Saxo Bank has always worked towards continuously improving its trading technology and platforms. In conversation with Candor Connect, Deepak Gupta, COO, Saxo Group India, talks about the company’s crucial investments in information technology, its new state-of-the-art office at Gurugram and future growth plans.
Saxo Bank, the Danish Fintech specialist focused on multi-asset trading and investment, has dedicatedly embarked on expanding its presence in India. On 11th October this year, the company relocated its 500+ employees to a bigger office at Candor’s campus in Sector 21, Gurugram. The move lends support to the Bank’s major investments in information technology with the aim of digitising the whole value chain and leveraging new technology. We spoke to Deepak Gupta, COO, Saxo Group India, to know more about the company’s ambitious plans on the IT front and how it is expanding its presence in India.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
Q. Please give a brief background of Saxo Bank. When did it start its Indian operations?
Established through an acquisition in 2010, Saxo Group India employs more than 500 people primarily within IT and operations.
At the global level, Saxo Bank was established in 1992 by Kim Fournais who is still the CEO of the company today. We developed our first trading platform in 1998 and became a fintech specialist provider long before the term ‘fintech’ was even invented. In those days, it was a bold and radically new idea to use the Internet to provide better and more transparent access to global capital markets, and this has basically been our mission since then—using technology to democratise access to financial markets.
Q. Saxo Bank has always been agile in how it embraces new developments and innovation. How is the company pushing the boundaries of what technology can achieve in finance?
The financial sector today faces challenges in terms of using innovative technology in a world of increasing compliance and changing consumer demands. A study by Euromoney has shown that 77 per cent of annual IT budgets at European banks is still spent on running and maintaining legacy systems. This leaves little room for innovation.
At Saxo Bank it is the opposite way around. We use most of our resources on innovation. We are among the pioneers in delivering ‘banking as a service’, so we do not only run our own trading platform in this regard but we also make it available to partners through our OpenAPI platform and Open Banking portal.
Q. Saxo Bank has been enabling clients by facilitating their seamless access to global capital markets through technology and expertise. Which technological initiatives can one expect from the company in the near future?
Our key priorities are to continue being a pioneer in the industry by moving to the cloud and using machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) to keep pushing the boundaries of what technology can achieve in finance.
We are currently working on how to use AI to give a more personalised and relevant experience to our clients. Through our trading platform we provide access to more than 35,000 tradeable instruments, but most clients tend to focus on a specific instrument type, sector or asset class. Through AI we are trying to make, for example, more personalised news and providing the relevant tools based on interests and risk appetite.
Q. Continuing with the expansion of its operational and IT base in India, Saxo Bank has opened its new office space at Candor’s campus in Sector 21, Gurugram. Please tell us a little about this new office space.
Saxo Bank is a global organisation and all of our offices share the same design. The new office at Gurugram spans 1,25,000 square feet and is capable of accommodating our ambitious growth plans in the coming years. Art plays an important role in the decor as it inspires us to be creative, see things from a new angle and think out of the box. The Scandinavian heritage of the Bank is reflected in some of the art pieces here, but we also have local Indian art.
Q. Today, more and more employers are focusing on creating a workspace that helps employees collaborate and engage. How is Saxo Bank doing the same?
The organisation in Gurugram works with Saxo Bank’s headquarters at Copenhagen, Denmark as a team to continuously improve the core of the Bank: its trading technology and platforms. Our new office has been designed to ensure collaboration and engagement between different departments at Saxo Bank, not only within our India-based offices but also between our 15+ offices around the world.
A key factor for our success is that we work together as one team across different geographies. Therefore, our new office has been equipped with state-of-the-art video conferencing and meeting rooms to facilitate meetings with colleagues around the world.
Another factor is the many workspaces that are made to accommodate cross-organisational collaboration with our employees in India. Last but not least, we have created a rooftop terrace with sports facilities such as cricket nets, badminton, table tennis, pool table and foosball at our office in Gurugram. This is a great way for employees to socialise and get to know new people.
Q. Saxo Bank moved to its new, bigger office in Gurugram to accommodate future growth. What is the growth plan of Saxo Bank in India when it comes to the headcount?
The prospects have never been better. The world and banks in particular are embracing new technology like never before. It is important for Saxo Bank that we hire the best of the best in order to continue pushing the boundaries of what technology can achieve in finance.
Even on a global level many of these unique talents are found in India and they can really make a difference by taking on responsibility to explore new technologies. This is what we are encouraging at Saxo Group, and since 2010, our team in India has grown eightfold to over 500 people, which is a good indication of how we perceive the highly skilled talent pool in India.
Q. Just like employees have certain expectations from employers, employers too have certain requirements when it comes to staff. Are there any specific skills and qualities that you look out for when recruiting?
We are looking for talented employees who have an appetite for challenging the status quo. Keeping in mind our global offerings, the candidates need to have a broad range of skill sets such as AI and the cloud. In my opinion, it is important that tech talents look at not only the job description when applying for a new job, but also at the company and its culture and mission. The question that they should be asking themselves is: Do I believe in this company’s mission and can I see myself grow as part of the company?