Origin: Our Year

As we begin to wind down for Christmas, I’m pleased to report that it’s been a very good year for Origin. It’s amazing to look back and see how far we’ve come in 2017.

The most pleasing aspect of our performance has been our growth. In January, we were working with 6 dealers and 22 borrowers. We now have 9 dealers and 42 borrowers using our platform. We also have a healthy pipeline, with around 5 dealers and 25 borrowers in the middle of procurement and legal review. So we’ll be looking to secure their business as a matter of priority in the first half of 2018.

I’ve also been delighted with the way we’ve grown the Origin footprint. At the start of the year, we were focused on Europe. Now, at the end of 2017, we have customers all over the world, as far afield as Sydney, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Dubai, Bogota and Panama. This has meant a lot of travel for us, but we’re more than willing to put in the hard yards to fuel this expansion. I’m looking forward to pushing the Origin message even wider come the New Year.

Slowly but surely, we’re also expanding our product offering throughout the fixed income market. We started out as a tool specifically for MTN dealers, but we now have users across the entire issuance workflow, including MTNs, DCM, syndicate, and, on the public side, sales and structuring.

Our product is evolving, too. We’ve released our API, upgraded all of our issuer profiles on the platform, and we’ve released our new search interface, which is making sales in the fixed income space even easier. You can read more about this new function here.

So our clients, our reach and our product have all grown in 2017. But, as with any young, ambitious business, it hasn’t all been plain sailing.

Across the industry – quite rightly – clients and potential clients have been focusing on MIFID2. This has been diverting attention away from Origin and other related projects, as clients have concentrated on doing everything right before the MIFID2 implementation deadline on January 3rd. Once this has occurred, we expect to see renewed focus on our product and strong growth once again. And of course, the continued regulatory push towards more transparency, reporting, and record-keeping are all tailwinds for our business.

In house, we’ve been trying to do much with a very lean team. We only rolled out our proof of concept in January 2017. After 5 months of testing and iteration, Origin went live on 1st June 2017. So, despite the great progress we’ve made, I have to keep reminding myself that we are still a very young business, and so a lean team continues to be exactly the right approach. But it does mean that the entire team – from our developers to our sales team – is stretched and in need of a well earned Christmas break!

Once that break is over, I know the team will be back at it, because we’ve got big plans for 2018. We’re excited about releasing the first version of our workflow tool and termsheet generator in Q1, hopefully saving dealers and in-house legal countless hours in drafting standardised trade terms. We’ve also deepening the functionality of our product for our dealer users, adding value for people outside of the core syndicate user base. Expanding our new search functionality for sales, we hope to be able to start offering suggestions for taps and for secondary market trades. On the DCM/origination side, we can grow the functionality to become a single cross-functional database (or effectively a CRM) of all their clients.

It’s exciting to know that the possibilities for our product are great. But it’s also vital that we listen and learn what our users want, so that we know where to steer product development. We don’t want to just build a fancy product. We want to build a tool that provides solutions for real world problems. That’s the challenge. If we get it right, the rewards for everyone will be significant.

We’re also looking to expand further into Asia, looking to bring more dealers and issuers onto the platform. We know this market has huge growth potential, and that people in these locales are also keen to embrace new technologies to fuel that growth. We want to be a part of it.

A well earned rest is now required before we gear up for the challenges and opportunities ahead. Sure, it’s been a great year for Origin, but we’re looking to make next year even better.

I hope that you all enjoy a happy and restful Christmas and here’s to a fantastic New Year.