London-based data operations specialist Duco has chalked up a number of wins in the last two years across Waters’ awards, the most recent being the best reconciliations platform provider at this year’s BST Awards. Victor Anderson chats to CEO Christian Nentwich about what makes Duco different, what it is focusing on with respect to its buy-side clients, and what’s in the pipeline for the next 12 months.
Duco won the best buy-side reconciliation platform at this year’s Buy-Side Technology Awards, repeating last year’s win. To what do you attribute these successes in what is a mature and highly competitive market?
Christian Nentwich, CEO, Duco: The market, while mature, is nevertheless stuck on an old technology model that is highly inefficient and costly. Heavy, legacy point solutions dominate this space, which are good at solving standard cash or custody reconciliation problems, but start to fail as soon as complexity is introduced.
We are on a mission to disrupt this industry for the first time in 20 years. We started Duco because we believe that dealing with data at scale requires intelligent systems, able to adapt to any kind of data. Our goal is to automate more of these types of processes and ultimately use machine learning to provide suggestions on how to improve data quality and reduce risk.
Our innovation agenda is focused on bringing true advances in algorithms, real machine learning, and consumer-level what we call “self-service” to the table. There are no implementation projects. With Duco, end-users can normalize, validate and reconcile any type of data within hours, dramatically reducing cost and risk. There is no other system on the market like it.
Duco is more than a one-trick pony, having won both the best data governance solution in this year’s IMD/IRD Awards and the best use of the Agile methodology in this year’s SST Awards. Can you give Waters’ readers an overview of the services you offer capital markets firms?
Nentwich: One of the core strengths of Duco is flexibility. We see ourselves as a data operations company, providing fundamental data management capabilities in a data-agnostic way. That means Duco can be used to address a range of critical challenges across data quality, data integrity, reconciliation and system migration. Clients use Duco for a broad range of use-cases from daily margin reconciliations, to consolidation of reference data databases, regulatory data quality assurance and massive system migrations.
Duco’s high level of usability empowers the people who know the data best to solve their most critical problems. End-users can normalize data without writing code, fuzzy match data that may not be available in exact form, and detect and eliminate root causes of poor data quality. All this improves agility and speed-to-market, while reducing costs and risk. We must be doing something right because we are now processing over 400 million records of data a day.
From a reconciliations perspective, what are Duco’s buy-side clients’ specific pain points right now?
Nentwich: The biggest buy-side challenges we see are complexity, format and duplication. The move to more complex asset classes, including derivatives and contracts for difference (CFDs), means that these reconciliations almost always end up in Excel. Any legacy system or point solution that might be in place either does not support these assets or it needs a prohibitively costly and time-consuming project to code in. This is not efficient and it certainly does not make the compliance team happy. Second, the diversity and varying quality of formats provided by brokers has resulted in each new data source requiring an IT project to get the data. Again, this is expensive and extremely inefficient. Finally, we see duplication of processes between managers, fund administrators, brokers and custodians. There are people sitting in each firm repeating almost exactly the same process. The good news is that clients using Duco are eliminating these pain points to their competitive advantage.
What’s on the horizon from Duco’s perspective with respect to new product or services?
Nentwich: We are investing heavily in innovation to help companies improve data quality and integrity in a number of areas. First, Duco is the leader in bringing true machine-learning capabilities to this space. We are really excited about harnessing this new capability, making it easier to work with arbitrary datasets and helping users better analyze and make sense of their data. Second, we are focused on helping clients reduce and eliminate needless exception investigation and the cost associated with this. We are doing this by enabling users to relentlessly automate any repetitive process. Third, we are building an ecosystem with like-minded technology firms to support clients as they plan out their future operations to improve data quality and integrity. And finally, we are building out a range of services and solutions to support clients as they continue to streamline operations, reducing cost and risk.
A look at some of the key themes that will be talked about at Waters USA—including cloud, AI, alt data, blockchain—and also a discussion of recent Brexit developments.Subscribe to Weekly Wrap emails