In conversation with Mark Greenway
How accelerating the customer journey only works by collaborating with your clients

Sean Vickers
Tell me, Mark, what is your role at iMeta?

Mark Greenway
I am a Project Manager at iMeta, which is predominantly client-facing, managing the end-to-end delivery of projects for our clients. It starts at pre-sales and initial engagements and continues through to handing over to our support teams. This also extends not just to client-facing projects, but to internal product development. Along with the delivery teams, I take the strategic visions and then package them into solutions that we can deliver as projects for our clients.

Sean Vickers
Since you are client-facing, you’ll have seen the way the industry is changing and the questions that your clients ask. What changes have you been seeing recently?

Mark Greenway
One thing that I’ve seen is the move away from manual processing. Manual processing should be something that has gone by now, but we still speak to a lot of institutions where they’re heavily entrenched in manual processes and are looking for automation. So, that’s still one of the key trends – removing manual work – particularly away from skilled operators that they’ve already got in place. In addition, some institutions are looking at more competitive AI-based solutions, but the move away from manual processing will continue. Our customers describe the benefits of automating manually intensive work as taking workload away from experienced people, allowing them to focus on their specialisation and not being burdened with manual processes that could be moved elsewhere. Ultimately the driver is really enabling Financial Institutions to onboard more clients, more efficiently, whilst utilising their resources as effectively as possible.

Sean Vickers
Who do you think is succeeding in this space. Is there some ‘best in class’ happening?

Mark Greenway
I think some are succeeding more than others. One of our clients from last year was using an old mainframe system; hugely difficult to change with long turnaround cycles. All the maintenance and configuration for that was done on spreadsheets, but we helped them move away from that. Other clients that we’ve worked with have only taken small steps towards automation, but there are others who are thinking bigger in terms of, “We’ve done X, but these are the next five or six stages we are looking to tackle next.” They’re looking at more advanced solutions, whether it be documentation or facial recognition, or other AI-based solutions. Therefore, some clients do have more of a vision beyond short-term goals, and they think about how they can make this compelling in the future.

Sean Vickers
Interesting. I’d say when we speak to a lot of clients and look at the industry the scale of maturity organization by organization differs. Often there’s a sense that everyone is doing something that’s highly advanced. However, what we still find is many organisations are bogged down by the operational issues and operational delivery. What do you think are the main challenges today?

Mark Greenway
The ones that we constantly hear is that they want to reduce their operational costs and increase operational efficiencies. Ultimately, they all want to get stuff done more quickly. When we talk in the onboarding space, it’s speed in the end-to-end onboarding process. Someone walks in the door, and they want to be doing business with them as quickly as possible. That’s paramount and comes with operational and efficiency savings. But we must also remember that people need to change what they’re doing. What they do today and what we put in as a vendor and as a solution in 2022 might not be exactly what they need in 2023. The challenge they’ll face is that they’ll need to continually adapt as the market changes, as regulation changes, and as the needs of their business changes as well. It’s critical for any modern system not to be static; there needs to be configurability and extensibility to adapt with the needs of the business.

Sean Vickers
The iMeta solution is a very deep and wide solution. How do you feel on the frontline when you’re working with clients, how does iMeta solve some of those operational issues?

Mark Greenway
I think configurability has always been at the forefront of our thinking in the way that we envisage and build software. We’ve recognised that there isn’t a one size fits all solution. Although there is a drive for standardisation, people still want to be able to configure elements to a greater or lesser extent. Historically we’ve offered a very bespoke, customised approach which has always worked well. People have had exactly what they need, exactly what they want. The downside of that is that clients want their perfect solution tomorrow, but it takes time and expertise to go in and consult with them. Some people refine their requirements and have given them real thought, whilst others have very high-level visions, “We want to go faster, or we need to onboard.” Others might say, “We need to do it like this, and the rules are here. We need to apply these regulations and these conditions.” This can still be achieved, but I think there’s a drive for wanting something to start with, and then being able to still extend and configure it as well.

