The Silicon Review
Trading goods and commodities is as old as humankind. What's changed, however, is the speed at which new commodity markets and segments emerge and mature. The market has changed from a classic B2B to a competitive openly traded commodity market. The impact it had on the commodity players, especially the asset players is huge. The resulting price transparency leads to an erosion of market premiums, and opportunities to arbitrage start to deteriorate but not vanish. Those phenomena can be seen across all commodity markets—energy, oil, metal, and agriculture. Nevertheless, it’s still possible to extract value from prevailing market imperfections. Also, in mature markets, it’s possible to benefit from trading opportunities as long as players understand how to leverage their competitive edge. Players entering a traded commodity market, or a market that’s become more competitive, need to identify how to create value as well as tailor a suitable operational platform that matches their trading approach. This is where Aspect has created its identity.
A one-in-all approach to business
1999 marked the beginning of a new era. It was the year when a new technology took over the industry, deploying software applications through the web– Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) delivery model. Aspect, a company that delivers commodity trading and risk management software, was established in the very same year as a cloud company, when web-based solutions were not widely accepted. Emerged out as a leader in the global provider of cloud commodity trade, risk management and market data solutions, it offers one-password access for users to perform pre-trade analysis and trade, risk and operations management in one system. It aggregates the data from commodity exchanges and commodity-related news sources in real time and inquires into the future of market growth thus enabling the trading firms to take the right decisions with regard to the buying and selling of commodities. The technology is handy and easy to use as it does not involve any software to install or any hardware to manage. With specializations in Energy, Metals & Commodities Trading and Risk Management, Market Data & Analytics, it continues to rule the commodity trading industry.
“Convenient, one-password access and straight-through-processing (STP) provides a seamless transfer of market prices used to price trades and update P&L, removing the risk of manual entry errors and missed price corrections.”
Volatile markets drive the need for technology and oversight
Trading companies will always need a solution to manage their risks in volatile markets and that’s exactly where Aspect fits in. 17 years ago Aspect’s business was primarily with oil trading companies, in a mature and traditional market sector that has been slower to adopt cloud technology than other industries. Fast-forward to now, and Aspect’s early vision for on-demand software online is fully adopted, and has expanded its business to broader commodities markets, including metals, steel, biofuels, coal and agriculture. The company has surmounted a global financial recession in its later phase and has witnessed ebb and flow in oil prices which has impacted many companies’ ability to invest in technology. Crude oil prices have raised to top $147bbl at its high in 2008, fell sharply in the same year, and has now settled at just $47bbl. The commodity trading industry is under tremendous pressure right now with shrinking lines of credit, regulatory changes and the ultra-low price of many commodities. But with its CTRM solution, Aspect’s vision for affordable technology is paying off through cloud solutions, which can cost only 1/3 of traditional software and hardware systems of the past.
The Aspect Family
With a small group of talented and aspiring employees, Aspect offers room for growth to each of its employees both professionally as well as personally. It has around 105 staff spread across the globe, and deploys the latest technologies which include latest software and tools in Human Resources, Sales, Marketing and Development. This can in fact help the team to know about the recent developments in technology and fill them with skill sets that are required to survive the competition. Also employees are free to take the right decision with regard to the roles assigned to them. This gives them autonomy in work related decisions and offers room for growth.
Steve Hughes’ vision for the future for Aspect
Aspect CEO Steve Hughes says,“We see Aspect as the leader in commodities trade and risk management software. We’ve risen into this position about three years ago, and expect to maintain it, and continue to grow both organically and through acquisition. We’re in a good position to expand our footprint across commodities. Trading companies will always need a solution to manage their risk in volatile markets, Aspect likes being in its current position and has the people, technology and vision to stay on top.”
Guide, Mentor and the CEO
Steve Hughes has led Aspect from a start-up software specialist in the oil industry to the leader in cloud-delivered solutions for multiple commodities. Steve’s software expertise continues to spearhead Aspect’s continued annual growth as a top technology platform which has helped create a new paradigm for the way commodities trading companies select ETRM/CTRM software. Aspect’s successful evolution to a leading global solution is fueled by Steve’s business prowess and years of experience in software which includes: CEO of Carnegie Information Systems, a provider of highly customizable CRM software solutions; Vice President of International Operations of Europe for YOUcentric, which was purchased by J D Edwards (since acquired by Peoplesoft, now Oracle). Prior to YOUcentric, Steve served on the management teams at POINT Informations Systems, Seer Technologies and Legent Corporation.