Saxo Bank has more in common with the finer things in life than it does with old-school banks – Inside investigation
Think Denmark, think stylish Scandinavian innovation and out-of-the-box design. Think Denmark, think Bang and Olufsen audio-visual equipment. Think Denmark, think Saxo Bank. Whilst ultra-stylish, high end audio equipment which has been the preferred choice of certain audiophiles for several decades may not appear similar in any way whatsoever to a financial technology and digital trading […]
Think Denmark, think stylish Scandinavian innovation and out-of-the-box design.
Think Denmark, think Bang and Olufsen audio-visual equipment.
Think Denmark, think Saxo Bank.
Whilst ultra-stylish, high end audio equipment which has been the preferred choice of certain audiophiles for several decades may not appear similar in any way whatsoever to a financial technology and digital trading company, there is more synergy between the underlying ethos of both companies than first may appear.
Not just compatriots, but almost stablemates
Today, here at Saxo Bank’s global headquarters in the upscale and extremely avantgarde Copenhagen suburb of Hellerup, FinanceFeeds CEO Andrew Saks-McLeod met with Philip Wegloop, Chief Experience Officer (CXO) at Saxo Bank, who joined the company on October 1 from Bang and Olufsen, where he was Global Director of Consumer Marketing.
Mr. Wegloop’s position is interesting in itself, as it is rare indeed that a company in the trading industry, whether it produces proprietary systems or otherwise, would have a senior executive who is responsible for leading the entire user experience as an end-to-end project.
“As CXO, my responsibility is to provide a great user experience” explained Mr. Wegloop. This ranges from ensuring the responsiveness of the website, to ensuring that onboarding customers – whether corporate, white label or retail – is seamless, and to maximize the customers’ overall perception of the entire relationship between themselves and Saxo Bank, whether it is with regard to investing, trading, or the technology that we provide.”
“I joined Saxo Bank from Bang and Olufsen, where I was Global Consumer Marketing Director. In a company such as Bang & Olufsen, user experience is critical, and this most certainly translates to Saxo Bank, which is a very highly innovative creator of disruptive technology which does not follow the conventional form, but instead treads its own path to perfect the platform, products and services that the end user benefits from.”
“Here at Saxo Bank we have something which I am sure is unique, and we are focused on being more concerned about maintaining this unique approach. There is a Scandinavian approach to engineering, design and technology in which the entire ethos encourages ‘out of the box’ thinking and high quality” said Mr. Wegloop.
“For example, the recently launched Bang & Olufsen Beolab 90 loudspeakers are active speakers. They retail at approximately $75,000 for a pair, and are so unique that they have 18 state-of-the-art Scan-Speak loudspeaker drivers placed in carefully defined locations and directions to deliver maximum performance in frequency, time and space. If you want to listen to a specific music, you can choose where to direct the music within the room, as the speaker units actually reposition themselves within the casework according to where you would like to project the entirety of the music” – Philip Wegloop, Chief Experience Officer, Saxo Bank
“This produces an authentic sound without having to sit directly in the optimum location for listening. If you move house, or move the speakers to a different room, they configure the optimum sound according to the furnishings and shape of the room” he explained.
This future-proofs the system, which is very important when investing in high quality equipment, and is part of the value propostion.
Mr. Wegloop likens this methodology to that behind the creation of the SaxoTraderGO platform.
“In terms of value proposition within the digital trading industry, the product also has to be very good but there is a lot of space to claim a clear position which we are sharpening further now” he said.
“This represents what we stand for on a unique value proposition, and the whole rationale behind the development is about us being a facilitator rather than a product vendor.
“OpenAPI is very key to this. We are a disruptor by nature. On the one hand we are disrupting the traditional business model which was first set in place by banks but we also let the other developers within financial technology firms outside of Saxo Bank (for example trading app and signal developers) use our system to disrupt further in their own right. This is pure fintech and it is the leading edge which allows others to develop new fintech” – Philip Wegloop, Chief Experience Officer, Saxo Bank.
