The mushrooming of financial services firms in the Asia Pacific region and their anticipated growth is being matched by the similarly rapid development of support businesses, such as systems providers. GREG BRIGHT spoke with SunGard’s Robert Ward in Beijing.

China grabs most of the headlines about growth for financial services firms, as well as just about every other industry in the Asia-Pacific. But China is not Asia: the region is not cohesive, and there are many opportunities for financial services businesses throughout it. According to Robert Ward, COO at the wealth management business of the big global systems provider SunGard, major global centres for institutional and alternative asset management include Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. “We are starting to see domestic players push to become regional players and regional players push to become global players,” he says. “Customers are looking for global, institutional infrastructures that allow them to invest in any asset class, manage the risk and perform the necessary accounting and reporting.”

He says north Asia’s large developed capital markets in Korea, Japan and Hong Kong are major users of financial technology and are increasing their use of risk management as well as best-ofbreed solutions to compete on a wider geographical basis. “China, which is growing at a tremendous rate given the rise in new money, has a growing need to establish best practices in risk and compliance, as well as the need to drive efficiency based on highvolume activity. “South-East Asia has a developing base of core and commercial banks which are increasing their investments in solutions across a broad range of SunGard operations, including core banking, asset financing, trading solutions and capital adequacy risk needs.

The growing base of corporate activity is also driving demand across our treasury and corporate credit solutions.” In China, SunGard has an office in Shanghai, where staff are re-writing an administration system in Mandarin, among other tasks. The government-owned CITIC Trust, which is a sort-of financial services conglomerate, is a client for SunGard’s Infinity Process Platform. In Asia-Pacific generally, SunGard has more than 4,000 staff across 24 offices, including offices in Bangalore, Pune, Manila, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, as well as Shanghai. Most of the research and development is performed by staff, with only minimal outsourcing. “We work directly with customers providing both customised solutions and managed services of their applications,” Ward says.

“With our emphasis on financial services’ domain expertise, we establish centres of competence which help customers get the best blend of business and technology service. In addition, we seek partnerships with global firms that add complementary offerings to our core technology.” In Australian superannuation, SunGard sold its member administration business to CitiStreet in 2002, which continued to use the technology. Sunsuper, the big Queensland-based industry fund, then acquired the business in 2008. Ward says Sunsuper upgraded and refreshed the technology with SunGard and continues to be an important client. MLC also uses SunGard technology to run its super admin business. “We offer software and technology services to fund providers and administrators rather than being in the administration business ourselves,” he says. The company is owned by several well-known private equity firms: Bain Capital, Blackstone Group, Goldman Sachs, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, Providence Equity Partners, Silver Lake and TPG.

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