FinoComp Focus – Alan Kan

Alan relocated from Hong Kong to Wollongong during the lockdown.  Here he talks us through his journey to joining FinoComp, his first impressions of the business and… Kubernetes!

Alan Kan

The journey to joining the business was certainly eventful.  With travel very much restricted we bought our airline tickets to Sydney four months in advance, even then it was not easy gaining entry to Australia.  The country at the time (and still now) has strict entry requirements with a limited quota for how many sponsored workers (like me) they would allow in.  Fortunately, we had all our required paperwork (Leanne at FinoComp had been incredibly helpful getting this sorted for us) and we were ready to go.  Our flight to Sydney however was amended by the airline to be a flight to Melbourne instead! Once here, and due to the outbreak and lockdown that Melbourne was experiencing we were required to do extra compulsory quarantine in our apartment.

Having arrived in the country on the 27th January, by late February I was settled in and ready to start with the business.

For me this was the first time I had been out of my country, having always worked in Hong Kong.   I was attracted by the western culture, the opportunity to work in another country and the exciting role offered at FinoComp. The job spec was a perfect match to my skill set and experience.  I liked the fact there was a huge focus on quality of delivery, drilling down to ask more “why” questions instead of “what” questions. They also provided me with a surprise welcome pack full of Australian goodies, my favourite of which was the vegemite spread!

As a software engineer my background and experience is in Kubernetes .  Kubernetes is the software used to manage and orchestrate microservices. It provides a consistent way to ensure the microsesrvices are working as expected.  With FinoComp being at the forefront of development and deployment of microservices in the wealth management world, I was excited to be part of the team working with them on this.

Microservices architecture offers scalability and resiliency.  It delivers specific pieces of functionality in component parts. In order to work efficiently, or to work at all, you need to have a  consistent and automated way to manage their lifecycles.  Having Kubernetes is like sustainable growth when trying to extend your application.

As well as working at the forefront of financial services technology what I really like about the business is the respect that they have for staff, we are allowed to do something makes sense for us and for the company – working from home.  I am not required to come to the office for x% of time, but instead, the business is full very dynamic people working in different places in that way I feel FinoComp take care of our feelings, providing flexibility but ensuring that dynamic communication is not sacrificed.

I enjoy the work /life balance that my new job provides and like the weather and the beach here in Australia.  This for me has been an extraordinary experience, having never worked in other country, the people at  FinoComp have  incredibly supportive, helping me to understand the culture and country of Australia better.  Whilst I have been very much focusing on work and settling in,  I am now keen to get out and discover more about what the country and has to offer.

What is Kubernetes?
Kubernetes (also known  as K8s with the number eight representing the number of letters between the “K” and the “s”) is an open source system to deploy, scale, and manage containerized applications anywhere.
Ref Google Learn.

Life In Lockdown – Ben Keogh

Ben Keogh

I am a Service Delivery Consultant, based in London. My role entails a range of responsibilities, including (but not limited to) first-line support of our products, (“pseudo”) understanding of code, data analysis etc., as well as project management and the delivery and implementation of our software to client environments. Essentially, I am responsible for troubleshooting and resolving issues encountered by our clients and working with both the client and internal departments to ensure they’re pushed through to resolution. It is a fulfilling role as no day tends to be the same and it allows me to gain broader knowledge of our products and the industry in which we operate.

 How long have you been at FinoComp, and what made you want to join? 

I have recently passed my third year here at FinoComp. Having heard about FinoComp, I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of the business. They were (and still are) an innovative business with a great ethos and direction, making noise and movement in the industry. I also liked the fact that it was smaller company which enabled me to develop strong relationships with the people around me and get to grips with the inner workings of the business which is perhaps less easy to achieve when  part of a bigger company.

How has lockdown been for you? How has it impacted your day-to-day work and interaction with you FinoComp colleagues both in the UK and Australia?  

I think the lockdowns have been challenging for everyone, but I count myself one of the lucky ones. I have a job, and one that I enjoy. I worked from home for the most part prior to the pandemic, so I’m relatively used to it. Personally I find working from home to be more efficient – I can start earlier and finish later if needed; there are less distractions; and you can avoid the “space invaders” on the crowded commutes. However, for me, there is a fine line between “working from home” and “living at work” so you need to ensure you draw a line and separate the two, pack up your makeshift office at the end of the day, and get out of the house. Walking and cycling have played a big part in maintaining my sanity during this time!

