We Talk Fintech With Andrei Serjantov Of BNP Paribas

Investment banking has always been a business built upon data. So it comes as no surprise that global banks are investing heavily in improving the quality and utility of their data with fintech.

BNP Paribas is at the vanguard of this movement, embracing a progressive approach towards technology within its corporate and institutional bank. In fact, it’s considered something of a first mover, keen to support and adopt new technologies that improve the customer experience. And it’s putting its money where its mouth is, with a €3 billion digital transformation programme over the next 3 years.

We recently sat down with Andrei Serjantov, BNP Paribas’ Global Head of Electronic Primary and Credit Markets, to hear more about the bank’s approach to technology. BNP Paribas is a valued client of Origin’s and as such, we wanted to dig into Andrei’s approach to fintech so we can share his insights and add some colour to this fast-moving and at times somewhat esoteric arena.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Origin’s partnership with BNP Paribas is that the bank is consuming information from us electronically via our API.

This goes beyond improving the experience of front line staff who need data to provide advice and execution for clients. Ultimately, the focus on fintech is about improving the customer experience and building durable client franchises that can adapt to rapidly changing market and regulatory conditions.

When we sat down with Andrei, we naturally spoke a lot about data. He explains that,“Everyone knows data is important, data is valuable. But the quality of that data is paramount if it’s to be actionable in a commercial sense. The expression, “garbage in, garbage out” springs to mind. Origin’s data is comprehensive, which gives us a firm foundation to build upon and facilitate further digitisation of DCM sales processes down the line.”

There’s scope for data to be used across departments, although for this to happen there are a number of obstacles to overcome. These include compliance, regulation, staff education and the actual pipeline of delivery as banks race to adopt MiFID II. But with strong alignment between innovation and business agendas, the possibilities and applications for quality data within markets are almost endless.

The line between primary markets and secondary markets is delicate, dynamic and fraught with risk. But if managed with appropriate levels of compliance and regulatory scrutiny – and, of course, personal integrity – there are huge opportunities for DCM bankers to leverage secondary market data in order to provide better advice and execution to issuers. In this vein, Andrei points out that BNP Paribas is also working with Neptune on the secondary trading side, enabling it to provide pre-trade axes and inventory data to investors along with a number of other banks.

Secondary markets have traditionally been quick to adopt new technologies, but across the industry, primary markets have been comparatively slow. At Origin, everything we do is geared towards the efficient collection and distribution of data in the primary market. And yet, adoption of our product does require a behavioural shift amongst dealers and issuers. Andrei explains, “First came data, in the form of taxi apps where you could visualise black cabs in your local area and walk to meet one. Then came a shift in workflow, with apps that enable you to actually order a taxi to where you are. Finally, comes intelligence, with the next generation of driverless cars that will dynamically offer services to people who need them. The same is true for fintech in markets. These new tools and technologies will fundamentally change the way we work, for the better.”

 Asking every issuer for funding levels is time-consuming and inefficient. And yet, it’s the way things have been done since the inception of the MTN market. People are busy and often set in their ways when it comes to the day-to-day running of the business. As a result, it can be hard to get front office personnel to adopt new technologies. But Andrei argues that, “Adoption is all about demonstrating value. When people see quality data they say, “wow, that’s amazing”. Pretty soon they’re saying, “I don’t know how we managed without this until now.”

Finally Andrei emphasised the importance of intra-industry collaboration. “The old way of doing things was disparate, time-intensive and inefficient. Having an independent party to drive collaboration and standardization of pricing conventions is a game-changer. The real value of a platform like Origin stems from its ability to standardise data and make it easily accessible and digestible for front line markets people.”

Here at Origin we feel strongly about this, too. Bringing together issuers and dealers is important, but so too is bringing together dealers in order to drive consensus and raise the bar across the industry. By working together, banks can offer their clients a better service and make internal processes more seamless and efficient whilst levelling up to regulatory requirements. That way, everyone benefits.