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Cloud-based Solutions for the Financial Services Industry The Athene Group, LLC

sanjeev-kumar-ceo-athene-group

Businesses in the 21st century arefunctioning in an entirely new reality. The contemporary technology is briskly changing the way enterprises operate. The onset and confluence of enterprise mobility with Cloud Computing, Big Data Analytics and Social Media are defining new dimensions for the way businesses function. Enterprises have to acknowledge and adapt to the way employees and customers connect and vehemently get involved for fulfilling business objectives and attaining enterprise goals in shorter time frames than ever before. These are challenging times even for modern enterprises, as they are required to immediately react and get accustomed to fast changing industry landscapes.

Innovative and forward-thinking technology companies have introduced industry-focused cloud based solutions and related services. One such company is The Athene Group, which has an extensive experience in helping organizations leverage cloud solutions to solve business problems. Athene was founded by Sanjeev Kumar and Kripa Shetty in 2001, with sincere goals of helping Clients with innovative solutions built on newer technologies. Sanjeev is currently the President and CEO of Athene, while Kripa is the Chief Operating Officer.

Athene is an organization built on the foundation of strong customer relationships. The firm was started small, and has grown consistently on a complete organic basis over the years. Most of this growth has been achieved through business based on client and partner referrals – a testimonial to Athene’s commitment to quality of work, and focus on building long lasting relationships.The company is headquartered at Herndon VA, and also has operations in UK and India. Athene is a technology services firm that specializes in Cloud-based CRM solution implementations. The firm has assisted hundreds of organizations in achieving successes and business growth via CRM product implementations. Spread across a spectrum of industry verticals including Financial Services, Retail, Health Care, Pharmaceuticals and others, these renowned successes have earned Athene a trusted partner status with its clients.

Athene got its first opportunity, the very day it was founded, from a multinational insurance company. “Successful delivery of a solution on that opportunity resulted in the client providing us with additional opportunities. Word started to spread about Athene’s success and its sincere approach, and the momentum started to build up. We focussed on developing word of mouth and professional references,” expresses Sanjeev.

The steady growth has resulted in Athene being not just a cloud technology service provider, but a leading cloud solution provider for the Wealth Management industry. Athene’s experience in the Wealth Management industry led Sanjeev and his team to think about creating a Cloud-based Books and Records solution, in 2006. This was the beginning of what is currently known as Skience. Today, Skience is used by thousands of Wealth Management professionals on a daily basis to manage their Books and Records. Skience launched its first client in 2008, followed by the addition of two other large Broker Dealers as subscribers shortly thereafter.

“Currently, Athene adds at least one new subscribing firm every week to its Skience platform. And till date, not a single client has unsubscribed from Skience,” Sanjeev states confidently. Over the years, Athene has helped hundreds of organizations, ranging from the Fortune 100 to smaller firms, leverage cloud based solutions to solve a spectrum of business challenges. Additionally, Athene has helped organizations understand and deploy the best practices related to cloud solutions.

Delivers Services Enhancing Business Trends
Athene’s services are marketed in North America, Europe and now in Asia. Skience as a product is primarily focused on the US. The organization started its India operations in 2004 to support its US business. The India unit has played a vital role in the development of Skience, and its services business. Efforts are currently underway to begin operations in at least one more Asian business hub in 2015. Athene is also considering tailoring Skience to meet the needs of other regional markets.
Athene’s current portfolio of services includes:

– Cloud-based technology product implementation services
– CRM Roadmap Definition
– Business Analysis and Process definition/Reengineering
– Technology Architecture Development
– Development and QA
– Salesforce CRM Implementation
– Salesforce Platform Solution Development
– CRM Product Training
– Mobile Application Development
– Social Strategy Development
– Social Monitoring/Marketing/Servicing in combination with Salesforce

The Skience product offers the following features to the Wealth Management industry in the US:
– Prebuilt Books and Records solution in compliance with 17A-3 and 17A-4 regulatory requirements – either as a standalone application or on top of a Salesforce solution
– Data Aggregation – across more than 200 sources (Custodians, Clearing Firms, Transfer Agencies, Third Party Solutions, etc.)
– Prebuilt integration with market-leading third party products in the industry
– Straight-through Processing features with select Custodians for New Accounts

Tell something about the ‘long lived’ journey of Athene since inception.
Athene has had an interesting journey since inception till today. Athene was founded at the end of 2001, with just a few hundred dollars. This was at the beginning of the technology industry downturn in the US. Growing consistently through those tough years, Athene today has over 150 resources and operates in three continents.