As weird as it might sound, there is a global commonality that has come from the pandemic and people tend to check in more than before. We are all in similar boats right now and as a result, I think it has actually enhanced some of my work relationships, especially with my antipodean colleagues.

 As we emerge from Lockdown is there anything about the changes that have been implemented that you would like to see remain?  What are you glad to see go?

There is a general consensus that working from home has been a positive shift for a lot of people. Perhaps selfishly I would like to see this stay, although perhaps not full time as it can be good to have some face-to-face interaction with your colleagues and clients every once in a while!

I will be glad to see the back of travel restrictions and social distancing. A lot of my friends and family are outside of London. As much as I love being in London, it will be good to get out and visit people that I haven’t seen for a long time.

What are you most excited to do once Lockdown is lifted?  I am looking forward to seeing and hugging my family and friends. I can’t wait to go on holiday and maybe most importantly, have a beer inside a pub!

Life in Lockdown – 2020 has been a tough year!

We at FinoComp started the year with the catastrophic Australian bush fires that came within 20 kms of our Jamberoo Office. Later in the year it was floods. Then we, like the world, had to endure the impacts of COVID-19, the worst global pandemic in a century. We have all been challenged this year with lockdown, isolation, remote working and ensuring our metal health. It has been a year that we will all want to forget but it will be a year that we will all remember vividly.

It is the grim times like 2020 that bring out the best in the human spirit. The resilience shown by our staff and our clients to carry on with the job while the world was in the grips of this pandemic has been extraordinary.

There are many things that stand out to me:

  • Our ability to move to remote working overnight was sensational and the ability to maintain development velocity admirably;
  • We have managed to grow our workforce, including the onboarding staff both locally and from abroad throughout the pandemic;
  • Our management and HR team have had constant focus on everyone’s wellbeing and been so innovative around ensuring communication and interaction, albeit remotely. We again won the local Workplace culture awards in recognition of this wonderful work;
  • Tough times brings out that sense of community, compassion and charity. This has happened in spades this year and we have contributed to various charities including our local fire team, our local emergency service workers and in funding campaigns to deal with the local problems of suicide amongst our youth;
  • Our clients have worked collaboratively with us through this year and, while not all projects went ahead as planned, we were able to make some very significant product upgrades and have commenced on some very important product directions;
  • Our parent company Bravura Solutions have been so supportive during this period and have really focused on aligning our group strategy, integrating FinoComp into the group and, as great tech companies do, funded strategic research and development. This will stand us in excellent stead coming out of the COVID clouds.
FinoComp 2020 – Our year in review

As the year comes to a close we see green shoots of hope with vaccines and confidence starting to appear. Our sincere hope is that we get back to some kind of normality (although normality will be different after COVID). We will come out of this with a larger team, an improved technology base, and with new products that will make next year stronger than ever.

Sincere thanks to all of our staff for their stoic determination and to all our customers for their continued support for 2020.

Ray Tubman – MD FinoComp

Life In Lockdown – An award winning business culture

How we as a business adapted to lockdown.

When the business went into lockdown, the decision to work from home was made on Monday and by Tuesday everyone was working remotely, it was a seamless process.  We have always been very flexible and open with our working from home policy and we have an ethos that our staff can start and finish at times suitable for them, in-order to manage their work life balance.

Vitual PT

We offer group fitness training sessions twice a week which was being held in the local park. These were set up as a method of supporting staff health and well-being. Moving these sessions  to remote zoom sessions was very well received and the sessions continued to be well attended, not only here in Australia, but also our UK staff members were for the first time now also able to join in.

Having everyone working from home did mean people were more conscious of collaboration. When people are working face to face in the office, they take advantage of the fact that their teams are at the desks next to them with the ability to catch up easily. In order to support this, we made a conscious effort to check in on everyone frequently to make sure they were okay.

Recruitment and on-boarding process

During this period of lockdown we also continued our recruitment.  Traditionally much of our interview and on-boarding process was done face to face, but we were quickly able to adapt and move this all online.


All of our new joiners receive a signed welcome e-card from their team members.  As this was done in KudoBoard format it meant that everyone could post pictures or upload photos as well as leaving welcome messages. Again, the fact that our UK staff could also get involved and leave messages meant that this format worked well for us across the entire business.  This was a lot of fun and really helped to make people feel welcome. When people are starting out in a new job they normally are greeted with smiling faces in the office on their first day, now in the days of the Covid home office, we really  wanted to do something to make all new joiners feel welcome.

