Connecting the Dots to Drive Data Value for Financial Services

It’s no secret that the data we generate has increased exponentially.

High volumes of data are tricky to manage but when used intelligently, data can reveal insights that deliver significant value for businesses and inform decision making.

This is particularly true for the financial industry, which processes a significant amount of data, much of which is also sensitive and subject to General Data Protection Regulation and other legislation.

Despite a complex landscape, with the right systems and right partners in place, data and analytics can help to improve businesses by accelerating revenue and mitigating risk.

Dun & Bradstreet’s UK Managing Director Edward Thorne recently sat down with Vishal Marria, CEO of Quantexa to discuss how data can be used to identify vital connections, drive value and support the fight against financial crime.

Edward: Why do you think so many businesses struggle to manage data effectively?

Vishal: We’re in a digital revolution today, and in years to come this is going to be a pivotal time in people's careers, ways of working, and ways of going to market. Previously, many organisations were collecting data. Now, being able to make sense of this data is the heart of the problem. Just having data doesn't necessarily mean you’re able to provide better insights.

Organisations have had this challenge for a number of years. But I think advancements in technology – both in terms of scale and platforms available – can solve this. We’re now in a place where we can fundamentally change the way we do business.

Edward: Customers are re-examining the way they use data and how they use technology to drive value. Quantexa seems like it's well placed and right in the middle of this – could you tell me more?

Vishal: Quantexa came about from the challenges I saw first-hand when working with some of the largest banks in the world. Challenges like better understanding their customers so they can make more informed decisions when it comes tackling financial crime, or even prospecting.

I found that clients needed to align a number of different data sources together – both internally, and externally. This was the only way they could understand the full context of their customers. But this created a number of different challenges. Disparate data is inherently unconnected. Our mission is to join the dots and help clients see the big picture across all their data. We really want to focus on helping clients manage their data by providing the context they need to make better decisions – whether that be around operational efficiency, growth, or mitigating risk.

Edward: Let’s track back to the regulatory environment, money laundering, and financial crime. Obviously, money laundering is a huge issue in the UK, with an estimated £90 billion laundered each year. Money laundering, of course, enables all kinds of criminal activity – everything from terrorism to human trafficking. I know this is a subject you’re passionate about, so it would be great to hear your views on businesses’ roles in preventing this.

Vishal: The consequences of getting money laundering controls wrong are eye-watering. Money laundering facilitates sex trafficking, wildlife crime, terrorism, and more much. When you don’t have effective controls, it allows bad actors to pocket their ill-gotten gains. Human trafficking is particularly horrific. As a society, we need to raise the awareness. Even things such as buying fake watches are fuelling the industry by placing dirty money into criminals’ hands.

Edward: So what would you advise businesses do?

Vishal: Well as I’ve said, our work includes helping partners connect data silos together. We can then surface insights and give them to law enforcement agencies to help catch criminals. As part of Quantexa, I've invested in a number of different initiatives with our clients and partners, so we can put better controls in place. It all comes down to the data, and piecing together information to drive intelligence. We’re trying to do everything to fight these criminal activities.

Edward: I think we both have roles to play – for Dun and Bradstreet as a data provider and Quantexa as a technology provider – to help businesses combat this.

Vishal: I agree, we can’t do this in isolation. Data companies, tech providers, consulting firms, large and small financial institutions, the vendor community… we all need to come together. No matter whether it be the private sector or public sector – we all need to collaborate. It’s time to put our differences aside and start solving the problem.

Edward: You help businesses in both their defensive and offensive strategy. Defensive in terms of focusing on mitigation of regulatory risk. And from an offensive perspective, your solutions are also being used to better identify growth opportunities. Can you tell me more?

Vishal: I’m a big football fan, so the use of the words defence and offence seems apt. Getting your defence tight is so important. No matter how many goals you score up front, if you've got a leaky backline, you’ll lose the game. So as a business, you need to make understanding the risk and putting controls in place a fundamental part of how you operate. But that’s not the entire story. We all need to increase our top line. Investing in controls is vital. But we have to make money for our investors and for our people. So we need to understand top line growth.

Once you've got those controls in place, being able to sweat those assets is key. How can you monetise those assets upstream to use it in things like prospecting, marketing, and go-to-market? Fundamentally it comes back to data and content. If I can tell you who your high-risk clients are, then on the flip-side, I can also tell you who your good clients are. I can tell you who your clients with a strong ecosystem are – so you’ll know to target them. I can also look outward and identify the prospects you’re not working with that you should be.