Helping Bloomberg improve its data offering for its customers

Bloomberg wanted us to help review and refresh their 80,000 data terms in order to build a clear ontology of related information. We identified & prioritised the core, essential terms and designed new business rules for the data relationships. By creating a system-based approach, we could train the Bloomberg team to continue our work as BAU.

We improved the definitions, domains, and ranges to align with new ontologies, enabling their 300,000 financial services professionals to make more informed investment decisions.

Helping GLEIF build out a new ISO standard for official organisational roles (ISO 5009)

GLEIF engaged us as financial services data experts to identify, analyse, and recommend relevant organisational roles for in-scope jurisdictions based on publicly-available laws & regulations. We looked at 12 locations in a four-week proof-of-concept, using automated document processing

Our work helped GLEIF to launch the ISO 5009 in 2022, enabling B2B verified digital signatures for individuals working in official roles. This digital verification speeds up onboarding time and increases trust.

Developing a GTM strategy at a large alternative data provider to break into new financial services markets

"Leading Point’s delivery has been head and shoulders above any other consultancy I have ever worked with."

SVP Large Alternative Data Provider

Increasing data product offerings by profiling 80k terms at a global data provider

“Through domain & technical expertise Leading Point have been instrumental in the success of this project to analyse and remediate 80k industry terms. LP have developed a sustainable process, backed up by technical tools, allowing the client to continue making progress well into the future. I would have no hesitation recommending LP as a delivery partner to any firm who needs help untangling their data.”

PM at Global Market Data Provider

AI in Insurance - Article 1 - A Catalyst for Innovation

How insurance companies can use the latest AI developments to innovate their operations

The emergence of AI

The insurance industry is undergoing a profound transformation driven by the relentless advance of artificial intelligence (AI) and other disruptive technologies. A significant change in business thinking is gaining pace and Applied AI is being recognised for its potential in driving top-line growth and not merely a cost-cutting tool.

The adoption of AI is poised to reshape the insurance industry, enhancing operational efficiencies, improving decision-making, anticipating challenges, delivering innovative solutions, and transforming customer experiences.

This shift from data-driven to AI-driven operations is bringing about a paradigm shift in how insurance companies collect, analyse, and utilise data to make informed decisions and enhance customer experiences. By analysing vast amounts of data, including historical claims records, market forces, and external factors (global events like hurricanes, and regional conflicts), AI can assess risk with speed and accuracy to provide insurance companies a view of their state of play in the market.

Data vs AI approaches

This data-driven approach has enabled insurance companies to improve their underwriting accuracy, optimise pricing models, and tailor products to specific customer needs. However, the limitations of traditional data analytics methods have become increasingly apparent in recent years.

These methods often struggle to capture the complex relationships and hidden patterns within large datasets. They are also slow to adapt to rapidly-changing market conditions and emerging risks. As a result, insurance companies are increasingly turning to AI to unlock the full potential of their data and drive innovation across the industry.

AI algorithms, powered by machine learning and deep learning techniques, can process vast amounts of data far more efficiently and accurately than traditional methods. They can connect disparate datasets, identify subtle patterns, correlations & anomalies that would be difficult or impossible to detect with human analysis.

By leveraging AI, insurance companies can gain deeper insights into customer behaviour, risk factors, and market trends. This enables them to make more informed decisions about underwriting, pricing, product development, and customer service and gain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving marketplace.

Top 5 opportunities

1. Enhanced Risk Assessment

AI algorithms can analyse a broader range of data sources, including social media posts and weather patterns, to provide more accurate risk assessments. This can lead to better pricing and reduced losses.

2. Personalised Customer Experiences

AI can create personalised customer experiences, from tailored product recommendations to proactive risk mitigation guidance. This can boost customer satisfaction and loyalty.

3. Automated Claims Processing

AI can automate routine claims processing tasks, for example, by reviewing claims documentation and providing investigation recommendations, thus reducing manual efforts and improving efficiency. This can lead to faster claims settlements and lower operating costs.

4. Fraud Detection and Prevention

AI algorithms can identify anomalies and patterns in claims data to detect and prevent fraudulent activities. This can protect insurance companies from financial losses and reputational damage.

5. Predictive Analytics

AI can be used to anticipate future events, such as customer churn or potential fraud. This enables insurance companies to take proactive measures to prevent negative outcomes.


Adopting AI in Insurance

The adoption of AI in the insurance industry is not without its challenges. Insurance companies must address concerns about data quality, data privacy, transparency, and potential biases in AI algorithms. They must also ensure that AI is integrated seamlessly into their existing systems and processes.

Despite these challenges, AI presents immense opportunities. Insurance companies that embrace AI-driven operations will be well-positioned to gain a competitive edge, enhance customer experiences, and navigate the ever-changing risk landscape.

The shift from data-driven to AI-driven operations is a transformative force in the insurance industry. AI is not just a tool for analysing data; it is a catalyst for innovation and a driver of change. Insurance companies that harness the power of AI will be at the forefront of this transformation, shaping the future of insurance and delivering exceptional value to their customers.


Download the PDF article here.

Unlocking the opportunity of vLEIs

Streamlining financial services workflows with Verifiable Legal Entity Identifiers (vLEIs)

Source: GLIEF

Trust is hard to come by

How do you trust people you have never met in businesses you have never dealt with before? It was difficult 20 years ago and even more so today. Many checks are needed to verify if the person you are talking to is the person you think it is. Do they even work for the business they claim to represent? Failures of these checks manifest themselves every day with spear phishing incidents hitting the headlines, where an unsuspecting clerk is badgered into making a payment to a criminal’s account by a person claiming to be a senior manager.

With businesses increasing their cross-border business and more remote working, it is getting harder and harder to trust what you see in front of you. How do financial services firms reduce the risk of cybercrime attacks? At a corporate level, there are Legal Entity Identifiers (LEIs) which have been a requirement for regulated financial services businesses to operate in capital markets, OTC derivatives, fund administration or debt issuance.

LEIs are issued by Local Operating Units (LOUs). These are bodies that are accredited by GLEIF (Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation) to issue LEIs. Examples of LOUs are the London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) and Bloomberg. However, LEIs only work at a legal entity level for an organisation. LEIs are not used for individuals within organisations.

Establishing trust at this individual level is critical to reducing risk and establishing digital trust is key to streamlining workflows in financial services, like onboarding, trade finance, and anti-financial crime.

This is where Verifiable Legal Entity Identifiers (vLEIs) come into the picture.


What is the new vLEI initiative and how will it be used?

Put simply, vLEIs combine the organisation’s identity (the existing LEI), a person, and the role they play in the organisation into a cryptographically-signed package.

GLEIF has been working to create a fully digitised LEI service enabling instant and automated identity verification between counterparties across the globe. This drive for instant automation has been made possible by developments in blockchain technology, self-sovereign identity (SSI) and other decentralised key management platforms (Introducing the verifiable LEI (vLEI), GLEIF website).

vLEIs are secure digitally-signed credentials and a counterpart of the LEI, which is a unique 20-digit alphanumeric ISO-standardised code used to represent a single legal organisation. The vLEI cryptographically encompasses three key elements; the LEI code, the person identification string, and the role string, to form a digital credential of a vLEI. The GLEIF database and repository provides a breakdown of key information on each registered legal entity, from the registered location, the legal entity name, as well as any other key information pertaining to the registered entity or its subsidiaries, as GLEIF states this is of “principally ‘who is who’ and ‘who owns whom’”(GLEIF eBook: The vLEI: Introducing Digital I.D. for Legal Entities Everywhere, GLEIF Website).

In December 2022, GLEIF launched their first vLEI services through proof-of-concept (POC) trials, offering instant digitally verifiable credentials containing the LEI. This is to meet GLEIF’s goal to create a standardised, digitised service capable of enabling instant, automated trust between legal entities and their authorised representatives, and the counterparty legal entities and representatives with which they interact” (GLEIF eBook: The vLEI: Introducing Digital I.D. for Legal Entities Everywhere, page 2).


“The vLEI has the potential to become one of the most valuable digital credentials in the world because it is the hallmark of authenticity for a legal entity of any kind. The digital credentials created by GLEIF and documented in the vLEI Ecosystem Governance Framework can serve as a chain of trust for anyone needing to verify the legal identity of an organisation or a person officially acting on that organisation’s behalf. Using the vLEI, organisations can rely upon a digital trust infrastructure that can benefit every country, company, and consumers worldwide”,

Karla McKenna, Managing Director GLEIF Americas


This new approach for the automated verification of registered entities will benefit many organisations and businesses. It will enhance and speed up regulatory reports and filings, due diligence, e-signatures, client onboarding/KYC, business registration, as well as other wider business scenarios.

Imagine the spear phishing example in the introduction. A spoofed email will not have a valid vLEI cryptographic signature, so can be rejected (even automatically), saving potentially thousands of £.


How do I get a vLEI?

Registered financial entities can obtain a vLEI from a Qualified vLEI Issuer (QVI) organisation to benefit from instant verification, when dealing with other industries or businesses (Get a vLEI: List of Qualified vLEI Issuing Organisations, GLEIF Website).

A QVI organisation is authorised under GLEIF to register, renew or revoke vLEI credentials belonging to any financial entity. GLEIF offers a Qualification Program where organisations can apply to operate as a QVI. GLEIF maintain a list of QVIs on their website.

Source: GLIEF

What is the new ISO 5009:2022 and why is it relevant?

The International Organisation of Standards (ISO) published the ISO 5009 standard in 2022, which was initially proposed by GLEIF, for the financial services sector. This is a new scheme to address “the official organisation roles in a structured way in order to specify the roles of persons acting officially on behalf of an organisation or legal entity” (ISO 5009:2022,

Both ISO and GLEIF have created and developed this new scheme of combining organisation roles with the LEI, to enable digital identity management of credentials. This is because the ISO 5009 scheme offers a standard way to specify organisational roles in two types of LEI-based digital assets, being the public key certificates with embedded LEIs, as per X.509 (ISO/IEC 9594-8), also outlined in ISO 17442-2, or for digital verifiable credentials such as vLEIs to be specified, to help confirm the authenticity of a person’s role, who acts on behalf of an organisation (ISO 5009:2022, ISO Website). This will help speed up the validation of person(s) acting on behalf of an organisation, for regulatory requirements and reporting, as well as for ID verification, across various business use cases.

Leading Point have been supporting GLEIF in the analysis and implementation of the new ISO 5009 standard, for which GLEIF acts as the operating entity to maintain the ISO 5009 standard on behalf of ISO.  Identifying and defining OORs was dependent on accurate assessments of hundreds of legal documents by Leading Point.

“We have seen first-hand the challenges of establishing identity in financial services and were proud to be asked to contribute to establishing a new standard aimed at solving this common problem. As data specialists, we continuously advocate the benefits of adopting standards. Fragmentation and trying to solve the same problem multiple times in different ways in the same organisation hurts the bottom line. Fundamentally, implementing vLEIs using ISO 5009 roles improves the customer experience, with quicker onboarding, reduced fraud risk, faster approvals, and most importantly, a higher level of trust in the business.”

Rajen Madan (Founder and CEO, Leading Point)

Thushan Kumaraswamy (Founding Partner & CTO, Leading Point)

How can Leading Point assist?