We also sent out welcome packs to everyone who joined us during this time.These were full of the goodies you might normally have access to in the office such as coffee, tea, biscuits, lollies and hand sanitiser as well as our FinoComp merchandise.

It was also important to reassess our on-boarding processes.  Normally we would buddy people up when they first start, this was now more challenging because of the lack of human interaction. We came up with a number of ideas around our formal sessions, changing what we did and when we did it, as well as a new live project idea.  This enabled new starters in their first week to submit code to a dummy project, this allowed them to come up to speed on how we do things before they start working on real-life code. Involving the scrum masters, product owners and instigating a virtual buddy system did mean we were able to support our new staff as much as we could in these new and unusual circumstances.

Keeping our culture alive (remotely)

We are very conscious of the impact that Covid and subsequent home working had on the socialising aspect of work, for example the kitchen conversations and the usual day to day office chit-chat that takes place.  We were keen to put a focus on that and find ways for virtual social contact that would involve all our staff. 

We started Tuesday Trivia, a hotly contested weekly competition incorporating ten rounds of trivia, conducted over email. We also ran a guess the employee from their baby picture as well as a charity charades session, and online games such as  a lolly guessing competition and Scattergories.  .


Our monthly RUMBA sessions (Recognitions, Updates, Milestones, Birthdays and Anniversaries)  continue to be a popular and an effective method of keeping staff involved.  Here, again in a remote format, team leaders and managers will provide business updates, celebrate achievements, and recognise milestones and birthdays.  The birthday wheel is a highlight of these sessions!  Spinning the wheel, staff are offered the opportunity to win small prizes such as pens, gift voucher and movie tickets, “boobie prizes” are also included. 


These Rumba sessions also offer a great way for new starters to introduce themselves to the teams.  They come up with five multiple choice questions about themselves and then everyone tries to guess the correct answer; these are always a bit of fun.

We use Slack frequently have channels such as #FinoChomp to share our baking pictures, #COVID 19 and #FinoDogs.  Our teams are encouraged to use these communications channels not only for work related topics but also for a bit of fun and to stay connected to their colleagues.

Finally, we have also instigated more formal one-on-one catch ups with myself and our Operations Director David Dodds.  These take place on a bi-monthly basis and offer the opportunity for two-way feedback on performance as well as checking in with how they are doing.

There is no doubt these have been challenging times. We are pleased that during lockdown we were able to recruit and onboard eleven new FinoComp team members and are still actively recruiting for developer roles.  We are absolutely delighted to have been recognised for our workplace culture at the recent IMB Illawarra Business Awards and are always on the look out for feedback and new and innovative ways to invigorate and engage our team members.

Stay safe everyone.

Leanne Isabella – Head of HR FinoComp

From Fintern to Software Developer – Amelia lee

The American author Doug Cooper once said: “a major life decision is never a choice but rather a realisation that the decision has already been made.” When I applied to a software development internship in August 2018, I certainly didn’t realise what a major decision I was making! I joined FinoComp in their first intake of “Finterns” over the summer of 2018-2019. That’s a story of happy coincidences and following my gut even when my head said: “Amelia, you know nothing about finance and you barely know how to code.” If you want to read the full story of how a Mathematics student stumbled into a careers exposition and landed an internship, it can be found here: 

Maths, bugs and groovy code – Amelia Lee | The FinoComp Blog
I met Ray and Leanne at the UOW Careers Expo in August 2018. I had just one and a half Java subjects up my sleeve and the world of programming was a mysterious dark cloud in my mind. They didn’t yet have an internship program set up, but they clearly had a vision and a…

When the internship finished I was buzzing with excitement about software. I’d gotten a taste of what it was like to see code come alive in real-time and I was hooked. The thought of scrapping my maths degree and asking to stay on full time was tempting

I never had an affinity with computers so I was surprised to find out how much I like coding. I think it’s because mathematics and computer science have more in common than the people in either field would have you believe. The thing I like most about both is that they provide a rigid, logical framework that you can creatively apply to a huge variety of problems. Unfortunately, not many people get excited about slick number theory proofs. On the other hand, everyone loves apps that make life easier!

