The world of finance is an extremely complicated one. The rules and regulations that govern the international financial markets are understood by a select few. Most people have difficulty in keeping up with the labyrinth of financial instruments. While some individuals handle their own investments or financial planning, the majority consult a professional such as a mutual fund investor or a money manager.
A pertinent problem in finance is access to relevant information across institutions. A company called, Ninth Wave was founded to tackle this problem. Following the global economic crisis of 2008, several regulations were introduced which enforced greater transparency in the financial markets. This presented an enormous market opportunity for Ninth Wave. Ninth Wave is a spinoff from Enterprise Engineering, Inc (EEI), an industry-leading software and IT consultancy serving the world’s largest Financial Institutions and premier wealth managers.
In conversation with the Founder of Ninth Wave, George Anderson
Q. Why was the company set up? How have you managed the company’s offerings?
Ninth Wave was formed to take advantage of huge changes in the market around Open Banking and regulatory initiatives such as Section 1033 of the Dodd-Frank Act. The focus of these regulations is the right of the consumer to access information, more specifically, financial information. Ninth Wave was founded to be “The globe’s financial data supply chain.” Our vision is to enable a “hyper-connected universal standard for access to financial data.”
As a spinoff of EEI, Ninth Wave has enabled expansion of its product line to support US Based Financial Services’ products including consumer banking, loan accounts, business banking, bill payment & presentment, brokerage accounts, trust accounts, health & education savings accounts, ESOP’s, Retirement products, and US Based Tax forms.
As a result of our broad support for financial products, our customer list includes major commercial banks, retirement services companies, wealth managers, government agencies, services providers and other institutions.
Q. What were the initial challenges that you faced?
The biggest challenge initially was getting financial institutions to open the door to a small startup. The big banks, for instance, have large vendor management organizations. They also have very stringent due diligence processes and will try to commoditize anything a newer company can bring to the table. In recent years this has gotten easier. However, the challenge here will ebb and flow with economic cycles.
Peers should not underestimate the challenge of getting in the door and getting through contract processes and requirements. Other challenges include employee hiring, retention, and benefits along with insurance coverage for all types of operations as well.
Q. Please tell us about your company’s first project?
Our first software project was with one of the top private banks in the world. Given the customer name and market clout, we obviously could not afford to fail. One of the largest challenges was not to be intimidated; we had to manage the client if we were going to be successful.! Clearly defining the scope of work and the critical success factors was the key to managing the client and keeping them focused. We provided a leading platform for data aggregation of internal financial data at a lower cost point and in a shorter time frame than any other competitor.
Q. Do you believe that a culture of sustainability is important for an organization’s reputation?
Absolutely! We believe this to be true for all companies if they are to have ongoing success. Building a culture of responsibility, accountability, empowerment, and sustainability is required for longevity. The team needs to feel included and valued, and that their work is important to the success of the firm. One of our mantras is: “If you are not moving ahead, you are falling behind!”
Q. How do you maintain the attribute of trust with your employees?
The basis for trust comes back to the overall reputation of a firm, and its leaders. Are the firm and its leaders trustworthy? Do they live up to their end of the bargain, with customers? With partners? With employees? Trust is good for morale and motivation. It fosters teamwork. Regular communications and consistent expectations regarding the team and individual performance are critical. Also, if change is constantly required to lead, then trust is required to overcome a sometimes natural aversion to change.
Q. How has the feedback from customers influenced your company’s offerings?
A client feedback loop is necessary to achieve long-term success. An organization that listens to its customers and adapts according to their requirements is the one that survives in the long run. Their responses and feedback should motivate you to shape your offerings for them, as well as the broader market. One factor to add - we do not build features based on feedback from one customer. If a feature is valuable to our entire user base, we will add it and create a better overall offering for our consumers.
Q. If you had to list five factors as the biggest asset to your organization, what would they be?
The first would be persistence… closely coupled with an absolute refusal to fail, EVER.
Beyond that, our position as an industry leader, an experienced management team, award-winning software, and a client list of blue-chip companies.
These factors have proven to be very strong for us in terms of customer acquisition, customer retention, and the ability to attract the employee base we need to keep moving forward.
Q. Where do you see your company a couple of years down the road?
Change is the only constant.
We see Ninth Wave becoming the globe’s financial data supply chain. This means connecting people to their money in the most secure ways possible. It enables them to use their tools of choice to manage their financial well being, and in turn achieve better overall outcomes.
We will be a strong advocate of consumers’ rights to access their own financial data and to provide that data to trusted third parties. We will facilitate data access in the safest and most secure way possible.
Meet the visionary founder of Ninth wave
Ninth Wave was founded by George Anderson, a technology leader and visionary with over 25 years of industry experience. Prior to Ninth Wave, George was the founder and CEO of Enterprise Engineering, Inc. (EEI), delivering software and services to Fortune 500 institutions. Under his leadership, Ninth Wave and its solutions have garnered over 25 awards for innovation, quality, and performance.