Our team of expert practitioners can assist financial entities to implement the ISO 5009 standard in their workflows for trade finance, anti-financial crime, KYC and regulatory reporting. We are fully-equipped to help any organisation that is looking to get vLEIs for their senior team and to incorporate vLEIs into their business processes, reducing costs, accelerating new business growth, and preventing anti-financial crime.


Glossary of Terms and Additional Information on GLEIF


Who is GLEIF?

The Global Legal Entity Identifier Foundation (GLEIF) was established by the Financial Stability Board (FSB) in June 2014 and as part of the G20 agenda to endorse a global LEI. The GLEIF organisation helps to implement the use of the Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) and is headquartered in Basel, Switzerland.


What is an LEI?

A Legal Entity Identifier (LEI) is a unique 20 alphanumeric character code based on the ISO-17442 standard. This is a unique identification code for legal financial entities that are involved in financial transactions. The role of the structure of how an LEI is concatenated, principally answers ‘who is who’ and ‘who owns whom’, as per ISO and GLEIF standards, for entity verification purposes and to improve data quality in financial regulatory reports.


How does GLEIF help?

GLEIF not only helps to implement the use of LEI, but it also offers a global reference data and central repository on LEI information via the Global LEI Index on, which is an online, public, open, standardised, and a high-quality searchable tool for LEIs, which includes both historical and current LEI records.


What is GLEIF’S Vision?

GLEIF believe that each business involved in financial transactions should be identifiable with a unique single digital global identifier. GLEIF look to increase the rate of LEI adoption globally so that the Global LEI Index can include all global financial entities that engage in financial trading activities. GLEIF believes this will encourage market participants to reduce operational costs and burdens and will offer better insight into the global financial markets (Our Vision: One Global Identity Behind Every Business, GLEIF Website).

Séverine Raymond Soulier's Interview with Leading Point

Séverine Raymond Soulier’s Interview with Leading Point



Séverine Raymond Soulier is the recently appointed Head of EMEA at – the secure, cloud-based, communication and content sharing platform. Séverine has over a decade of experience within the Investment Banking sector and following 9 years with Thomson Reuters (now Refinitiv) where she was heading the Investment and Advisory division for EMEA leading a team of senior market development managers in charge of the Investing and Advisory revenue across the region. Séverine brings a wealth of experience and expertise to Leading Point, helping expand its product portfolio and its reach across international markets.

John Macpherson's Interview with Leading Point

John Macpherson’s Interview with Leading Point 2022



John Macpherson was the former CEO of BMLL Technologies; and is a veteran of the city, holding several MD roles at CITI, Nomura and Goldman Sachs. In recent years John has used his extensive expertise to advise start-ups and FinTech in challenges ranging from compliance to business growth strategy. John is Deputy Chair of the Investment Association Engine which is the trade body and industry voice for over 200+ UK investment managers and insurance companies. 

ESG Operating models hold the key to ESG compliance

John Macpherson on ESG Risk

In my last article, I wrote about the need for an effective operating model in the handling and optimisation of data for Financial Services firms. But data is only one of several key trends amongst these firms that would benefit from a digital operating model. ESG has risen the ranks in importance, and the reporting of this has become imperative.  


The Investment Association Engine Program, which I Chair, is designed to identify the most relevant pain points and key themes amongst Asset and Investment Management clients. We do this by searching out FinTech businesses that are already working on solutions to these issues. By partnering with these businesses, we can help our clients overcome their challenges and improve their operations. 


While data has been an ever-present issue, ESG has risen to an equal standing of importance over the last couple of years. Different regulatory jurisdictions and expectations worldwide has left SME firms struggling to comply and implement in a new paradigm of environmental, sustainable and governance protocols. 


ESG risk is different to anything we have experienced before and does not fit into neat categories such as areas like operational risk. The depth and breadth of data and models required for firms to make informed strategic decisions varies widely based on the specific issue at hand (e.g., supply chain, reputation, climate change goals, etc.). Firms need to carefully consider their own position and objectives when determining how much analysis is needed. 

According to S&P Global, sustainable debt issuance reached a record level in 2021, and is only expected to increase further in the coming years. With this growth comes increased scrutiny and a heightened concern of so-called ‘greenwashing’, where companies falsely claim to be environmentally friendly. To combat this, participants need to manage that growth in a way that combats rising concerns about ‘greenwashing’. 


Investors, regulators and the public, in general, are keen to challenge large companies’ ESG goals and results. These challenges vary wildly, but the biggest seen on a regular basis range from human rights to social unrest and climate change. As organisations begin to decarbonise their operations, they face the initially overlooked challenge of creating a credible near-term plan that will enable them to reach their long-term sustainability goals.  


Investor pressure on climate change has historically focussed on the Energy sector. Now central banks are trying to incorporate climate risk as a stress testing feature for all Financial Services firms. 

Source: S&P Global 

Operating models hold the key to ESG transition and compliance. Having an operating model for how each of the firm’s functions intersect with ESG, requires new processes, new data, and new reporting techniques. This needs to be pulled across the enterprise, so firms have a process that is substantiated. 


Before firms worry about ESG scores from their market data providers, they would do well to look closely at their own operating model and framework. In this way, they can then pull in the data required from the marketplace and use it in anger. 


Leading Point is a FinTech business I am proud to be supporting. Their operating model system, modellr describes how financial services businesses work, from the products and services offered, to the key processes, people, data, and technology used to deliver value to their customers. This digital representation of how the business works is crucial to show what areas ESG will impact and how the firm can adapt in the most effective way.  


Rajen Madan, CEO at Leading Point: 

“In many ways, the transition to ESG is exposing the acute gap in firms of not being able to have meaningful dialogue with the plethora of data they already have, and need, to further add to for ESG”.  


modellrharvests a company’s existing data to create a living dashboard, whilst also digitising the change process and enabling quicker and smarter decision-making. Access to all the information, from internal and external sources, in real time is proving transformative for SME size businesses. 


Thushan Kumaraswamy, Chief Solutions Officer at Leading Point:  

“ESG is already one of the biggest drivers of transformation in financial services and is only going to get bigger. Firms need to identify the impact on their business, choose the right change option, execute the strategy, and measure the improvements. The mass of ESG frameworks adds to the confusion of what to report and how. Tools such as modellr bring clarity and purpose to the ESG imperative.” 


While most firms will look to sustainability officers for guidance on matters around ESG, Leading Point are providing these officers, and less qualified team members, with the tools to make informed decisions now, and in the future. We have established exactly what these firms need to succeed – a digital operating model. 


Words by John Macpherson — Board advisor at Leading Point and Chair of the Investment Association Engine 


The Challenges of Data Management

John Macpherson on The Challenges of Data Management



I often get asked, what are the biggest trends impacting the Financial Services industry? Through my position as Chair of the Investment Association Engine, I have unprecedented access to the key decision-makers in the industry, as well as constant connectivity with the ever-expanding Fintech ecosystem, which has helped me stay at the cutting edge of the latest trends.

So, when I get asked, ‘what is the biggest trend that financial services will face’, for the past few years my answer has remained the same, data.

During my time as CEO of BMLL, big data rose to prominence and developed into a multi-billion-dollar problem across financial services. I remember well an early morning interview I gave to CNBC around 5 years ago, where the facts were starkly presented. Back then, data was doubling every three years globally, but at an even faster pace in financial markets.

Firms are struggling under the weight of this data

The use of data is fundamental to a company's operations, but they are finding it difficult to get a handle on this problem. The pace of this increase has left many smaller and mid-sized IM/ AM firms in a quandary. Their ability to access, manage and use multiple data sources alongside their own data, market data, and any alternative data sources, is sub-optimal at best. Most core data systems are not architected to address the volume and pace of change required, with manual reviews and inputs creating unnecessary bottlenecks. These issues, among a host of others, mean risk management systems cannot cope as a result. Modernised data core systems are imperative to solve where real-time insights are currently lost, with fragmented and slow-moving information.

Around half of all financial service data goes unmentioned and ungoverned, this “dark data” poses a security and regulatory risk, as well as a huge opportunity.

While data analytics, big data, AI, and data science are historically the key sub-trends, these have been joined by data fabric (as an industry standard), analytical ops, data democratisation, and a shift from big data to smaller and wider data.

Operating models hold the key to data management

modellr™ dashboard

Governance is paramount to using this data in an effective, timely, accurate and meaningful way. Operating models are the true gauge as to whether you are succeeding.

Much can be achieved with the relatively modest budget and resources firms have, provided they invest in the best operating models around their data.

Leading Point is a firm I have been getting to know over several years now. Their data intelligence platform modellr™, is the first truly digital operating model. modellr™ harvests a company’s existing data to create a living operating model, digitising the change process, and enabling quicker, smarter, decision making. By digitising the process, they’re removing the historically slow and laborious consultative approach. Access to all the information in real-time is proving transformative for smaller and medium-sized businesses.

True transparency around your data, understanding it and its consumption, and then enabling data products to support internal and external use cases, is very much available.

Different firms are at very different places on their maturity curve. Longer-term investment in data architecture, be it data fabric or data mesh, will provide the technical backbone to harvest ML/ AI and analytics.

Taking control of your data

Recently I was talking to a large investment bank for whom Leading Point had been brought in to help. The bank was looking to transform its client data management and associated regulatory processes such as KYC, and Anti-financial crime.

They were investing heavily in sourcing, validating, normalising, remediating, and distributing over 2,000 data attributes. This was costing the bank a huge amount of time, money, and resources. But, despite the changes, their environment and change processes had become too complicated to have any chance of success. The process results were haphazard, with poor controls and no understanding of the results missing.

Leading Point was brought in to help and decided on a data minimisation approach. They profiled and analysed the data, despite working across regions and divisions. Quickly, 2,000 data attributes were narrowed to less than 200 critical ones for the consuming functions. This allowed the financial institutions, regulatory, and reporting processes to come to life, with clear data quality measurement and ownership processes. It allowed the financial institutions to significantly reduce the complexity of their data and its usability, meaning that multiple business owners were able to produce rapid and tangible results

I was speaking to Rajen Madan, the CEO of Leading Point, and we agreed that in a world of ever-growing data, data minimisation is often key to maximising success with data!

Elsewhere, Leading Point has seen benefits unlocked from unifying data models, and working on ontologies, standards, and taxonomies. Their platform, modellr™is enabling many firms to link their data, define common aggregations, and support knowledge graph initiatives allowing firms to deliver more timely, accurate and complete reporting, as well as insights on their business processes.

The need for agile, scalable, secure, and resilient tech infrastructure is more imperative than ever. Firms’ own legacy ways of handling this data are singularly the biggest barrier to their growth and technological innovation.

If you see a digital operating model as anything other than a must-have, then you are missing out. It’s time for a serious re-think.

Words by John Macpherson — Board advisor at Leading Point, Chair of the Investment Association Engine


John was recently interviewed about his role at Leading Point, and the key trends he sees affecting the financial services industry. Watch his interview here

Leading Point Shortlisted For Data Management Insight Awards

Leading Point has been shortlisted for the A-Teams Data Management Insight Awards.

Data Management Insight Awards, now in their seventh year, are designed to recognise leading providers of data management solutions, services and consultancy within capital markets.

