Following last year’s TrustQuay Forum, this year’s event was heralded as being bigger and better. Not least because it was open to the Viewpoint customer base. This follows the merger of the two market leaders in software for the trust, corporate and fund services market.
It certainly met expectations, taking place in the much larger venue of 8 Northumberland Avenue. The main Forum event was held in the historic ball room, which Chief Marketing Officer, Paul White, gave a potted history of in the introduction to the day.
TrustQuay Viewpoint Chairman, Heath Davies, opened the event by addressing what could have been the ‘elephant in the room’; the departure of Chief Executive Officer Keith Hale, just two days before. Heath commented on Keith’s success in leading the merger of Microgen Financial Services and Touchstone back in 2019 / 2020, launching a brand-new SaaS product to the market in 2022 and ending with the merger of the two leading providers in TrustQuay and Viewpoint. He also succeeded in delivering an exit for Silverfleet Capital and the other original investors in TrustQuay, replacing them with current investor, Hg Capital.
Heath was keen to stress the business is meeting its revenue and other targets and has an ambitious plan for the future. However, the strategy to achieve this is likely to be kept under wraps until later in H1 2024 once a new CEO has taken the reigns. In the meantime, Heath has stepped in the guide the business and lead the highly capable management team.
Can you trust your data?
Heath’s keynote was focused on the main theme for the event which was the results of the Future Focus Report 2024, in particular ‘data’. Data quality has been an ongoing theme in the last 3 TrustQuay Future Focus reports but has now come to the top of the agenda for corporate, trust and fund services this year.
77% of firms responding to the survey stated that data quality is their number one business challenge. Just as relevant was the statistic that 93% of firms have not fully automated data inputs, data checks and key workflow processes. Interestingly though, firms appear to be getting on top of the Regulator burden and in a Slido poll during the event many firms say regulation as a driver towards process automation and some even saw it as a business opportunity. Thankfully no firms saw regulation as existential crisis.
Infact, the same top three challenges of Data Quality, increasing Efficiency and Regulatory burden, have stood out year on year, but this year data quality has rocketed to the top of the agenda, with 77% of respondents naming it as the top challenge.
The subject of trust in data was revisited later in the day during a panel discussion hosted by TrustQuay’s Ed Cresswell where he was joined by Stuart Geddes from Ocorian, Estelle Spiers from Zedra and Naomi Rive from Highvern. All three business use a mix of products from both TrustQuay and Viewpoint and provided a number of insights into their data. They all highlighted the importance of having good quality data for management information and board reporting and discussed challenges they have overcome to reach the point where their decisions can be supported by trusted data.
The future is SaaS
The speakers and panel discussions were interspersed with a number of live product demonstrations from TrustQuay’s Suzanne Pritchard and Viewpoint’s Jelly Chai and Chanel Choo. Suzanne showed great faith in the TrustQuay Online product by attempting (and succeeding!) to demonstrate the product using an iPad live on stage.
Equally impressive was Viewpoint’s eFileConnect SaaS solution for regulatory reporting. It was great to see the commitment from the company to build integrations to eFileConnect from TrustQuay 5Series, NavOne and Online products during 2024.
It was great to see so many of Viewpoint’s Malaysian team over for the event. For many attendees, customers included, it would have been the first time they’d seen some of the consultants they work with on a daily basis.
CIO and founder of Viewpoint, Rolf Heemskerk was joined by TrustQuay MD Robert Browning to discuss the future of software and it is very clear that TrustQuay Viewpoint and moving to becoming a SaaS business. Although, in response to a question, Robert was quick to stress that the majority of TrustQuay’s investment is in developing and enhancing their existing products and not on new products.
TrustQuay Online has developed significantly in the last 12 months and it was revealed there are now 25 customers either live or in the process of implementation. It was noted the majority of these customers are new rather than migrating from existing TrustQuay products.[Author’s Note: Solitaire Consulting is currently supporting 4 clients with TrustQuay Online projects. Two are migrating from existing TrustQuay products (5Series and Jobstream) whilst two others migrating from other vendors or in-house systems.]
Practical use cases for AI
Arguably the most interesting and exciting part of the day was Adrian Akers afternoon session on automation. Adrian demonstrated some of the capabilities of TrustQuay Online in terms of interoperability and process automation using the Microsoft Power Platform.
This session also featured a look into the near future with some practical examples of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to support typical customer problems. Adrian also highlighted the many considerations of using AI, not least the potenital ethical concerns.
We also heard from the four teams that had spent the previous two days working on developing AI powered solutions as part of the pre-event Hackathon. This was introduced by Joe Sefton-Jenkins followed by representatives from each team.
Data: de-duplication and migration
Solitaire Consulting’s Tracey Watson kicked off with a presentation focused on two topics they chose to address issues of data quality and integrity – clearly a massive area and one of key interest to most customers.
Tracey described how the team approached the problem and some of the different tools they tried out. They eventually selected Dedupe, an open-source machine learning tool for the de-duplication challenge and then ChatGPT for some practical examples of schema production and mapping.
The second team were looking at how AI tools could analyse datasets using natural language. In common with all the teams one of the challenges is finding the right tool for the job. The number of available AI tools is increasing on a daily basis, but not all are mature enough to be used in a real-world environment.
The team picked Akkio as their example and used a dataset containing time records to show how natural language prompts can be used for data analysis. It was really interesting to see Akkio producing a graph of team utilisation from the time recorded vs time billed data.
TrustQuay’s Mark Bisson showed one of the great features of this tool was the explanation of how it derived the answer, which included the SQL code used to query the dataset.
Jeremy Williams then went on to demonstrate how they integrated ChatGPT into Business Central to be able to provide responses to error messages generated by TrustQuay Online.
The highlight of this demo was the rather creepy human representation that was used to introduce the demo. It was very clearly a machine with an American accent (who incidentally can’t pronounce TrustQuay properly unless the prompt is changed to Trustkey!)
What was particularly clever was the demonstration of how ChatGPT could respond in any language requested by the user.
The final demonstration from the Hackathon was by TrustQuay IT Manager, Chris Pugh, who showed how their team had made use of the telemetry data collected by TrustQuay Online to analyse how users interact with the software. ChatGPT was used to identify how multiple routes are taken by users to achieve the same outcome. The AI can be used to optimise the user journey.
All four presentations showed the massive potential of AI to transform how we work across the industry. The next 12 months are certainly going to be interesting!
What of the future of TrustQuay and Viewpoint? The merger of the two businesses is clearly well progressed with the teams working closely together. Several times references were made to developing once and reusing within each product, so expect to see more developments like eFile Connect that can be integrated with any of TrustQuay and Viewpoint core products.
There was no talk about acquiring other competitors, but I do expect to see acquisitions of other software companies that support the current products or are complementary to them.
There were a couple of questions asked about any potential name or branding changes, but this was dodged with the statement that this may emerge in 2024. Suggestions of Trustpoint, ViewQuay and TrustView were all firmly rejected though!
This was a great event put on by TrustQuay Viewpoint, which wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the following sponsors: