Mobile apps and digital banking solutions have been a game-changer for the finance industry on the whole, completely transforming how users interact with their banks or investment platforms; from opening accounts to dealing with fund managers. Michael Higgins, Chief Executive Officer at Velox Clearing, a technology-driven firm offering clearing and prime brokerage services shares his thoughts comparing the old and the new in financial services in this interview.
Can you tell us a little about yourself Michael?
I am a senior executive with over 40 years of financial services experience. I spent the early part of my career in the New York/New Jersey area, leading teams at Charles Schwab, Pershing, Bank of New York, and AXA Advisors. In 2013, I moved to Charlotte, NC to create and spearhead an operational risk unit at LPL Financial.
My background is very diversified having led small, medium, and large organizations within the operations/client services and enterprise risk divisions. I am married and have three grown children and will become a first time grandfather late this year!
We’d love to know about your experience being at Velox Clearing since you took over as CEO in December last year, what are some of the biggest projects you are looking forward to and how has the impact of Covid-19 resulted in you/ the company to revisiting core initiatives?
In joining Velox, I was excited about the challenges and opportunities that a start up clearing organization presented. One of my first goals was to create a project plan and roadmap for the future. Setting goals is critical for success. One of my basketball couches once said “the reason there is a net attached to the backboard is, so you know you scored. Without a net or goal. You never know if you achieved what you were aiming to deliver.”
Some major initiatives during my first six months has been driving new business to Velox, creating and offering the right product and services to attract new business, and the developing growth of team members. Helping employees to grow and continually learn in the business are some of my passions.
How have you seen new innovations in fintech change the banking and insurance game for end users: can you talk about a few game changing platforms that are redefining banking and insurance?
Mobile applications have been a game changer for the entire financial industry. In my early days on Wall Street, you had to go to a branch to open an account, make a deposit, get a quote, trade a security, request funds from your account etc. Over time, computer access allowed me to transact business on my desktop (later laptop) but access was limited while you were away from your desk or traveling.
Today, everything can and is being accomplished via mobile phones or tablets. Instant and constant access keeps you in touch with your funds real time – all the time.
Could you talk about some innovations specific to the current time – the Covid-19 impact: how have newer fintech companies helped contribute to the challenges businesses users and individual users have been met with during the last few weeks because of the pandemic?
Video meetings have benefited my organization the most during this period. In mid-March, we (along with many other organizations) made the decision to require “most” people to work from home. Staying in contact with everyone and maintaining a culture of collaboration and teamwork remained a key priority. Virtual meetings became the norm and provided everything necessary to remain connected. It was great getting back together in the office, but technology provided the bridge when it was most needed.
How do you see the rest of the year play out for the finance tech as a segment: how will the Covid-19 pandemic change the way this segment will shape up, and how will it change how demand for new platforms shape up?
If you look at the markets, it’s amazing to realize that even with the high unemployment rate in certain sectors and many smaller businesses still transitional to operational status, that the markets have rebounded over 40% from their low point in March. The US markets are resilient and as Covid-19 is better understood and mitigated, we could continue growth in the economy.
How according to you will emerging tech play a key role in the development and evolution of finance and fintech as a whole?
Fintech and finance go hand in hand. Making it easier to see, understand and manage money is what consumers want. Keeping money safe while providing easy access is what is expected.
Tag (mention/write about) the one person in the fintech industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read!
Charles Schwab – The organization has been driving technology change since the 1970’s. The firm is gigantic yet has remained nimble in an ever-changing industry. Always forward thinking, the organization has remained on the cutting edge of technology for over 45 years.
Your favorite Finance Tech quote
I actually have two quotes that I favor — but I feel they go together very well and could represent a single thought.
“Continue to evolve and upgrade or go extinct!” – JP Nicols
“Fast and furious with accuracy” – Ron Shevlin
Would you like to share specific finance management or business tips for Marketing and Sales teams struggling through this uncertain time?
Keep moving forward and don’t constrain your activities due to the uncertain times we are experiencing. Some of the biggest household names in history started during recessions and uncertain times, they include:
- General Electric
- General Motors
- Burger King
- CNN and