Tony Petrilli is the CEO of ViewTrade, the force that powers fintech and cross-boarder investing, helping innovators quickly launch or enhance a retail investing experience.
1.Can you give us a brief of your career before ViewTrade?
I have always had a passion for the financial services industry and have been in the space since I graduated college. I started my career in New York in the Financial Services practice of Arthur Andersen &Co where my clients were many of the storied Wall Street companies, and then at Citibank where I was involved in understanding and automating the management reporting processes. I learned quite a lot about the business of financial services, which led me to Morgan Stanley. At Morgan Stanley, I was very involved directly with the leadership of the global equity division as we expanded in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. I become the division’s Chief Financial Officer, coordinating globally the operations, technology, financial services, treasury, legal and compliance services that supported the Equity Division, and was involved in creating unique product and service worldwide. The last two years with Morgan Stanley I was in London, and this led to me joining Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette International in London when they decided to expand into Europe. I joined as the Senior Executive Officer and Co-Chair of DLJI’s Board of directors, responsible to coordinate and facilitate the build out of technology, operations, legal and compliance, and financial services teams supporting the expanding European operation. Having accomplished that objective, I returned to New York to be the Chief Financial Officer for DLJ’s Pershing Division and at the same time Managing Director for their Investment Adviser and Hedge Fund Services group.
The global capital markets, technology, and business to business services experience from my previous roles gave me a unique understanding and the skills that I use today in leading ViewTrade and in meeting the needs of ViewTrade’s clients.
2. Can you elaborate on the services that ViewTrade offers? And what makes your offerings unique compared to the competitors?
For over 20 years, we have been facilitating the financial services worldwide. Our clients are broker-dealers, advisors, and FinTech’s, and we provide them the technology and, when needed, the brokerage services they need to meet their objectives.
Our team of technology and brokerage operations specialists provide exceptional value, drawing on decades of experience delivering results for our clients. At ViewTrade we provide our clients everything they need to deliver a modern investing experience to their clients. With robust, easy-to-use APIs, SDKs and a technology and operations stack that supports the full investment lifecycle (onboarding, banking, trade execution, custody, market data and content, books and records support, custodian support, and more). Our team stays on top of changes to market structure, regulations, and vendor requirements and are constantly updating our technology accordingly.
We also pride ourselves on being a partner, not a competitor. We are 100% focused on harnessing our experience, resources, relationships, and creativity to helping our clients grow their business. When they succeed, we succeed.
3. How do you think technology is changing the financial services business landscape? What are some big technological shifts/trends you expect to take place in the next 5-10 years?
Technology is the key to both cost reduction and innovation, and this allows creatively in financial services to flourish.
It is what democratizes the financial services industry. For example, embedded finance allows innovators to find new ways to incorporate investing into other business lines and services, allowing consumers to invest just by living their lives. You see this in investing programs connected to credit card, banking, and other pay rail transactions, or paycheck deduction programs in the retirement or savings arena, and of course in the Super Apps that are gaining favor as one stop “lifestyle” facilitators.
You also see the impact of technology in opening investing to the masses. Most individuals worldwide still do not have access to investment programs, and in particular to cross boarder investing into the U.S and other markets. This is changing. The technology that ViewTrade provides is allowing firms of all types to offer micro investing opportunities using fractional investing and highly efficient cross boarder funding solutions that ViewTrade provides.
Further, many traditional brokers and banks around the world are limited in what they can provide clients due to legacy technology. By leveraging the technology that ViewTrade offers on top of their legacy technology, these firms are now able to add stock lending, digital asset investing, robo investing, notional investing, saving programs, and other services that expand the customer relationship and expand the targeted customer base. In essence, ViewTrade enables these firms to make the digital transformation without the cost, risk, and time needed to re-write their current technology and operational process.
All the cumulative experience we have with broker dealers and financial services providers is embedded into our APIs and technology stacks. Clients recognize that by leveraging our technology stack, they can free up manpower, time, and money to focus on creating the customer experience that distinguishes their brand and creates value for their customers. We make the complicated and the mundane simple to access and more efficient to operate and maintain.