Work gave me the two things I liked best about studying: learning new things and problem-solving. What I still find most rewarding about software development is that there’s a new challenge every day but you’re also building something lasting. It’s like woodwork for nerds. 

I didn’t drop out of university, but I did stay on at FinoComp part-time. No longer a Fintern, I was now a Junior Software Developer. At the end of the internship, I wrote about feelings of imposter syndrome. Those feelings resurfaced when I signed a contract with that title on it. In my head, I was still very under-qualified. After all, I was just a maths student who did an internship! Thankfully that isn’t how the team at work saw it and they helped me to wade further out of my comfort zone. I still jump at any opportunity to do the number-crunching tasks, but I’ve learnt to love the whole land of backend development.

I was still studying full time when the pandemic hit and everything went remote overnight. While the universitystruggled to restructure its courses, work transitioned quite seamlessly. FinoComp has always had a flexible working policy, so we all knew the drill. Physical whiteboards were replaced with virtual ones, coffee-break chats with Slack calls and the meeting room table with Google Hangouts. Our group trainer Steve hasn’t let our fitness slide either – we’re still working up a sweat from our living rooms! 

I miss seeing the familiar faces of my co-workers and little routines like walking down to the Jamberoo park for lunch. However, cutting out the daily commute and being able to spend more time with family have been big positives for all of us.

For me, the fear of being trapped in my apartment for months lured me back to my parent’s farm. Without all my usual activities, I rekindled my love for handstands (and for being upside down in general!) A physical hobby is a must when work is mentally challenging! 

I’ve been impressed by how the company culture has survived remote work. Everyone has put in a massive effort to check in with each other and keep communication strong. Activities like trivia and charades have kept us together even though we’ve been physically apart for almost six months.

Two other original interns and I graduated at the end of last semester. Like many of life’s big achievements, submitting that final assignment was anticlimactic, made more so by the fact that we couldn’t celebrate with our peers. Our graduations were cancelled, and we were emailed pdfs proving our new qualifications. On the day those pdfs were sent, a lovely package arrived at my doorstep. The graduation present from work was a very thoughtful, generous reminder that our achievement hadn’t gone unnoticed. 

What drew me to FinoComp originally was the people. Every developer takes pride in his or her work and is genuinely happy to help out at any opportunity. The leadership team has a passion for the industry and a strong vision. Most of all, there is mutual trust and respect that comes from building things as a team. 

I ended my last blog by writing “I can’t wait to find out where my future with FinoComp leads.” Eighteen months later I feel the same way! I’m so excited to keep following this path and to keep learning and creating new things.

Amelia Lee – Junior Software Developer, FinoComp

Agile and the remote worker: David Dodds

How do you believe the business has adapted during Covid? Have you implemented many structural changes to pivot to this new reality ? 

FinoComp has adapted brilliantly despite the impacts of Covid. Senior leadership made the call on a Monday to take the team fully remote, and it was implemented on the Tuesday. This all happened the day I returned from a UK trip. 

Without skipping a beat, the teams were up and working remotely on the Tuesday morning. We allowed staff to take their equipment home with them to ensure their home working environment was as similar as possible to the office working environment. Manty of the team picked up their office chairs and 43” monitors, maintaining their productivity, and ensuring their ergonomic health and safety. 

FinoComp has always offered staff a flexible work from home policy, so remote access to key resources was already in place prior to our decision to move to remote working. Communication options were already well established with Slack for Instant Messaging, and Google Meets for audio and video conference calling. 

Having colleagues spread across the UK and Australia, with odd times for conference calls, this also meant that FinoComp was well and truly ready to go fully remote for all staff. 

What do you feel have been the benefits of remote working ? ( for you and for the business) 

Remote working has provided a range of benefits personally and corporately. One of the first advantages is the elimination of commute time, meaning that extra bit of time to be with family, or that ability to fit that extra bit of work in, in the absence of a commute. 

Prior to full remote working, we often had some colleagues dialling into meetings from home, while the rest of the team were physically at the office. This can sometimes produce odd dynamics with a mix of presence (onsite and remote), where remote people can’t hear someone away from the microphone, or can’t see what is being drawn on the whiteboard. With all colleagues remote, those odd dynamics have been eliminated, as everyone now has a microphone, and the electronic whiteboard (or Powerpoint or Excel) is now only 30cm away from everyone’s face. 

