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Transforming Wall Street: Calypso’s Bank-in-a-Box streamlines capital markets operations

Bank in a box

When creating a new technology product, the team usually has to develop a roadmap and decide what features to include. When Alex Goldvug was kicking off Calypso’s Bank-in-a-Box product, the challenge was to decide what to leave out.

Bank-in-a-Box was borne out of the 2008 financial crisis – aiming to provide a front-to-back solution to capital markets firms and challenge the idea that they have to develop all operational processes in-house. But it also drew together all of Calypso’s existing products, so deciding what was essential to include was one of the biggest challenges.

“It was essentially a regular technology development project, but in reverse,” says Goldvug. “We had to discuss the pros and cons of various features and innovations, but with a view to potentially deleting something, rather than building it.”

Goldvug, as Director of Sales and Marketing Operations Calypso, was tasked with leading the project. Rather than recruit externally, the logic was to look internally for talent – people who knew the Calypso platform inside out and could bring the broad range of skills required to develop such a complex product.

“We needed the front and back office represented, we needed people who understood code, project managers, and people who were technically inclined as well as those who understood the business. We were self-contained, but we needed to be able to reach out to every part of the business and speak their language,” he says.

In the end, a hand-picked team of 6-8 Calypso employees was assembled to see the project through to fruition.

Technology teams at capital markets firms have significantly shifted their focus since the 2008 crisis. They are no longer engaged in an ‘arms race’ to come up with the fastest, brightest and best trading platforms. Instead they are now focused on improving efficiency and reducing costs. The model where everything is built in-house is simply not viable, and cutting headcount or relying on offshore solutions isn’t viable given the ever-increasing, regionally-specific regulatory demands.

The idea of Bank-in-a-Box is to deliver a standardized target operating model for capital markets firms in order to streamline their workflows and ensure that they comply with all regulations regardless of where in the world they’re based.

When software was bought by a capital markets firm in the past, it was then tailored to their needs by an external consultant, which resulted in a sprawling, complex network of disparate systems. Having one front-to-back system, customised by the vendor that sold it to you – like Bank-in-a-Box – simplifies this whole process.

“We spent a lot of time consulting with capital markets firms and current clients to find out exactly what they needed,” says Goldvug. “One of our proudest achievements is that we managed to build an entirely new product using Calypso’s existing technology stack.”

All of this was done over the course of a year, says Goldvug. Given the size and scope of the project, such a tight deadline put pressure on the Bank-in-a-Box team, and managing to stick to this timeline is one of their biggest achievements, he says.

“The team had full creative freedom to do what it took to get the product off the ground,” says Goldvug. “For us it’s a game changer, partly because of the way we developed it. By consulting so closely with clients, we were able to develop a partnership on how to standardise business workflows.”

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