4. What are the challenges of serving global clients and how do you address them?
Since our inception, ViewTrade’s has been providing financial services firms outside of the U.S with access to the U.S and other major markets. The company’s very first business clients were the first online brokers in Belgium, Singapore, and Israel. So, while many U.S firms find serving non-U.S based clients a challenge, and many non-U.S firms find working with U.S based firms challenging too, it is our bread and butter, and we have developed the expertise and technology to truly partner with our clients.
Many U.S brokers and custodian firms take a unilateral approach, providing technology and services strictly based on what they do for their U.S customers. Further, they require their non-U.S business clients to operating strictly under U.S rules, frequently requiring that the financial service provider open their retail accounts directly with them. ViewTrade separates brokerage from technology. Our technology stack is customizable and configurable to work under the rules and regulations of the country where our client is based. When a client is using ViewTrade’s technology, it is doing so as an extension of their own operation and books and records. This allows our client to provide access and services based on the same rules and regulations that their customers are subject to for their local markets. Further, ViewTrade’s technology is broker and custodian neutral, meaning we will connect to the broker and the custodian of choice for our client. This allows our client to stay on our technology throughout their evolution, from tech platform only to full-service broker dealer or financial services provider. Further, we seek to truly understand the rules, regulations, competitive pressures, and culture of our client, and provide customer support to them using professionals that share the same language and life experience. Our goal is to continue to expand our teams based around the world and to provide round the clock service in their native language. Our clients aren’t talking to chatbots or waiting hours for a response. They talk to real people with in-depth knowledge of financial services technology, operations, and market data.
In summary, most U.S brokers run away from one-offs. They want easy. We do not need easy, we just need possible, and we are happy to work with our clients in creating unique experiences and solutions globally.
5. What is ViewTrade doing to innovate and be a disruptor in the fintech space?
At ViewTrade, we offer something that many other fintech’s don’t – a one-on-one hands-on approach. We support the trailblazers and innovators who are reimagining trading and investing and work with them as a partner to create opportunities for success. Putting the customer first and making sure they achieve their goals is our number one priority.
Additionally, our team stays on top of changes to market structure, regulations, and vendor requirements, updating our technology accordingly. This greatly reduces the time and resources our clients need to spend maintaining theirs.
In many cases the U.S is not an accessible market, and when you go outside the U.S the cost to o access the American market is expensive through international brokerage firms. We help simplify and offer a complete turnkey solution with B2B and dB2C firms and they connect directly to our infrastructure. At ViewTrade we offer brokerage as a service.
6. Could you give a sneak peek into the recent developments at ViewTrade?
There are many, from material innovation to what may seem individually a small development but in totality creates new opportunities for creatively. To be honest, there is too much going on to cover in full, but some examples of the exciting developments at ViewTrade are:
· Rolling out an all-in-one advisory platform called OneView. The platform is designed for private bankers, investment managers, brokers, and family offices that manage multiple accounts or multiple custodians. It is targeted to advisory firms and private banks looking to upgrade their current technology stack or to independent advisers and private bankers looking to set up their own shop by connecting with our brokerage clients in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Israel, India, Europe, Latin America, and the USA Features include digital onboarding, built-in-risk management & compliance monitoring, robust trading and allocation capabilities, market insight tools, customer portal, and built-in CRM tools
· Rolling out fractional trading technology stack to our brokerage and advisory clients in Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Israel, Italy, and more, allowing for creation of automated investment programs, micro investing services, and more innovative services targeting a wider demographic of new and established investors.
· Rolling out Click IPO services, allowing our global Clients to offer on-line and self-directed IPO access to their retail customers.
· Rolling out our Agency Securities Lending Technology Service allowing asset managers and brokers using bank custody services to lend out their customer’s fully paid securities worldwide.
· Rolling out our Digital Asset Technology Service that provides our clients with a turnkey technology, exchange, and custodian solution to launch digital asset trading on their retail or institutional platforms.
· Rolling out new features for our Global Identity Verification Service, an integral part of onboarding customers. Jurisdiction Block allows account managers to bock users from opening accounts from certain global regions, countries, or U.S. states before the account is passed to the custodian, effectively halting account creation before other KYC verifications are conducted. Person Block works similarly to Jurisdiction Block by allowing account managers to fully block certain people from opening accounts. Continuous ID service verifies account identities through multiple sanction lists, government exposure and risk database daily, once activated.
