Kevin Day joined HPD Software over 25 years ago. Working in various capacities, Kevin started as a software developer and moved on to become a business analyst, product manager, product director and a board member, before becoming the CEO of HPD Software in 2016. With Kevin’s great history in the industry, he is in the perfect position to give insight into the workings of the FinTech industry as a whole, and how it has transformed.

As our chosen leader in the FinTech sector, Propero spoke to Kevin about how technology has had an impact on the financial industry and how he sees it shaping its future.

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How has HPD Software evolved in the 25 years you’ve worked there?

I think that, in a way, the world around us has changed. We’ve adapted the business to meet that change. For example, when I first joined the company, IT and technology was a much heavier process in terms of the actual implementation of new software solutions. Whereas now, in a digital era, the industry is much more agile—we have cloud based solutions and a simple self-service offering which makes it very easy to adopt new solutions. Similarly, we’re now in a world where technology is around us all the time, meaning our clients are becoming more tech savvy than they were previously, raising the bar in terms of their demands and their needs as consumers.

What has been the biggest change you’ve seen within the technology industry in the last 25 years?

I would say it’s the commoditisation of technology. If you were to go back in time, technology was much more expensive, and the power that you got for your money was nowhere near as good as today. Whereas now, the commoditisation of technology has meant that it’s far more accessible in terms of our day-to-day lives, meaning that there is a much larger audience to appease.

Obviously, the Internet’s been a transformational part of that, in terms of providing digital services to people, instantaneously. In itself, this has led to an increase in competition, both in terms of demand and what vendors are offering, which has immediately affected consumers giving them a greater choice — both in B2C and B2B sectors. Because consumers have become more digitally aware, their expectation is constantly rising in terms of their customer experience. It’s fair to say that the rate of new technologies emerging —such as mobile, social networking, analytics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) – highlights the constant innovation and new directions of where technology’s headed every day.

Do you see HPD Software using AI more in the future?

We keep a watching brief on AI. We’re obviously driven by our clients’ needs. Our primary concern is what we can do for our clients to improve their businesses, improve their offerings to the market, and their level of service.

We see that in a certain part of the financial sector AI has a very important role to play— particularly around efficient decision making. We have also observed an emergence of new ways of thinking within the industry. It’s taken a while for people to realise the fact that technology is used to automate processes. True—it’s not necessarily to the level of sophistication that AI gives us—however certainly at a level of sophistication in terms of automating processes by taking away manual and non-productive activities. This, in turn, frees up people to do things that require a human touch or specialist skills; to be creative and use their time and their intelligence much more effectively.

What impact do you think digital has had on shaping the financial industry so far in terms of your clients and their expectations?

There’s been a huge shakeup in terms of FinTech. Bringing financial services and technology together has been extremely disruptive. It’s transformed the world in terms of finance, in terms of pushing the industry forward, probably in parallel to or up to the standard of what the retail sector has achieved. I think in the world of retail and online retail, the levels of sophistication and service that are being offered to customers has been a lot more advanced than what’s been traditionally provided within the financial sector.

However, the financial sector is catching up. What HPD Software sees with FinTech and the emerging disruptive technologies is coming in from left field. Obviously, the extreme examples are things like blockchain and crypto currencies, which are a hot topic right now. However, even simple things like lending, and the time it takes to get a loan approved—that’s where AI can come in and help to automate and streamline lengthy processes. Again, it’s about meeting that expectation of our consumers. As human beings, we’re all consumers, and be it in our own personal lives or in our professional capacity, we bring those same expectations to whatever we do, in terms of engaging with service providers.

In your opinion, what does it take for a financial software firm to succeed in 2018?

The way I describe it to my team here at HPD Software is that it’s a bit like an arms race. We need to make sure that we’re ahead of everybody else. It’s a competitive world out there, and there are many tech companies competing in the same space. I think that what everyone needs to do to survive and to thrive is to make sure that you’re always one step ahead.

That means having a watching brief on new and emergent technologies. It means having a commitment to research and development, to invest going forward, and to some degree a little bit speculative. I know that not everything I back will necessarily be a success, but it is important to have that confidence to take emerging technologies forward, by challenging yourself, your organisation and your customer base. That’s the way to take your business forward.

What is it that HPD Software does to stay ahead of everybody else?