Leading Point has been nominated for four categories:

  1. Most Innovative Data Management Provider
  2. Best Data Analytics Solution Provider
  3. Best Proposition for AI, Machine Learning, Data Science
  4. Best Consultancy in Data Management


Areas of Outstanding Service & Innovation

Leading Form Index: Data readiness assessment, created by Leading Point FM, which measures firms data capabilities and their capacity to transform across 24 unique areas. This allows participating firms to understand the maturity of their information assets, the potential to apply new tech (AI, DLT) and benchmark with peers.

Chief Risk Officer Dashboard: Management Information Dashboard that specifies, quantifies, and visualises risks arising from firms’ non-financial, operational, fraud, financial crime, and cyber risks.

Leading Point FM ‘Think Fast’ Application: The application provides the ability to input use cases and solution journeys and helps visualise process, systems and data flows, as well as target state definition & KPI’s. This allows business change and technology teams to quickly define and initiate change management.

Anti-Financial Crime Solution: Data centric approach combined with Artificial Intelligence technology reimagines and optimises AML processes to reduce volumes of client due diligence, reduce overall risk exposure, and provide the roadmap to AI-assisted automation.

Treasury Optimisation Solution: Data content expertise leveraging cutting edge DLT & Smart Contract technology to bridge intracompany data silos and enable global corporates to access liquidity and efficiently manage finance operations.

Digital Repapering Solution: Data centric approach to sourcing, management and distribution of unstructured data combined with NLP technology to provide roadmap towards AI assisted repapering and automated contract storage and distribution.

Leading Form Practical Business Design Canvas: A practical business design method to describe your business goals & objectives, change projects, capabilities, operating model, and KPI’s to enable a true business-on-a-page view that is captured within hours.

ISO 27001 Certification – Delivery of Information Security Management System (ISMS) & Cyber risk mitigation with a Risk Analysis Tool

GDFM & Leading Point Partnering for Smarter Regulatory Health Management

GDFM and Leading Point collaborate to deliver innovative and efficient regulatory risk management to our clients and through the SMART_Dash product; enabling consistent, centralised, accessible regulatory health data to assist responsible and accountable individuals with ensuring adequate transparency, for risk mitigation decision making and action taking.  This is complemented by a SMART_Board suite for Board level leadership and a more detailed SMART_Support suite for regulatory reporting teams.

We are delighted that SMART_Dash has been shortlisted in 3 categories in this year's prestigious RegTech Insight Awards in Europe, which recognises both established solution providers and innovative newcomers, seeking to herald and highlight innovative RegTech solutions across the global financial services industry.

GD Financial Markets Head of Regulatory Compliance Practice and SMART_Dash Co-creator Sarah Peaston "Centralised, consolidated, consistent regulatory health transparency and tracking is key to identifying and managing regulatory and operating risk.  I am delighted that SMART_Dash has been recognised as a new breed of solution that practically assists Managers, Senior Managers and Leadership with managing their regulatory health through the provision of the right information, at the right level to the right seniority”.

Leading Point CEO Rajen Madan "Our vision with SMART_Dash is to accelerate better regulatory risk management approaches and vastly more efficient RegOps. As financial services practitioners we are acutely aware of the time managers spend trying to make sense of their regulatory and operating risk areas from a multitude of inconsistent reports. SMART_Dash enables the shift to an enhanced way of risk management, which creates standardisation and makes reg data work for your business. We are very grateful to the COO, CRO and CFOs whom have contributed to its development and help the industry move forward”.

GDFM and Leading Point are rolling out the SMART_Dash suite to the first set of industry consortium partners progressively in H1 2021, and thereafter open to a wider set of institutions.

The Composable Enterprise: Improving the Front-Office User Experience

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By Dishang Patel, Fintech & Growth Delivery Partner, Leading Point Financial Markets.

The past six months have by no means been a time of status quo. During this period of uncertainty, standards have been questioned and new ‘norms’ have been formed.

A standout development has been the intensified focus on cloud-based services. Levels of adoption have varied, from those moving to cloud for the first time, to others making cloud their only form of storage and access, and with numerous ‘others’ in between.

One area affected adversely (for those who weren’t ready) but positively (for those who were) is software. ‘Old-school’ software vendors – whose multi-million-pound solutions were traditionally implemented on premise at financial institutions, whether as part of a pure ‘buy’ or broader ‘build’ approach – have worked hard to offer cloud-based services.

The broad shift to working from home (WFH) as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has tested the end-user experience all the way from front to back offices in financial institutions. Security, ease of access and speed are all high on the agenda in the new world in which we find ourselves.

The digitisation journey

With workforces operating globally, it is difficult to guarantee uniform user experiences and be able to cater for a multitude of needs. To achieve success in this area and to ensure a seamless WFH experience, financial institutions have moved things up a level and worked as hard as software providers to offer cloud-based solutions.

All manner of financial institutions (trading firms, brokerages, asset managers, challenger banks) have been on a digitisation journey to make the online user experience more consistent and reliable.

Composable Enterprise is an approach that those who have worked in a front office environment within financial services may have come across and for many could be the way forward.


Composable Enterprise: the way forward

Digitisation can come in many forms: from robotic process automation (RPA), operational excellence, implementation of application-based solution, interoperability and electronification. Interoperability and electronification are two key components of this Composable Enterprise approach.

Interoperability – whether in terms of web services, applications, or both –  is an approach that can create efficiencies on the desktop and deliver improved user experience. It has the potential to deliver business performance benefits, in terms of faster and better decision making with the ultimate potential to uncover previously untapped alpha. It also has two important environmental benefits:

1) Reducing energy spend;

2) Less need for old hardware to be disposed of, delivering the reduced environmental footprint that organisations desire.

Electronification, for most industry players, may represent the final step on the full digitisation journey. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, electronification is the “conversion to or adoption of an electronic mode of operation,” which translates to the front office having all the tools they need to do their jobs to the best of their ability.

The beauty of both interoperability and electronification is that they work just as well in a remote set up as they do in an office environment. This is because a good implementation of both results in maximising an organisation’s ability to use all the tools (trading platforms, market data feeds, CRMs, and so on) at their disposal without needing masses of physical infrastructure.

Because of the lower barriers (such as time and cost) of interoperability, financial institutions should start their digitisation journeys from this component and then embark on a larger and more complicated move to electronification.

Composable Enterprise is about firms being able to choose the best component needed for their business, allowing them to be more flexible and more open in order to adapt to new potential revenue opportunities. In these challenging times, it is no surprise that more and more financial institutions are adding Composable Enterprise as a key item on their spending agenda.





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"The broad shift to working from home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic has tested the end-user experience all the way from front to back offices in financial institutions."

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"It has the potential to deliver business performance benefits, in terms of faster and better decision making with the ultimate potential to uncover previously untapped alpha."

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"The beauty of both interoperability and electronification is that they work just as well in a remote set up as they do in an office environment."

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Responsible for delivering digital FS businesses.

Transforming delivery models for the scale up market.

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Information Security in a New Digital Era

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Shifting priorities


The 2020’s pandemic, subsequent economic turmoil and related social phenomena has paved the way for much-needed global digital transformation and the prioritisation of digital strategies. The rise in digitisation across all businesses, however, has accelerated cyber risk exponentially. With cloud-based attacks rising by 630% between January and April 2020(1), organisations are now turning their focus on how to benefit from digitisation whilst maintaining sufficiently secure digital environments for their services and clients.


A global challenge


A new digital setup could easily jeopardise organisations’ cyber safety. With data becoming companies’ most valuable asset, hackers are getting creative with increasingly-sophisticated threats and phishing attacks. According to the 2019 Data Breach Investigation Report(2) by Verizon, 32% of all verified data breaches appeared to be phishing.
As data leaks are increasing (3,800 alone in 2019), so is the cyber skill shortage. According to the MIT Technology Review report(3), there will be 3.5 million unfulfilled cybersecurity jobs in 2021; a rise of 350%. As a result of Covid-19 and digitised home working, cybersecurity professionals are high in demand to fill the gaps organisations’
currently face.


The way forward

Although tackling InfoSec breaches in the rapidly-evolving digital innovation landscape is not easy, it is essential to keep it as an absolute priority. In our work with regulated sector firms in financial services, pharma and energy as well as with fintechs, we see consistent steps that underpin successful information security risk management. We have created a leaderboard of 10 discussion points for COOs, CIOs and CISOs to keep up with their information security needs:

  • Information Security Standards
    Understand information security standards like NIST, ISO 27001/2 and BIP 0116/7 and put in place processes and controls accordingly. These are good practices to keep a secure digital environment and are vital to include in your risk mitigation strategy. Preventing cyber attacks and data breaches is less costly and less resource-exhaustive than dealing with the damage caused by these attacks. There are serious repercussions of security breaches in terms of cost and reputational damage, yet organisations still only look at the issue after the event. Data shows that firms prefer to take a passive approach to tackle these issues instead of taking steps to prevent them in the first place.
  • Managing security in cloud delivery models
    2020 has seen a rise in the use of SaaS applications to support employee engagement, workflow management and communication. While cloud is still an area in its preliminary stages, cloud adoption is rapidly accelerating. But many firms have initiated cloud migration projects without a firm understanding and design for the future business, customer or end user flows. This is critical to ensuring a good security infrastructure in a multi-cloud operating environment. How does your firm keep up with the latest developments in Cloud Management?
  • Operational resilience
    70% of Operational Risk professionals say that their priorities and focus have changed as a result of Covid-19(4). With less than half of businesses testing their continuity and business-preparedness initiatives(5), Coronavirus served as an eye-opener in terms of revisiting these questions. Did your business continuity plan prove successful? If so, what was the key to its success? How do you define and measure operational resilience in your business? Cross-functional data sets are increasingly vital for informed risk management.
  • Culture
    Cyber risk is not just a technology problem; it is a people
    problem. You cannot mitigate cyber risks with just technology;
    embedding the right culture within your team is vital. How do you make sure a cyber-secure company culture is kept up in remote working environments? Does your company already have an information security training plan in place?


  • Knowing what data is important
    Data is expanding exponentially – you have to know what you need to protect. Only by defining important data, reducing the signal-to-data noise and aggregating multiple data points can organisations look to protect them. As a firm, what percentage of your data elements are defined with an owner and user access workflow?
  • Speed of innovation means risk
    The speed of innovation is often faster than the speed of safety. As technology and data adoption is rapidly changing, data protection has to keep up as well – there is little point in investing in technology until you really understand your risks and your exposure to those risks. This is increasingly true of new business-tech frameworks, including DLT, AI and Open Banking. When looking at DLT and AI based processes - how do you define the security and thresholds?
  • Master the basics
    80% of UK companies and startups are not Cyber Essentials ready, which shows that the fundamentals of data security are not being dealt with. Larger companies are rigid and not sufficiently agile – more demands are being placed on teams but without sufficient resources and skills development. Large companies cannot innovate if they are not given the freedom to actually adapt. What is the blocker in your firm?
  • Collaborate with startups
    Thousands of innovative startups tackling cyber security currently exist and many more will begin their growth journey over the next few years. Larger businesses need to be more open to collaborating with them to help speed up advancements in the cyber risk space.
  • The right technology can play a key role in efficiency and speed
    We see the emerging operating models for firms are open API based, and organisations need to stitch together many point solutions. Technology can help here if deployed correctly. For
    instance, to join up multiple data, to provide transparency of
    messages crossing in and out of systems, to execute and detect
    information security processes and controls with 100x efficiency and speed. This will make a material difference in the new world of
    financial services.
  • Transparency of your supply chain
    Supply chains are becoming more data-driven than ever with increased number of core operations and IT services being outsourced. Attackers are using weak supplier controls to compromise client networks and dispersed dependencies create increased reliance and risk exposure from entities outside of your direct control. How do you manage the current pressure points of your supplier relationships?

