as priority regions,” said Miller at the time. Despite having two years remaining to fulfil this plan, Intertrust has wasted no time checking the M&A and regional growth boxes in a landmark year for the Dutch-headquartered fund administrator.

Under Miller’s guidance, Intertrust announced this summer it would acquire Viteos, a tech-enabled provider of middle and back-office services, in a deal worth $330 million, bolstering its technology capabilities and reputation through the well-received agreement. In February, Intertrust also reached an agreement to purchase ABN AMRO's escrow and settlement business.

These moves followed a swathe of regional expansions which saw new offices open in Ireland, Paris and China, along with an extension of its services in the US. The Viteos acquisition will also enable Intertrust to leverage the technology provider’s offshore centres of excellence in India.

These plays seem to have resonated with those in the industry, as talent appears to be pouring into Intertrust. During 2019, Miller managed to lure BlackRock’s director of investment accounting operations, Deirdre Hochma, to the team, along with Citi’s Patrick O’Brien, who became its global head of funds in May, and Ian Lynch, the former global head of alternative fund services at BNP Paribas.

In a space where consolidation is rife, those who plan to survive are focusing on technology enhancements and a wide range of offerings with extensive global expertise and people on the ground in as many markets as possible.

Miller’s growth aspirations for Intertrust may be seen as ambitious, but they are clear: to be technology-enabled and focused, with acquisitions and expertise additions building out the firm’s range of services from shadow banking to escrow with people on the ground in as many jurisdictions as possible. With these goals, she is on-track to shape the future of the fund administration industry which is undergoing rapid change and will likely see a far smaller set of providers remaining over the next decade – at this rate, few would count out Intertrust as being one of those few.

Roman Regelman

Head of Digital,
BNY Mellon

While Roman Regelman has technically only worked at a custodian since 2018, his prior career as a consultant introduced him to the securities services industry early on. With over 25 years of experience in digital, operations, and management consulting, as well as helping to launch FinTech, Regelman has a wealth of experience that he draws upon in his ambitious digital strategy now that he’s on the inside of BNY Mellon.

“When you're a consultant, you spend a lot of time thinking about what to do. You spend some time, but less, thinking about how to do it. And you spend the least amount of time actually doing it,” he explains. “I came here [to BNY Mellon] with a very clear idea of what to do, and I spend the majority of my time actually doing it. We're digitising the bank all the way from core operations to reimagining the way we work with clients, to creating new digital businesses.”

BNY Mellon’s strategy, called “Digitizing this Very Bank”, is a new approach to digital transformation, which the firm thinks will become more common. Instead of approaching digital as a line item in a budget, or as a series of product enhancements, Regelman is leading the push for digital to be omnipresent throughout the organisation.

“I tell everyone that digital is everyone's job, and our executive committee really believes that,” says Regelman. “Most organisations, especially banks, are not designed this way. Something might be looked at as a technology problem, an operations problem, or a product problem. But at the end of the day, that's a client problem, which means it's the whole organisation's problem.”

That means that in addition to deploying new technologies and finding ways to deliver a better digital experience for clients, Regelman is also part of changing the culture surrounding digital.

“I send a weekly report to the CEO on all the things we're doing for digital, and that report goes to the entire organisation. That's the culture we're building, with cross-functional ways of working.”

Of course, there are more technical aspects to digitising the bank, such as Regelman overseeing the use of artificial intelligence to go through over one million contracts to pull critical information. This type of data extraction can be used to reduce costs, improve compliance and ultimately deliver better service for clients.

“The role of data is huge; it’s fundamental to the solutions that we have, and clients have come to expect a digital, data-driven experience,” he explains.

Anand Rengarajan

Head of Securities Services, Asia Pacific,
Deutsche Bank

Anand Rengarajan has built a career on opening doors for investors to access new markets. Throughout his 20 years at Deutsche Bank, Rengarajan has successfully led numerous industry-wide initiatives to make foreign investment easier in Asia’s more complex markets.

With a background in engineering, Rengarajan’s passion about systems thinking has given him an innovative mindset to find interesting ways of solving intricate challenges in securities services.