100% remote working has improved the productivity of meetings. 

Feedback from the team suggests that productivity has not been impacted by the move to remote working. 

Personally, it means the ability to have lunch with my wife on a more regular basis, and be home when deliveries arrive 😊 

How can new business planning or brainstorming new projects/ products  continue to work effectively when being done remotely?  How is the culture kept alive? 

FinoComp culture has been kept well and truly alive. We are a close knit family, and staff generally reach out to each other on a daily basis, if just for a ‘good morning’ greeting. Our HR lead has been extremely conscientious about our culture and has arranged trivia competitions, including a live trivia event via Google Meets. We continue to hold our monthly RUMBA sessions for Recognition, Updates, Milestones, Birthdays, Anniversaries. The only thing we don’t get to do at RUMBA is to enjoy food together at the end. We still celebrate the Birthdays and Anniversaries with someone spinning the birthday chocolate wheel. 

In terms of brainstorming or planning new projects, all of our existing tools provide exactly what we need to respond to and win proposals. Because our customer base is global, we are ideally placed to be able to collaborate to propose and win a range of new deals. 

This has been evidenced through multiple wins over the last few months, which has required us to increase the size of the team. In a time when many people are losing their work, it is extremely gratifying that we are growing and providing opportunities to a range of folks who are able to join the FinoComp family. 

What communication tools have you been using and how have they helped during lockdown? 

As mentioned above, FinoComp has been using a range of communication tools for many years, given our forethought to allow people to be productive from anywhere on the planet. FinoComp uses Slack for instant messaging, Google Meets for online meetings, Google Suite for Mail and Calendar. We also uses a wide range of collaboration tools, for example, Microsoft Sharepoint for document collaboration, Atlassian Confluence for content collaboration, and Jira for work definition, tracking and allocation. 

Developers are also able to use a virtual private network (VPN) connection to gain access to development and build servers located within our facilities. 

What else has kept you busy during lockdown? 

Work has been tremendously busy with a range of new and exciting projects, so I’ve not had a lot of time for new hobbies. I have been able to find time to delve into books and recently read a great book titled A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles; a story of a man who was confined to the Metropole Hotel for political reasons. I think we can all relate to being confined lately, and I found this to be a fascinating read, and found myself sipping a snifter of Brandy/Cognac or Scotch as I read a few chapters before heading to bed. 

Life in Lockdown: The New Starter

Meet Cornelis, our new starter who joined us in April.

Cornelis was lucky enough to get on a plane before all the borders were shut, to arrive in Australia and join the FinoComp team. Not only was this a new job for Cornelis, but a new country for both him and his family; all in the midst of a global pandemic lockdown.

So with lockdown in place, and being our first employee to go through our virtual on-boarding experience, we caught up with Cornelis to find out more about him…

Tell us about your experience of joining a new business as well as moving continents whilst the world was in lockdown?

As a family we had decided to make the move from South Africa to Australia over a year ago and the plan had been set for September 2019. Once the FinoComp interviews were complete, the offer accepted and all processes were sorted out we had to move quickly. Whilst the lockdown was not yet in place, people were aware of COVID and flights were beginning to be grounded. The travel process was actually seamless – travelling through an empty airport with our temperature being checked regularly, until we arrived and were shuttled to our Airbnb. We were one of the last flights to arrive, as the next day quarantine was introduced across the country!
The time spent in self isolation went quickly and friends bought us starter packs and that took us through a week or so until our online order arrived.
The process of joining FinoComp was amazing and all done remotely, with the only thing having to do was delivering my Macbook which was all set up ready for me to start. Within the first week I had remote sessions and calls, and I couldn’t think of a better way to be introduced to the business as each person explained their position and I was able to put names to faces. I was also introduced to the development team, familiarising myself with the environment and how projects works – it’s crazy to believe that I haven’t been into the office yet as I really feel part of the team already!

What was it about FinoComp that inspired you to become part of the team?

My first impression of FinoComp was that it was a real people centric company.  I immediately had the feeling that put their employees first and that was just the company culture I was looking for.  I had seen the video promoting the work/life balance and now being part of the team, I’m delighted that this new environment I’ve found myself in was just as I had hoped. People really do enjoy their work at FinoComp.
FinoComp uses Agile teams in software development with a huge emphasis placed on this.
Exercises classes are offered virtually twice a week if we wish, and whilst this is not something that would make me join the company, it definitely shows their work/life ethos and feels relaxed. It’s such a great place to be in with a lively open business culture.
From a developer side, they use a lot of the tools that I’m interested in, and I like the agile process that they use with small teams of five to eight people, prioritising tickets. For me, this is such a productive method of working.

