Banking Tech Awards 2020 Winner: Alexandra Boyle – Rising FinTech Star
Alexandra Boyle, director, head of strategic client group in Europe at OpenFin and winner of the Fintech Rising Star award, talks digital transformation in financial trading, being the youngest person in the room at meetings and the importance of open technology standards.
You were one of the first ten employees to join OpenFin in 2014. How has the financial desktop technology changed since then?
There has also been an incredible amount of progress around digital transformation as the industry becomes more educated and coalesces around ideas such as common standards and open source. The needs of our clients have changed. We still work with many firms that are just getting started on their digital transformation journey. Others are farther along in the process.
Ultimately, though, our mission has remained the same. The financial services industry is sacrificing efficiency and user experience due to outmoded approaches to technology, and we want to help them prepare for the digital future.
You started working in fintech without any formal education in computer science or technology. Has it been hard to get a deep understanding of the technology and industry trends?
My formal education was in finance, not computer science. I approached the industry from a business perspective, starting as an analyst before moving into a sales/business development role at NYSE Euronext. Now I head strategic client relationships for Europe.
I’ve made it a priority to invest in myself in becoming a subject matter expert in web technology. Having deep knowledge of web, trading architectures and market structure has always been crucial to my work in interfacing with clients, and that has continued at OpenFin.
What do you do at OpenFin? What do you most enjoy about your job?
I head OpenFin’s strategic client group in Europe. Much of my role is engaging with the global banks, asset managers and technology vendors on their digital journeys, understanding their needs and leading industry initiatives. Our customers include Barclays, BNP, Standard Chartered, HSBC, BidFX, Liquidnet.
We grow initial projects into enterprise-wide strategies, which has made OpenFin a foundational layer across financial markets OpenfFin is now used to deploy over 1,200 applications across 275,000 desktops at 1,500 institutions.
I’m also passionate about smaller fintech providers. I dedicate a lot of time to helping these new players break into the industry by helping to coordinate working groups with heads of technology from global banks and facilitating cross-bank collaboration on shared technical challenges. One result from these efforts has been FDC3, an OpenFin-founded organisation that promotes open standards for the financial desktop.
The best thing about my job is meeting talented, diverse individuals from all corners of the industry and helping to solve complex problems through technology.
You’re often the youngest person in the room with C-suite executives and the only woman? Has that been hard? Is the financial services industry’s senior management becoming more diverse and reflective of society?
It can be difficult. Providing value, as a subject matter expert or making sure the right resources are in the room, is key. I’ve definitely made a mental note of some of the more diverse senior management teams I’ve worked with over the years. There is a high positive correlation between the most innovative players and diversity.
OpenFin is strongly committed to diverstiy and inclusion and we collaborate to this end where we can. I believe that the financial services industry’s senior management is becoming more diverse, and that it will continue to do so.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation among financial services, including desktop technologies and remote working?
The pandemic has greatly accelerated digital transformation in financial services. Remote work has been a major driver. Apps must be able to interoperate to streamline workflows and compensate for the physical limitations of this new normal.
What trends do you think will dominate 2021 in financial desktop technology?
There will be a sustained push for functionalities that help end users navigate a remote work environment, such as interoperable applications and robust notification centers.
We’ll see a continued focus on employee productivity. That will mean an increased emphasis on building more intelligent, contextual workflows to empower the end user with the right tools to quickly access information in times of high stress.
Growth in industry standards and open-source technology will continue. Outmoded approaches to technology are a collective problem, not just an individual one, and firms will take steps to combat it.
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