 Next steps


Cyber risk (especially regarding data protection) is simultaneously a compliance problem (regulatory risk, legal risk etc.), an architecture problem (infrastructure, business continuity, etc.), and a business problem (reputational risk, loss of trust, ‘data poisoning’, competitor intelligence etc.). There are existing risk assessment frameworks for managing operational risk (example: ORMF) – why not plug in?
Getting the basics right, using industry standards, multi-cloud environments and transparency of supply chain are good places to start. These are all to do with holistic data risk management (HRM).
While all these individual issues pose problems on their own, they can be viewed through inter-relationships applying a holistic approach where a coordinated solution can be found to efficiently manage these issues as a whole. The solution lies in taking a more deliberate approach to cyber security and following this 4-step process:




Find out more on Operational Resilience from Leading Point:

Find out more on Data Kitchen, a Leading Point initiative:











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"With data becoming companies’ most valuable asset, hackers are getting creative with increasingly-sophisticated threats and phishing attacks."

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"Preventing cyber attacks and data breaches is less costly and less resource-exhaustive than dealing with the damage caused by these attacks."

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"70% of Operational Risk professionals say that their priorities and focus have changed as a result of Covid-19."

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Rajen Madan

Founder & CEO

Delivering Digital FS businesses. Change leader with over 20 years’ experience in helping firms with efficiency, revenue and risk management challenges

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Aliz Gyenes

Leading Point

Data Innovation, InfoSec, Investment behaviour research Helping businesses understand and improve their data strategy via the Leading Point Data Innovation Index

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How Leading Point can help

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Artificial Intelligence: The Solution to the ESG Data Gap?

The Power of ESG Data

It was Warren Buffett who said, “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” and that is the reality that all companies face on a daily basis. An effective set of ESG (Environment, Social & Governance) policies has never been more crucial. However, it is being hindered by difficulties surrounding the effective collection and communication of ESG data points, as well a lack of standardisation when it comes to reporting such data. As a result, the ESG space is being revolutionised by Artificial Intelligence, which can find, analyse and summarise this information.

There is increasing public and regulatory pressure on firms to ensure their policies are sustainable and on investors to take such policies into account when making investment decisions. The issue for investors is how to know which firms are good ESG performers and which are not. The majority of information dominating research and ESG indices comes from company-reported data. However, with little regulation surrounding this, responsible investors are plagued by unhelpful data gaps and “Greenwashing”. This is when a firm uses favourable data points and convoluted wording to appear more sustainable than they are in reality. They may even leave out data points that reflect badly on them. For example, firms such as Shell are accused of using the word ‘sustainable’ in their mission statement whilst providing little evidence to support their claims (1)

Could AI be the complete solution?

AI could be the key to help investors analyse the mountain of ESG data that is yet to be explored, both structured and unstructured. Historically, AI has been proven to successfully extract relevant information from data sources including news articles but it also offers new and exciting opportunities. Consider the transcripts of board meetings from a Korean firm: AI could be used to translate and examine such data using techniques such as Sentiment Analysis. Does the CEO seem passionate about ESG issues within the company? Are they worried about an investigation into Human Rights being undertaken against them? This is a task that would be labour-intensive, to say the least, for analysts to complete manually.  


In addition, AI offers an opportunity for investors to not only act responsibly, but also align their ESG goals to a profitable agenda. For example, algorithms are being developed that can connect specific ESG indicators to financial performance and can therefore be used by firms to identify the risk and reward of certain investments. 


Whilst AI offers numerous opportunities with regards to ESG investing, it is not without fault. Firstly, AI takes enormous amounts of computing power and, hence, energy. For example, in 2018, OpenAI found the level of computational power used to train the largest AI models has been doubling every 3.4 months since 2012 (2). With the majority of the world’s energy coming from non-renewable sources, it is not difficult to spot the contradiction in motives here. We must also consider whether AI is being used to its full potential; when simply used to scan company published data, AI could actually reinforce issues such as “Greenwashing”. Further, the issue of fake news and unreliable sources of information still plagues such methods and a lot of work has to go into ensuring these sources do not feature in algorithms used. 


When speaking with Dr Thomas Kuh, Head of Index at leading ESG data and AI firm Truvalue Labs™, he outlined the difficulties surrounding AI but noted that since it enables human beings to make more intelligent decisions, it is surely worth having in the investment process. In fact, he described the application of AI to ESG research as ‘inevitable’ as long as it is used effectively to overcome the shortcomings of current research methods. For instance, he emphasised that AI offers real time information that traditional sources simply cannot compete with. 

 A Future for AI?

According to a 2018 survey from Greenwich Associates (3), only 17% of investment professionals currently use AI as part of their process; however, 40% of respondents stated they would increase budgets for AI in the future. As an area where investors are seemingly unsatisfied with traditional data sources, ESG is likely to see more than its fair share of this increase. Firms such as BNP Paribas (4) and Ecofi Investissements (5) are already exploring AI opportunities and many firms are following suit. We at Leading Point see AI inevitably becoming integral to an effective responsible investment process and intend to be at the heart of this revolution. 


AI is by no means the judge, jury and executioner when it comes to ESG investing and depends on those behind it, constantly working to improve the algorithms, as well as the analysts using it to make more informed decisions. AI does, however, have the potential to revolutionise what a responsible investment means and help reallocate resources towards firms that will create a better future.

[1] The problem with corporate greenwashing

[2] AI and Compute

[3] Could AI Displace Investment Bank Research?

[4] How AI could shape the future of investment banking

[5] How AI Can Help Find ESG Opportunities


"It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it"


AI offers an opportunity for investors to not only act responsibly, but also align their ESG goals to a profitable agenda

Environmental Social Governance (ESG) & Sustainable Investment

Client propositions and products in data driven transformation in ESG and Sustainable Investing. Previous roles include J.P. Morgan, Morgan Stanley, and EY.


Upcoming blogs:

This is the second in a series of blogs that will explore the ESG world: its growth, its potential opportunities and the constraints that are holding it back. We will explore the increasing importance of ESG and how it affects business leaders, investors, asset managers, regulatory actors and more.



Riding the ESG Regulatory Wave: In the third part of our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) blog series, Alejandra explores the implementation challenges of ESG regulations hitting EU Asset Managers and Financial Institutions.

Is it time for VCs to take ESG seriously? In the fourth part of our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) blog series, Ben explores the current research on why startups should start implementing and communicating ESG policies at the core of their business.

Now more than ever, businesses are understanding the importance of having well-governed and socially-responsible practices in place. A clear understanding of your ESG metrics is pivotal in order to communicate your ESG strengths to investors, clients and potential employees.

By using our cloud-based data visualisation platform to bring together relevant metrics, we help organisations gain a standardised view and improve your ESG reporting and portfolio performance.  Our live ESG dashboard can be used to scenario plan, map out ESG strategy and tell the ESG story to stakeholders.

AI helps with the process of ingesting, analysing and distributing data as well as offering predictive abilities and assessing trends in the ESG space.  Leading Point is helping our AI startup partnerships adapt their technology to pursue this new opportunity, implementing these solutions into investment firms and supporting them with the use of the technology and data management.

We offer a specialised and personalised service based on firms’ ESG priorities.  We harness the power of technology and AI to bridge the ESG data gap, avoiding ‘greenwashing’ data trends and providing a complete solution for organisations.

Leading Point's AI-implemented solutions decrease the time and effort needed to monitor current/past scandals of potential investments. Clients can see the benefits of increased output, improved KPIs and production of enhanced data outputs.

Implementing ESG regulations and providing operational support to improve ESG metrics for banks and other financial institutions. Ensuring compliance by benchmarking and disclosing ESG information, in-depth data collection to satisfy corporate reporting requirements, conducting appropriate investment and risk management decisions, and to make disclosures to clients and fund investors.


What if business operations could be more like Lego?

Financial services (FS) professionals from 30+ organisations tuned in to our inaugural webinar last week “What if business operations could be more like Lego?” to hear the challenges that COO and Heads of Change face in changing their business operating models and how we might break through the barriers. A summary of key takeaways from the discussion are presented below. See the webinar recording here


The importance of ‘Know Your Operating Model’

FS firms are under renewed pressure to rethink their operating models; competitive pressure, raised consumer expectations, and continuous regulatory requirements mean constant operating model re-think and change. Yet most firms are stuck with theoretical target operating models that lack a plan, a way to measure performance and progress, or a business case. As a result, only 25% of investors are confident strategic digital transformation will be effective.**

Innovation is hindered as firms struggle to overcome significant technical debt to implement new technology (e.g. automation, AI, cloud etc.) while effectively using budget tied up in high operating costs. Indeed, 80% of technology spend in organisations is focused on legacy systems and processes, while only 20% of analytics insights deliver business outcomes and 80% of AI projects “remain alchemy, run by wizards”***

Insufficient business understanding means lost opportunities, wasteful spends & risk – if you don’t understand your business well enough, you will be exposing yourself to risks and lost opportunities.


The barriers to business understanding

Firms current approaches to business operations and change are not fit for purpose.

Insight Gap in the Boardroom: Experts with specialist toolkits are needed to structure and interpret most business information. Management’s understanding of the business is often directly related to the ability of their analytical teams to explain it to them. Most firms are still stuck with an overload of information without insights, without the right questions being asked.

Cultural Challenge: Many execs still think in terms of headcount and empire building rather than outcomes, capabilities, and clients.

Misaligned metrics: Metrics are too focused on P&L, costs and bonuses! Less on holistic organisation metrics, proof points and stories.

Complexity makes it difficult to act… Most enterprises suffer from excessively complicated operating models where the complexity of systems, policies, processes, controls, data and their accompanying activities make it difficult to act.

…and difficult to explain: Substantiating decisions to stakeholders, regulators or investors is an ongoing struggle, for both new and historic decisions.

If you can't measure it, you can't manage it: Inconsistent change initiatives without performance metrics compound errors of the past and mean opportunities for efficiency gains go unseen.
How can we break through these barriers?

Business insight comes from context, data and measurement: How the building blocks of the business fit together and interact is essential to the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of change, and measurement is key to drive transparency and improved behaviours.

Operating model dashboards are essential: Effective executives either have extremely strong dashboards underpinning their decisions or have long standing experience at the firm across multiple functions and get to “know” their operating mode innately. This is a key gap in most firms. 50% of attendees chose improved metrics & accessibility of operating model perspectives as priority areas to invest in.

Less is more: Senior managers should not be looking at more than 200 data points to run and change their business. Focusing on the core and essential metrics is necessary to cut through the noise.

The operating model data exists, it should now be harvested: The data you need probably already exists in PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets and workflow tools. Firms have struggled to harvest this data historically and automate the gathering process. We demonstrated how operating model data can be collected and used to create insights for improved decision-making using the modellr platform.

Culture change is central: Culture was voted by attendees as the #1 area to invest in, in order to improve business decision-making. Organisational culture is a key barrier to operating model change. A culture that incentivises crossing business silos and transparency will create benefits across the enterprise.