Now, as head of securities services for Deutsche Bank’s AsiaPacific business, Rengarajan has the responsibility for driving strategic initiatives in the region. He has recently seen his role expand significantly, given the fact that emerging markets are now a primary focus for asset managers.

He has become a key influencer for change, having launched several thought leadership initiatives to help investors prepare for the further opening up of several markets. Most notably, Rengarajan co-authored the 2017 edition of the Namaste India guide, alongside GC Legend and Deutsche Bank’s former global head of securities services, Satvinder Singh. The guide is still a must-read for investors wanting to access India’s capital markets, and now available as a Japanese version.

His standout highlights also include the launch of the qualified foreign investor/foreign portfolio investor scheme in India, where Deutsche Bank became the first custodian to accompany the President of India and senior Indian officials on a roadshow to promote investment.

More recently, Rengarajan has worked with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange to explore distributed ledger technology (DLT)-based solutions, and the use of smart contracts to address nuances in market structure and differences between international practices and Mainland Chinese practices, vis-à-vis securities settlement.

Outside of improving market practices, Rengarajan is also leading several technology products to evolve Deutsche Bank’s internal and external operations. Last year, Deutsche Bank launched its securities services chatbot ‘Debbie’, which was built on a joint proof-of-concept with BNY Mellon’s Singapore Innovation Centre.  He has also been exploring the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), machine learning, and robotic processing automation.

“We are working on lots of initiatives across the new technology platforms that are waking up, along with thematic trends such as ESG,” says Rengarajan. “If I had to pick one thing I am most excited about it’s the DLT initiatives we are doing, given the role it will play as we move forward. We officially launched the first use test case of DLT linked to beneficial rights ownership as part of SRD II, that’s the first live case and I’m hoping there will be more of these use cases coming up.”

Sanjiv Sawhney

Global Head of Custody and Fund Services,

Sanjiv Sawhney has worked across almost every function you can think of within a securities services firm. Over the course of his 27-year career in the industry, he has been involved in roles spanning operations, technology, country and regional management, as well as global business leadership positions. 

His career has taken him from India to Luxembourg and now to London as Citi’s global head of custody and fund services. In his global role, Sawhney has been at the forefront of the changing role of the custodian, overseeing the evolution from a safe keeper of assets to becoming a strategic partner for financial institutions. 

“Service differentiation is provided by the rising importance of middle-office, transfer agency and data management services, in addition to the core existing functions of fund administration and custody services,” says Sawhney. 

He led the rollout of Citi’s big data platform for custody and fund services, consolidating all of its data across not only its own business but also client and third-party data providers. Sawhney has also helped expand Citi’s capabilities into new products and markets, such as European exchange traded fund (ETF) administration.

Sawhney is now responsible for leading several initiatives and projects that could not only fundamentally change the bank’s operations, but also set new industry standards.

At the centre of these new initiatives lay next generation technologies to develop new solutions that not only help Citi, but the industry as a whole. This includes the rollout of its digital proxy voting platform, ProxymitySM, which delivers measurable voting-related benefits to institutional investors and public companies. The bank is also using robotics and machine learning to significantly cut down the timeframe to deliver net asset value (NAV) for its fund services clients. 

One area Sawhney is also keeping an eye on for the future is digital and distributed ledger technology (DLT), and its ability to transform the core platform for securities services providers.

“There are around 15-16 use cases where DLT is being used to automate processes. It is not only being used to digitise assets but also in funds distribution and share ownership meetings. It is the same underlying technology which can both automate and make processes more efficient, but also transform the way we trade,” he says. 

His outlook for the future of the industry is optimistic, but it depends on collaborative efforts with other providers to overcome mutual challenges.

“For theses collaborative efforts to succeed, one of the larger global custodians will have to take the lead. There are a number of FinTechs trying to come in and disrupt, but if you don’t have the overlying experience and knowledge of the fiduciary challenges the industry has, it will fall flat. So, it has to be a mix of disrupting infrastructures and FinTech, coupled with a player who has been in the industry for a long time for these solutions to advance,” Sawhney adds.

