Anil Kamble, VP – IT, Sushil Financial Services outlines how tech has played a key role in redefining the company and overall BFSI sector.
What are your roles and responsibilities as VP-IT of Sushil Financial Services?
I oversee the technology infrastructure for the entire finance group. I also help them in creating the strategies and establish Internet digital system to advance the organisation’s goals and profit. This also determines how I can manage my intellectual property of data to the benefits of my internal and external customer and increase ROI.
I am also a part of their BFSI segment for almost twenty years now and have maintained a good rapport with the peers in the industry. That has helped me a lot to execute the critical projects. My current role demands and expects me to communicate with my internal and external customers along with my peers and vendors. I also use my interpersonal skills to connect with all the clients I have acquired and created a healthy relationship with them which in return helps the organisation to execute all the projects within.
As far as my role in the organisation goes, I manage the technical resource for socio-financial group. Managing technical resource is a critical task because I am in the artisan level in this industry. But I also connect with my teammates, I engage with them. I ensure that they are motivated and promoted and I can proudly say that some of my teammates have been associated with me for the last fifteen years.
My roles also includes managing the SMAC (Social Mobile analytic and Cloud) initiative for the organisation. When we talk about Social there is a paradigm shift between the way business was done fifteen years back and the way it is conducted now. One has to have a footprint available in the social media. I work with my marketing team ensuring that the brand value is available in the social media to acquire more tech savvy customer.
Nowadays, everyone wants everything to be available in their mobile phone to carry out their trades, buy mutual funds, insurance products. So, making sure that mobile applications are available in both android and in iOS is important. This includes trading and service application that allows customers to take a meaningful decision.
On the analytics front we require our analytics group to do various kind of company research and create MIS report for assisting the decision making process of the top management. On the cloud front I try to replace the cloud into a technology, guaranteeing that the critical process of mine goes into the cloud format and can be taken full advantage off in a resource hungry situation.
I am repressing my organization in SEBI level , OEM level and the vendor level as well. When it comes to presentation my work mostly comes in the technical front for vendors, OEMs and regulatory sides. I am visionary, approachable, helpful and always available for my colleagues when their critical issues requires addressing giving them innovative and cost effective solutions. On the team management front, I am always up for promoting my team, who gives the extra effort making the difficult tasks easy and the organisation is always benefited out of this.
What are the key technology solutions used by Sushil Financial Services and what are their use cases?
We are a financial service organisation and our core business is trading. When it comes to trading, even single second down is not affordable. We use an industry standard legacy application and when it comes to retail kind of trading for tech savvy audience the same standard application is used in mobile and web based distribution.
Insurance broking and mutual fund trading are two different verticals for us and I ensure that people are engaging in both. As far as our institutional customers are concerned, they indulge in the usage of their flavour of applications because they have the choice and understanding in what application will benefit them when it comes to trading. Hence, we use the application as per their decision.
We have got a huge network of channel partners spread across of India. I have been trading for channel partner and their clients and we always provide a secure and stable platform to them, in addition we also make sure that the other needs for the channel partner like invoicing, building and executing the trades are addressed efficiently.
How has the prolonged WFH scenario changed the entire DR-BCP plans of organizations?
There is a paradigm shift between the communication that used to happen ten years back to how it functions now and the change is drastic. When it comes to communication tool especially when everyone is engaging in work from home all the resources should be very easily accessible by connecting with the payers, subordinates and immediate HODs. At the same time companies’ roll out various policies, producers and even in our case regulatory body forms certain policies. So, access to these policies should be available easily to the audience who are working from home which can allow them to collaborate and solve the difficult issues collectively.
When it comes to communicating with clients one has to provide proper understanding and easy availability of the application to them so that can communicate with their respective relationship managers and generate more business for the organisation.
HR and onboarding process consists of personal meeting, taking interviews and connecting with the people but now with the upcoming societal change, human connection is not accessible anymore. With recent scenarios collecting CVS to conducting interviews and even recruiting an individual to the team is virtual. So, the pandemic has given us an opportunity to really think and understand the usage of these collaboration tools.
As per as Social-finances are concerned, 75% of the work has been done in these collaboration tools. The covid crisis has also made us reconsider certain initiatives which we had. Needless to say, when it comes to business there always been a challenge when any natural calamities are concern. One has to be prepared for all times and come up with innovative solutions intense scenarios. As a CIO, I have to keep myself updated with the new technological innovations in the market like Artificial Intelligence, Machine learning and IoT.
