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Talking Reference Data with Andrew Delaney: AC’s Petti – Our Asset Is Under Control

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Richard Petti – who recently took over as CEO of EDM platform provider Asset Control – is bullish about the company’s prospects after a rethink of strategy in the wake of its acquisition by LA-based private equity group Marlin Equity Partners.

Some may have written off the stalwart data management supplier following this year’s messy divorce from previous owner Fidelity Ventures. But Petti reckons its new customer-centric approach is resonating well with its not insubstantial client base, and says Marlin’s commitment to growth – organic, as well as through new market initiatives and acquisitions – made a compelling enough case for him to join the fray.

Petti was named as full-time replacement for Phil Lynch, who left the company in the midst of an on-again, off-again bid to sell to Markit and possibly others. Most recently employed in the automotive segment, Petti spent a long time selling risk management systems at Sungard, and believes data management has reached the same level of mission-critical-ness that market, credit and other risk systems have long held for banks.

Petti points to the propensity of regulators everywhere to look beyond the models banks use, say, for calculating risk capital levels under Basel III, to the underlying data being applied to those models. “It’s not just about the models,” he says; “now it’s much closer to the data. Systems are dealing with more fundamental levels of data.”

Increasingly, Petti says, it’s the job of senior management to provide assurance on that data, and to ensure that the right data is getting to the right people at the right time. By implication, “the role of Asset Control has become much more important.”

So, what’s the plan?

“The plan is to get closer to the customers,” Petti says. “Their needs have evolved. Clients today are facing very different regulatory, cost and globalised environment. They have a higher understanding of operational risk.” This, he says, sets a number of opportunities and challenges in 2014/15 and a number of responses.

The first is technical. Usability is key, Petti says. “Asset Control is highly adaptive; we don’t have a big, defined schema. That’s good, but it means we are highly technical in nature. Clients don’t have 18 months to spare to become super users.” The response is to launch a series of GUIs and data management tools aimed at making the system less intimidating for the average client and more appealing to broader community of users.

The second is cost. “Clients want to reduce the total cost of ownership and do less in house,” Petti says. He reckons 25%-35% of banks’ revenue goes on IT costs, which is high compared with other industries. As a result, financial institutions are looking to outsource where they can. Asset Control’s response is a managed services solution, focusing mostly on professional services during 2014 but “taking control of our systems for our customers as we project further forward”. He adds: “SaaS/hosted will come after that. It’s at the centre of our strategy.”

Finally, Petti sees it as essential to be able to help clients aid their own customers in meeting regulatory requirements. This entails adding more value to the data, and Asset Control plans to introduce more reporting and data manipulation tools for that purpose.

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