In this episode of #StreetsTalksTo we are joined by Stéphane Rio, CEO & Founder of Opensee, and Senior Sales Executive, Julie Louvrier. We discover the challenges of big data, the increased demand for more granular information and how Opensee is transforming this data into a competitive advantage. We talk about different regulations, how ESG is bringing a new dimension to finance and how Opensee is helping its clients to unlock the full potential of their data by removing complexity.
Opensee is a Paris-based FinTech that is helping financial institutions turn their big data challenges into a competitive advantage, by unlocking vital business, user led opportunities. Its solutions allow financial institutions to harness 100% of their vast quantities of data instantly, on demand and for deeper and faster analysis than before. It was started by a team of financial industry and technology experts who were frustrated because they couldn’t find a simple, big data analytics solution that enabled them to deep dive into all of their data or to run risk scenarios with the data that they were handling. They built their own instead. Opensee now gives banks, asset managers and other financial institutions the analytical tools for regulatory reporting, risk management, operational efficiencies and business development.
Learn more by reading Opensee’s blog on The Click Button Journey of Big Data.
Stéphane is Opensee’s founder and CEO, his second start-up after Swapstream, acquired by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. With a dual technical (Ecole Polytechnique, ENSAE) and financial (Master in Stochastic Models Applied to Finance) background, Stéphane Rio is an expert in the investment banking sector. As a senior member of several international financial companies, during his 25 years of experience, he led teams of traders specialised in derivatives, managed portfolios of several billions of assets and participated in the restructuring as Executive Board member, responsible for Treasury and Assets of Depfa. He has also shared his skills through consulting to financial institutions and has been a senior advisor to Bain Consulting and a private equity fund specialising in FinTech.
Julie is a Senior Sales Executive at Opensee, covering clients both in London and Paris. She started her journey in FinTech 20 years ago, co-founding a consulting boutique company in London delivering tech services to investment banks and asset managers. After the company was sold to Talan, Julie shifted from services to software where she specialised in data solutions for finance. Before joining Opensee, she worked as a Sales Manager EMEA for a data aggregation solution and subsequently as the Head of Bus Dev for a dark data structuring software based on AI.
Julia: Hello, my name is Julia Streets and welcome to the podcast series, StreetsTalksTo. In each episode, I interviewed leaders from some of the most influential firms, bodies and initiatives in the financial services industry. We explore what’s at the very forefront of innovation and change. We think about the challenges facing clients, and also, the industry at large. And we uncover the opportunities that exist both today, and as we look ahead, particularly, as we all navigate these extraordinary times. I hope you enjoy the series, which you can find on all good podcast channels. The episodes are listed on our website, streetsconsulting.com. You could find the episodes on social media using our hashtag, #streetstalksto. So thank you for listening, and welcome to StreetsTalksTo Opensee.
Let me tell you about Opensee. Opensee is a Paris based FinTech, that is helping financial institutions turn their big data challenges into a competitive advantage. And to unlock vital business, user led opportunities. Their solutions allow financial institutions to harness 100% of their vast quantities of data instantly, on demand and for deeper and faster analysis than before. It was started by a team of financial industry and technology experts. And they were frustrated. They couldn’t find a simple, big data analytic solution, that enabled them to deep dive into all of their data. Not only were they frustrated that they couldn’t dive deeply into the data, they were also frustrated that they couldn’t run risk scenarios on the data that they were handling. So they built their own. And that gives us Opensee.
I’ll explain this a little bit further. It opens up access to big data sets, and by that, I mean terabytes of data. They give banks, asset managers, other financial institutions the analytical tools for regulatory reporting, risk management. Operational efficiencies, and business development.
I’m delighted today, to be joined by two guests. Our first guest is Stéphane Rio, who is the CEO and the founder. It’s his second startup. His first was Swap Stream, which was acquired by the CME. He has a dual technical and financial background, and is an expert in the investment banking sector. And during his 25 years of experience, Stéphane has led teams of derivatives traders. He’s managed multi-billion portfolios. He’s participated in corporate and divisional restructuring. He’s also been a consultant, and a senior advisor to Bain Consulting. And a FinTech private equity fund. Stéphane, wonderful to have your company today.
Stéphane: Thank you, Julia. I’m delighted to be here with you today, and having the discussion.