· Adding a new cloud-based storage feature to our suite of Account Management & Onboarding Services, giving clients a new way to back-up data that is both secure and easily accessible. This new feature automatically creates a snapshot of completed new account applications and stores them in a secondary back-up cloud location, in addition to their own controlled storage solution. Once stored, a client can retrieve the data for any application as a password-protected PDF.
In addition, we continue to add to our base of clients and services providers connected to our integrated technology stack. We have over 100 potential clients in the pipeline, and over a dozen new solution providers. But, to provide some examples, we are
· Providing ViewTrade’s full technology stack to two of the leading U.S clearing firms. The white labeled technology allows their adviser, fintech, or introducing broker client to license rather than build the technology stack needed to integrate with the clearing firm and operate their own business, greatly increasing their time to market and freeing up resources of time, talent and money.
· Providing ViewTrade’s full technology and brokerage solution stack to Peru’s largest independently owned retail-broker dealer, transitioning their customers from phone-based investing in the U.S market to online investing.
· Providing ViewTrade’s full technology stack to facilitate two of India’s fastest growing and largest fintech firm providing U.S investing access to their customers.
· Providing ViewTrade’s full technology stack to the first bank in 43 years to be created in Israel, and Israel’s first digital bank, enabling their customers to access to U.S investing on their banking platform.
· Providing ViewTrade DVP Settlement technology to clients using Citibank as their bank custodian, creating a more efficient way to handle retail order flow settling with the bank’s custody operations.
· Providing quote distribution services to clients licensing with CBOE Market Data Services, the UTP, or Consolidated Tape Association, simplifying the market data access needs of our clients.
· Adding Signzy, an Indian banking workflow automation platform, to our Global Identity Service. Through this partnership, clients will have access to advanced Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology, which will be used to extract, compare, and identify information from official documents, automating and easing a traditionally complicated process. We have already added Socure , a U.S based identity verification solution provider, to our Global Identity Service as well as the Dow Jones databases. And we continue to add service providers in local regions thought the world. Through these partnerships, clients can automate the opening and monitoring of accounts wherever they are located using ViewTrade’s Account Management and Onboarding Service.
7. Could you tell us more about your team and how they support you?
I give so much credit to our team. They are the reason we are a successful business. They bring to life the ideas, products, and services that our clients use, and they are the reason our clients trust us.
While we have our headquarters in the U.S, we have dedicated employees all over the world. Our entire team, and not just sales professions, are always engaged with clients. Our technology developer, operations teams, and all the executive team are continuously working with our clients as partners in our mutual success. Our client’s success, and our relationship with them is our number one priority. In today’s world, clients and the team working together in trust is more important than anything.
8. What are your plans for expansion and growth? Top priorities for 2022?
We grow in two ways. By creating and offering more B2B services so that our current clients can do more with current customers and expand into new customer segments, and by our entering new markets and business segments. A few of our priorities for the second half of 2022 and beyond are:
· Clients trust us and have been asking us to add custodial services as a direct offering while also continuing to provide access to our custodian network. We have applied for this license and are awaiting the response of the regulator. This will be very important in the development of our client’s micro investing offerings.
· We are in fact conducing workshops covering several of the new developments highlighted earlier. The CEO reviews to date have been very well received.
· As noted earlier, we are looking to add additional team members in regions around the world. We know from experience that local presence significantly facilitates growth in those markets.
· We are launching a new website and marketing plan that introduces us for the first time as the full technology solution provider that we have become.
9. What is the biggest piece of advice you would want to give to company leaders?
You need a strong team –probably one of the most common pieces of advice, but it is a universal truth.
10. Which motivational quote drives you to achieve more at work? How do you manage to stay relevant in such a fast-paced industry?
You must have a culture and mindset of continuous improvement. There is no such thing a good enough. Furthermore, you need to do today’s work while thinking 2-5 years out anticipating what our clients or their customers will want or need. So perhaps I can share two quotes of the many that inspire me:
· “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln
· “Embrace what you don’t know especially in the beginning because what you don’t know can become your greatest asset. It ensures that you will absolutely be doing things different from everybody else.” – Sara Blakely