This award, the second year it has been part of the AFTAs line-up, is arguably the most sought-after of the vendors’ section, given that it recognizes the innovation and leadership of just one individual. This year the category attracted 11 strong entries, but one person, IPC’s CEO Neil Barua, emerged top by virtue of the transformation he has brought about across the Jersey City-based provider of communication technology and services for capital markets firms. Last year the award went to Steve O’Hanlon from Numerix.
Barua took on the CEO’s role at IPC in 2014 after serving as the operating advisor at California-based private equity firm Silver Lake Partners, which previously owned IPC. After leading the sale of IPC to Centerbridge Partners at the end of 2014, Barua continued his role as CEO under new the ownership to accelerate the transformation of the business.
Central to Barua’s transformation strategy was the development of Unigy360, unveiled in June 2017, the firm’s software-as-a-service flagship offering intended to deliver innovation, economics and new capabilities for capital markets participants. The platform is designed to allow buy-side firms “anytime, anywhere and any device” access to counterparties, liquidity, and trade lifecycle services, supporting all regulated users’—traders, researchers, portfolio managers, risk managers, compliance professionals, technologists, settlement personnel and operations staff—external communications and internal workflows.
Barua’s IPC tenure hasn’t been limited to building new technologies, however—he has also overseen two critical acquisitions in recent years: Etrali Trading Systems, the France-headquartered provider of unified communications technology to the trading community, and ASPone Networks, a global voice and data network provider to the financial markets, which bolstered the firm’s Russian and northern Asia-Pacific presence.
In terms of the challenges IPC is currently grappling with, Barua is clear: “We are a $500 million company with over 1,200 employees and staying close to our customers, while continuing to innovate and evolve the company in such a fast-paced, regulated and demanding industry is our primary challenge,” he says. “The last two years have resulted in the highest volume of sales to our customers in over 10 years, including two of our largest deals ever.”
Under Barua’s leadership, IPC has also sought to collaborate with other fintech firms, including application partners such as Algomi, allowing buy-side firms to initiate calls to the sell side via the IPC voice network, while collaboration with UK-based startup, Post-Quantum, has enabled IPC to offer a suite of biometric authentication, encrypted messaging and blockchain-enabling products to counter increasingly sophisticated security threats.
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