James Slater

Global Head of Solutions for Asset Servicing,
BNY Mellon

From his early days on the trading floor in Canada to a leadership role at BNY Mellon, James Slater has thrived using his ambition and entrepreneurial tendencies to climb the ladder and launch new initiatives within larger businesses that move the industry forward.

These initiatives range from his key role at CIBC to form the CIBC Mellon joint venture in 1996, to moving to the US in 2010 to become the COO of BNY Mellon’s securities finance business (he shortly thereafter took over as head of securities finance), helping the unit navigate the post-financial crisis environment and grow in areas, such as it's tri-party business. 

“I've had the opportunity to build a lot of new capabilities and products within the bank, and all of it was in response to understanding the forces in play and how regulation has been changing the market,” says Slater.

Today, he continues to help BNY Mellon evolve as the global head of business solutions for asset servicing, where he provides strategic direction and helps the bank expand its capabilities, such as when earlier this year the bank executed the first cleared securities lending transaction by an agent lender through Eurex Clearing’s Lending CCP platform. The bank sees this transaction as a new way for clients to centrally clear securities lending transactions without the stipulations of having a traditional clearing house membership.

Going forward, Slater acknowledges a continued need to adapt to regulatory change, which creates an opening to provide new solutions to clients.

“One of the reasons why I was attracted to the product side of asset servicing is that I think there's going to be a lot of change in the space over the coming years. The regulatory burdens are becoming more intense for the buy-side. Regulators are shifting a lot of risk from the sell-side to the buy-side, and the impact of that is still rippling through the marketplace.”

In addition to regulatory change, Slater also sees technological change as opening new doors, particularly as investing becomes more dependent on both structured and unstructured data.

“With technology, there's no way of really expressing the level of change that is going to happen. It's going to be transformative,” he says. “And whenever there's that much change in any market, there's an opportunity to create new products and services and take market share. That's why I'm attracted to this space.”

Guido Stroemer

Founder and Chief Executive Officer,

As the phrase goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Take any creation or enhancement in the modern world from the paperclip to the golf tee, these innovations are often born out of the mind of an individual embedded in the craft, who sees an opportunity for improvement. Suddenly, you can’t imagine a world without such devices.

After spending 18 years working in securities lending and financing positions at UBS, Guido Stroemer added his name to history’s list of opportunistic entrepreneurs with a new initiative aimed at revolutionising collateral mobilisation. Aptly-named HQLAx, this project was one he could not have undertaken if not for his years of experience in the securities finance business.

Essentially, the idea is to create digital collateral records which represent an ownership stake in baskets of securities which are easily transferable between custody accounts without the physical movements of assets. To truly understand the need for this new system though, we need to go back to its genesis.

“This will make a winner out of everyone,” said Stroemer. “There’s trapped liquidity sitting in the markets looking for a more efficient way to be released and monetised.”

According to a report by Oliver Wyman, the average cost of holding HQLA reserves for intraday liquidity management is 100 basis points. The report found that between 10-30% of bank high-quality liquid assets (HQLA) buffer requirements are driven by intraday liquidity needs, and that proactive management of intraday liquidity can lead to a reduction in a bank’s intraday liquidity requirements of 25% or more.

Off the back of the report, Stroemer and HQLAx issued their own paper saying that assuming a holding cost of 100 basis points for intraday liquidity reserves, every $1 billion reduction of intraday liquidity reserve requirements equates to approximately $10 million in cost savings per annum.

Through Corda’s blockchain technology, HQLAx managed to facilitate collateral management processes and the exchange of HQLA, in a bid to reduce what Stroemer deemed as unnecessary costs and complexities. A year later, the first trade took place.

In a year of milestones, the next one came quickly for HQLAx. Just weeks later it was announced that it would team up with one of the capital markets largest infrastructure groups in Deutsche Boerse, propelling Clearstream into a pivotal role for the future of the project.

Then, in September 2019, HQLAx successfully facilitated multiple simulation transactions, where the ownership of a basket of securities residing at Clearstream Banking and Euroclear Bank were exchanged without the need for securities to be moved across the Bridge, the long-established electronic communications platform to transmit securities between these two institutions.

