Two months into his role as CEO of Asset Control, we caught up with Mark Hepsworth to find out more about his plans for the company and its clients, including a proactive approach to developing specific products to meet client needs, offering a more standards-based platform, and strengthening the company with new hires across technology, products and sales.
Hepsworth joined Asset Control, which is owned by Marlin Equity Partners, in August, after leaving his role as president of EMEA at IDC in February and filling the gap as an advisor to a number of private equity firms. Jumping from a data vendor to a data management company seems to suit Hepsworth well. He says Asset Control is in a good position with a large client base and that it is also in good shape financially.
Hepsworth’s initial plans for the company include taking a more proactive approach to helping clients tackle industry challenges such as cost control, increasing regulation and changing trading trends. He comments: “As the industry changes and more cost control is required, we see financial institutions using vendors more and they want us to come to them with products and solutions that solve their problems, rather than developing solutions themselves.”
Asset Control’s move towards productising solutions starts with a product for compliance with Fundamental Review of the Trading Book (FRTB) regulation, a big issue for banks that could dominate project work for some years. The FRTB product is based on the company’s Risk Data Manager module and allows users to address the modelling requirements of the regulation, which takes effect in January 2019.
Building on his experience of developing IDC’s Apex data distribution model, Hepsworth is also looking at productising data delivery by providing more user interfaces oriented to business users, adding more interfaces to third-party products such as Matlab, and minimising the impact of distributing datasets to legacy systems with tools designed to make the data suitable for such systems.
Beyond FRTB, Asset Control recently made its first sale in the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II (MiFID II) space. The client has multiple reference databases and will use a reference data model created by Asset Control – and likely to be productised – to support a central database for MiFID II data.
By taking a more standards-based approach to Asset Control’s central platform, AC Plus, Hepsworth hopes to help clients move away from customisation, which must be maintained in house and can be costly. He explains: “The conversations we are having with clients suggest IT teams are looking to move towards more industry standards and trying to get away from too much customisation. We will develop more standards-based versions of our software in line with the industry’s need to transform its cost base.”
Considering AC Plus, which hosts AC Risk Data Manager and AC Data Service Manager, Hepsworth notes two key use cases, independent price verification and reference data management. He says: “Asset Control is a market leader in helping clients with cleansed, aggregated and verified pricing data that is important to risk, accounting and control systems. It is also strong in reference data management with a lot of clients using Asset Control software where scale is an issue and data must be managed for specific use cases. The themes here are solving data quality issues in reference data and cost efficiency.”
The company has about 60 clients on a global basis from both the buy-side and sell-side, with about 60% using its pricing service and 40% its reference data management software. These users include the likes of ING, Commerzbank, Aegon and Itaù in Brazil.
With a focus on building out Asset Control’s pricing, reference data and FRTB products over the next 12 months, Hepsworth plans to add to the company’s 100 or so employees across its offices in New York, Singapore, London and the Netherlands, and its support operations in Brazil. With 45% of revenue coming from North America, 45% from Europe and 10% from Asia-Pacific, the priority in the short-term are opportunities in the regions generating larger revenue.
Having set the scene for the next 12 months, Hepsworth is working on a three-year vision for Asset Control that could include pivoting the company’s platform to many more areas of data management.