Agile Financial Technologies: Equipping the BFSI Landscape with Cutting Edge Enterprise Systems

Date:   Thursday , January 08, 2015

Technology has stopped becoming a luxury and is an absolute necessity for most businesses, and enterprises that do not invest in enterprise systems to automate their processes end up realizing that their processes reflect on how their customers and associates regard them. The case is no different with the age-old BFSI (Banking, Financial Services & Insurance) sector. Though the industry was an early adopter of technology, regulators have been constantly forcing their hand to use current technology and deploy enterprise systems that ensure capital adequacy, effective risk and compliance management and transparent reporting to their stake holders. Evolving regulatory reforms have forced financial institutions in the recent years to replace their existing systems and deploy world-class applications that not only serve their need to acquire new customers and manage increasing volumes, but also have strong mid and back office capabilities to manage risk, compliance and regulatory reporting. In areas such as wealth management and bancassurance, two areas that are becoming significant fee-income generating divisions of banks, a lot of institutions till recently have been relying on archaic tools such as spreadsheets to provide effective reporting.

India\'s BFSI sector has made rapid strides in reforming and aligning itself with this new competitive business environment. However, technology has made people crave for services on-the-go. Though few banks and financial institutions are turning towards effective use of technology to provide the best customer experience, the secret lies in making this experience hassle-free through the blend of technology and traditional service. While few financial institutions and banks are slow to adopt new technology, the mantra lies in partnering with the right technology providers who deploy cutting-edge technologies optimally and help them leverage the same to the maximum extent. But with the market filled with numbers of technology solution providers, the BFSI industry faces a predicament to find the \'One\'. While the riddle remains unsolved, one company has made impressive strides in this space since its inception in 2008. This is no other than Agile Financial Technologies - a global enterprise software product company focused on the banking, financial services and insurance sector.

\"As businesses mature and new channels of customer acquisition and management emerge, such as social media and mobility, institutions are forced to look at replacement of their systems in many of the emerging markets we serve. Hence, it is not only the growth in GDP or economic growth that is driving the demand for financial technology, it is these factors today taking the BFSI sector a new way,\" says Kalpesh Desai, CEO, Agile FT. With offices in New York, Dubai and development center in India, Agile FT serves leading banks, asset management companies, financial services firms and insurers in over 20 countries today. In a very short span of time, the company has been able to attain market leadership in emerging markets such as Africa, Middle East, APAC & recently in Latin America in the insurance and investment management sectors.

The Vanguard of Agile FT

Known for his penchant for perfection, Kalpesh has over 25 years of experience as a techno-commercial executive who today leads Agile FT from the front and drives himself and his teams. True to its name, Agile FT and its vanguard provides unparalleled and agile financial technology, products and solutions to the BFSI segment. Agile FT took on a process of \'build and buy\' in its formative years to put together a comprehensive product portfolio that includes core insurance, bancassurance, wealth and fund management, and lending solutions. Agile FT acquired the intellectual property for it\'s core Non-Life software and lending products and proceeded to invest in building the rest of its product stack. Today, it is the only software product company of its size that can offer a comprehensive offering, known as the Agilis Insurance Suite, to the insurance sector servicing Life, Non-life, Pensions, Health and Takaful (Islamic) insurance companies. Agile FT\'s award winning products also include Agilis Investment Management (wealth, fund and private banking management) and Agilis Lending Suite.

Agile FT has consistently been investing significantly in building best of the breed of products aligned to the market segments that it serves. These products have the power to vicissitude or renaissance the existing ordeals of the customers. Agile FT\'s products can be provisioned on-premise as well as be provided as a Software As A Service (SaaS) where permitted by regulation. The products also work well in conjunction with each other thus offers a comprehensive stack to various customers. For instance, large financial institutions would have insurance companies, pension funds and asset management companies which are part of their group. Agile FT is well positioned to offer an integrated offering across various business lines of the financial institutions. \"There are insurance companies who not only need our core insurance system to automate their businesses, but would also like to leverage our investment management solutions to manage and track their investments, while in the case of life insurance companies who offer investment linked plans, the ability to administer the funds that their members would have subscribed to,\" explains Kalpesh.