So deeply has Stroemer’s work resonated with the industry, that during interviews with the other individuals in the 30 to Shape the Future list, a handful namechecked HQLAx as an initiative they were excited about in the future.

Michelle Swanepoel

Head of Securities Services, Africa,
Standard Chartered

The number of people who grew up looking forward to a career in post-trade services is not thought to be huge. Michelle Swanepoel, who heads up securities services in Africa for Standard Chartered, was no exception. “To be honest, I entered the custody and securities services world by chance, because it was the first job I got when I graduated from university. I didn't really even know what an equity or bond was at the time.”  She soon concluded, however, that she’d made the right decision. “Immediately I entered the industry and I loved it,” she says. “I still find it fascinating and I learn something new every day.”

Among the pivotal moments in her career was a spell in London in her early twenties. “I became an account manager for broker dealers in London, many of whom were much older than I was. There were still a lot of bespoke smaller broker dealers then and they were all in my portfolio,” she says. “I just loved the client engagement and having access to the global industry of finance. I think that was probably one of the bigger hooks.”

Swanepoel’s responsibilities have expanded significantly since then. As both head of securities services for Africa and regional head of business account management for Africa and the Middle East, she is involved in a wide range of initiatives, both within the bank and the broader industry. She nevertheless keeps her focus on client value rather than innovation per se. “There are a number of projects and PoCs [proof of concepts] we're busy with across the innovation space, which I don't think are going to fundamentally differ from other banks at the moment,” she says, citing as an example a recently developed data lake specifically for securities services. “We've also had some nice proof of concepts around tokenisation, but I don't think those projects or concepts are going to create the value for clients into the future individually,” she stresses.” It’s really about how you take these individual concepts and work streams, put them together and co-create with your clients in a new environment; that’s where we create the most client value. “

At the same time, Swanepoel suggests, experience has taught her not to try and do everything at once. “Efficiency is best achieved in smaller projects, either getting them to delivery or, if you think they’re not likely to get to delivery, canning them as soon as possible,” she says.

Mostapha Tahiri

Head of Asia Pacific,
BNP Paribas Securities Services

Mostapha Tahiri’s name has been synonymous with BNP Paribas Securities Services’ foray into Asia after a decade of work to elevate the bank’s position in the region. These efforts have reaped significant rewards, with BNP Paribas making a significant impact in a relatively short period of time. The bank now has a presence in eight markets in Asia Pacific, with 2,800 employees and continues to post revenue and assets under custody records with each passing year.

Tahiri has been at the core of this growth project from day one, and in January 2019 was named as head of Asia Pacific, a reward for his success in the role of head of institutional investors and head of digital transformation.

Having someone at the helm with experience of the buy-side, product management and the foresight to explore technology and innovation sets up the French-headquartered bank to continue to thrive in the region.

Along with continuing to focus on building trust and client service – two factors BNP Paribas puts at the heart of its Asia Pacific strategy – Tahiri is passionate about innovation and harnessing the power of new technology. He emphasises though, technology implementations should be based on the benefits they provide clients and not for their own sake.

Tahiri is also spearheading initiatives in big data analysis, providing Data as a Service, and the roll out of distributed ledger technology by several of the region’s major exchanges. 

When asked to highlight a project he believes will be a ‘game changer’ for clients, Tahiri selects the bank’s sustainability objectives and the creation of its first Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) analytics platform from Singapore. 

Tahiri was instrumental in this launch, and the pride in being ahead of competitors in this space was evident. 

“Something I’m very excited about is sustainability,” says Tahiri. “We’ve been embracing that for five or six years now. We started developing ESG report analytics as a first and then began building a solution to help investors get into sustainable investing.

“We just announced Climate Seed where we act as a connector, between investors and corporates to offset the carbon footprint of portfolios. This will help our clients transition to a more sustainable future.”