Client-driven: Clients are driving firms to more real-time processing along with the capability to understand much more information. Approaches that combine human intelligence with machine intelligence are already feasible and moving into the mainstream.

Get comfortable with making decisions with near perfect information: Increasingly executives and firms need to get comfortable with “near perfect” information to make decisions, act and deliver rapid business benefits.


Future Topics of Interest

Regulatory Reassurance: Regulators continue to expect comprehensive, responsible and tangible governance and control from Senior Managers. How can firms keep up with their regulatory obligations in a clear and simple way?

Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG): An increasingly-popular subject, ESG considers  the impact of businesses on the environment and society. ESG metrics are becoming more important for investors & regulators and firms are looking for consistent ways to measure performance and progress in ESG metrics.

Operating Model-as-a-Service: As well as managing business operations themselves, firms need to monitor the models that describe those operations; their current state, their target state and the roadmap between the two. Currently, this is often done with expensive PowerPoint presentations that are usually left in cupboards and ignored because they are not “live” documents. Metrics around the operating model can be captured and tracked in a dashboard.

Anti-Financial Crime (AFC): Money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud, sanctions, bribery & corruption; the list of ways to commit financial crime through FS firms grows by the day. How can firms track their AFC risk levels and control effectiveness to see where they need to strengthen?

Information Security: With the huge volume of data that firms now collect, process & store, there are more and more risks to keep that data secure and private. Regulations like GDPR can impose very large fines on firms that break those regulations. Industry standards, such ISO 27001, help improve standards around information security.

*,**  Oliver Wyman, 2020, The State Of The Financial Services Industry

*** Gartner, 2019, Our Top Data and Analytics Predicts for 2019


Time to Reset?

We see the varnish from the old oil painting of government, enterprise, business and leadership fade a bit every day. 2020 has already shown us how interconnected our world has become - a true Butterfly Effect. Interconnectivity is not a bad thing. It is the fragility, the brittleness of modern economies that is cause for concern. I believe this is a result of critical imbalances we have allowed to build up, without questioning. Now as the varnish from the old oil painting comes off, we have a once in a decade opportunity to reset and tackle these imbalances. To make bold brush strokes.

Where can we start?

Big Government or Small?

Do we need a Big Government or Small? The term ‘Big Government’ here is not intended to be derogatory. We see national priorities and decisions that don’t match that of the city, the village, or the council. Great plans and budgets that don’t translate into change on the ground. Equally, in the face of this crisis, we see barriers breaking down. A C-19 COVID Symptom tracker app, which each of us can use, allows a judicious allocation of scarce testing and treatment resources at a national and grassroot level. The opportunity is to examine the flow from the national to the level of council. Provide transparency and allow engagement. If it doesn't exist it should be created. Direct channels for us citizens to highlight problems, propose solutions, be data-driven and monitor implementation. It is not a question of a big government versus small. It is one that works transparently that matters.

Public or Private Sector Enterprise?

A key debate going into 2020 was about which sector provides a better service, is more efficient with resources - private or public sector enterprise? Think about the NHS, Transport, Energy, Manufacturing, Financial Services, Agriculture, Technology and Utilities. Healthy arguments and examples are cited to show the merits of both public and private sector. I believe the public-private argument completely misses the point. Whether an enterprise provides a good service or poor, spends judiciously or not is not down to public or private sector. It is down to some key principles - how it is governed, how accountable is its team and partners, does it know what good service looks like and is it equipped to provide these services. Enterprises can be funded by either public or private sector resources. The opportunity ahead is in data and tech enabled service delivery models, going digital. And public-private collaboration funding models can ignite innovation and value added services. The key to provide good service is not public or private sector, it is to provide a good service!


Role of Business

Businesses are standing out in two ways in these times. Those that care about their employees and partners and are doing their bit to help their communities and those that pretend to. People will remember businesses that care. Those that don't, will fall out of favour. That most of our essential "front line" staff in the face of a pandemic are paid low/ minimum wages is cowardly. It shows the scale of imbalances we have allowed to build up and seem to be comfortable with. Colleagues in maintenance, cleaning, nursing, restaurant, retail, agriculture, driving, security, manufacturing and teaching professions amongst others need to be compensated fairly. The opportunity here is to go after skewed compensation models, unviable business models and poor productivity with vigour. The tax structures reportedly exploited by big tech and conglomerates are ripe for reform and become principle driven. Likewise business owners having billions and calling for government bailouts or larger profitable companies using furlough schemes to offload their responsibilities to the public should face the consequence. This is a failure of law and the will of successive governments. Let us get it right this time. Bashing businesses and entrepreneurs is not the answer. They are born from the risk-reward equation and are the lifeblood of any economy.

Lessons in Leadership

As much as it is tempting to draw leadership lessons from the current pandemic, they are unique to the situation and not a one size fits all. But I find the war analogy somewhat flawed. The chancellor of the exchequer, Rishi Sunak said “we will be judged by our capacity for compassion and individual acts of kindness” – does that sound like a war? If anything, the lesson for future leaders is to be that much more focused on ensuring their team’s wellbeing, ensuring they are equipped with relevant resources. Good leaders will understand the importance of the informal and the invisible stuff – collaboration, unconventional thinking, meaningful conversations and problem solving over formal organisation structures. The world we have to navigate in is increasingly unpredictable and non-linear, command and control team structures and top-down change will not work.

Everyday we are seeing concrete examples of what is working in business, government and leadership and what is not. We can allow 2020 to be one mired in tragedy, lost lives, lost livelihoods and failed businesses or we can seize the once in a decade opportunity to reset and create the government, the enterprise, the business and leaders that we want and have lacked for some time. This is within reach.

What steps do you think will help create better business, government and leaders?

Please feel free to comment and share. Keep well!

Change leader with over 20 years’ experience in helping financial markets with their toughest business challenges in data, operating model transformation in sales, CRM, Ops, Data, Finance & MI functions, and delivery of complex compliance, front-to-back technology implementations. Significant line experience. Former partner in management consulting leading client solution development, delivery and P&L incl. Accenture. Specialities – Operating Models, Data Assets, Compliance, Technology Partnerships & Solutions in Capital Markets, Market Infrastructure, Buy-Side, Banking & Insurance.

"2020 has already shown us how interconnected our world has become - a true Butterfly Effect."

"It is not a question of a big government versus small. It is one that works transparently that matters."

"Businesses are standing out in two ways in these times. Those that care about their employees and partners and are doing their bit to help their communities and those that pretend to."


"We can allow 2020 to be one mired in tragedy, lost lives, lost livelihoods and failed businesses or we can seize the once in a decade opportunity to reset and create the government, the enterprise, the business and leaders that we want and have lacked for some time"


Excel Ninjas & Digital Alchemists – Delivering success in Data Science in FS

In February 150+ data practitioners from financial institutions, FinTech, academia, and professional services joined the Leading Point Data Kitchen community and were keen to discuss the meaning and evolving role of Data Science within Financial Services. Many braved the cold wet weather and made it across for a highly productive session interspersed with good pizza and drinks.

Our expert panellists discussed the “wild” data environment in Financial Services inhabited by “Excel Ninjas”, “Data Wranglers” and “Digital Alchemists”. But agreed that despite the current state of the art being hindered by legacy infrastructure and data siloes there are a number of ways to find success.

Here is the Data Kitchen’s ‘Recipe’ for delivering success in Data Science in Financial Services:

1. Delivery is key – There is a balance to strike between experimentation and delivery. In commercial environments, especially within financial services there is a cost of failure. ROI will always be in the minds of senior management, and practitioners need to understand that is the case. This means that data science initiatives will always be under pressure to perform, and there will be limits on the freedom to just experiment with the data.

2. Understand how to integrate with the business – Understanding what ‘good’ delivery looks like for data science initiatives requires an appreciation of how the business operates and what business problem needs to be solved. Alongside elements of business analysis, a core skill for practitioners is knowing how to ‘blend in’ with the rest the business – this is essential to communicate how they can help the business and set expectations. “Data translators” are emerging in businesses in response.

3. Soft skills are important – Without clear articulation of strategy and approach, in language they can understand, executives will often either expect ‘magic’ or will be too nervous to fully invest. Without a conduit between management and practitioners many initiatives will be under-resourced or, possibly worse, significantly over-resourced. Core competencies around stakeholder and expectation management, and project management is needed from data practitioners and to be made available to them.

4. Take a product mindset – Successful data science projects should be treated in a similar way to developing an App. Creating it and putting it on the ‘shelf’ is only the beginning of the journey. Next comes marketing, promotion, maintenance, and updates. Many firms will have rigorous approaches to applying data quality, governance etc. on client products, but won’t apply them internally. Many of the same metrics used for external products are also applicable internally e.g. # active users, adoption rates etc. Data science projects are only truly successful when everyone is using it the way it was intended.

5. Start small and with the end in mind – Some practitioners find success with ‘mini-contracts’ with the business to define scope and, later, prove that value was delivered on a project. This builds a delivery mindset and creates value exchange.

6. Conduct feasibility assessments (and learn from them) – Feasibility criteria need to be defined that take into account the realities of the business environment, such as:

  • Does the data needed exist?
  • Is the data available and accessible?
  • Is management actively engaged?
  • Are the technology teams available in the correct time windows?

If you run through these steps, even if you don’t follow through with a project, you have learned something – that learning needs to be recorded and communicated for future usage. Lessons from nearly 100+ use cases of data science in financial services and enterprises, suggest that implementing toll-gates for entry and exit criteria is becoming a more mature practice in organisations.

7. Avoid perfection - Sometimes ‘good’ is ‘good enough’. You can ‘haircut’ a lot of data and still achieve good outcomes. A lot of business data, while definitely not perfect, is being actively used by the business – glaring errors will have been fixed already or been through 2-3 existing filters. You don’t always need to recheck the data.

8. Doesn’t always need to be ‘wrangled’ – Data Scientists spend up to 80% of time on "data cleaning" in preparation for data analysis but there are many data cleansing tools now in the market that really work and can save a lot of time (e.g. Trifacta). Enterprises will often have legacy environments and be challenged to connect the dots. They need to look at the data basics – an end to end data management process, the right tools for ingestion, normalisation, analysis, distribution and embedding outputs as part of improving a business process or delivering insights.

Our chefs believed Data Science will evolve positively as a discipline in the next three years with more clarity on data roles, a better qualification process for data science projects, application of knowledge graphs, better education and cross pollination of business and data science practitioners and the need for more measurable outcomes. The lessons from failures are key to make the leap to data-savvy businesses.

Just a quick note to say thank you for your interest in The Data Kitchen!

We had an excellent turn out of practitioners from organisations including: Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan, HSBC, Schroders, Allianz Global Investors, American Express, Capgemini, University of East London, Inmarsat, One corp, Transbank, BMO, IHS Markit, GFT, Octopus Investments, Queen Mary University, and more.

And another Thank You to our wonderful panellists!

  • Peter Krishnan, JP Morgan
  • Ben Ludford, Efficio
  • Louise Maynard-Atem, Experian
  • Jacobus Geluk,

…And Maître De – Rajen Madan, Leading Point FM
We would like to thank our chef’s again and to all participants for sharing plenty of ideas on future topics, games and live solutions.

