Issue 11 2019

8 CEO MONTHLY / ISSUE 11 2019 , RiskFirst : 10 years of shaking-up pensions and investment RiskFirst is amarket-leading fintech company that is revolutionising riskmanagement in the global pensions and investments markets with pioneering risk analytics and reporting solutions. In the year of the company’s 10th anniversary, being recognised as providing the UK’s Most Reputable Risk Reporting Solution by CEOMonthly is testament to its huge impact on the industry over the past decade. Here, CEOMatthew Seymour discusses what makes RiskFirst unique, its commitment to enhancing the industry and why 2019 has been one of RiskFirst’s most exciting years to date. RiskFirst has come a long way since its initial product, PFaroe DB, was launched in 2009 to transform asset and liability risk management in the defined benefit (DB) pensions industry. In an industry known for infrequent analysis and opaque and reporting – which left it out-of- step with modern standards of corporate governance – PFaroe’s real-time and online nature was truly ground-breaking. Indeed, the press release at the time of the launch included a prophetic quote from the CEO of one of PFaroe’s earliest beta customers: “In a few years’ time we will ask ourselves how we ever managed without a tool like this.” Fast-forward ten years and so it has played out. Under the leadership of Matthew Seymour, who was appointed CEO in 2016 after seven years at the company, RiskFirst’s reputation and client base has swelled – so much so that its world-class technology is now the industry standard for UK and US asset owners and consultants. Over 3000 pension plans with more than US$1.4 trillion in assets are now modelled on PFaroe. The company’s client list includes household names such as Mercer, USS, Northern Trust, XPS Pensions Group, NEPC, PNC, Transamerica and Vanguard. PFaroe: a unique, market- leading solution RiskFirst’s success can be attributed to its unwavering commitment to solving industry problems: unlike other asset management technology products, which focus exclusively on the needs of portfolio/asset managers, PFaroe centres upon the needs and objectives of the asset owner. This means that not only is asset performance addressed, but asset managers can also analyse cross-balance sheet risk using tools such as ‘what if’ scenario stress-testing; while optimisation analysis allows them to design solutions that maximise the likelihood that the assets ultimately meet the asset owner’s liabilities. Seymour knows what it takes to create a successful fintech. Prior to RiskFirst, he co-owned FundWorks, a globally-leading fintech servicing the investment management industry with 30 blue chip clients across seven offices and 90 staff. FundWorks was sold to Kurtosys in 2009 (and Seymour moved on to RiskFirst). “Core to our ethos is ensuring all of our products have an eye on the ‘ultimate goal’, the asset owners’ true objective,” explains Seymour. “This harks back to our heritage of producing technology for asset owners and continues to prove of great value to consultants and asset managers, providing the unique ability to bring together all of those parties engaged in the process. It genuinely changes the way the various parts of the chain work together, for the good of the asset owner.” PFaroe, free from legacy constraints, was built from the ground-up as a cross- balance sheet asset and liability management tool. It provides a level of understanding of the overall position of a plan or portfolio that cannot be matched by similar tools that are asset- focused tools with a liability add- on, or vice versa. This is particularly important in today’s complex landscape, where evolving regulations, an increased focus on de-risking strategies, combined with more options and freedoms on the liability side and a greater variety of alternatives on the asset side, are making risk management particularly challenging. By connecting assets and liabilities, stakeholders can access a holistic understanding of risk, helping them to effectively structure portfolios and implement optimised solutions. Furthermore, PFaroe’s delivery of information in real-time – as well as its live ‘what if’ functionality – is nothing short of a game- changer, enabling pension plans and asset managers to react more quickly to market changes. PFaroe’s ability to undertake effective modelling and scenario planning are particularly important due to the growing market emphasis on contingency planning – further fuelled by Brexit – and the need for pension funds to have a more robust financial plan in place given increasing market complexity. Being able to undertake effective modelling and scenario planning Aug19071