Amrik Thethi

Chief Technology Officer,
Torstone Technology

As a passionate technologist, it is probably fair to say that Amrik Thethi, CTO at Torstone, fell into the banking world rather than seeking to join it. “I got a really early personal computer when I was young and became quite good at programming. I subsequently did A-levels in math and computers and then did a computer science degree, but I only got into banking much later in my career,” he says. “I was working in Manchester and wanted to come back down to London where I grew up. In the late 1990s, banking was growing massively. I managed to land myself a job at Deutsche Bank as a programmer and never looked back.”

His involvement in the post-trade world came later: “In 2000, a friend of mine asked if I wanted to join a Belgian investment bank called KBC as part of the post-trade group. I said yes. I’d worked with him before and he was a very smart guy. That was it. I didn’t really choose to go into post-trade. It chose me.”

Thethi is candid about the state of technological innovation in the post-trade space. “It seems to lag the front-office and general IT by a good 10 years in some cases,” he suggests. He nevertheless decries innovation for innovation’s sake. “Torstone is all about automation and improving efficiency – ostensibly boring stuff that actually makes things better,” Thethi says. “It’s not necessarily about looking for big fundamental changes to anything. What most people are struggling with on a day-to-day basis is old systems that are not fit for purpose or have lots of manual steps or else don't do certain things that they have to do. That's what people in the post-trade space are struggling with most of the time, not some fundamental shift in how things work.”

By contrast, Thethi says the human side of technology resourcing is often underappreciated. “The main thing I've learnt – and it may be an obvious thing – is to hire good people. A lot of the time people assume that IT staff are an interchangeable resource. It doesn't work like that,” he stresses. “Good people who understand both the technology and the business domain can apply that knowledge to solve a problem. IT is not a separate function. That's the biggest mistake businesses make. Big banks that organise their business around vertical silos, where there is business on one side and IT on the other, often end up with people from the two groups fighting with each other rather than working together. The ideal is to have small teams where business and IT work together to solve the problems they have.”

Simone Vroegop

Head of European Product Management, Financial Technology,
Brown Brothers Harriman

“I’ve been asked to be an entrepreneur during my career,” says Simon Vroegop, explaining an avenue not often followed by people working within large financial organisations, but one she has earnt the right to take.

Vroegop’s career has been a varied and fascinating story, from a linguistic department at the Council of Ministers in Brussels to becoming State Street’s first employee in the Netherlands, where she also expanded her remit to the Nordics over time.

Her entrepreneurial side has shone through within these roles on multiple occasions, and this trait has also been ever present in her current position where she is working with asset managers and financial institutions to deliver FinTech-led solutions to future proof their respective businesses.

In an evolving role, Vroegop is dealing with heads of data, digital and innovation to listen to the demands of the asset gatherers and come back with appropriate solutions.

“When I was approached by BBH I was attracted by the fact I could combine what I’ve done in the past 20 years in asset servicing and be an entrepreneur within product strategy,” she explains.

By drawing on connections from her past, Vroegop has worked with professionals throughout the financial ecosystem – from consultants, to FinTechs and lawyers - to pull together products to deliver provider-agnostic, integrated solutions. This has led to BBH taking a collaborative approach which is often talked about in securities services, but seldom put into practice.

This means Vroegop looks externally for solutions to complement BBH’s own, working alongside a variety of FinTech firms, post-trade servicers and associations to provide asset management clients with a unique offering.

While most asset managers realise that change in the industry is afoot, there can be hesitation to work directly with a start-up FinTech provider, but if it’s through a custodian they trust with hundreds of years of history behind them, then they are often more willing to engage.

“We are not everything to everybody,” Vroegop acknowledges. “There are a number of solutions out there, but you need that entrepreneurial side to appreciate that we know clients like working with BBH but also like various FinTechs. There is a change in the market. We are bringing all this together: a custody product with, let’s say, an asset manager in need of a set of data. We embed provider-agnostic stand-alone services so that the client sees the end result and has oversight and control.”

Swen Werner

Managing Director, Digital Product Development and Innovation,
State Street

Swen Werner has made a career out of commercialising change in securities services. Whether it’s been regulations, market infrastructure changes or industry trends, Werner has been at the forefront of new developments in roles at JP Morgan, Deutsche Bank and Deutsche Boerse.

