2021 Outlook: Matt Smith, SteelEye
Matt Smith is CEO of SteelEye, a provider of data-driven compliance solutions.
What were the key theme(s) for your business in 2020?
Staying as strong as we can for as long as we can was SteelEye’s motto during this tumultuous year. With ambitious growth plans, we focused on building a strong culture “online” to keep everyone from seasoned staff to new employees engaged, motivated and happy.
What was the highlight of 2020?
The way that financial markets have adapted to this disruptive year, working flexibly and virtually, has been impressive and in many ways awe-inspiring.
For SteelEye, seeing our investment in our product portfolio – particularly for reporting – leading us to be chosen by global investment manager Schroders to handle their MiFID II transaction workflows.
What surprised you in 2020?
How far behind some firms were on their digital journey. For instance, the reliance on outdated legacy technology became a paramount issue in the RegTech space this year. If 2020 has proven anything, it’s that firms need to innovate and modernize their operational technology to deal with the unexpected.
What are your expectations for 2021?
In the RegTech market, we see the focus encompassing five different areas.
The first is that the future is a holistic one. The current way of using siloed technology for surveillance and regulatory reporting obligations no longer makes sense and will become a thing of the past, especially since much of the same data is reused across solutions. As the market matures and technology advances, we predict there will be a market-wide drive for genuine holistic compliance platforms.
Second, the transition of reporting technology systems to the cloud will accelerate. One of the lessons of Covid is that on-premise technology is a vulnerability that can be quickly alleviated with cloud-based technology.
Third, accuracy in regulatory reporting will become a priority over cost-cutting. With the race to the bottom in terms of price pushing entities such as the CME out of the regulatory reporting market, we expect regulators to increase their focus on reporting issues, which in turn will force firms to shift priorities from cost-cutting to quality.
Fourth, AI and machine learning will take a backseat to data quality, as firms strive for more accurate and usable data.
The fifth will be the impact of Brexit. While most firms are prepared for the possibility of a no-deal on Brexit, we anticipate there will be continued regulatory alignment, but not complete convergence from the EU on regulations.
What trends are getting underway that people may not know about but will be important?
Holistic compliance. The era of firms using different, siloed platforms to process the same data for regulatory compliance is coming to a close. Firms need to think holistically and stop tripping over themselves data-wise before it is too late. Data is the key for everything and there is no point investing in new technology if the data isn’t right.
What industry trends have been prominent but are now fading (or will soon fade)?
The blocking of mobile communications channels, such as Whatsapp, which has been done for years but is no longer viable as clients increasingly demand it and traders have been found to use it anyway, even if it’s against company policy.
What are your customers’ pain points and how have they changed from one year ago?
Our customers’ pain points have been supercharged by Covid. The need for flexible, reliable and futureproofed technology platforms has never been more pressing than now. Regulators have not eased off because of Covid. On the contrary, they have insisted that firms carry on meeting their obligations, which has necessitated a shift in attitudes from the use of on-premises technology towards the use of the cloud as an alternative.
This year's theme is a familiar one: an expansion of electronic trading.
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