SmartStream Technologies follows up its success in last year’s Buy-Side Technology Awards by winning the best sell-side back-office platform in this year’s Sell-Side Technology Awards. Victor Anderson chats to Vincent Kilcoyne, executive vice president of product management at SmartStream, about the firm’s ongoing success across both sides of the industry, the key services that comprise SmartStream’s back-office suite, and the technologies that have emerged from the firm’s Innovation Lab in Vienna.
Q: SmartStream has repeated its success in the best back-office platform category in last year’s Buy-Side Technology Awards by winning the corresponding category in this year’s Sell-Side Technology Awards. To what do you attribute this cross-industry success?
Vincent Kilcoyne, executive vice president, product management, SmartStream Technologies: The cross-industry success is, I think, down to the ease-of-application of SmartStream’s technology to a diverse set of problems. On the sell side, the challenge is extreme volume, stemming from increased automation from APIs and open banking. In addition, financial institutions are having to deal with traditional and non-traditional data types. Firms face peer behavioral issues and disruptive behaviors, and they must find margin in volume, too. Where the buy side is concerned, there is a massive technology challenge. Organizations require more control and fewer errors, as well as needing to achieve greater consistency and transparency.
The SmartStream solution suite delivers control, accuracy, consistency and transparency. It tackles the technology and volume problems faced by both sides of the industry.
SmartStream has several decades of market experience and our products are running at 70 of the world’s top financial institutions. Years of working closely with our global client base has provided SmartStream with a great deal of operational and technological understanding, allowing us to support clients equally effectively, whether they are on the sell side or the buy side.
Q: What are the technologies/services that comprise SmartStream’s back-office suite, and what is currently most in demand from a sell-side perspective?
Kilcoyne: SmartStream has grown from being a reconciliations provider, extending coverage across the back office to provide a range of solutions and services, which assist financial institutions to achieve optimal operational outcomes and to lower total cost of technology ownership. Uptake in the cloud and managed services are currently areas of particularly strong emphasis for SmartStream.
SmartStream works closely with customers, as well as with the financial industry more broadly, to understand the sector’s needs. At the top of the sell side’s wish list is the ability to run on an open, lower-cost platform, with a rich user experience.
Q: The SmartStream Innovation Lab in Vienna was unveiled about a year ago. What technologies have emerged from the Lab over the last year, and to what extent have they been folded into existing SmartStream offerings?
Kilcoyne: The Innovation Lab is made up of a highly skilled, dynamic team of mathematicians, applied-data scientists and computer scientists. Over the last year, the Lab has been collaborating with a number of financial institutions, working with our banking partners to understand how technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain apply to them. AI is being folded into almost all of SmartStream’s solutions. We’re currently building AI modules for cash management and reconciliations purposes, as well as working on the use of blockchain in relation to our corporate actions and collateral management products. Announcements should, hopefully, follow later this year. On that note, we are also looking forward to welcoming visitors at Sibos this year, where we will be unveiling our latest developments in this area.
Q: What new technologies or services is SmartStream prepping for release that WatersTechnology’s readers should know about?
Kilcoyne: An important focus for us at present, and one that is likely to be of interest to WatersTechnology’s readers, is the delivery of a new user experience across all of SmartStream’s solutions. The redesigned UI, which deploys HTML 5 screens, has a fresh look—data is presented clearly so that our solutions are straightforward to work with and misconceptions do not arise. By standardizing the front-end of its solutions, SmartStream aims to lower the total cost of ownership for clients, too.
As I mentioned, uptake through the cloud is an area of particular emphasis for SmartStream, and the fact that our solutions can be tapped into via the cloud is something I’d really like to draw readers’ attention to. The “plug and play” aspect means that SmartStream technology can now be accessed with greater ease and speed, creating a cost-effective route to adoption. It also makes our products an attractive choice for smaller organizations and enables them to take advantage of solutions that have been tried and tested by some of the world’s largest financial institutions.
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