We have a dedicated strategy for the business, which boils down to looking ahead. It’s effectively horizon scanning and looking at what’s coming around the corner. Within that, we have a number of technology-based strategic projects. Some of the projects are based on commercial opportunity, of services we can provide, whereas other projects look more at new disruptive technologies and how we can integrate those into the services and solutions that we’re offering.

Another important strategy is about being very open with, and having a strong engagement with our customers and the financial sector as a whole. It’s important to listen, understand, appreciate what’s going on, and to then take that information and feed it back into your process. This means that, again, you’re constantly looking at ways to improve processes and services, and ways to deliver a high level of excellence in terms of the technology you’re providing.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for financial software firms to overcome in the next decade?

In a way the biggest challenge is knowing what’s next—unfortunately none of us have a crystal ball. We don’t necessarily know, for example, the impact of the macroeconomic environment now we have Brexit coming up. We don’t know what that’s going to do, but we know it’s going to be disruptive in some shape or form.

You also then have progression happening on a technological level, which may totally disrupt and change the market that you’re servicing. That may not necessarily be a bad thing, it may be a good thing. At the end of the day, being able to anticipate those disruptions will be the secret to everyone’s success.

What would you like to see more of in the financial software industry?

Here at HPD Software, we find that financial institutions can be a little bit slow to adopt new technology and processes, and I think that the quicker that new technologies can be adopted, the better. Even if you try something that may or may not necessarily work. That’s one of our frustrations—sometimes it takes too long to get, say, the larger financial institutions to change direction.

On the other hand, I can see why. I think that regulations have a huge impact on innovation, and I think that often ties financial institutions up in knots. It’s not that they can’t be innovative from an intellectual point of view, but the walls get thrown up in terms of regulation and making sure that they’re compliant in the financial services that they offer. Obviously rules are rules, and everybody needs to follow them, but they’re something that can cause unnecessary barriers to innovation.

What are your thoughts on disruptive tech and its place within your industry?

We love it. I think it always creates discussion and deeper thought. I think the worst thing any organisation could do, or any sector could do, is to sit back and keep their business the same as it was yesterday and the same as the day before. We have to innovate, and I think looking at disruptive technologies, and having the flexibility of mind to actually see how that can be adopted, adapted and integrated into the overall services that you’re offering, is integral within the industry.

Technology, generally, is a lot of fun in terms of everything that is emerging. Often, we find that some of those technologies only arrived because of some non-business demand. I find it quite interesting, for example, to see innovations emerging in the gaming world in terms of Virtual Reality, and then thinking ‘how can that be adopted? Can that be adapted? Can we actually take that and use it in a more business sense?’

How might VR that be adopted in a business sense?

Truthfully, I have no idea right now. Perhaps you could view it from a customer experience point of view and make it purely digital. Maybe VR could take you into a virtual bank, where you can view different service offerings at the bank, not in a drop down menu, but as a kind of a three dimensional journey. Maybe that’s where disruptive technology in the financial industry is going, and maybe it’s a waste of time. Who knows where we’re headed?

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Propero chose HPD Software’s Kevin Day as our Leader in Professional Services for this quarter in the IT and financial sector. If you know someone who you think is a forward-thinker in either the Law, Finance, Accountancy, IT or Management Consultancy industry, then nominate them here for next quarter’s winner.

Propero will be donating £150 to Cancer Research as thanks to and Kevin for his time on this feature: “At HPD Software, we have all been touched in one way or another by cancer and we believe that supporting Cancer Research, to fund scientists, doctors and nurses, is a great way to contribute to the battle against this horrible illness”.

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What is Leader’s in Professional Services?

Being as traditional and established as it is, the Professional Services industry stereotypically struggles to implement new processes into their firms. Our feature on Leader’s in Professional Services aims to acknowledge those individuals who are making waves in their industry and driving that sector forward.

Every quarter, we select a leader from one of our 4 key industries—IT, Management Consultancy, Law, Finance and Accountancy. Not only will we interview the individual and outwardly recognise them as a leader within their field, but we also donate £150 to a charity of their choice.

If you know anyone who deserves this recognition, nominate them here. If you have any questions about what we do, then contact us on our website or sign up for our newsletter to find out who our leader will be next quarter.

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