CPQi is headquartered in Canada and operates across the Americas in Brazil, the USA, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Colombia and Peru. Exclusively offering Fintech services managed by experienced banking-trained staff, CPQi partners with the likes of Calypso, Murex, Moody’s and Finastra offering solutions that substantially reduce costs for complicated major platforms.
Digital transformation has swept across the banking industry. As the provision of financial services adapts to the developing digital demands of consumers, key trends have begun to emerge. Reacting to those trends, CPQi boasts the successful delivery of over 25 platform projects and numerous build projects with a keen focus on digital transformation. The company’s CEO, Terry Boyland, has positioned CPQi to support the technological evolutions reshaping how the world does business via four key pillars: Cloud, DevOps, Artificial Intelligence and an Omnichannel strategy.
“What is digital transformation?” asks Boyland. “We have our own philosophy at CPQi where we look at it in four different ways… It begins with migration to the cloud, which allows us to do three things: increase agility, lower budgetary expenses and move away from the CapEx associated with legacy infrastructure.” Boyland notes cloud is a managed service in its own right, where the need for people to be involved is limited to a certain number - a plus during the pandemic. Scalability is key. Using onsite equipment to protect sensitive financial information can be costly. This is especially true when business and demand scale up. With the cloud, your platform scales automatically and can handle heavy workloads as and when required, enabling remote work environments and greater efficiency.
“The second path towards digital transformation for CPQi is the way in which we deliver new technologies,” explains Boyland. “The methods have changed; gone are the days of the waterfall when things were designed by business analysts, signed off in blood, went through coding - change controls were huge. They went through testing, and by the time you got to the end of a three-year program, some of the things you were delivering were no longer relevant. Today, with the agile methods underpinning approaches like DevOps, these methods are more important where we're looking at what we can get out of the squad within a given time through user stories. And that's where our geographical spread comes into play because squads need to be awake at the same time to be highly effective. The second pillar is the introduction of Agile methods and, and the cultural change around the delivery of DevOps.”
DevOps prioritises the speed of delivery without sacrificing quality. It’s a method requiring continuous development and testing which offers many benefits for banking: continuously updated software deliveries; automation of many technical aspects and maintenance tasks that boost productivity; increased collaboration, and the creation of more time and opportunities for innovation.
“People talk about AI,” reasons Boyland. “And when you think about what they're trying to do with it, a lot of organisations we've worked with are employing teams of data scientists simply to be able to find out what their data looks like. But we look at it differently. We say that predictive technologies, that's all they offer, predictions. If you look at your existing workflows and you find predictions in those workflows, you can change that prediction, whether it's done in Excel, for example, and replace it with an AI model and get a better-quality prediction that's far more reliable; then you are able to simply plug that into your existing workflow without re-engineering your entire business process and achieve some immediate benefit.”
The benefits AI can deliver include the automation of customer identification and authorisation tasks, the creation of responsive conversational interfaces (chatbots) for front office banking, and enhanced fraud and risk management delivered with AI’s more efficient analytics capabilities.
As the financial services industry increases its digital presence, accessibility has become a priority. “You must be able to execute on any channel that a client wants to deploy,” affirms Boyland. “Channels have enabled us to electronically rebuild the communities we've lost during the lockdown. Well-constructed channels allow us to bring on board new customers and clients who are looking for a connected experience.”
Mobile accessibility is crucial - online, in-person, or over-the-phone business must be utilised to deliver an omnichannel experience. “Channel strategies are key to our development,” says Boyland. “CPQi works across all of these from north to south in the Americas to deliver meaningful change.”
The greatest change in the delivery of financial services in a generation
Boyland believes we are in the midst of the biggest change in the history of banking… “Three major themes are beginning to emerge now within the financial markets,” he says. “Open banking may be far more prevalent in Europe than it is here in the Americas, but the philosophy behind it is huge… simply stating that I own my financial data and that I can direct that financial data to wherever I want without constraints from a bank or insurance company. That basically gives me the right to build my own financial experience.
“And with that, I can construct my own Neobank, which is the second element we're seeing today. Fintech institutions that don't have a banking licence can borrow one from a bank. By using modern technology, all of the delivery methods are available to attack particular markets. There are Neobanks focusing on the gaming community, others on the 18-25-year-old market. These innovations don't come with a huge elephant-sized legacy of systems and processes, and they don't need a banking licence to proceed; they just need a bank to sponsor them.”