“In terms of driving this forward and expanding upon it, I look back and compare what I have done in previous senior roles which focus on user experience” said Mr. Wegloop.
“I was at Nordea for more than 10 years, and it is widely recognized that Nordea is a very well resourced bank. When I was there, the company was making making billions of euro in profit each year, which naturally brings cautiousness to change things. Therefore, the company was more of a traditional financial institution at the time and did not want to go too much into technology” he said.
“Whilst Nordea thus stuck to traditional roots, Bang & Olufsen is totally the other way round in that it is very technology-and-design-led while resourcing of course is thin compared to a large institution such as Nordea.”
“Saxo Bank is the best of both worlds in that the resourcing is very strong and there is an innate will to drive things forward which exists right the way through the company” said Mr. Wegloop.
“We have an incredible foundation in terms of platform and technology which powers the entire trading environment, now we have the self-imposed challenge of how to drive this forward and expand further.”
“Future proofing is very important, and this is something that cannot be achieved by firms that do not own and develop their own technology. It is very important from a user perspective that a product, whether a trading platform or a top of the range hi-fi system, will still look good and perform well in years to come. This means constant upgrades from within the firm which enhance the system without detriment to the trading environment.”
“It is no good buying a high end amplifier, and then streaming low-quality MP3 files into it and then listening via low-fi headphones or speakers, for example. In this case, the headphones and MP3 player would be the weakest links in the system and render the amplifier, no matter how good or expensive, effectively worthless” – Philip Wegloop, Chief Experience Officer, Saxo Bank.
“Saxo Bank is focused on not being totally proprietary. We now have the OpenAPI up and running and have the first commercial customer using it in a live environment.”
“We want to democratize the entire system. Banks make a lot of commissions. Saxo aligns with the highly democratic ethos of Danish society in that the technology that we provide is open and available to any developer or broker, and can be the basis for them to build their own infrastructure, applications and trading systems around.”
“Here’s an example. ETFs are very much compromised compared to the mutual funds industry. We want to give people the right choice across stock exchanges and with the right asset classes, in order to give traders the greatest value. It is less like the banks that want to keep the customers and concentrate on alot of commission, but more about using the right technology solution to provide trading on the customers’ terms and put the trader in the drivers seat” – Philip Wegloop, Chief Experience Officer, Saxo Bank
“I have often thought about the synergy between the values of Bang & Olufsen, and those of Saxo Bank, and have had ideas such as perhaps putting lifestyle accessories like Bang & Olufsen speakers in an event which is attended by traders, as there is a segment of our audience which would be appreciative of the products of both companies due to similar ethos.”
“I look at the Saxo Bank OpenAPI as a basis for firms to use our quality environment as a basis for their own development. This is similar to the manufacture of Bang & Olufsen products in that the configuration of different components is unique to Bang & Olufsen for the combination of picture and sound compared to standard TVs, even if the components themselves are produced elsewhere. It is an end to end approach and same applies to Saxo Bank.”
Mr. Wegloop explained “Well Andrew, we are certainly concentrating more and more on the investor space. We made such substantial progress in the trader space, and now we are moving into the investor space. We have within our client base a cross-section of self-directed and also passive investors. We will cater more toward this sector, and will bear in mind that an investor could be a trader, and a trader could be an investor.”
“Saxo Bank is democratizing investment and trading, providing unparalelled global multi asset financial market access, any time, anywhere. We will do this by becoming the most professional facilitator in the global capital markets industry, disrupting traditional business models and adding significant value to our clients” said Mr. Wegloop.
Most certainly, detailed precision is evident, and Mr. Wegloop’s enthusiasm as he spoke on these subjects exuded passion for detail and the appreciation for high quality.
“I have always been fascinated with detail and engineering perfection” said Mr. Wegloop. “My father collected top of the range American classic cars and Rolls Royce convertibles, all of which are in immaculate condition, so I guess I grew up with very deeply ingrained interests in these fields” he concluded.
Photography at Saxo Bank, Hellerup, Denmark. Copyright Andrew Saks-McLeod