What does the role “Full Stack Developer” involve and how does Software Engineering as a degree prepare you for this?

In the software world, the front end, normally a website, which is the user interface is connected to a backend server with code running to either the business or the cloud.  This in turn is connected to a datebase.  A full stack developer means experience in all three environments and was something I was always interested in. I like problem solving which is why Software Engineering was the ideal degree.   This degree I felt was not so much about what you learn, but how you approach and solve problems, which I believe is what engineering teaches you. It speaks for itself that in this job the background of being an engineer will help you to identify and solve problems.

What are some of the projects you have been involved with at FinoComp and how do you feel they will help shape the technology landscape in the investment management sector?

I have been involved in working on the Charge Definition micro-service, which is a service that defines how clients can be charged and run outside of the core system, making it very flexible for wealth management companies to use. Using this interface, they can clearly see what is costing their clients’ money, showing exactly what levels are being billed for certain services.
The product is certainly innovating and was exciting to be working on this as one of my first projects.
This service defines how clients can be charged and can be run outside of the core system making it very flexible for wealth management companies to use.  Using this interface they could clearly see what is costing their clients’ money and show exactly what levels they are being billed for certain services.  The product is certainly innovative and it was exciting to be working on this project.

And finally, what was the first thing you did arriving in Australia from South Africa?

I’m a passionate birder and from the day I arrived (literally driving out of the airport), I saw the first few birds that had been on my list. It made me want to go straight out to see more, but knew we needed to do the first couple of weeks in isolation so had to be content with observing from the unit where we were staying.  With windows on both sides, one to the mountains and one to the ocean I was certainly kept busy. It was really exciting to see the enormous variety of different species, so different from what I had seen in South Africa.

How a summer in the hinterland reaffirmed my career change – Andrea Burazor

IMG_20190308_195519Hi, I’m Andrea. I’m a first year Bachelor of Computer Science student at UOW and a 29 year old intern. I know what you’re thinking, and it’s okay, there’s really no need to be jealous. Ahem. But, jokes aside, let me lay a few truths on you.

You might not like working in your field of study…

You’re 17 years old, you’ve completed your HSC, and your Balkan parents are pushing you to “go to uni, make good career, be smart girl”. OK, that might not strictly be the case in your experience, but it’s likely that you have/had no idea what you want to be “when you grow up”.

Yeah, me neither. I chose a degree based on job opportunities and adult persuasion. I didn’t do too badly, either. I enjoyed some of my classes, I made a lot of friends, and then in 2011 we all gathered in our navy robes and threw our tasselled caps in the air.

I graduated, I found work, and guess what? It was deeply unsatisfying, and I had absolutely no passion for it. Uh oh.

BUT, too late is never really too late…

I worked in industry for around 7 years trying my hand at different sectors and a variety of roles. What I found was that my feet were always itching to keep moving, no one workplace seemed quite right or project challenging enough. I was utterly uninspired, so I did what any reasonable late twenties person would do – I decided to go back to uni.

The hardest part of making a choice like that is the unknown. Your boring, uninspired career is all too familiar. You know how to do this. Any change you make now might be a massive step in the wrong direction. What if the new thing turns out to be worse than the old thing? #hyperventilation

AND, interning is just about the smartest thing you can do.

So, remember when I said you might not like your field of study? Now, while you really should be researching and learning all you can about any career you pursue, there’s another really cool thing you can do to help you figure that out early on.

Internships are traditionally thought of as stepping stones into industry for fresh grads, but they also make for an amazing transitioning tool for anyone considering a career change! You get a crash course in what it’s like to work for a particular company, in a particular role, which makes it a valuable learning opportunity if you’re contemplating, or partway through a move. Not to mention, a really good one might save you 7 years in the wrong job!

// The Finternship

I knew right from the hiring process that interning with financial software developers FinoComp was not going to be your run of the mill, coffee run, mindless busywork internship. When your drive to work takes you down winding country roads along cow-dotted paddocks, lunch hour has you saying g’day to every local you bump into on the street, and your interview is an honest, laid back chat with CEO and Jamberoo local, Ray Tubman – well, you know things are going to be just a little bit different. Here’s how:

You are going to feel welcome.

