We talked to Hannes Helenius of FA Solutions about the leading Nordic provider of software for Wealth & Fund Managers, Family Offices, and Banks, helping them manage their clients’ wealth globally, and he had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Hannes Helenius: Thank you for asking, quite well. My family and I have been lucky not to get infected by the virus so far, and we have had the situation quite under control here in Finland, where I live, and where FA Solutions is headquartered. We have also been able to continue doing business pretty much as usual despite the transformed working environment. At FA Solutions, we have believed for nearly two decades already that digitalization, automation, and moving to the cloud are the cornerstones of a modern and efficient wealth management system. We offer a cloud-based Portfolio Management solution that automates and centralizes a wide range of operational processes into one easy-to-use FA Platform. We believe superior technology enables quality Wealth Management services for everyone. The COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated the demand for this kind of product in the Wealth Management industry. We are also a global company with offices in London, Stockholm, Riga, and Helsinki, so online meetings and remote working are nothing new to us.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined FA Solutions.
Hannes Helenius: FA Solutions was initially founded in 1999 by the current CEO Juha Lehtonen. I joined the company as a partner in 2006. I used FA Solutions’ offering with my old bank, and I already knew Juha. He called with an offer to become an investor. The fact that the company wasn’t a massive corporate entity and was also local was extremely appealing to me. Since I joined, I’m proud we’ve achieved as much as we have and generated the growth we deserve.
How does FA Solutions innovate?
Hannes Helenius: At FA Solutions, we think that our everyday business is all about innovation. We have to constantly keep our eyes open for new trends, legislation changes, technology updates, and other needs our clients face in the wealth management industry. We release a new version of our product quarterly to stay at the forefront of our business, and we centralize operational processes into one easy-to-use system via multiple APIs. We are also quite innovative and agile in our deployment process, on which we have received great feedback from our clients saying how much they appreciate the personalized and explicit way we solve unique problems for them during the process.
We have also started amplifying our partnership strategy to cooperate with aligned mutual business interests. At the moment, we have a great network consisting of value-added resellers and agents, consulting and deployment partners, as well as technology partner organizations. We also collect customer feedback on our deployments, product, and customer service regularly to be able to fulfill our clients’ needs even better. We are always pushing to be the pioneers in our industry.
How the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping? What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Hannes Helenius: Because of our long experience working in and with major banks and financial organizations, we realized the need for a proper SaaS-based portfolio management system already 15 years ago. Since then, we have been dedicated to offering a superior SaaS portfolio management solution to Asset Managers, Fund Managers, Private Banks, Robo Advisors, and Family Offices. We are happy to continue pursuing this mission, providing superior technology for modern investment management now that the demand for this has even accelerated in the ever-changing world.
As a global company with offices in four different countries, we have been accustomed to online meetings and remote working already before COVID-19. Of course, it’s a shame that now because of the pandemic, we aren’t able to enjoy each other’s company at the office or in more relaxed gatherings among colleagues like before. We can also only meet our clients online, which isn’t an ideal situation. However, we are happy to say that we have been at the forefront of digital transformation in the finance industry for years already, both with our own product and our ways of working utilizing digital tools. Thus we have successfully executed also deployments and installations remotely for years already, so we haven’t had to change our ways of working a lot because of the COVID crisis.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Hannes Helenius: We haven’t needed to make any very tough business choices because of COVID due to having practiced the kind of working methods the pandemic situation has required already before that. One of the most difficult choices would have been not being able to go to meet clients physically and giving up internal company gatherings that raise everyone’s spirits and contribute to the company culture. The biggest lesson learned for us is still luckily positive: getting affirmation that we surely seem to be on the right mission fulfilling the needs of the investment management market, offering a cloud-based SaaS platform with secure access to data globally.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Hannes Helenius: We are, of course, competing against various portfolio management system providers. However, our advantage is providing a modern, cutting-edge cloud-based SaaS platform for running our clients’ entire asset & investment management business with secure access to data on any device, anywhere in the world. Digitalization, automation, and moving to the cloud have been the wealth management industry’s rising trends even before the transformational year of 2020. This is in part due to a squeeze in profit margins due to end investors becoming more price-sensitive, coupled with wealth managers tapping into a new generation of investors that are more accustomed to digital applications. However, since the COVID-19 crisis has only accelerated the demand for this kind of SaaS product that enables safe global access anywhere, we are in a good position against competitors who offer more old-fashioned, on-premise solutions.
Your final thoughts?
Hannes Helenius: We see that the future of business applications is based on cloud-based SaaS solutions since they ensure global access and continuity to businesses in the increasingly global and ever-changing world. This applies heavily to the Fintech industry, too. Since the COVID-19 crisis only accelerated this trend, it showed that many organizations were still not prepared for this and didn’t have their operations and continuity planning up-to-date with modern technology solutions. This has shown even more clearly that the key to success in today’s wealth management industry is using cloud-based SaaS solutions, including the automation of critical business processes, modern connectivity, and a good user experience.