Julia: I’m really looking forward to getting into the discussion. Because, there’s so much, reflecting on your biography, with your business and your technical. I think there’s a lot in there, we’re going to be exploring for sure. Now joining Stéphane today is Julie Louvrier. Who is the Senior Sales Executive, at Opensee. She covers both London and Paris. She started her journey in FinTech, some 20 years ago. Co-founding a consulting boutique company in London, delivering tech services to investment banks and assets managers.
After her company was sold, Julie shifted from services to software. Where she specialised in data solutions for finance. Before joining Opensee, she worked as a sales manager in EMEA for data aggregation solutions. And subsequently, as the Head of Business Development for an AI based dark data structuring software firm. Julie, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you here.
Julie: Thank you very much. Good morning, Julia. And thank you for welcoming us today.
Julia: It’s a pleasure. I’m really excited about this. Everybody’s talking about data. Everybody’s talking about the complexities, and the opportunities. I’m really keen to get into it. But if you’ll forgive me, I don’t want to get into what you do just yet. I’m really keen to hear about what’s keeping your clients awake at night. Stéphane, can I come to you first of all?
Stéphane: I guess, I won’t surprise you. Regulation is going to be the major topic for our clients. And if something is keeping them awake, it’s really this. It’s more and more complex. Some are just coming from the financial crisis, over 10 years ago. But still, in implementation phase, and these regulators are asking more and more. More transparency. They’re aware there’s more data available. So they are requesting access to more and more granular information, and traceable information. But the good news is, there are also other topics which are probably more business driven, that I think some people are very concerned about, and are working day to day on. It is how to gain a competitive advantage from this new, data driven world. And that’s really, the world we love. I think, both help on one side for the regulation topics. But also go one step forward, and transform that into a competitive advantage.
The story basically started with the availability of huge amount of storage. People have invested a lot in storing their information. It could be risk information, liquidity, data information. Trade and market data. But once you have done that, you are really looking forward to say, how I’m going to be more intelligent with all this data? How am I going to give it to the people that can make use of it? And how am I going to answer my regulatory demand? Because now, I have no excuse. I have all this information.
But storing is not enough. The challenge to bring it to the final business user, who is not in IT. Who doesn’t want to go into very complex ways, to access the information. The complexity and the difficulty to have data at the required quality, to exploit it at scale. You’re not talking anymore, about what can be done in an Excel spreadsheet, with a few thousand line. You are talking about hundreds of millions, hundreds of billions, thousands of billions sometimes, of data. And still, not exploiting your IT budget. Hardware budget. And all that, in a quick way. In an interactive way. In a real time way.
It’s not about clicking a button, and going for dinner. Or going for a night, and having the information after. So the challenge is really accessing all the information easily, for business users. Interactively, real time. That’s not an easy equation.
Julia: And Julie, when you are out and about in the industry, talking to your clients, right the way across EMEA and probably beyond as well, do these topics come up? Are there any others?
Julie: I fully agree with what Stéphane just said. And to me beyond the need for real time, that Stéphane just mentioned, I think there is a need to go fast. To understand fast, and to act fast, for a client. That means that our clients today…, (for) a project – they know when it starts, but they don’t know when it finishes. They need to accelerate what we call, the time to market. They need to reduce the risk they’re also taking whenever they start a project. It means in the end, ultimately, they need solutions up and running in a matter of a few weeks. With also, a commitment on delivery. While their environment, as you know, is extremely complex and growing more and more complex. So clearly, what we see is this notable growing demand for packaged solutions.
And if I take an example, let’s talk about Best Execution, or TCA. Our clients – whether they’re asset managers or brokers,- they tell us that now they have this big pressure, both from the regulator and the market, to take the execution to the next step. What does it mean for them? It means that not only do they need to get these real time analytics that Stéphane just mentioned, they can’t make decisions based on data from the day before. But they also need to be able to deliver better services to their client, in a matter of a few weeks. This strong competition on the market is really accelerating the need for immediacy, if I can say. It’s no different for banks, really. We just mentioned regulation, you certainly know that now finance is among the world’s most heavily regulated industry, believe it or not. So for them, it’s really paramount to be able to comply in a very swift manner. Again, it’s all about fast time to market. I think this is where the challenges are really, for clients.
Julia: When I think about all the conversations we’ve been having at Trade Tech or Fixed Income Leader Summit, or any of the derivatives, or commodity trading conferences, these topics come up time and time again, and everybody’s challenged by them.
There’s a real sense of immediacy. But there’s also a sense of the need for addressing the regulatory obligations. The legal and the compliance perspective as well. Thank you for your opening thoughts. I suppose, my next natural question is, how do you help clients? What do you do, to solve for those challenges you’ve just outlined there?
Julie: I think this is directly linked to what I just mentioned. Until now, our clients had to compromise. They had to choose between this ready to use solution, which were actually black boxes, where they couldn’t change a single line of code. And platforms that had a promise of flexibility, but which were actually extremely long, difficult, complex to implement, if not impossible. I think Opensee brings the best of both worlds. We offer our client a combination of a packaged solution, really designed to bring what we call the UX. The user experience, to the next level.
Packaged solutions which are easy to implement. That you can operate in SaaS, if this is what you want to do. But at the same time, we give the client the full control of the business intelligence embedded in the solution. They keep the flexibility. What it means is that – to put a bit of example and flesh around that, they can access the calculation embedded in the solution. But they can also change them, they can create their very own. They can inject their own business intelligence, using machine learning models, for example. They can inject their own machine learning models into Opensee. And I think this is really a game changer. If I take the example of Société Générale for example, one of our clients. When we talked to them, they needed a solution to calculate the capital charge. They had of course, a system to store the data. They had, of course, a system to compute risk in their controls, but they were completely missing the flexibility to navigate through them, and to enrich them. I think this is where we are a game changer.
Julia: It’s really this point about enrichment, that makes a huge difference. Because, everybody’s trying to get control. But it’s actually then, about what do you do with it? And then, how do you make it work even more effectively for you as well?
Stéphane, can I bring you in here? Listening to Julie’s remarks about how you help clients solve for these challenges as well. When you are out and about talking to clients, what is it about what you do, that they get particularly excited about?
Stéphane: Julie has really focused on the result – what we bring, what the client sees and we are here to hide all the complexity. We get into some of the discussions with IT, with engineers, etc. We do a demo, and we explain what we do.
I’m going to pick an example, because it was just two days ago. We had a fairly intense session with one of the largest investment banks, with some very advanced engineers who had worked on that topic. They knew that (beneath) the surface it didn’t look as easy, (once you got) under the hood. So we had a strong discussion, because when they saw what we could do, the speed, the ease in the flexibility. Even just from a speed point of view, we had a demo data set with 600 billion data points, and we’re doing aggregations on the fly… (they said) “you’re defying the laws of physics. There’s something that you are tricking (us with) here and I’d like to understand.”
I think to understand that, we need to go back to how we were born and our DNA. We really started with business issues that we wanted to solve and started to build a solution. You mentioned it, I think, in the introduction. We wanted to build something we could not find. We really built everything from the ground up, knowing the end goal, and then on the way, knowing the challenges. We did it several times in fact, in a loop, optimized every single step. So when you know the end game and you’re really paying attention to details, that’s how you lose the noise around and this wasted time on the computation, etc. And that’s how we managed to do one, something which is super fast. You’re really talking about aggregating hundreds of billion of data, in a matter of a second or two. And you are making that super easy, so that Julie, when she’s talking to the end users, they don’t need to know about all that. We know we’re not talking about how we did that. But of course, we have the discussion as well with engineers who want to check whether what we are saying, there is some reality behind it.
This combination of being fully focused on the usage, and at the same time, being deep experts on the underlying technology, which allows to make this usage easy. I think this is really where we help our clients and where we differentiate massively.
Julia: I return to my opening remarks when I was reading your biography. Which is, it’s unusual in this industry, to find a blend of somebody who’s very strong on the data and the analytics side, and also have the use case experience. Because in the middle of that, everybody’s trying to get simplicity from the complexity. Is that your experience? Is that fair?
Stéphane: Yes. I think everybody recognises that. Whether it’s the deep tech firm, based in Silicon Valley or somewhere. They’re very generic. They are building, and they’re coming and saying, we can sort everything. The reality is more complex. It’s going to apply well to some use cases, not to others. More importantly, it’s going to be hard to implement. Because, they won’t talk the same language with their clients. If you get a pure tech guy addressing a CRO or a Head of Execution or a compliance guy, they’re not talking the same language. How can they get there? And even in the firms themselves, in the financial institution, sometimes the IT department and the business, they have a hard time to talk the same language. This language is very particular, and if you don’t get to fully understand the end goal, it’s very hard to really implement the right thing.
Julia: As Julie was saying earlier, we live in probably the most highly regulated industry. so the fundamentals of the language, are based in regulations.