Making Unprecedented Moves

Agile FT has considerably invested in ensuring that its products are brought abreast to current technology and technology trends. The company has setup an Innovation Wing that is focused on emerging medium and how its products can leverage such medium to add value to its customers. Agile FT will soon be launching a platform that will enable the customers to interact with any channel of communication including the web, published services, mobility platforms and social media as a means of interacting with customers. Over the years, these unprecedented moves led Agile FT being recognized by the likes of Gartner (2010) and Celent (2013) as a formidable player in the markets that it operates in. Its flagship offering called Agilis Investment Management Suit which caters the asset management sector was recognized as the Best Asset Management Solution in the Middle East by World Finance (UK). The company has also been steadily making its mark in the upper quadrants of its customer\'s selection processes due to its superior product and service offering.

The solutions that Agile FT offers are all encompassing from the financial institutions stand point. The company targets the top 10 institutions in the emerging markets it serves, except for the developed economies where it targets the mid-market. These solutions have been voted best of breed and are considered to be market leaders in most countries that it operates in. This has well positioned the company in the competitive landscape. But nonetheless like any other company, Agile FT too faces number of challenges and the most significant is the availability of informed and well versed resources required to serve the business the company acquires. Agile FT invests significantly in partners who have now built a formidable resource pool of certified implementers and support personnel. \"Almost 70 percent of our current projects are sold, implemented and supported by our channel partners. This strategy has not only generated a healthy ecosystem amongst our channel partners but has generated great economic value for all the stake holders in our value chain. This strategy has also allowed us to deepen our focus on our product development and enhancement processes which will continue to give us the nimbleness and agility to make breakthrough in new markets,\" adds Kalpesh.

Around 98 percent of Agile FT\'s revenue is generated through software products. The company encourages the sale, implementation and support of its application software through its channel ecosystem and almost 70 percent of the current projects are executed by these channels. Agile FT firmly believes in the channel process and attributes its ability to penetrate and deepen its presence in the 20+ countries it serves customers in to its channel partners. Based on certain geo-political and economic indicators that it tracks on an ongoing basis, Agile FT identifies new markets to venture into post which it works with potential channel partners to penetrate these markets. But for certain markets where it doesn\'t have local partner, the company leverages the presence of some of its global, strategic partners who are willing to participate in those markets.

Agile FT\'s model of training and enabling its channel partners to sell, support and implement its solutions has given the company a distinct edge in the marketplace where it is able to offer local support through these channel partners. With over 30 channel partners across 37 countries, Agile FT offers a very unique proposition to financial institutions who value not just a product that serves their needs and exceeds their expectations, but a support process that is aligned to ensure uptime on these mission critical applications that run their operations.

Agile FT fosters a philosophy of servant-leadership where the core team has made a conscious choice to serve first and then aspire to lead. \"We question whether we are serving those who look to us to lead constantly. With this approach, we believe we will be able to cultivate a culture of well being and open communication,\" adds Kalpesh. The company believes in making \'Outrageous Contributions\' in what it does. \"We would like to believe that our associates are conscious of the fact that we are providing mission critical applications to large financial institutions who depend on us to run their day-to-day operations. It is this responsibility that allows us to look at our contribution as one that makes a difference to the lives of the customers that the users of our software applications serve,\" he further adds.

Believing in shifting paradigms without a clutch, Agile FT envisions being recognized as a formidable player in the enterprise software space serving the Fintech/BFSI sector. To turn this vision into reality, the company has been identifying key markets to penetrate and key accounts to acquire within these markets. Its partner selection process has also become fairly stringent to ensure that Agile FT\'s vision to deliver its products and services through these channel partners continue to improve in terms of processes and quality. With the current strategies in place, the company is poised for exponential growth in the years to come. The company has consolidated its product offerings and acquired referenceable customers across emerging markets who today have become its brand advocates. Agile FT will soon expand its base to the American, European and APAC markets.