FinoComp has a really unique culture. I felt encouraged to speak up and that my opinion was respected and valued despite being an intern/first year! As an intern you expect a degree of separation from the company, but FinoComp put their full faith in us as interns and each of us was treated exactly the same way a permanent employee would be.

Regular catch ups with mentors and HR let the interns know that our opinion and feedback was really important to the company and guidance and advice were readily handed out to us throughout the program.

The mentoring is second to none.

The Finternship was assigned two FinoComp veterans to help us newbies along our path to computing success. Matt Smith looked after the front end, and Darren Collins took care of us on the server-side – and they were with us full-time! They were invaluable to the experience, the project and to every intern. No question was too small or too silly, breakout sessions were regularly organised around the white board, and a variety of resources were made available to us to accelerate our learning.

You’re not just gonna “get it” – you’re going to be learning every single day!

On that note, interning is not “easy” and you’re not just gonna know what you’re doing. Every company has their own way of doing things and you’re going to have to learn a whole new tech stack. But, you are going to have a lot of support – if you need it. A lot of the process can feel like you’re being thrown in the deep end; but flotation devices are never too far from reach, and eventually you won’t need them at all!

You’re going to be encouraged to look after your body as well as your mind.

FinoComp arranges group fitness sessions two afternoons a week and all staff (including you!) are encouraged to attend. You’ll sweat under the hot sun, your muscles will burn, and you might let out some grunts that put the local livestock to shame. But you’re going to head back to your desk afterwards with a clear mind and a strong posture – guaranteed.

You’re going to become agile.

As it turns out, coding is a team sport and there is no better way to manage that than the agile methodology. Agile is not just some buzzword – it’s a competitive advantage. Working in bite-sized chunks made projects more manageable and feeling deeply invested in the project as a team made staff productivity shoot through the roof.

You’ll build something shippable!

One of the most surprising aspects of the Finternship was that we weren’t given some throwaway project. As a team of students, graduates and career changers, we built something commercially viable, and it will go to market! Isn’t that incredible?

More than anything, I’ve learned that coding is rewarding, challenging and creative and I’m so grateful to the team at FinoComp for taking a chance on me. There is still so much to learn, and getting to learn it alongside some of the most dedicated and inspiring people in the business has been a very happy way to round out my summer, and the best part is that this dynamic, growing company asked me to stay.

Thanks FinoComp!

Happy Dance – MIFID II Ex Post Costs & Charges Disclosures

Happy DanceI recently had an interview with Ellie Duncan of FT Adviser which was published. Amusingly, the title referred to the Fact that I was so happy with the FCA Interim Report that I did a “Happy Dance” through the office.

Those who are familiar with or have observed my talents in the fine art of dance will no doubt be aghast from the mere mental image – something that could cause physical harm or at least leave a lasting image that could never be unseen. It actually is, however, the sad and embarrassing truth.

A “Happy Dance” is a tribal display of happiness resulting from an underlying primal uphoria.

This uphoria is just what I experienced, and here is the reason why.

The FCA Interim report into platforms was a large report that had some key themes present. One significant theme was around disclosure of charges and the manner in which retail investors are presented with the information.

When we looked at the MiFID2 requirements for costs and charges reporting, and specifically the requirements for Ex Post Cost and Charges reporting, we thought that the generation of a physical statement once a year, with bundled up totals under categories that probably are not understood by retail investors, did not achieve the goal of assisting retail investors to understand how much they are paying and to whom.

The FCA seemed to agree with this synopsis and suggested that the MiFID2 regulation only went part of the way towards their end game.

FinoComp’s approach when developing our CoCa product was to:

  • Allow further categorisation to enable not only the regulatory categories to be summarised, but also more understandable categorisation such as whom the charges were paid to;
  • Have the information readily available for use not only within the regulatory required statements but also available for online portal access as and when required;
  • Have the information readily available throughout the year and not just at the end of the period so that online access can be sought at any time;
  • Incorporate accurate, bullet proof and complex performance calculations at all times.

The first reason for my happy dance was because our interpretation of the industry needs seems to have been strongly supported by the conclusions of the industry regulator. We didn’t just stop at the regulatory requirement but instead we built out the product to be an attractive propositional feature.