Sean Vickers
Interesting. I know strategically, iMeta operates around these three big outcomes around, standardisation, customer experience, and front office empowerment. How does that influence how you work day-to-day in your role?

Mark Greenway
With standardisation, as we talked about, clients are looking for something off the shelf, but as you say that impacts how we work. Day-to-day, we’re looking for ways that we, as a team, can work quicker and smarter, because ultimately that’s what our customers want. If we standardise our internal development processes and the way we deliver projects, we’re reducing solution delivery times which benefits our customers, their customers, and ultimately everyone. It’s not just about having a standard product offering, but how we develop everything, such as automating build processes, how we can standardise our development pipeline and streamline the whole end-to-end delivery to be timely and efficient.

Sean Vickers
When we talk about standardisation, I guess the outcome of a lot of the processes is you get a better level of customer experience as their journey is smoother.

Mark Greenway
Hopefully, that’s always the vision, whether it be time to market initially or time to delivering change, we strive to be able to serve their customers better. It’s all about accelerating that journey, from our perspective, internally to our customers, and to their customers. But it’s not just speed for us. It’s got to be the right solution. We don’t just want to get in there, effectively deploy something, install it, and off we go. We want to make sure that it’s the right solution. We speak to the business who we’re delivering for to understand what they’re trying to solve, not just sell them something off the shelf, but we work and collaborate with them to give them the right solutions. We want to guide them as well. Sometimes they come in and ask for something and we might turn around and say, “Actually what you need is X because we’ve worked with other customers, and they’ve had this result.” Or, we might say, “You may want to consider this complementary solution from one of our trusted partners.” That’s something that we try and bring to the table as well. We feel on that basis our customers are ultimately getting a better service offered to them. I think a key element that sets us apart is our transparency along with our track record of delivery. We are clear on what we are offering and how we’ll deliver it and how long it will take and ultimately cost. We also understand that things WILL change and we’re agile enough to be able to help facilitate any change to deliver the right solutions for our clients.
It’s ultimately about accelerating and making the customer journey as frictionless as possible.

Sean Vickers
When your clients and customers acquire a piece of technology in the regulatory space, what do you think their expectations are? Because we hear many things. Do some clients feel that the whole thing is out of the box and straightforward, or do some clients automatically expect to configure or customise the solution? What have you seen on the ground?

Mark Greenway
I think both. There’s a growing trend to having something out of the box completely standardised. We’ve seen this growing expectation, particularly in more pre-sales and tender scenarios now. They say, “If we hit finish and install today, what will we have tomorrow?” I think there’s certainly an expectation of something out of the box, at least as a starting point, then maybe you can tweak and configure after that. When you specifically look at onboarding, what we’ve seen recently is that different institutions will have different intricacies in how they do things. They may be risk scoring differently or, depending on their market preferences they may choose to go with different data providers. Whilst the high-level building blocks are the same, allowing for some degree of an out-of-the-box solution, we rarely see something that is completely the same at the end. There’s always configuration and customization on top of that. That trend is growing, but I think people do expect to have something out of the box. In our view, it’s probably more of an accelerator to adoption. There’s not a one size fits all, even if they are broadly doing the same sorts of activities. So, again, we try and offer something that’s a platform to build and extend from whilst still addressing all their underlying needs.

Sean Vickers
You’ve worked in this space for a long time, and you’ve seen the industry evolve, especially in the RegTech space, across data to AML to KYC and into utilities. What do you think is going to happen in the next five years in this space?

Mark Greenway
I think some of the things we have spoken about before – people are not just looking at historical kinds of automation like data aggregation, they are also implementing machine learning, artificial intelligence. They ask, “How can I, from a regulatory point of view, still satisfy that I’m following the right processes, getting the correct auditing, whilst using more artificial intelligence to streamline that process.” It focuses on that – the efficiency side of things – how we can make use of technology to automate that process end-to-end? People are striving for that and it’s almost a nirvana now and more providers in the space have come out offering different solutions and offering little pieces of the puzzle. It’s only going to grow in the years to come. Hopefully, then we can still be part of that and glue it all together for them.

Sean Vickers
Thanks, Mark