Back office solution vendor SmartStream Technologies has expanded its Asia Pacific operations, which are headquartered in Singapore, to include on the ground presence in Japan via the opening of a new office in Tokyo. The vendor has hired ex-Reuters executive Eiichi Matsumoto to head the office as its country manager for Japan.
Christian Schiebl, executive vice president at SmartStream Technologies, explains the rationale: “The Tokyo office is another significant step in SmartStream’s ongoing direct investment in the Asia Pacific region and follows the opening of an office in Beijing and the expansion of the Singapore office in 2008. The Japanese market has very specific automation needs and establishing an office in the country was always part of SmartStream’s expansion plans for the region.”
Earlier this year the vendor commissioned some research into the level of STP in the Japanese market, which indicated that back office silos remain a significant problem in the market, and this office opening is a response to this potential gap in the market. SmartStream already has distribution partners across the Asian region and in Japan but this on the ground presence is part of its drive to expand the range of its middle and back office solutions available to the local market.
The distribution agreements have until now focused on selling and supporting the vendor’s reconciliations solutions but SmartStream is keen to add its other offerings, which include a recently upgraded corporate actions automation solution, to the mix. The vendor will use its direct sales operation in Tokyo and broaden its selection of channel partners in order to attempt to get the Japanese market’s attention.
Prior to his recent appointment, Matsumoto was with Reuters for a period of 18 years and was latterly global business director of Focus Group Accounts. He is confident that SmartStream is pitching its solutions at the right point in time: “I believe the climate in the Japanese market is such that firms are being forced to seek ways to achieve greater efficiency, control and drive unwanted costs from their business. SmartStream is in a strong position to help these firms, by working directly with them and through their local partners and trusted advisors.”
The vendor’s solutions are currently being translated into Japanese and, eventually, the full range of TLM offerings will be available: reconciliations, corporate actions, cash management and trade process management.
Matsumoto highlights the findings of SmartStream’s sponsored research as justification for his positive outlook: “Market, client and regulatory demands are requiring firms to examine where they can gain greater efficiency from their middle and back office infrastructures. There’s unquestionable value in these firms implementing SmartStream’s TLM solutions across the middle and back office to lower their operational risk, reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and deliver a significant return on investment.”
According to the research, which was released in March this year, Japan is a few years behind the US and Europe in terms of automating corporate actions. STP in Japan has tended to focus on the flow between internal systems and less progress has been made in the automation of assisted workflow for exceptions handling or corporate actions. For example, the asset managers surveyed in the SmartStream sponsored research all processed exception manually, while the majority of firms in Japan process exceptions in batches.
The vendor has recently upgraded its corporate actions solution by migrating it to a common platform with the rest of its solutions. The idea behind the move was to provide a more integrated solution set across all of its offerings and benefit from economies of scale: that all important cost saving device in the current tough economic climate.
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