Let me ask you a question I ask all our guests, it’s a slightly odd one. I’ve always been intrigued to know about people’s favourite piece of regulation. Stéphane, can I come to you first of all?
Stéphane: Yes. Thank you for this interesting question. I’m maybe going to be a bit provocative, because I just said earlier on, that our clients are kept awake at night because of regulation. Now I’m going to say, I love all regulation because it’s good for our business. We help our clients to solve their regulation. From a pure selfish point of view, I would say that. More concretely, I think it’s important to know that regulations are becoming more and more standardised. Which I think is good, for the industry. (It) helps to compare notes, compare results and certainly helps to implement the same models everywhere. So that’s what we have done. We implement models which are readily available for our users. It’s embedded in our product. And, maybe to answer more precisely your question, what I really like is when regulation and business tiering marries well together. That they have the same goal.
I will take the example of Best Execution. It’s about, from a regulatory point of view, being able to demonstrate you did well after the fact. For that, you need to analyse what you did, and provide a report. But if you go deeper into that, the next question should be, how do I improve next time? And I think all that is based on the data. You’re going to analyse what you did, how it went, how it could have gone better. And you’re going to infer this information into your decision making process, before the trade next time. That’s going to be a very virtuous circle, from something that maybe was driven initially by regulation but, ultimately, it is going to improve the way you do your business. Everybody benefits from that.
Julia: I hear a lot of people talking about, they’re wanting to be able to do that. To be able to drive the data through this iterative cycle of insight and improvement, and intelligence. In order to unlock opportunity, as well as address the regulatory detail as well. Julie, let me ask you the same question. Your favourite piece of regulation, please.
Julie: Yes. That’s a tough one, because regulation is barely a word that I use with favourite, usually speaking. But I was listening to Stéphane, and how he thought about it. And actually, there is one in my view, which is very exciting. Which is the ESG regulation. Every regulation around the ESG. Some people would probably say that it won’t change the world, and it’s all about green-washing, but to me, and sorry if that sounds a little bit cheesy, but it brings a new dimension to finance. We’re talking about climate. We’re talking about climate and diversity and inclusion, which is something very close to my heart, into the picture. It gives a sense to what we do and the way we do it. ESG is still under progress, of course, but I think it’s developing awareness and raising more ethical, sustainable investment. That’s very interesting. It will have a long, lasting impact.
Of course, if I look at it from the vendor and technology perspective, it’s also very exciting. Because, it triggers many huge challenges. Today, our clients are wondering where they are they going to find the data, if it exists yet? How they’re going to monitor ESG. How are they going to run climate stress testing, for example? How are they going to combine fragmented data – both from physical data set, and financial data set, for example? Just to name a few of the challenges. I think that’s very interesting.
Julia: Wonderful. It’s been a fantastic conversation. Really, in such a short period of time, we’ve covered so much. From the high level industry change challenges, right the way through into how Opensee helps clients address those. Then, into some very specific pieces of regulation that exist today. And then also, a sense of pathways as we go ahead. I really hope the listeners are enjoying this conversation as much as I am. I’m Julia Streets. This is StreetsTalksTo Opensee.
Just to give you a sense of how you can find these podcasts, the entire series is available on streetsconsulting.com. And you could find us on social media, using the StreetsTalksTo hashtag. No surprise, #streetstalksto.
Today I’m talking to Stéphane Rio, who’s the CEO and founder and Julie Louvrier, who is the senior sales executive, both from Opensee. I’d love to get your insights into, what the road ahead looks like. I mentioned in my opening remarks about, we are navigating these extraordinary times at the moment. I’d love to get us a real sense of what you are focused on right now. And also, what you’re advising. Julie, let me come to you first of all. Share your thoughts about what you think the future holds.
Julie: Yes, thank you. Finally, your question about regulation was a good one. It’s a good transition. Typically, being able to support ESG or climate risk in particular, is something we are working on. Both internally, and with partners as well. But usually speaking, I would say being able to support all new regulation, including those we don’t know yet, is our strategy.
It’s one of our promises, really. For us, regulation like ESG or any other, is just a transposition of data, like financial data to physical data, for example. We’re totally agnostic, in terms of data sources. And really, the beauty of our platform is, it has been designed to be completely agile to grow with the requirement of the client. To keep up with this ever changing regulation, and analytics needed. This agility, that was warranted flexibility for the client. But that also enabled us to create and to deliver packaged solutions, in a very fast manner. So again, it’s really about delivering packaged solutions to the client. Packaged solutions with pre embedded metrics, with smart features, for the users, with best practices for the client. We are pushing even further, our ability to address recurring use cases. And even new recurring use cases, that we don’t know yet.