LIBOR Signals Need for New Approaches to Legal Data

The Scope of LIBOR Remediation is the Problem

Time is now of essence – with the end of 2021 deadline looming, financial institutions need to reduce their ‘stock’ of legacy LIBOR contracts to a minimum as a matter of priority, writes Rajen Madan, CEO, Leading Point.

The challenge is of course colossal. Firms need to find every reference to IBORs embedded in every contract they hold; update each contract with fallback provisions / reflect the terms of the alternative reference rate they are migrating to; and communicate the results with clients.

LIBOR’s retirement potentially impacts over $350 trillion of contracts and requires all LIBOR transactions (estimated at over 100 million documents) to be examined and most likely repapered. LIBOR is embedded in every asset class – mortgages and retail loans, to commodities, derivatives, bonds and securities.

It’s estimated that large banks may be exposed to more than 250,000 contracts directly referencing LIBOR maturing after 2021, and indirectly exposed to many thousands more embedded in servicing activities, supplier agreements and such.

Only 15 percent of Financial Institutions are ready to deal with this volume of contract remediation, deal restructuring, and repapering activities required for the scale of their legacy contract back-book; 14 of the world’s top banks expect to spend more than $1.2 billion on the LIBOR transition.


Firms that have comprehensive visibility of their legal contract information via retained structured data, can avoid 80 percent of the typical repapering process, and focus their efforts on the remaining, critical, 20 percent.


LIBOR Repapering Not a ‘Find and Replace’ 

The repapering of contracts isn’t as straightforward as a ‘Find and Replace’ on legal terminology referencing LIBOR.

Risks are many including conduct, legal, prudential and regulatory. Consider ‘conduct’ risk. In the UK, the Treating Customers Fairly (TCF) regime is particularly concerned with how customers are affected by firms’ LIBOR transition plans. Before contracts can be updated, firms will need to ensure that LIBOR linked products and services have ‘fair’ replacement rates that operate effectively.

Similarly, there’s prudential risk. When the underlying contracts change, firms may find that the instruments they rely on for capital adequacy purposes may no longer be eligible, potentially even resulting in a sudden drop in a bank’s capital position. Similarly, there are several Counterparty Credit, Market, Liquidity, and Interest Rate Risks that will need to be reflected in firms’ approaches.


LIBOR is proving to be a real impetus for financial institutions to use technology that, to be honest, has been available in the marketplace for a long time now.


Mindset Change is Needed to Manage Legal Data

Most historic repapering exercises have involved hastily identifying the documents impacted, outsourcing the difficult issues to law firms (at huge cost) and throwing manpower (again at substantial cost) at the problem to handle the contract updates and communications with counterparties. The exact same process has been repeated for every repapering project. Despite the substantial costs, many financial institutions still don’t meet the deadline. MiFID II is an example.

With ample evidence of regulators continually tightening their grip on financial institutions through reform – alongside an increasingly dynamic global business environment (e.g. LIBOR, Brexit) – it is time organisations acknowledged and accepted repapering as a ‘business as usual’ activity.

A change in mindset and a smarter approach is needed to manage legal data. Financial institutions need to ensure that LIBOR or indeed any future business repapering exercise does not compromise client well-being or negatively impact client experience. For instance, to accurately model the financial risk firms’ portfolios are exposed to via LIBOR when transitioning to a new rate, they need a way to directly link, say, multiple cash and derivative contracts to a single client. Furthermore, in an environment where most firms are product driven, the scenario of multiple repetitive communications, requests for information and re-papering contract terms looms on the horizon for firms’ customers.

It is heartening to see that LIBOR is beginning to pique the interest of financial institutions to develop a long-term vision to create smarter capabilities that will deliver business advantages in the future.

Stephanie Vaughan, Global Legal AI Practice Director at iManage RAVN and ex-Allen & Overy, recently observed, “LIBOR is proving to be a real impetus for financial institutions to use technology that, to be honest, has been available in the marketplace for a long time now. While they may have dabbled with it in the past, due to the scale of the LIBOR remediation and the constantly changing regulatory challenges, it has finally hit home that such projects are a drain on resources and are delivering no business value.”


Financial institutions have started every repapering project (e.g. MiFID II, Dodd Frank, Margin Rules) from scratch including going through the entire process of determining the clients, what the terms of engagement are, when the contracts expire and so on.


Technology Can Make Repapering ‘Business as Usual’

A strategic approach to managing legal data requires all stakeholders in a financial institution to come on board – from business units and the compliance department through to legal operations and the General Counsel. This is instrumental to ensuring genuine cross-functional recognition and support for strategic directional change.

Financial institutions need to build a strong, technology-supported foundation for remediation projects. Thus far, financial institutions have started every repapering project (e.g. MiFID II, Dodd Frank, Margin Rules) from scratch including going through the entire process of determining the clients, what the terms of engagement are, when the contracts expire and so on.

Hereafter, with LIBOR and Brexit, extracting, classifying, storing and maintaining all these data points as structured, base level information on customers on a single technology platform, will provide institutions with capabilities to quickly understand their exposure, assign priorities and flexibly make contractual changes in tune with evolving requirements.

This approach is proven. Firms that have comprehensive visibility of their legal contract information via retained structured data, can avoid 80 percent of the typical repapering process, and focus their efforts on the remaining, critical, 20 percent. Financial institutions will then also be well poised to take advantage of new bolt on capabilities  that leverage artificial intelligence for application to specific use-cases – which in turn can deliver business value from contract search, contract classification, clause management, to real time analytics, contract generation and integration with operational, risk and compliance systems.

The opportunity with more effective legal data management is huge and realisable. Building and incrementally strengthening capability through the strategic and proactive use of technology is potentially the only way for financial institutions to adapt to their new regulatory and business environment.


The repapering of contracts isn’t as straightforward as a ‘Find and Replace’ on legal terminology referencing LIBOR.



Intersecting the Old World with the New

It has always been a challenge for large corporations to adopt change.  There is constant change being experienced at all institutions but, despite the appetite for change, the size of an organisation often hamstrings its ability to execute on innovative initiatives.

So, what differentiates those who can deliver successful change versus those who cannot?  In one word: Execution!

Execution is the biggest differentiator between small, agile and nimble businesses and their much larger counterparts.  Even if you put to one side the classic large corporate roadblocks (such as organisational complexity and bureaucracy), it’s clear that those who decide to take the leap of faith and try to change the world by starting their own businesses seem to be able to avoid and, often, ignore convention to deliver significant change.

Innovation in large organisations must pass through many layers of change management and control which frequently ties the hands of those who are the agents of change. Equally frequently, organisational politics have an adverse impact.  This is not true of ‘Upstarts’.

‘Upstarts’ break the glass ceiling of ‘the norm’ to create change by significantly improving an existing system or reinventing a process, convention, etc.  But one must question why it is easier for Upstarts to achieve significant change where larger organisations struggle and fail to achieve the same success.

Is it because Upstarts have more skills or able people to execute change?  Probably not, although one must believe Upstart people form a more focused collective.  It’s much simpler than that – it’s a matter of having the time and inclination to apply that collective focus to the achievement of a single objective.  Having, as a sole objective, creating and delivering industry augmenting technology will result in an executable product roadmap and realistic delivery timelines.

Execution is the biggest differentiator between small, agile and nimble businesses and their much larger counterparts

However, there is one area in which large corporates have the upper hand: domain expertise.  Upstarts, by virtue of their size, generally do not have the breadth of expertise of larger organisations.  There are many Upstarts who are capable and indeed do produce top of the line tech solutions.  However, often these same single solutions providers (focus!) struggle to appreciate and navigate the vast array of problems large FS organisations are looking to address. Due to these information gaps, solutions can often result in not being fully fit for purpose and therefore hinder an Upstarts ability to precisely satisfy the needs of large FS corporates.

In addition, large organisations have deep pockets.  This allows them to research and develop solutions internally or to attract external innovation by setting up Innovation Labs, or both.  The main objective of these Labs is to experiment with and identify the kind of innovation that will create competitive advantage.  Upstarts may find themselves part of the Innovation Lab or even acquired in the process.

While Innovation Labs may ensure large players don’t get left behind, there is a big opportunity being missed.  This is the integration of external innovation with internal processes and capabilities.  Acquisitions should be aligned with internal use cases i.e. known (or guessed at) issues with existing business workflows such as efficiency gains.  The main reason seems to be that each is located in its own silo.

Having, as a sole objective, creating and delivering industry augmenting technology will result in an executable product roadmap and realistic delivery timelines

So internal use cases (areas in need of improvement and change) are not connected to potential external innovative solutions.  And this is not to speak of the bigger challenge which is to identify those use cases in the first place.  This raises a number of questions:

  • Does the right type of resource exist?
  • Can available internal staff ask the right questions?
  • Is an independent party better placed to conduct such an exercise?
  • Will this be prevented by internal politics?
  • Who’s going to pay for the work?
  • Who’s going to take ownership?
  • … and the list goes on.

Successful organisations engage the right people at the right level internally as well as identify and breakdown the ability of Upstarts to address wide ranging and often long-standing issues.  This takes a certain type of skill set including

  • The ability to face off across the corporate spectrum
  • Applying the correct level of domain expertise and insight, and
  • The ability and expertise to collaborate with Upstarts; to name but a few.

Entrepreneurs, especially the good ones, know that if failure is to happen, it happens fast.  This requires the ability to EXECUTE. 

The common thread: entrepreneurship. Why?

Entrepreneurs, especially the good ones, know that if failure is to happen, it happens fast.  This requires the ability to EXECUTE.  Getting the job done is very high on the agenda for any entrepreneur.  Lateral and cohesive thinking is also vital.  Steve Jobs once said, “creativity is just merging things” and entrepreneurs do this better than anyone and tend to find ways through means others don’t or won’t pursue through such approaches as marginal gains.

Entrepreneurs don’t have all the answers. Not at all.  But to bridge the gap between larger, more conventional-minded organisations and newer Upstarts, one must have the ability to “intersect the old world with the new”.  An excellent example of this was the event we ran Data Innovation Uncovered and the work we continue to do in the FinTech space including in Enterprise Blockchain and Client Lifecycle Management.

We love to talk about this intersection and encourage free and open conversation so please feel free to get in touch to share your thoughts or indeed to hear more of ours.

