GlobalFintechSeries Interview with Gordon McHarg, Managing Director at AutoRek
Technological advances in Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning will disrupt the face of data management. Gordon McHarg, Managing Director at AutoRek talks about how new innovations are now setting increasingly high expectations for intelligent data management and business process automation systems in this chat with GlobalFintechSeries. Catch the complete QnA:
Can you tell us a little about yourself Gordon and how the idea for AutoRek first came about? How has the platform evolved over the years and what are some of the new innovations planned for the near-future?
AutoRek was founded in 1994 as a bespoke software development and data management consulting business with a focus on Microsoft technologies. The business was founded by myself and two friends from university where we met while studying Computer Science. The AutoRek product originated in the late 1990’s while working with a large retail stockbroker who were experiencing significant growth in customers and and struggling to cope with high transaction volume, cash and asset reconciliations.
The increased regulation which followed the financial crisis of 2007/2008 demands that regulated firms better understand the integrity and veracity of their data. New regulations require a granularity and transparency of transactional detail which is not supported by existing internal or external systems and many organisations have looked to automated data management and reconciliation solutions such as AutoRek to bridge the gap.
Clearly data management/data science technology has come a long way over the 25 years and AutoRek has continued to evolve with these new technologies to meet the needs of the market and our customers. Over the years AutoRek has migrated from the original client server windows forms application through various stages of maturity on web technologies and is now available on the cloud as a SaaS solution.
Can you talk about some of the recent game changing innovations you’ve seen in the global fintech marketplace when it comes to financial reporting software? What are your thoughts on the future of this segment?
The past 5 years have seen the emergence of a number of disruptive technologies. Widespread adoption of cloud/SaaS solutions combined with intelligent easy to use applications has democratised many areas of data management within large financial organisations. Data management is no longer the sole purvey of the IT function with ease of use, low-code/no-code solutions empowering self-sufficiency within finance and operational functions. Historically gaps in data management or system functionality would be filled by end-user computing systems frequently implemented using desktop solutions such as Microsoft Excel and Access. This has led to many manual and onerous processes often resulting in inaccurate and expensive reporting cycles with limited or no audit.
Developments in AI/ML and RPA will continue to augment and enhance the capability of functionally rich reconciliation and reporting solutions. These applications will be supported by robust, high integrity and auditable data management processes. With growing demand for regulatory insight and increasing cost of compliance the use of technology such as AutoRek will be seen as not only industry best practice but the norm.
How do you feel technologies like AI will impact or reshape how financial reporting platforms are built?
The principal benefit to financial services companies of these technologies will be to support business users in responding to customer and regulatory reporting needs, providing the tools and flexibility they require to respond rapidly and cost effectively to the market demands. Financial reporting platforms supporting data modelling, data transformation, aggregation and reporting must be designed with flexibility at all levels from the data storage, interfaces in new and legacy formats, through to the end user reporting tools.
In what ways do you see the global fintech market adapt to the changing needs of the new normal? What are some of the interesting solutions or features you’ve seen spring up as a result of the pandemic?
The “new normal” will see an acceleration of digital automation across the industry. Organisations have generally responded well, but tactically, to the sudden change and new operating environment resulting from the pandemic. Short term solutions will be replaced by demand for more robust strategic solutions with a focus on operational resilience going forward. Cloud adoption will undoubtedly accelerate as organisations look for solutions which support online access to, and availability of data, replacing manual systems and processes, supported by solutions which deliver robust and auditable data access. There will be an increased focus on collaboration features allowing users to share and communicate easily with colleagues now geographically distributed. Platform providers will be expected to either implement or integrate with existing collaboration platforms. Data security is clearly a challenge with users accessing data from home. Maintaining secure centralised control and auditable access to data will be a priority.
What are your predictions for the state of fintech (global fintech) in the near-future? Which are the top solutions (banking solutions, payments solutions, etc) that will dominate the sector?
I am not sure any one fintech or solution will dominate the market. Both from a product and tech perspective I expect the sector to be characterised by a diversity of platforms and technologies which can be integrated to provide a seamless customer experience.
What are some of the biggest fintech innovations / products / companies that you’d suggest business to business users keep an eye out for because it can benefit them?
There are a number of new banking platforms which provide API integration with legacy platforms. These products allow new products and fintechs to innovate with latest available technology while supporting and benefitting from the scale and maturity of the established market infrastructure.
Before we wrap up, would you like to share specific finance management or business tips for Marketing and Sales or Finance teams struggling through this uncertain time due to the Covid-19 pandemic?
This is not the first nor will it be the last significant economic/market crisis. With severe disruption there will be multiple opportunities as new ways of working and doing business evolve in the new norm. Innovation is most often the key to future success and organisations should ensure people feel empowered to innovate, finding new ways of working and identifying new products or features which add value to customers.
AutoRek is a leading software provider to global financial services companies. An industry pioneer at the forefront of data management, AutoRek’s customisable tools enable firms to automate and streamline the collection, validation and reconciliation of data, facilitating the necessary transparency for good governance and fulfilling regulatory obligations. Its clients span the asset management, banking and insurance sectors and include high street banks, challenger organisations, start-ups and crowdfunding platforms.
Gordon co-founded AutoRek in 1994 and has served as Managing Director since 1998. Gordon has guided the company from its early days as a bespoke software development services provider through to its current position as a leading provider of enterprise financial controls and reconciliation solutions to the global financial service sector.
His client experience is extensive and includes international work for IBM in the US, Renaissance Capital in Russia and several global clients including Barclays, JP Morgan and BUPA. He studied Computing Science at West of Scotland University, graduating in 1989.