Julia: Fascinating. I can’t wait to hear how they may emerge, and what those new use cases might be. It’s also incredibly interesting to hear your thoughts about the value of those recurring use cases, and the dynamics around that. It’s going to be an interesting pathway for sure, and I’m sure it’s going to be a very successful one as well. Stéphane, when you are out talking to clients, what advice are you giving them as they are trying to navigate their futures?
Stéphane: In the context of our relationship, we’re always discussing about how we can help them better. What is the frontier they want us to intervene? Where should we go? How could our collaboration be better? What do they want to keep for themselves? What is really private IP, for the firm? And what could be mutualised? How much of open innovation, we can push together? That’s really the question where they need to turn back on themselves – What and where, should they add value? A piece of infrastructure? Maybe that’s not their core business. We started like that, we had a platform. We had a platform that would be good to be used. And they would build on top, whatever they wanted. Then gradually they said, if it could last just a few weeks, rather than a few months to implement. Because, you would’ve preferred it more. That would be better. That’s how we evolved gradually, towards this solution, package based as we have discussed.
Now the next piece of discussion for example, is about this data access. Usually they have taken data or not, from different sources. And they need to bring it into our environment, so that becomes structured. So we have them on the data model, which is very critical that we have them on, analysing and cleaning the data, we talked about that. And there’s so much more to be done. They have their own algorithm, but again, we are bringing some AI tools to help them to accelerate this journey. To minimise the amount of work that are working every day, on cleaning the data. Because, you have two type of cleanings, you have the cleaning the first day you get your data, it’s a big mess, and you need to structure it.
Then every single day, there are errors in your data set. Even if it’s supposed to be clean. And again, just one example of further collaboration. They want us now, to work on their behalf, in making the data ingestion much more easy. To connect to the data sources, becomes configuration, they used to do that in the early phase of our collaboration. They’re pushing us there.
So really, where do we help them? Where do they want to intervene? We started on the analytics. We provide analytics. I call it, editable templates, so they are always flexible to move one step further. How much of these templates I can come with and accelerate their journey, to the point of Julie, time to market? Overall, our corporate ambition is really to get to a point where using huge amount of data has to be as simple as clicking a button. The click button journey of the data, is really where we are aiming to. It’s a long journey. It’s a full journey of the data. It’s complex. Some may say, it’s a too ambitious target. But frankly we have done such a big part of that already, that the end of the road is just ahead. With some of our clients, I think we’ve already done it.
Julia: Amazing. The click button journey of data. I love that. What a great way to close out the show. I think it’s going to be certainly, very interesting pathway ahead for Opensee. It’s wonderful to hear not only your insights about what’s keep your clients awake at night, how you’re helping address them. Insights into even your favourite pieces of regulation. And then also, looking ahead a little, in some of the dynamics we can anticipate. But also, the ambition of your clients to get to this point of simplicity. The click button of data. I love that. Stéphane Rio, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s been great to have your company.
Stéphane: Thank you, Julia. It was a pleasure to exchange this morning together.
Julia: Thank you. And Julie Louvrier, merci for your time today. It’s been wonderful.
Julie: de rein Julia. It has been a very enjoyable discussion. Thank you.
Julia: Great. To everybody who’s been listening, thank you for listening. My name’s Julia Streets. Today, StreetsTalksTo Opensee. I hope you’ve enjoyed the conversation as much as I have. And if you need to find out where they are, their website is Opensee. And that’s Opensee, which is S-E-E. Opensee.io. You can find them of course, on Twitter and on LinkedIn. And I’m sure they would love to hear from you. I’ve been Julia Streets, thanks again for listening.
Roshan: This episode of StreetsTalksTo was produced by me, Roshan Roberts, on behalf of Streets Consulting Limited. Streets Consulting is a business development, marketing, communications consultancy that’s focused on helping Fintechs from the smallest startup companies to some of the world’s largest global organisations. Everybody’s trying to innovate and everybody’s trying to grow. You can find this episode on Streetsconsulting.com and using the hashtag #StreetsTalksTo. We can be found on LinkedIn and on Twitter at @StreetsConsult. Thanks for listening.