Our free FinTech roundup includes news from Salesforce Ventures, Hearsay Systems, Qontigo, SS&C & BOCOM Trustee, and Cloud9 & comitFS.
RJO Acquires Lombard Forte Securities
R.J. O’Brien & Associates, a Chicago-based futures brokerage and clearing firm, is expanding its presence in the Middle East via its acquisition of Lombard Forte Securities Ltd. (LFS), a Dubai-based interdealer broker (IDB).
RJO, which acquired LFS through its affiliate RJO MENA [Middle East & North Africa] in Dubai, is not revealing terms of the transaction. LFS specializes in cash equities, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), equity derivatives, fixed income, and structured products for clients globally, officials say. RJO MENA was established in 2018.
“All 14 LFS brokers are now part of RJO, with most operating out of Dubai and several working as part of the RJO Limited UK team,” according to an RJO statement. Kunal Savjani, CEO and co-founder of LFS, is now the senior executive officer of RJO MENA, and the managing director, global head of equities and credit sales for R.J. O’Brien.
Savjani launched Lombard Securities in 2012, and later collaborated with Fadi Kassis at Forte Securities Ltd. to co-found LFS in 2015, officials say.
“From our initial focus on the institutional equities market when we created LFS in the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre), the scope of the firm has steadily broadened to serving clients across a variety of markets,” Savjani says in a prepared statement. He adds that the acquisition will “propel RJO into a position as a major market player in the IDB space.”
Before Lombard, Savjani worked as an emerging market equity derivatives broker at Tullett Prebon and BGC Partners from 2007 to 2012, officials say.
LFS offers execution and brokerage services to hedge funds, asset managers and “the largest investment banks both regionally and globally,” officials say. The Dubai Financial Services Authority oversees LFS and RJO MENA.
Kassis, who had served as chief financial officer (CFO) for LFS, “will continue to operate Forte Securities Limited, which will provide clearing services for a period of time to ensure a smooth transition for the client business that has moved over to R.J. O’Brien,” officials say.
Salesforce Ventures Takes Stake in Hearsay
Hearsay Systems, a specialist in “compliant digital communications for the financial services industry,” reports the advent of a “deeper partnership” with Salesforce Ventures, the investment arm of Salesforce, a customer relationship management (CRM) specialist.
The purpose of the partnership’s new iteration is to “provide compliance at scale for heavily regulated financial services firms,” Hearsay says in a statement.
As part of the agreement, Salesforce Ventures has taken a “minority stake” in Hearsay, per the statement.
In a sign of these COVID-19-impacted times, Hearsay also points out that requests for “compliant, last-mile digital communication channels for financial firms is soaring amidst the new socially distanced reality.”
Hearsay’s statement spotlights its “more than 170,000 advisors and agents at the world’s largest financial services firms including Allstate, Ameriprise, Farmers Insurance, HSBC, Morgan Stanley, Northwestern Mutual, and Prudential.”
Salesforce Ventures points out that it has “invested in more than 400 companies, including DocuSign, GoCardless, Guild Education, nCino, Twilio, Zoom, and others across 22 countries since 2009.”
Qontigo Taps Bloomberg for Strategic Partnership Post
Qontigo, which characterizes itself as a provider of financial intelligence, reports the appointment of Courtney Scharff as global head of strategic partnerships. Scharff will “oversee Qontigo’s strategic partnerships across index and analytics,” the vendor says.
Qontigo adds that Scharff’s most recent post was at market data, trading systems and news giant Bloomberg, where she was global head of index data management solutions and, subsequently, global equity index product manager.
Before joining Bloomberg in 2016, Scharff was head of North American client services at FTSE Russell.
Qontigo, headquartered in Eschborn, Germany, also notes that it is a part of Deutsche Börse Group, which was created in 2019 through the combination of Axioma, DAX and STOXX.
Hong Kong Subsidiary Picks SS&C’s Geneva Services
U.S. securities operations systems and services vendor SS&C Technologies, headquartered in Windsor, Conn., reports that its Geneva platform and services have been selected by a financial services firm in Hong Kong.
In a statement, SS&C officials say that Bank of Communications Trustee Ltd., a Hong Kong-based trustee subsidiary of Bank of Communications Co., Ltd., has picked Geneva, Geneva World Investor, Recon, and SS&C’s professional services to “assist with their workflows” in securities operations.
Bank of Communications Trustee, also known as BOCOM Trustee, has “provided fund administration services in Hong Kong for almost 20 years,” SS&S says.
When BOCOM needed to “diversify its services to a broader range of clients and improve operational efficiency,” it picked SS&C’s processes with their “intuitive user interfaces, strong investor accounting, private equity fund support and automated reconciliation processes,” according to the SS&C statement.
“The SS&C solution suite has superior functionality to improve our efficiency across the board, integrate with our third-party systems and meet the diversified requirements of our funds,” Stephen Yeung, chief executive at BOCOM Trustee, says in the SS&C statement. “We can rely on SS&C as a reputable brand with a strong local presence and a robust support model.”
The Asia operation of SS&C Technologies also has more than 300 staffers dedicated to SS&C Geneva support, product development and implementation, SS&C adds.
Cloud9 & comitFS Partner on Trading Call Control
Cloud-based communications vendor Cloud9 Technologies is partnering with a London, England-based vendor, comifFS, a maker of voice middleware and application programming interfaces (APIs), to provide real-time, call control capabilities for institutional voice trading.
The collaboration between Cloud9 and comitFS will enable financial institutions “to address the data storage, workflow, and trade reconstruction rules stipulated under key regulatory mandates and directives such as MiFID II,” according to the vendors.
The partnership brings together comitFS’s voice applications and API’s with Cloud9’s solutions for voice collaboration and metadata capture, officials say. This allow institutional traders to access workflows, whether working remotely or on the trading floor. The collaboration facilitates normalized Call Data Records (CDRs) that can be added to compliance and reconciliation processes.
“As trading dynamics shift to a more digitally-driven environment, firms want the peace of mind that their voice metadata and daily workflows will not be hampered,” says Brian Hunt, chief administrative officer, and head of partnerships for Cloud9, in a prepared statement. “Partnering with comitFS makes perfect sense as the industry continues to adjust to a virtual trading environment that will become more prevalent in the months ahead.”
“We have been building specialist voice API’s using open source technologies for our banking clients throughout our seventeen-year history. We are excited to be partnering with Cloud9 to expose their call data records and call control capabilities to our common customers,” says Jappy Takhar, CEO and managing director for comitFS.
comitFS states that it is “the only provider of specialist voice middleware to tier-one banks that tightly integrate their in-house and third-party applications, such as Salesforce’s CRM to report on real-time voice calls and Client voice interactions,” the vendors say. “This collaboration between Cloud9 and comitFS will offer for the first time its voice middleware in the cloud and it will work seamlessly with on-site setups for call control, CDR reconciliation, and meeting compliance regulations.”