Under 30: the industry’s future leaders. Delia Claudia Bercea and her take on getting in line for MiFID II at executive level - FinanceFeeds

Under 30: the industry’s future leaders. Delia Claudia Bercea and her take on getting in line for MiFID II at executive level

Looking at the young talent that will lead our industry in future, Delia Claudia Bercea has progressed further since reporting on her leadership direction a year and a half ago, and now takes us through a business methodology that she began to present in June last year, that has now been completed. Here is how she did it.

In an industry so well established with roots in all four corners of the globe we took time to discuss what the industry will look like in 10 to 20 years from now.

Whilst we all share different views on where the industry will end up or what it will morph into, the fact is that we forget the many good folk working in the industry. Especially the younger generatilooon that started at the bottom and worked their way up essentially dedicating their careers to fintech, trading and finance.

As is a FinanceFeeds tradition, we decided to celebrate these hard working individuals that have and very well may become the future industry leaders as they move up the ranks. So without further adieu, meet the industry’s future leaders , all of whom are currently under the age of 30.

Delia Claudia Bercea has progressed further since reporting on her leadership direction a year and a half ago, and now takes us through a business methodology that she began to present in June last year, that has now been completed. Here is how she did it.

Situation:

As you may recall from the previous article my experience has primarily been within the financial services arena and one of the things that you quickly learn in this space is that the foundation of that arena (the regulatory environment and continued disruption due to innovation in technology and services) is continually shifting – this is apparent if we consider that at the time of writing we’re looking at the implementation of Mifid2 and the impending implementation of GDPR.

Both of these changes will ensure that the financial services industry (and in the case of GDPR, anyone dealing with client data) will face substantial changes in terms of both risks and opportunities.

This single fact, the floor continuously moving beneath our feet, led me to understand one key point – one truth that is apparent when you look around at the way people are currently running around trying to deal with change; and this point allowed me to see an opening in the market that I’ve now been able to move on.

Task:

When we look at the companies around us we can see that the vast majority fall into the classification of SME – Small to Medium sized Enterprise. The SME market is typically companies that are quite young (typically 5 years or less) and have a head count of less than 200 people.

This definition, specifically the head count, varies by industry sector but if we consider the companies that play in the financial services arena here in Cyprus we can see that generally speaking they tick those boxes.

One of the other characteristics of companies within the SME environment, especially in financial services, is that they are continuously stretching themselves and whether correctly or not they tend to invest in sales and marketing activity over knowledge and skill generation tasks – this then ensures that they have another characteristic in common.

They’re typically not ready for externally mandated change. For those of you who are not currently in financial services or perhaps haven’t been keeping track of what’s happening in the world allow me to give you an example that is true “right now”.

The MiFID II (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive – 2) changes specify a number of alterations that apply to a wide spectrum of financial services businesses.

These changes have been known for a year or two now and so everyone has had a lot of time to get their systems and processes inline with what are effectively legal requirements. One of these changes (and I’m deliberately talking about just one change here) is the conditions under which a company is considered to be performing portfolio management.

So we’re talking about one change, not even one of the larger changes. Allow me to elaborate. In the forex trading business it is possible to copy the trades of another person (if you like their strategy and you have access to it).

In the old days this wasn’t classed as portfolio management and so the brokerage didn’t need a portfolio management license BUT with the Mifid2 changes this is now considered to be portfolio management.

So this is an established part of the brokerage business and something that clients are counting on having access to. Let us also be clear, regulatory change is something that effects clients but most clients don’t have any idea about regulatory changes. So the situation we have is that a key piece of a businesses offerings will not be legal for the majority of brokerages as of the 3rd of January – and this has been known for a while now.

Realistically speaking, as the reader, when would you think would be the best time to deal with this issue? The 3rd of January, the 4th of Jan or last August (or sooner)? Would you sooner that YOUR business was inline with legal requirements or would you rather roll the dice and see what happens (given that a regulated entity can have its license removed for non-compliance).

With this example in mind (and countless others) I realized that the SME environment was very short on consulting services. After doing some research I found that the same was true for pure project management, architecture (both business and IT) and a number of other areas.

After doing further research it became clear that the strain of running an SME in a competitive environment, where change is the norm, takes quite a high toll on the senior management – and those below them. If we then couple this with interpersonal and ego issues (such as personal pride or shame relating to business results) I found that quite often the people who are supposed to be making decisions are more concerned with the day to day operations of the business.

Let’s also not forget that in the SME environment an individual may well have been promoted to a position of authority without actually having the required skills for that position (everyone needs time grow into a roll but learning by your mistakes is not always the most cost effective way for a company to allow its resources to develop).

Action:

So knowing all of this what did I do?

I partnered with some pretty impressive people in order to ensure that I had access to a set of skills that complimented my own and allowed me to develop a service offering for the market. But who could I partner with?

I’ve been quite lucky during my career; I’ve had some great experiences and met some inspirational people. To name a few, I Partnered with Pedro Cean – who’s experience springs from the financial services sector and specifically trading (across a number of asset classes). I also partnered with Paul Foley, an established IT director with experience across several industry sectors (including wealth management and brokerage).

So these individuals have a track record of delivering massive business change, profitability and developing truly exceptional teams – they also have experience of developing strategies, product and service roadmaps along with business optimization.