The change in open banking has ushered in the third biggest change – the rise of cryptocurrencies. “Crypto’s are becoming more mainstream,” highlights Boyland. “The American government is talking about a parallel electronic currency to the dollar, and Japan is considering the same. This should provide an element of stability, but what's more interesting is crypto 2.0 – tokenisation and the ability to represent one of, or any single asset as an electronic token, and to trade that asset on a blockchain-type system, as if it were a cryptocurrency.”
Partnering for success
“CPQi has the privilege of partnering with Finastra - one of the top three Fintechs in the world today. We also partner with the other major platform delivery companies for trading risks. Murex and Calypso with Openlink are now part of the biome,” reveals Boyland. “One of our key partners is Moody's Analytics, which is more on the risk for a loan side. And then, with the move towards digital transformation, we've got established partnerships with Salesforce and with ServiceNow. All of those elements bring together a package enabling us to deliver both on the traditional training and risk systems and the move towards digital transformation.”
Boyland notes that many of the company’s partners have been undergoing their own transformations and migrations to the cloud - providing the opportunity to support and learn from each other. “It's not just about being able to get a major platform on the cloud; it's about the way in which the delivery of technology is done afterwards - typically using microservices and continuous integration, continuous deployment and automated testing in the cloud. And when you've got a platform that wasn't built for that, it can be quite challenging… We’ve worked with many of our partners to understand how the functionality can be built out using the data that's sitting in those platforms without cannibalising their existing organisation - migration both on the grid and then onto the pure cloud for our partners. For them, it's a different challenge because they have their legacy platforms out there. For us, it's an opportunity, in addition to our partner work, to work also more lightly and exclusively on specific microservice-based cloud developments which are native to the cloud from the beginning.”
Boyland believes the future is very bright for CPQi. “There’s no let-up to demand right now. We work across all of the major economies in the Americas and successfully navigate their tremendous cultural differences. If we look at Brazil with its spirit of adventure and incredible optimism, there’s a high level of sophistication in their banking systems which, in some ways, are far more advanced than North America. The offshore centre that we have in the North-Eastern city of Fortaleza still serves that community there. And what we're beginning to see is that as demand continues to increase dramatically, organisations that previously wanted their work done in major centres like Rio de Janeiro or in Sao Paulo are now willing to accept that these things can be done remotely. And that's going to be great economically for the North East of Brazil, both in Fortaleza and other areas we're thinking about.”
“Here in the US, there’s also a tremendous pioneering spirit as well,” adds Boyland. “They led much of the early offshoring to Virginia, and we've been delighted to divert some of that down to Latin America. And as we talk about the delivery of agile methods and the need for squads to be awake, there's a very clear understanding that same time zone delivering is important for our clients.”
“In Canada, it’s a little more risk-averse,” observes Boyland. “In order to support that, we recently set up a centre in Halifax, Nova Scotia. We've gone from zero to 20 staff in the space of six weeks. And we're looking to expand that to around a hundred staff by the end of the year. It’s been driven by the high level of demand and the available pool of resourcing now that the acceptance of remote working is on the rise.”
Leading the future of banking innovation across the Americas
Boyland is full of praise for a “phenomenal team” leading the implementation of the systems making innovation waves in the Latin American banking industry. “CPQi developed the first training systems that were done for certain types of derivative instruments in Chile and, when Brazil moved to a new system of retail trading derivatives, CPQi was proud to work with the stock exchange in implementing the platform that would register those types of trades (the post-trade registration of derivatives). We've implemented platforms in Argentina, which, following a period of stagnation, are the first major change in the Argentinian banking sector for many years. Meanwhile, up here in North America, we're pleased to work with organisations like Manulife in helping them change the way in which they're using their training risk systems - particularly with the Bank of Montreal. We're also excited to work with Moody's Analytics, Cargill and MetLife in helping them improve the quality of their delivery to their internal customer base.”
Both in terms of the technology and the banking changes, CPQi’s teams have been able to lead. Boyland is proud to see his team maintaining the agility to consistently break new ground for the delivery of financial services.