To bridge the gap between larger, more conventional-minded organisations and newer Upstarts, one must have the ability to “intersect the old world with the new”

LIBOR Transition - Preparation in the Face of Adversity


What is it?  FCA will no longer seek require banks to submit quotes to the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) – LIBOR will be unsupported by regulators come 2021, and therefore, unreliable

Requirement: Firms need to transition away from LIBOR to alternative overnight risk-free rates (RFRs)

Challenge: Updating the risk and valuation processes to reflect RFR benchmarks and then reviewing the millions of legacy contracts to remove references to IBOR

Implementation timeline: Expected in Q4 2021



Front office: New issuance and trading products to support capital, funding, liquidity, pricing, hedging

Finance & Treasury: Balance sheet valuation and accounting, asset, liability and liquidity management

Risk Management: New margin, exposure, counterparty risk models, VaR, time series, stress and sensitivities

Client outreach: Identification of in-scope contracts, client outreach and repapering to renegotiate current exposure

Change management: F2B data and platform changes to support all of the above



Plug in to the relevant RFR and trade association working groups, understand internal advocacy positions vs. discussion outcomes

Assess, quantify and report LIBOR exposure across jurisdictions, businesses and products

Remediate data quality and align product taxonomies to ensure integrity of LIBOR exposure reporting

Evaluate potential changes to risk and valuation models; differences in accounting treatment under an alternative RFR regime

Define list of in-scope contracts and their repapering approach; prepare for client outreach

“[Firms should be] moving to contracts which do not rely on LIBOR and will not switch references rates at an unpredictable time”

Andrew Bailey, CEO,
Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

“Identification of areas of no-regret spending is critical in this initial phase of delivery so as to give a head start to implementation”

Rajen Madan, CEO,
Leading Point FM


  • Market Exposure - Total IBOR market exposure >$370TN 80% represented by USD LIBOR & EURIBOR
  • Tenor - The 3-month tenor by volume is the most widely referenced rate in all currencies (followed by the 6-month tenor)
  • Derivatives - OTC and exchange traded derivatives represent > $300TN (80%) of products referencing IBORs
  • Syndicated Loans - 97% of syndicated loans in the US market, with outstanding volume of approximately $3.4TN, reference USD LIBOR. 90% of syndicated loans in the euro market, with outstanding volume of approximately $535BN, reference EURIBOR
  • Floating Rate Notes (FRNs) - 84% of FRNs inthe US market, with outstanding volume of approximately $1.5TN, reference USD LIBOR. 70% of FRNs in the euro market,with outstanding volume of approximately $2.6TN, reference EURIBOR
  • Business Loans - 30%-50% of business loans in the US market, with outstanding volume of approximately $2.9TN, reference USD LIBOR. 60% of business loans in the euro market, with outstanding volume of approximately $5.8TN, reference EURIBOR

*(“IBOR Global Benchmark Survey 2018 Transition Roadmap”, ISDA, AFME, ICMA, SIFMA, SIFMA AM, February 2018)


Data Innovation, Uncovered


Leading Point Financial Markets recently partnered with selected tech companies to present innovative solutions to a panel of SMEs and an audience of FS senior execs and practitioners across 5 use-cases Leading Point is helping financial institutions with. The panel undertook a detailed discussion on the solutions’ feasibility within these use-cases, and their potential for firms, followed by a lively debate between Panellists and Attendees.


“There is an opportunity to connect multiple innovation solutions to solve different, but related, business problems”

  • 80% of data is relatively untapped in organisations. The more familiar the datasets, the better data can be used
  • On average, an estimated £84 million (expected to be a gross underestimation) is wasted each year from increasing risk and delivery from policies and regulations
  • Staying innovative, while staying true to privacy data is a fine line. Solutions exist in the marketplace to help
  • Is there effective alignment between business and IT? Panellists insisted there is a significantly big gap, but using business architecture can be a successful bridge between the business and IT, by driving the right kinds of change
  • There is a huge opportunity to blend these solutions to provide even more business benefits


  • Tamr uses machine learning to combine, consolidate and classify disparate data sources with potential to improve customer segmentation analytics
  • To achieve the objective of a 360-degree view of the customer requires merging external datasets with internal in a appropriate and efficient manner, for example integrating ‘Politically Exposed Persons’ lists or sanctions ‘blacklists’
  • Knowing what ‘good’ looks like is a key challenge. This requires defining your comfort level, in terms of precision and probability based approaches, versus the amount of resource required to achieve those levels
  • Another challenge is convincing Compliance that machines are more accurate than individuals
  • To convince the regulators, it is important to demonstrate that you are taking a ‘joined up’ approach across customers, transactions, etc. and the rationale behind that approach


  • iManage locates, categorises & creates value from all your contractual content
  • Firms hold a vast amount of legal information in unstructured formats - Classifying 30,000,000 litigation documents manually would take 27 years
  • However, analysing this unstructured data and converting it to structured digital data allows firms to conduct analysis and repapering exercises with much more efficiency
  • It is possible to a) codify regulations & obligations b) compare them as they change and c) link them to company policies & contracts – this enables complete traceability
  • For example, you can use AI to identify parties, dates, clauses & conclusions held within ISDA contract forms, reports, loan application contracts, accounts and opinion pieces


  • Io-Tahoe LLC is a provider of ‘smart’ data discovery solutions that go beyond traditional metadata and leverages machine learning and AI to look at implied critical and often unknown relationships within the data itself
  • Io-Tahoe interrogates any structured/semi-structured data (both schema and underlying data) and identifies and classifies related data elements to determine their business criticality
  • Pockets of previously-hidden sensitive data can be uncovered enabling better compliance to data protection regulations, such as GDPR
  • Any and all data analysis is performed on copies of the data held wherever the information security teams of the client firms deems it safe
  • Once data elements are understood, they can be defined & managed and used to drive data governance management processes


  • Ayasdi augments the AML process with intelligent segmentation, typologies and alert triage. Their topological data analysis capabilities provide a formalised and repeatable way of applying hundreds of combinations of different machine learning algorithms to a data set to find out the relationships within that data
  • For example, Ayasdi was used reason-based elements in predictive models to track, analyse and predict complaint patterns. over the next day, month and year.
  • As a result, the transaction and customer data provided by a call centre was used effectively to reduce future complaints and generate business value
  • Using Ayasdi, a major FS firm was able to achieve more than a 25% reduction in false positives and achieved savings of tens of millions of dollars - but there is still a lot more that can be done


  • Privitar’s software solution allows the safe use of sensitive information enabling organisations to extract maximum data utility and economic benefit
  • The sharp increase in data volume and usage in FS today has brought two competing dynamics: Data protection regulation aimed at protecting people from the misuse of their data and the absorption of data into tools/technologies such as machine learning
  • However, as more data is made available, the harder it is to protect the privacy of the individual through data linkage
  • Privitar’s tools are capable of removing a large amount of risk from this tricky area, and allow people to exchange data much more freely by anonymisation
  • Privitar allows for open data for innovation and collaboration, whilst also acting in the best interest of customers’ privacy


  • Encouragingly, over 97% of participants who responded confirmed the five use cases presented were relevant to their respective organisations
  • Nearly 50% of all participants who responded stated they would consider using the tech solutions presented
  • 70% of responders believe their firms would be likely to adopt one of the solutions
  • Only 10% of participants who responded believed the solutions were not relevant to their respective firms
  • Approximately 30% of responders thought they would face difficulties in taking on a new solution

Innovation is Not Perfect. Accept and Embrace It

ThushanThushan Kumaraswamy
Partner at Leading Point Financial Markets


It was my pleasure to attend Societe Generale's breakfast event on 9 November 2018 called "Implementing New Technologies" in Spitalfields, London on behalf of Leading Point Financial Markets. The event comprised of presentations about the FinTech innovation landscape and the use of Robotics Process Automation (RPA) in SocGen, followed by a panel discussion, hosted by Susanne Chishti, Founder of FinTech Circle.

Since there was so much good content and thinking at this event, I thought I would share my views on the event and how it ties to our propositions at Leading Point Financial Markets.

Do not ignore FinTech companies that are not 100% ready

There are thousands of FinTech (and RegTech, LegalTech, WealthTech, InsureTech, XYZTech!) companies just in the UK, let alone globally. Many of these are in different stages of their evolution.

Start-up Lifecycle

Source: The Startup Lifecycle

Financial services firms, especially larger firms, often resist adopting innovative technologies from companies who don't have a long record of existing clients. In such a fast-moving environment as FinTechs, this can mean losing out on the potential business benefits at a time when competition is squeezing margins and ever-increasing regulatory pressures are driving up costs.

Imagine being able to run a pilot or proof-of-concept for a small area of the business, with an identified strategy of goals and specific objectives, to demonstrate to the senior management team how such a new technology could be used to deliver real business benefits. This kind of pilot can be run in an agile fashion, but require business and IT teams are fully on-board and involved with the project. Since the scope is small, the resource commitment is also smaller than a normal implementation.

There is a significant opportunity for financial services firms who are willing to start these small-scale projects with innovation companies who might not be 100% ready (in the Validating or Scaling phases above) alongside implementation partners who know the technology, have the domain knowledge and understand operating models.

Don't automate a bad process

Robotics Process Automation (RPA) as a concept is easy enough to understand; computer programs (the "robots" or "bots"), using a set of pre-defined rules replicate what humans would do using computer systems in a repetitive fashion. For example, daily copying of client names from an Excel sheet to a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. This basic automation can free up the human workers to do more valuable work.

Rapid evolution of robotics

Source: Robots Join The Team

This is all good stuff. However, before jumping straight to implementing RPA solutions, it is worth considering what the business process is actually doing. Is this Excel-to-CRM method the best way of getting client details into the CRM system? Is it possible to improve the process first? As part of an RPA implementation, you should be looking at process improvement strategies first, then automating what is left. This way, you save on the number of bots you would need and increase the efficiency of the process as a bonus. Process experts can document existing processes and identify opportunities for improvement prior to any RPA technology implementation.

How does a bot change a password when accessing a core system?

There are some potential gotchas when using bots, like the above question, which can cause problems during day-to-day running. If a bot uses a specific login to access a core system and that login has a password expiry, what happens then? Is the bot expected to define a new password? Should a human get involved? Also, consider licences on existing software platforms; are there any clauses that prevent the use of bots? There may not be right now, but it is not difficult to foresee software companies bringing in new clauses to control the potential uptick of system usage through bots.

Panel Discussion: Selecting and Implementing New Technologies

Panel discussion

  • Susanne Chishti, Founder of FinTech Circle (Host)
  • Anthony Woolley, Head of Innovation, Societe Generale
  • Vasu Vasudevan, Digital Enablement Capbility Lead, Schroders
  • Richard Archer, Director, EY
  • Keith Phillips, Executive Director, The Investment Association and Velocity

The first question was about trends in innovation. The guests talked about the bleed of innovation between FinTechs, RegTechs, LegalTechs, but also into manufacturing and other industry sectors. The biggest topics being:

  • Artifical Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)
  • Big Data
  • Cloud
  • Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) / Blockchain
  • Social & Mobile
  • Robotics & Automation

As mentioned above, the twin drivers of competition shrinking margins and regulatory compliance increasing costs are forcing companies to come up with new ways of thinking. This may not come naturally to the larger, older financial services firms. They may have pockets of innovation but sometimes struggle to create a company-wide innovation culture.


The importance of customer-centricity was raised to a question on technological advancements. Building a single view of client will enable improved service to clients and increased revenue growth using data analysis across large cross-referenced data sets to be more specific with marketing and cross-selling.

An interesting question about how to bridge the gap between legacy platforms and new innovations was put to the panel next. It was noted that capacity is required to do this. How do companies get that capacity? By using technologies like RPA to free up people to generate this real value for the business.

Another technique is to use APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) as wrappers around your legacy platforms to make them easier to connect to other, more modern, applications. Using APIs turns your legacy platforms into building blocks that be linked together. A COBOL API can let other systems use the data held in the COBOL system, without the need for expensive COBOL programmers.

Intro to APIs

Source: Intro to APIs

This brings additional data protection concerns though, as customer data held in these legacy platforms may not have up-to-date data security and data protection applied to them and exposing the data through APIs could potentially increase risk of data loss.

