Skip Smith is the chief operating officer of Confluence. Skip has more than 25 years of experience as a technology & operations executive, having studied at the University of Maryland, and he has worked for companies such as Fiserv, JPMorgan Chase and PricewaterhouseCoopers. In this interview he talks about Confluence’s value proposition in the financial services space and introduces entrepreneurs to the problems and their possible solutions in the market.
Sramana Mitra: Skip, let´s start with an introduction of Confluence and of you.
Skip Smith: Confluence is a leading provider of fund administration solutions for investment managers and global service providers of all sizes. We typically focus on performance management, expense processing, and financial reporting areas of the investment management back office technology.
SM: What is your background?
SS: I have been in the military and space end of technology for years. Then I moved into financial services. In the mid-1990s I ran a small consulting practice for Pricewaterhouse, had my own consulting business for a period. At that time I ran a technology organization for J.P. Morgan in their commercial bank and also a few businesses for Fiserv in the banking space before joining Confluence in January 2011.
SM: Let´s start with identifying some of the key problems of the fund management business, which seems to be your main area of activity. What are the key challenges you are dealing with?
SS: The strategic challenges our clients are facing is that they need to transition from being reactive players in the market to being proactive – from more antiquated to more innovative. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, they have been forced to deal, very tactically, with their problems in compliance, accuracy, and precision of their fund administration process. They have typically approached solving those problems by adding staff. As they are getting pricing pressure from the market, they now have to add staff, and they simply can´t add enough staff fast enough to solve their problems.
We are working to automate the workflow processes, specifically the ones that control client communications, how they manage data integrity in their disparate systems from their transfer agency systems, their fund accounting systems and all of their regulatory systems. We are bringing all that together. That is what we are spending a ton of focus on right now. Bringing cloud technology to bear on their solutions can be viewed as an equalizer in this market. The very large global service providers have a sophisticated technology infrastructure, but we think that by leveraging cloud solutions like our Unity NXT Expense Processing solution can offer those same solutions globally.