The second reason for my happy dance was because it really exemplifies the benefits of the microservices architecture; a topic that we are evangelical about. This is a typical component of functionality that monolithic systems would address only as absolutely necessary to cover the regulatory requirement or indeed would just provide base information and leave the calculation to the clients.

By taking something like the Ex Post Costs and Charges out as a separate Microservice, we are able to build it to be comprehensive, performant and always accessible. Better still, we are able to make it generic enough to interact with anyone’s registry system and implement it as an integrated standalone component. We are currently working with clients across 3 different back office systems.

For monolithic systems, the addition of this kind of functionality is considered as a small piece of functionality being added to a larger “more important” system; it is “treated like a pauper”. In the microservice architecture, the problem domain is the core purpose of that component and I like to think that it is “treated like a princess”.

These kinds of outcome really excite me and I am very much looking forward to releasing this new component into production environments in the next couple of months.

If a Rolls Royce solution to the ex-Post Costs and Charges is something that sounds desirable to your business, please contact us and you can join me in my Happy Dance.

Ray Tubman

CEO – FinoComp

MIFID II – Ex-Post

Image result for postbox cartoonMIFID II, is it over with yet?! Like a guest at a dinner party overstaying their welcome, MIFID II is still absorbing the resources of regulated firms throughout Europe. One of the remaining hurdles poses quite a challenge and, of all the changes under MIFID II, the one which will most likely create the most questions from clients. I am, of course, referring to the Ex-Post Costs & Charges disclosures.

From January 3rd, 2018, at the point of investment, clients captured under the MIFID II regime, will have received an estimate of the charges they’ll incur over the year in the form of an Ex-Ante Costs & Charges disclosure. This disclosure is to be followed, a year later, with an Ex-Post Costs & Charges disclosure report pertaining the charges the client has (or a close estimation) incurred throughout the year.

Various industry bodies are offering some guidance on the format of these disclosures, with Investment Services Charges split from Investment Product Charges, so it’s clear to the client how much they’ve paid for advice and/or discretionary investment management services vs the costs from the Investment Products (Assets) they hold. Charges will be broken down into categories defined below;

One Off Charges

Ongoing Costs

Transaction Costs

Incidental Costs

Ancillary Service Costs

In the absence of a flux capacitor, it’s extremely hard for firms to provide clients with accurate Ex-Ante costs and charges disclosures, owing to several varying factors (like performance!). That brings into question the relevance and these Ex-Ante reports. One thing we’re sure they’ve done, is to raise awareness as to the amounts clients are being charged. This awareness will be fixed on Q1 2019, when clients will receive their Ex-Post Costs & Charges Statements, providing a breakdown of the charges they’ve actually (or a close estimation!) incurred over the year.

With that in mind, clients will be looking at their Ex-Post Costs & Charges disclosures, with great interest. It’ll be the first-time clients see their charges laid bare in this format. Furthermore, and arguably the most important factor, investors will see the impact these charges have had on the performance of their portfolio. All in a PDF, once a year?

Seeing this type of information will no doubt raise questions in the Client’s mind.

  • Why am I paying this much in ongoing charges?
  • What has contributed to these charges?
  • Are there cheaper assets I could invest in?
  • Is my adviser worth these charges?

These are valid questions, and one’s that should be easily answered by advisers or wealth manager, or better, proactively investigated on a regular basis. If a client does object to the level of charges and wants to see evidence of a reduction in these fees, by way of different asset types etc, are they expected to wait another 12 months to see the results? We don’t think so…..

Our new MicroService, CoCa, tackles these challenges. It produces MIFID II Ex-Post Costs and Charges disclosures with a choice of outputs to produce PDFs and an innovative web portal with a look through function. Uniquely, this module has been designed to produce these PDFs at any point throughout the year, with the option of a drill down function so clients can see exactly which transactions have contributed to transaction costs and which assets have produced the most charges in the Ongoing Charges, under the Investment Product costs. Something, I’m sure will be hugely interesting given the ongoing active vs passive debate..

  • Ad-hoc production of PDFs at any point with a YTD summary if requested by clients
  • Detailed breakdown of each charge category to see which transactions and holdings have contributed to the calculations
  • Highly accurate performance reporting figures including Modified Dietz and Internal Rate of Return
  • Seamless production of yearly PDF statements with no impact on core back office technology

Tim Williams

Business Development Director – FinoComp