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As the pandemic caused an unprecedented market disruption, hedge fund liquidation surged in the first months of the crisis. Stevie Morrow, chief operating officer at Options Technology – a company that delivers full technology solutions to hedge funds and asset managers – explains how reliance on tech has skyrocketed over the past few months as clients looked to protect investments.
Digital tools, he says, were the biggest enabler for a swift change during the lockdown, in which Microsoft 365 and Citrix became key components for clients. Despite cyberthreats, Morrow assures protection of data remained the same as the company bridged the gap between the public and private cloud.
How has the company responded to recent market turbulence?
We’ve all experienced very turbulent times. Our response to the turbulence has been to over-communicate both internally and externally. We felt we needed to keep talking to our team, to our clients – and that was harder to do as we were working from home. Retrospectively, we looked back at the peaks in the VIX over the three months of March, April, and May and noticed a close correlation with our communications.
How can firms fully integrate, given employees are now working remotely?
Turning to the tools. We moved to Microsoft 365 at the end of last year and started to do that for several of our clients at the start of this year. We relied heavily on those tools and we started to accelerate them out to our clients. Two tools stood out – Microsoft 365 and Citrix Workspace – we relied on these to make sure that we could move swiftly to remote working. We knew that we would have to move quickly and start working from home in early February to stay ahead of our client demand to do the same in March. Citrix and Microsoft 365 have made our remote working much easier, we and our clients have been able to stay in touch and remain productive.
Cybersecurity is a massive issue at the minute with people working from home, how do you deal with concerns over cloud usage?
We saw a big increase in vulnerabilities through the pandemic and afterwards. People always take advantage of these changes. We had to be very aware of cybersecurity and we found that remote working tools were critical to that. We see ourselves as a bridge between the private and public cloud and all the experience we’ve had in building and managing a private cloud, we found that you can transfer that to the public cloud. We overlay a lot of the management we brought to the private cloud onto the public cloud and provide the same level of protection for people working remotely.
Banks and FIs are working with more fintech vendors than ever before – to the point at which they are trying to rein in the number of partners they have. Is there a way of streamlining this through cloud management?
It’s an interesting trend in the banking world – outsourcing technology and relying on external vendors – and that’s very much our business. We’ve seen a real growth in that area. That creates challenges and difficulties for banks. We want to consolidate a lot of those technology endpoints into one vendor. From that point, it’s just about working with the banks and building up relationships and being that first point of contact for their technology needs.
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