Robert van Kerkhoff (BNP Paribas), Bert Boerman (Governance.com), Davide Martucci (Next Gate Tech): Enhancing the human component of technology
When a global bank like BNP Paribas teams up with two Fintechs like Governance.com and Next Gate Tech, you might expect a highly technical conversation. In reality, human transformation and satisfaction seems to be their main focus. Interview.
Mr van Kerkhoff, could you present your strategy?
BNP Paribas has a very ambitious 2025 strategy focusing on three main pillars: Growth, Technology and Sustainability, or GTS as we call it. Today, this interview focuses on the “T”. On the one hand, we want to improve both our clients’ and employees’ experiences; and on the other hand, we are looking for ways to improve our operational efficiency. There are several ways to do that, but if we compare our approach today and ten years ago, we are now much more open to outsource specific developments. Certain Fintechs have great teams and are quick at putting innovations to market. They allow us to develop externally while maintaining exemplary risk management. So at the end, the priority is to select the right Fintechs.
“Data plus technology equals power” - Davide Martucci
Could you present the partnership between BNP Paribas and your companies?
Davide Martucci: In short: data plus technology equals power. Next Gate Tech is specialized in data management and analytics. Our technology will help for example the depositary bank to perform oversight of the NAV calculation process. It also enriches and harmonizes the data while performing analytics to identify anomalies and potential mistakes. BNP Paribas is a transformational client for us because it is the first service provider of this size adopting our solution. Think of it as a double partnership: firstly, we leverage big amounts of data to improve our model through machine learning where the main concept is: the more data the better. Secondly, we learn about all the processes involved: tech improvement, training, workflows.
Bert Boerman: The alliance between a Fintech like Governance.com and BNP Paribas is like an orchestra where every player contributes its expertise to produce a beautiful harmony together. Our company digitalizes processes such as investor onboarding. The regulator keeps adding more and more controls to ensure safe financial markets, but this becomes very cumbersome, both for financial institutions and investors. We help BNP Paribas automate and shorten the process, so that asset managers that appoint them count on a smooth experience for their investors. We offer a portal where information is exchanged and where an algorithm calculates a risk score of the counterparty. This triggers specific procedures and workflows. Our partnership here lies in our ability to select standard building blocks and to adapt them to the specific needs of the bank. Regulation requires interpretation of a deep understanding of the increasingly complex rules. It’s about “Know Your Client”, but also about translating regulation into meaningful and understandable processes.
Robert van Kerkhoff: The trend in Luxembourg is that management companies are looking for more substance. Due to regulatory requirements, we adapt to clients’ needs. BNP Paribas supports its clients in their development strategy and the dynamics of the Luxembourg ecosystem contribute in that sense. The partnerships with these fintech companies leverage our core technology with state of the arts data analytics and process automation in order to enhance our services to our clients. Together we share experiences, values and of course technological expertise. Today, between the bank and Fintechs, it is no longer David or Goliath but each of us contributing to building a sustainable world.
“Data has been digitized for a while; we need to digitize processes.”
- Bert Boerman
How do you see the future of finance?
Bert Boerman : The future is digital. Data has been digitized for a while; we also need to digitize processes. Clients expect things to go fast. They have been remarkably patient with financial institutions, but the time has come to deliver a more enjoyable experience. We need to automate the more mundane and administrative tasks in order to free up time for human analysis and decision-taking.
I agree with Bert. Digital, transparent, sustainable. Once you feed machines with huge amounts of data, machine learning and artificial intelligence can produce spectacular results and empower employees. Manual tasks are digitalized and operators can now focus on anomalies, machine learning and client satisfaction. Cloud technology is very transformational in Luxembourg. Small companies like ours can rely on the robust infrastructure of clouds providers, like IBM for example, to meet the standards of banks. A massive transformation has started, segment by segment. You can already buy stocks in one click. Soon, this magic will apply to loans, KYC and so on.
Robert van Kerkhoff: The future is very promising. People are starting to realize the positive impact of banks in supporting our economies with a clear social responsibilty. This is different compared to the previous crisis in 2007-2008. The challenging period we are going through shows the importance of banking players in financing the transition to a sustainable world.
“Together we share experiences, cultures and of course, technological expertise”
- Robert van Kerkhoff