Before the Stock Exchange of Thailand announced that they chose Cinnober Financial Technology for their trading, information disclosure and surveillance systems, JLN’s Jessica Titlebaum sat down with Cinnober’s chief executive officer, Jan Arpi. They discussed new areas of interest, how regulation has changed their technology offering and how he measured risk as an early adapter.
Q: How did you get into this industry?
I studied economics and business administration at school in Sweden. I graduated in 1987 and took a job with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC). I spent six years as an accountant and financial services expert, which is a rather unique background in this industry. Not many people have the accounting and technology experience. Soon after, I got involved with corporate treasury at a Swedish construction group and was later given the opportunity to establish the corporate treasury functions at Swedish Match. It was owned by the Volvo group and was going through an IPO at the time. I was responsible for everything on the financial map including the profit/loss statements, income and interest expenses, FX income and expense. Before the introduction of the Euro, we had more than 60 currencies to manage and exposures had to be calculated. We were very early adapters to measuring risk in the mid 1990’s.
Q: What brought you to Cinnober?
I was leading the Swedish office of SAP, a German software company when I was presented with the Cinnober opportunity. I liked that I was able to combine my technical and financial backgrounds at Cinnober and started working here in 2006.
Q: What are some of the challenges you face?
My biggest challenge at the firm is to identify growth opportunities. Our focus has always been to broaden our customer base and we look to expand into Latin America, Asia and Eastern Europe. The Eastern European markets are developing similar to the American or Western European markets. The algorithmic traders are moving in there.
The players in these emerging markets have money, ambitions and confidence. For this reason, they are likely to take big leaps forward very soon.
Q: How has regulation changed your technology services?
We anticipated reform back when Lehman Brothers crashed in 2008. At that time, we decided to build a new risk management system. Since it’s completion, it has represented a majority of our product offering.
Investors generally use antiquated systems. Our customers are not necessarily forced to change their technology. However, they are faced with the challenge of letting go of their legacy systems to meet the new regulatory needs. We have a lot of discussions about this because customers should change their technology before they are forced to change it. This has led us to expand our product line.
Q: Tell me about your clearing solution.
Yes, we have made updates to our real time clearing solution, which provides a full risk management package. It measures risk from a holistic perspective and provides a unique way of looking at clearing and risk management. In the autumn of 2010, we tested the system with a few different customers in various parts of the world to examine the performance. We are live and hope to talk more about this soon.
Q: What is one thing you like to do outside of work?
I like to visit museums like the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, Germany. It’s an architectural museum and I go with mixed feelings every time. They brought over a whole Greek temple in the 1890’s. They picked it up and rebuilt the entire temple in Berlin. It is absolutely marvelous and I like the fact that they preserved it. They even brought the walls of Babylon and rebuilt them in Berlin. If it were left in Iraq, there would be nothing left but it’s still like cultural robbery in a way.
Q: Thinking big picture, can you tell me about a defining experience in your career?
I took a development-training course in the 1990’s that influenced my career. At the time of the training, I was working with over 20 nationalities and had to learn how to adjust my management style to get along with employees depending on where they were in the world. How I operate in America is not necessarily how I operate in Europe. I’ve learned that my actions can be interpreted differently depending on where I am working. This training opened my eyes to the cultural differences we all face in a global business world.