FinTech Goes FunTech
I hopped into the “Vault” about two months ago and entered the vast world of FinTech. Technology has clearly been a disruptor and led to numerous changes in the financial services industry, and I wanted to be on the front lines of it. Given the two-sided nature of DiligenceVault and having worked previously for both sides, I have witnessed the bi-lateral nature of the problem first-hand and believe in how the DV platform can improve both sides. However, leaving a large, publicly traded asset manager to join a FinTech venture was not an overnight decision for me. I knew that formal structure and processes would evolve daily and that working in an area of ambiguity as we embarked on this adventure would be a constant. As I talked with mentors of mine and weighed the pros and cons, I ultimately decided to take the leap.
From watching the HBO show Silicon Valley, I had a few preconceived notions about the FinTech world. Seeing as I still use the “let’s just reboot it” methodology in fixing my technology problems, I was eager to work with, and learn from, some highly tech-savvy colleagues. However, the first order of business needed to be taken care of – buying new work clothes. I no longer would be wearing a suit and tie to work daily (definitely saving on my dry-cleaning bill) and needed to figure out what a FinTech sales guy wore to work. Allbirds? Patagonia Vests? Lululemon pants? Fake glasses? I needed to look the part – look good, sell more, right?!
Back to Back in Beantown
My first few days with DiligenceVault were jam packed – getting to know the rest of the DV team, acclimating myself to a new office and learning the digital due diligence platform. The highlight of week one consisted of attending the Boston FinTech Sandbox Summit and pitching DV to a room full of other FinTech professionals. Thankfully, my colleague Austin Monceret joined me there as I was still a rookie with our platform. Week number two with DV also brought me back to Boston for the Foundation Research Association’s Sub-Advised Forum. As a native Bostonian, I was certainly happy to be spending so much time in Beantown. When describing the two-sided nature of DiligenceVault, I inadvertently found myself making hand motions with my pointer-fingers pointing at each other. After doing it a few times, a few conference attendees caught on and starting playfully imitating me. At least it was memorable!
Diligence is Global
October was a very busy month for the DV team, too. Heidi Thompson Morrow and Sofia Besyakov represented DiligenceVault as a sponsor of the AIMA Canada Investor conference, while Nitin Khosla headed east to the Abu Dhabi FinTech Festival and had meetings with partners in Singapore. Back in the States, DiligenceVault also was a sponsor of the GAIM Ops West Conference in Palm Springs, California. Proof below that we didn’t spend our entire time exploring Palm Springs.
Becoming Due Biligence
Team DV is a hard-working but fun crowd. Being the newbie, and thus writing my first blog post as part of the initiation process, I am trying to pick up on the inside jokes and nicknames and have pieced together a few observations. Austin Monceret once tried his hand as a stand-up comedian. Despite Austin’s great sense of humor, the career was somehow short lived and ended with numerous silent and disappointed audiences. Monel Amin is chief penny collector and goes to all extremes to pick up pennies she sees on the street – regardless if it is facing heads or tails up. Sofia Besyakov is an avid outdoorswoman and does not let the concrete jungle of NYC hold her back. She has been camping, sailing, playing tennis and hiking all within the past few weeks. Heidi Thomson Morrow is a loyal Pennsylvania State Nittany Lions fan and spin class enthusiast. Nitin Khosla, the leader of the team that are the tech-brains behind the platform, is a passionate meditator. His conference calls at 2am with Asia might be a big reason why, but he claims he has been meditating for a while. As for me, the leading nickname is Due Biligence - but we welcome all suggestions.
As I made this transition, I thought I'd share a few of my learnings for other soon-to-be Vaulters. My first two months have taught me much about how our industry views technology. The cumbersome logistics and administrative tasks around processing information with antiquated tools are overwhelming for both sides of the industry. Organizations across the board have varying views on the problem and how to solve it. Surprisingly, for a leading-edge data and tech company like DiligenceVault, it often seems that our biggest competition can be shared drives, interns engaged for data entry, or senior professionals blocking off a few weeks every quarter to collect and structure data. In an era where the industry requires more data and sophisticated metrics at an increased frequency, the process behind it all can be quite mundane and archaic – leaving little time to digest or act on the information.
The industry is evolving. For the better. Some say enuf is enuf and fully embrace digitization, automation, centralization and standardization of their information. While others are skeptical about adoption thinking technology removes the intimacy and relationship between a manager and allocator – I tend to disagree. Both asset managers and investors would rather spend time and resources analyzing and discussing areas of interest rather than going back and forth over collecting one off data points.
Learning my own cadence and tools to get in front of organizations has been rewarding. Technology, events and conferences, industry news, and friendly introductions have all been key to building out a pipeline. The thrill of getting a response from a cold ping, and tracking the stakeholder engagement as it develops have been exciting on a daily basis.
All in all, the first few innings of my DiligenceVault life have been fun, yet challenging, and I am excited for my contribution to our collective growth. Technology will empower individuals to spend more time focusing on strategic decisions and analyzing information. I was lucky to join at a significant moment in DiligenceVault’s history as the firm closed a funding round led by a strategic investor. We also won Fund Intelligence’s Best Technology Provider Overall award. We are thrilled about these milestones and excited about the next new chapter ahead!