A concern raised by the panel was about the use of RPA as a concrete sticking plaster rather than as a purely temporary fix for the use of legacy technology. The temptation is there once an RPA solution is doing its work, to leave it there rather than address the legacy platform.

The panel were asked about their top three technologies. The answers covered:

  • Data aggregation, clustering & consolidation
  • AI and ML
  • Blockchain
  • Data analytics (behavioural analysis for active asset management)
  • Digital passports (recording clients' digital identities)
  • Intelligent automation (robotics)
  • Unstructured to structured data
  • Document intelligence (text mining)
  • RPA
  • Collaboration tools in investment operations
  • Natural language processing (voice recognition)
  • Cloud (along with data and APIs)
Emerging Techs

Source: Top 30 Emerging Technologies

One important factor for digital was considering how people interacted with their devices. Many people of a certain age feel comfortable using on-screen keyboards and touch gestures. Some younger people prefer voice interactions through assistants like Alexa, Siri or Google and that audience is only going to grow.

A vital question was put to the panel about how to implement new technologies. FinTechs often feel like they are in a zoo. Potential clients come to see what they can do, have some meetings, but then don't connect again. There are some activities that can improve the relationship-building on both sides for FinTechs trying to scale-up or break into financial services; along with the obvious (but not always followed) things like respecting each other and being collaborative, there is a need to not destroy the start-up's spirit. Go in to the relationship with the understanding that the technology partner is young and may need some support and guidance.

The idea of changing the culture of the financial services firms was discussed. It was believed that this needed both top-down leadership & funding and also bottom-up drive. An internal innovation fund was set up that enabled small teams working on-the-ground to prepare a business case and pitch over six months to present. Over 70 of these teams took up the challenge, with some generating real business benefits. But, it is more than those end success stories that matter; it is the change in mindset across the company that demonstrates that innovating is part of business-as-usual for everyone in the firm, not just a select few tucked away in an innovation lab.

Other key factors were having both business and IT teams engaged and willing to work together as partners, being able to run projects in an agile (or Agile) fashion and accepting projects that "fail fast", but test and learn quickly. It was interesting to see how business architecture could help in these situations by mapping commonalities across the business using capability models and describing roadmaps aligned to customer journeys.

Practical business design

Source: Practical Business Design

One of the major blockers to building an innovation culture was the procurement process in many large financial services firms. These bureaucratic processes can take over eight months to allow a start-up to being implementing a solution, which can destroy the innovation impetus. A fast-track procurement process, enabling implementation of new technologies, perhaps in some protected sandbox environment, taking eight weeks would be a massive enabler. It feels like there is work required to develop streamlined procurement processes, specifically for innovation technologies.

An audience member asked how many start-ups typically fail. In any typical innovation portfolio, an angel investor may have invested in ten start-up companies. Five of these will likely go bust. Three may remain as the "living dead", where they plod along, just existing as a private company, without any hope of getting a return on the investment. The other two may become "superstars", where they go public with a bang and these two pay off the investment in the other eight start-ups.

I believe that, with more help in providing a consistent analysis of these start-ups on behalf of private equity firms and venture capitalists, the ratio of failures:living dead:superstars could be improved.

This was a very interesting panel discussion and my thanks go to Societe Generale for running the event, the guest speakers on the panel & presenting and to Susanne Chishti for hosting. The themes of technological innovations and the challenges of implementing them in financial services were very familiar to what I have seen in my own experience, but these challenges are not insurmountable with the right support.

If you don't use these new innovations in your business, for example in the field of anti-financial crime, where do you think the criminals are going to go when your competitors
do use them?

Final thought: You cannot wait for the perfect innovation. By the time that happens, your competition may be far ahead of you. You would be better off using what innovation can offer now, but work together with the technology companies to complete that picture for your business.

The right partner can help intersect the old world with the new.

#innovation #event #socgen #data #technology #startup #scaleup #financialservices #ai #ml #rpa #robotics #blockchain #bigdata #cloud #fintech #regtech #legaltech #wealthtech #insuretech #implementingnewtechnologies #leadingpointfinancialmarkets #leadingpointfm #lpfm

Rules of Data

On 24 October, it was reported that the Financial Conduct Authority launched an investigation into the US credit checking company Equifax; almost 700,000 Britons had their personal data misappropriated between mid-May and July this year. The FCA gave evidence on this matter to the Treasury Select Committee on 31 October because of the significant public interest. The FCA has the power to fine Equifax, or strip it of its right to operate in the UK, if it is found to have been negligent with its customers’ data. With European Union governments formally stating that cyber-attacks can be an ‘act of war,’ data protection cannot be taken seriously enough. The Equifax data breach is by no means a solitary data breach – several large organisations such as Dun & Bradstreet, Verifone, Whole Foods, Deloitte, DocuSign, Yahoo! are already part of the mix.

The Government is aligning domestic data legislation with the European Union in an effort at continuity, despite our plans to leave the EU. The Data Protection Bill, is proof that the Government seeks to keep the UK au courant with the newest data law of EU provenance.

The number of internet users is now close to 4 billion. Businesses continue to move their products and services online in order to service their customers. Data continues to grow exponentially and will persist in its travel far and wide – enabled by technology proliferation. The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’) has been precipitated by acute necessity. Companies need to review and revise their approach to privacy, security and governance of their data. A holistic, data protection framework is needed that is centred on the customer and encompasses their interactions, experience, sentiment, along with those of advocacy groups, shareholders, and regulators. This is a non trivial exercise and requires interventions at the mindset, policy, information governance & security and process levels, along with enabling technology.

Businesses are heading in the right direction with GDPR, but there is still a long way to go. Implementing this change with the right spirit is fundamental to building trust with customers and partners. Leading Point’s experience helping organisations with these requirements suggests that while significant compliance hurdles exist, a risk-based approach that focuses on five core areas, will be instrumental to success.

1. Give your customers control over their data – a mindset change

Bearing in mind the territorial scope of the GDPR – across the current 28 EU member states, plus, anyone dealing with the EU, most teams within organisations will benefit from the ethos behind the Regulation. A mindset shift from owning your customers’ data to stewarding your customers’ data is required. Give your customers control over their data. Any legal or natural person processing data must believe in the spirit of this sea change – the need
to assume responsibility for stewarding your customers’ data and to provide them with confidence in your processes. GDPR expands on the list of ‘rights’ each data subject is afforded: the right to be informed, the right to
access data records, the right to data erasure, to name a few. Tone at the top matters immensely.

2. Achieve Data Protection by Design

Which department is leading your organisation’s GDPR compliance efforts? A cross-functional team will help in deploying a holistic data protection framework. To start with, the focus must be on classification of the data, its
supply chain and its governance. Therefore, leveraging existing data management initiatives to embed data privacy requirements can really help in ‘data protection by design’. In practical terms, companies need a clear picture on: ‘what types of data do they hold on their customers;’ ‘which types of data is sensitive and requires enhanced security levels;’ ‘who has access to customers’ sensitive data;’ ‘where is this data processed and distributed;’ ‘how does it flow;’ ‘what is its quality;’ and ‘are their checks and controls in place around its flow and access’? The rules are more stringent now, as companies establish the depth of customer data – their interactions, experiences, sentiments – what impressions are left in an organisation’s data stores. The definition of personal data and its inherent breadth has been redefined – ‘Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed.’ And so the notion of data minimisation is born. We believe that while there are increasing numbers of quick-fix GDPR solutions in the market, achieving data protection goals is less about technology, and more about energising the organisation into becoming 100% data aware.
Building trust in your data will allow for effective process and controls for data protection, security and governance.

3. The Art of the Process

Focus must be on the ‘process’ exercise – visibility of customer journeys – which processes interact with customer data and the ensuing data lifecycle. Knowing which functions have client-facing processes and ensuring these are
adapted is called for. Threading through specific processes for data collection, data storage, data sharing, access requests and breaches is the focus. Having a command of what happens to personal data, who is involved in gathering it, and responding to Subject Access Requests is important, not least because you will have only a month to respond and cannot routinely charge the current £10. What steps to take in the event of a data breach, how to manage contracts which hold personal data: these are all explicit in the Regulation. For all data processors, we must double down on education and training – on policies, on data governance, on processes and new rules of data. This means highlighting a consistent approach to the different scenarios. Surely the best protection is a body of staff that is wholly informed?

4. Integrating data protection with a risk-based approach

By taking an inventory of obligations to customers via existing contracts and business agreements, organisations can start to manage their stated responsibilities linked to customer data and its management and use. This is a

Data classification and governance exercises will highlight the sensitivity, breadth and depth of data, the access and use of the data held. Data flow will highlight the data processors and third-parties and internal functions involved. Data quality will highlight where data management controls are required to be shored up. In turn, this will flag up priority remediation exercises on customer data.

The aforementioned ‘process’ exercise will highlight key customer-facing process changes, or a requirement to deploy specific data processes referenced by GDPR. Organisations can road-test these processes against the required process turn-around times. For example, data breaches must be reported within 72 hours, and as mentioned above, data subject access requests – one month. Involve your customer services team actively with data protection and security breach scenarios – this will build memory and promote mindset change.

The overarching governance in an organisation will be a key cog in the data protection ecosystem; the Regulation has duly led to the genesis of the Data Protection Officer. Enabling these responsibilities with existing data management governance responsibilities, and appointing data champions, can be an effective approach. Data protection is indisputably everyone’s responsibility, so the emphasis must be on organisational cooperation.

5. Cascading to Third Parties & a Cloud

Third party contracts and the framework that dictates how these are established, must wholeheartedly reflect any changes to the requisite data protection and security obligations. A compliance policy which standardises how third party contracts are established can also be a useful instrument. Data transference should be shored up with model contractual clauses, which allow all parties to clearly realise their responsibilities. We are alive to the persistent risk of cyber attacks, so it is crucial to remember that your data on the cloud is a business issue, as well as an IT issue. Are you fully apprised of where your business stores its data; on the premises, in the cloud, or both? The increasing trend to shift data and infrastructure to a public or private cloud no doubt presents an economic benefit and technology road map for some organisations. But make no mistake, organisations are accountable for their customer data content, its usage, and their security policy for cloud-based storage. Measures such as encryption, pseudonymisation and anonymisation will help, and should be employed as a matter of course, as well as remaining open to select technologies that help underpin cyber defence.

To conclude

When implementing change, evidence-based decision making shouldn’t be the only strategy; knowing which cogs in an organisation interlink cohesively in practice will greatly assist in a robust framework that threads through to
a mindset shift, policy, data, process and third parties. To reinforce an earlier perspective, data is only growing. So are data breaches and cyberattacks. The garnering of our data to feed algorithms and ‘machine learning’, borne
out of the Silicon Valley revolution, is leading to inevitable change in our lives, but we must strive for a democratic jurisdiction for our data. Organisations must give customers control of their data and the confidence in their data
management processes. Rather than penalty-based scaremongering, think of this as an opportunity to build your brand, to send a robust message to your customers and partners, demonstrating care and respect of their data.

To close, a soundbite from the Information Commissioner’s Office: ‘Data protection challenges arise not only from the volume of the data but from the ways in which it is generated, the propensity to find new uses for it, the complexity of the processing and the possibility of unexpected consequences for individuals.’

Leading Point Financial Markets brings compelling value in the intersection of Data, Compliance, Governance and Operating Model Change initiatives.