How has the prolonged WFH scenario changed the entire DR-BCP plans of organizations?
The circumstances have definitely given us an opportunity to go back and examine our traditional DR-BCP plan, in our case it is mostly the BCP plan which depends on exchanges as well. We have organized couple of meetings with our exchanges and informed them that the connectivity provided has to be streamlined. After giving it a thought, we came to a decision that the initial BCP plans and process which are extremely lengthy and business critical should be automated and we have managed to execute this idea with some of them.
The processes we were unable to automate were provided to our resources through a secured access and they are executing them in their Work from Home sessions. There are a few institutional trades that the regulatory body wants us to do and for that certain in-person availability is a must so by sitting and discussing this issue with the operation team we have ensured that at least a minimum workforce should be available at the office, pulling off the trade. They strictly follow the protocols of COVID-19 like wearing a mask at all time and maintaining social distance. It’s very fortunate that we have been managing the business continuity so efficiently and by far there hasn’t been a downtime period.
What are the cybersecurity challenges in the online trading market?
This pandemic has allowed us to venture a different archetype when it comes to the cyber security challenges and these has to be taken very seriously if we don’t want to pay a heavy price later. Intruders these days are extremely smart, they are erudite with the many hacking techniques and when it comes to spurious cyber-attacks, they are able to create an exact replica of the sites, keeping identical looks and fields to infiltrate the data. Through these falsified accounts they will try to manipulate the customers by convincing that their accounts were hacked. Some customers do fall into these traps and provide their sensitive information like user id, password and two factor authentication to these people.
The first pattern that we have noticed is that once these hackers get hold of the information, they try to sell the stalks from the clients account resulting in their heavy loss and then when the client gets to know the difference between brokers and clients many arbitrary cases are filed at the exchange level. The intruders will try to sell the penny stocks and illiquid stocks and also buy these stocks from these hacked account causing losses again.
Another pattern that has come into our view after monitoring these cyber security crises is the flooding of stock tips and ideas in people’s account and once a person buys these falsified schemes, they lose capital. We have tried to report these cases as much as possible to the regulatory bodies and once they have taken a stringent action, we have witnessed the graphs going down. As far as other cyber-attacks are concerned one has to vigilant and make sure all the holes are packed because any unsealed loopholes will cause into another attack.
It is very difficult to get the company back to its original form after these cyber disasters in addition to the heavy financial losses they endure. So as a CIO, one has to be monitoring the system at all time and if any suspicious incidents are noticed the authorities should be informed at once. At the same time, one has to strictly follow the rules and regulations prescribed by SEBI to keep the cyber security intact.
How has Sushil Financial Services ensured increasing transparency through communication and collaboration solutions in the post pandemic period?
Sushil Finance Services as an organisation communicates a lot when it comes to clients, general partners and even prospective customers. The pre- and post-pandemic communication scenarios have had a drastic shift. But we have to evolve with this change and for that we have created a platform where we maintain the RM(Relationship Manager) and client relation.
In pre pandemic era the RM will telecommunicate with the clients and try to convince them for buying the stocks but since the Working from home scenario it is getting comparatively difficult for them. At the same time all these communications have to be recorded so with this platform they can be recorded and stored virtually and can also be presented to the regulatory body if required.
When communication with the internal team is concern, we also have to provide our team with a platform which is not just secured but easily accessible which will allow the resources sitting home to connect with their immediate supervisors and subordinates and address the critical business issues. These platforms also help us to inform our channel partners about the on going regulatory changes via SMS, mobile application and secured access. In these difficult times we are understanding various systematic ways to keep in touch with our internal and external team.
What has been the biggest impact of the COVID19 pandemic on the financial services industry?
Certainly, there has been an impact but it is mixed when the financials are concerned. For the first few months naturally, we have faced difficulties with heavy pressure in our top lines. The assets class has faced the utmost erosion and fresh flows has also been deteriorated. We found difficulty in selling mutual funds because people were reluctant to invest at the same time, they were not ready to buy the insurance products as well.
But we did see a surge on the demand in the investment of Mediclaim policies. The mixed impact that I mentioned before comprises of our long-term investors who have invested during the pandemic period, has benefitted heavily through our advices. Since, now that the economic situation is improving, we have seen an increase when the trade execution is concerned.