Sanjeev says “We have been grateful to our clients and employees for such growth, achieved completely organically. There have been countless instances of personal sacrifices made to honor commitments and to ensure that the Clients’ goals are achieved. Despite such demanding circumstances, our team has stuck together and achieved several successes and accolades. The fact that Athene’s growth has been primarily through word of mouth references, and has been achieved without sales efforts, speaks highly of the value that it offers its clients. We take the pride in developing business in the US without making/sending a single unsolicited phone call/email. And we are proud also of the fact that we have an extremely low employee churn rate. It has been a tough journey, but it has also been a very rewarding and fulfilling experience. It has been made very enjoyable, primarily by the people that we have worked with, in Athene and in our Client organizations. I would not want to trade this experience for anything else!”

How is The Athene Group positioned in the current market scenario? Athene has been assisting companies implement cloud-based solutions for about a decade now. Given the accelerated demand for such solutions, we have been experiencing consistent growth over the last few years. Having experienced Athene’sbest year in 2014, we are currently focused on turning 2015 into a remarkably transformational year for Athene.We are already in the midst of several strategic initiatives for our existing and new clients. Resources are being added to our team at various levels to support growth. Our management is confident that it will be able to establish Athene as a highly trusted solution provider amongst its clients. (Sanjeev says excitedly) How does the present market landscape appear to you?

Nowadays, organizations are embracing cloud-based solutions at an unprecedented pace. Eventually, the need for experienced solution providers and system integrators with proven methodology and successes is higher than ever before. Our niche experience in creating cloud-based solutions, and helping financial services organizations embrace cloud technologies, positions Athene in a small list of companies that offer proven, trustworthy assistance in this space, states Sanjeev.

What makes Athene different from others in the market scenario?

Apart from offering quality services for a reasonable price, Athene’s management strongly believes in sincerely performing what is right for the clients and employees. Employees are instructed to ignore the financial equations and always do what is right for the clients. The philosophy is that the numbers take care of themselves, when the entire team is doing the right thing. This approach has led to a very low employee churn rate, and a perfect track record in terms of client references.

Propagating Success Universally
Athene’s success and reputation led Oracle to add Athene as a partner to its cloud-based CRM product implementation partners list. Athene delivered successful implementations repeatedly, and established itself as a top partner in the ecosystem. Several of Oracle’s big subscribers leveraged Athene’s services to support their deployments and maintenance. Athene was the recipient of the Titan Award (the most prestigious award handed out by Oracle to its partners) for its work in the Financial Services industry in 2011. Athene diversified its portfolio of services by establishing a Salesforce practice and offering services related to implementing Salesforce CRM and Platform modules. Athene also re-developed its Skience product on the Salesforce platform, which enabled Wealth Management firms to receive CRM and Books & Records features in a single solution. Skience has been termed by several industry experts as the most mature Wealth Management solution in the Salesforce ecosystem today.

Even though Athene’s primary focus is on the Financial Services industry, its services division works with Clients from several other industries, including multi-national Fortune 500 firms in theRetail, Pharmaceuticals, Travel & Transportation, Health Care, and other industries.

Revenue Model
Cloud technology services and Skience form Athene’s two business units. The first unit focuses primarily on Cloud-based CRM Product Implementation Services, especially for the Financial Services Industry. The second unit focuses on developing, implementing and supporting Skience. While the first business unit generates its revenues from the services performed, the second business unit generates subscription revenue from the product.

Just around the Corner Athene intends to establish itself as one of the top five service providers related to Cloud-based technologies in the Financial Services industry. Additionally, Athene plans to maintain and enhance Skience as the most mature Wealth Management solution in the Salesforce ecosystem. In regards to this, is the fact that Skience offers a broader set of features and integrations compared to its general competition. It is not a surprise that both parts of Athene have seen significant growth rate over the last two years, and are looking at much higher, accelerated growth in 2015. To support these goals, the firm has planned several tasks in areas of Product Development, Marketing, Services team expansions, regional/geographical expansions and strategic hires.

“We are very conscious of our founding principles, operating philosophy and ethics. Athene intends not to compromise on any of these aspects, as it plans to grow further and meet its goals,” concludes Sanjeev.

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