By partnering with these types of professionals I was able to create what I believe to be an innovative Consultancy Model for a wide variety of entities focused in ensuring a sustainable raise in their business capability.

Result

Along with Pedro Cean, as the CEO of TCG (TelcoConsulting Group), who has an evolutionary track record in the Financial Markets, proven throughout his 10 years of successful experience from Economical Studies to Trading and exponential business profitability to the companies he formed part of; alongside Paul Foley, an experienced and consummate professional CIO / CTO / Director as per his valuable expertise in synthesizing teams to deliver, with a proven delivery track record in Financial Services, wealth management, Start Ups and SME Businesses, we have created an innovative, success driven Consultancy Service.

After a long journey, from Private and Business Financial Advisory, to Investment Funds and Brokers, today we are successfully dedicated to providing services such as:

  • Business development
  • Project management
  • Strategy development
  • Product development roadmaps
  • Service delivery strategy
  • C-level advisory

We’ve further expanded the business capabilities of TCG (TelcoConsulting Group) by establishing partnerships with and collaborating with highly esteemed and established organizations in fields such as portfolio management, Banking, IT and infrastructure, regulatory law and taxation, not only working in FX, but in a variety of sectors within the financial markets, and some others industries, which we will have the opportunity to talk about in detail another time. On top of this TCG (TelcoConsulting Group) has also embarked on a number of innovative projects relating to funding and market exposure for clients.

Our partners and Advisors are global by nature and are based across a number of countries and major cities of the world, from Switzerland to China, Latin America, Middle East, New York, Los Angeles, Spain and Central Europe.

For those of you who have not experienced the benefits of using a consulting company you might be wondering “Why would I use a consultancy?” – although if you’ve made it this far through this article and haven’t worked it out yet I probably need to consider a re-write.

There are multiple reasons to employ consultancy, but in many cases there is a need to understand market challenges and opportunities, a need to suddenly ‘have’ skills that are not present in the business – perhaps even a need to benefit from a wider perspective that is not naturally available.

The use of consultants who come with a wide variety of expertise effectively provides the business with a ‘shot’ of expertise that will allow the company’s management to grow without the associated risk of failure. This tactical use of resources can allow a business to develop a competitive advantage or simply a strategy for dealing with (or delivering) change.

One of the most interesting things that I have seen in the consulting field is perhaps not the thing that most people would consider an issue (but is in fact a major crippling factor for any business).

The management style typically shown within an SME doesn’t lend itself to the development and empowerment of the staff and in most cases this can also be extended to the management. This can be over come with one word – delegation.

In some companies there seems to be an actual allergy towards delegation and so we find senior managers trying to micro manage individual members of staff. This then leads to problems with the company culture and completely stifles innovation. It also ensures that the senior management are stood so close to the trees that they cannot see the forest fire around them.

Ironically enough this problem of managers needing to delegate or work 18 hour days is only going to get worse. We are living in an era where regulation is changing frequently and the requirements that are being placed on SMEs is increasing at pace – so in the long run there is literally no chance of a single manager keeping his finger on the pulse of all change which will inevitably lead to failure.

One of the ways in which we’ve witnessed this trend can be seen in corporate failures. A number of companies have decided to operate in numerous territories and each of them have different regulations and cultures. When these companies operate in different countries, this issues become overwhelmingly more intricate – there’s simply more regulatory issues to be aware of and if they weren’t keeping on top of things in one territory how would they be doing it in multiple territories. The mathematics of this failure is quite simplistic, but they all seem to fall into the same cycle of wrong decisions and misjudgments.

If I were to highlight a few of the issues that have led to failure I would say that failure to incorporate the Investment psychology of the territory, failure to comprehend the legal parameters of operation in the chosen region and also failure to have an infrastructure that allows remote monitoring and Global business sync, not to mention the lack of analysis of the Investor Profile within the territory all figure highly on the list of potential disaster sources.

From my stand point, when looking at today’s Retail Brokers there is a major gap between the 4-5 Leaders in the Market and the hundreds of both regulated and unregulated entities that are now operational. The surprise comes from seeing an average level of service, average to common conditions and a poor or simply uneducated customer support function, a model which fails to work in the pool of investors of today.

Thanks to the continuous development in technology and access to information, investors are becoming savvier and average service plus an average cost and an average execution will definitely result in more companies closing down. Start-ups are appearing with no regulation, setting a tone in terms of lower trading costs and increased execution speed, however not benefiting from a sustainable, experienced Management Team with a vision for organic growth will only lead to the same outcome.

What needs to become utterly clear is the fact that the investor pool is moving closer and closer to the Institutional operation model, so if the Brokers don’t start looking at their clients with the capability to estimate an accurate Client Segmentation and proper Placement, they will continue mixing their operation and having to account for why they are presenting retail conditions to professional clients.

The mistake is that companies live from success stories long past and buried, when a retail FX Trader/Investor had little to no experience of the FX Market and when companies were not being created at every corner of the Business Centers. Nowadays, you have one broker at the corner of each street, you see Account Managers not being trained to understand, but trained to read scripts and in the end, you witness the dissolution or downgrading of a valid Investment Opportunity just because of poor Management.

This is also one of the core concepts that compelled us to create TCG and invest the man power and knowledge into the project; We know that by providing sustainable service offerings to the SME market we will be able to deliver the attributes required for success and in doing so will also ensure that the SME market is not destined for self destruction but is instead something to be proud of.

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