Now at State Street, he is part of the custodian’s digital product development and innovation team responsible for designing new products, leveraging different emerging technologies, including distributed ledger technologies (DLT) and engagement with industry partners to build industry-leading service and operating models.

Werner has dared to go where few others have in recent years, becoming the custody industry’s voice addressing the trend of cryptocurrency adoption. At the risk of constantly having to answer questions such as ‘does this mean State Street is offering crypto custody?’, Werner has been a calming and engaging representative for the industry, responding to an audience desperate to have the likes of the banking giant involved in the emerging asset class.

His openness in embracing change has helped State Street establish itself as a company open to innovation and moving with the times to remain relevant to its clients. Subsequently, Werner has become somewhat of a bridge between the digital asset world and the long-standing custody industry.

The approach is less of a commitment to any change in particular, but more of an exploration into how the securities services industry can utilise digital assets, blockchain and the concept of tokenisation. This has been evident in Werner and State Street backing the Utility Settlement Coin project, an industry initiative to create a distributed Financial Market Infrastructure to bring cash to a blockchain application. 

“People have an expectation that all these things will come together,” says Werner. “My aim is getting State Street ready for the change, because digital assets and blockchain speak to a fundamental change.”

“Moving away from the commoditisation of the industry I find the concept of this ‘need for custody’ fascinating – particularly when it comes to digital assets - and it’s important that we are not just looking at our existing industry and thinking that it needs urgent change, but that we can also provide value for new markets.”

Werner represents State Street in various industry bodies such as the European Central Bank’s (ECB’s) Ami-Seco Advisory group and the DLT Task Force, and engages with FinTechs as well as sub-custodians.

Along with accomplishments around collateral regulations and the rollout of T2S, Werner also successfully completed large scale internal development programs to build new settlement optimisation features, reduce operational risk and improve client reporting in the core custody product, defined in close cooperation with State Street’s sub-custodian providers. That know-how has been used to work with industry partners to build a pipeline of product development and cross-selling opportunities in the areas of custody and cash services.

Thomas Zeeb

Head Securities & Exchanges,
SIX Group

When it comes to giving practical substance to new ideas, Tom Zeeb espouses three clear principles: “First, define the problem clearly and relevantly, so you don’t end up with a solution looking for a problem. You need clarity in what you want to achieve. Secondly, be aware that most initiatives attract both snake oil salesmen and doomsayers. Focus on fact-based assessments. Thirdly, if you’re really trying to change the industry, you need time, commitment and funding. You need to work with stakeholders.”

Zeeb joined SIX in 2008, having previously worked for Clearstream Banking in London and Luxembourg. He took up an expanded role as head, securities & exchanges in April 2018 after 10 years in charge of the securities services business unit. As a young graduate in the mid-1980s, he was keen to go into the automotive industry, but as he explains, “it was in a dire state at the time and there were no meaningful opportunities”. The financial services industry, by contrast, was hiring. “What is interesting,” he notes, “is that the pain and change that the auto industry was undergoing in the mid-80s has since been visited on the financial services industry.”

He remains optimistic about the potential for innovation in the industry. “As a specific project, I’d cite SIX Digital Exchange (SDX), the market infrastructure we’re building for integrated end-to-end trading, settlement and custody of digital assets, as front and centre,” he says. “I truly believe SDX will be a game changer, but we’re also involved in a number of related issues that go beyond SDX itself to include, for example, potential digital forms of fiat currency. SIX Group is working with the Swiss National Bank and the BIS to explore the practicalities of such developments.”

Even if technology allows, there is a danger that in racing ahead clients will not be able or willing to keep up. “It's not helpful as an infrastructure to be 10 steps ahead of our clients, because you lose them along the way,” says Zeeb. “One of the things we've done in conjunction with our board is focus efforts on spending a lot more time in user group dialogues around specific use cases. That way, a client can develop a business case that meets the investment criteria in his or her institution rather than us just going out and putting a fantastic infrastructure in place and saying, ‘It's there. Everybody use it please.’ Because you haven’t shown them how.”