Ep. 109: Building A Globalized Data Strategy Delivered Locally with Sabrina Bailey, LSEG

“If we think about the underpinning of our future growth strategy we’re specifically looking to accelerate growth by developing and delivering on a globalized strategy that’s delivered in a local way to meet client needs. What I mean by that specifically, if we think about for example private banks in North America relative to private banks in Asia, what those customers are looking for are different, but the solutions we provide can meet both of those needs.”

— Sabrina Bailey, Global Head of Wealth Data Analytics, London Stock Exchange Group

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The WealthTech Today podcast features interviews, news, and analysis on the trends and best practices in wealth and technology for wealth management, asset management, and related areas. This episode is part of our August focus on digital assets. We’re talking to the founders of innovative startups who are merging health and wealth to help financial advisors build stronger relationships, improve outcomes and enrich their clients’ lives. A quick shoutout to our sponsor, the Invest in Others Foundation, please go to InvestInOthers.org, and be sure to subscribe to our show wherever you listen to podcasts so you don’t miss future episodes.

Companies Mentioned

Topics Mentioned

  • Acquisitions and Goals
  • Wealth Enablement and Growth Tools
  • How Does Refinitiv Differentiate Itself?
  • Integration of Refinitiv into LSEG

Episode Transcript

Craig: I’m happy to introduce our guest for this episode of the WealthTech Today podcast it’s Sabrina Bailey, Global Head of Wealth Data Analytics at the London Stock Exchange Group. Sabrina, welcome to the program.

Sabrina: Thank you Craig, I’m glad that you’ve had me here. I’m excited to be with you today.

wealth management data analytics

Craig: We’re excited to get you here. I mean someone at your level to come on to talk to us is always exciting, and to hear what’s going on at Refinitiv and all the things you guys are doing. Where are you calling us from, or Zooming us from?

Sabrina: I am Zooming in from Chicago, Illinois.

Craig: I love Chicago. Not a fan of the sports teams, because I’m a Philadelphia fan but love the city and love going there. I used to work at Broadridge before it was Broadridge, we had a lot of clients in Chicago Board of Exchange, the Chicago Board Options Exchange is there so I always go into Chicago for work.

Sabrina: I love Chicago, one of my favorite cities, although I am a Pacific Northwesterner by heart. I grew up in Oregon, Washington, and so that’s where my home is although I’m calling from Chicago.

Craig: Awesome. That is great. Gotta keep moving around. So, let’s get this started. So can you give us the 30-second elevator pitch for LSEG Refinitiv Data Solutions.

Sabrina: So I’ll say its purpose is to enable the sustainable growth and stability of our customers. We do that by providing global financial market infrastructure across their business lifecycle. So globally we power 400,000 professionals using our data and analytics. In the wealth business, our purpose is to enhance the financial well being of all people. We do that by delivering personalized and data driven insights to our customers that facilitate sound investment decision making, financial decision making, and most importantly, fuel rich human connection between the advisor and the investor. And currently we touched the financial lives of over 5 million people globally.

Craig: Yeah it’s crazy how those numbers start to add up, 400,000 users, 5 million people, you know, just as you grow in size, you’re really having an impact and every decision you make, kind of gives you a lot of gravitas and you think about every decision you make is impacting millions of people.

Sabrina: It does and it’s what keeps me awake at night. I think it’s really important for all of us in the industry, not only to understand every decision made from the leadership level but every decision a coder makes for example, in engineering and development from a technology perspective. Every decision customer success makes, sales, it impacts millions of people. And so as we make those decisions that front and center should be, what’s the impact to actually enhancing financial wellness for people around the globe. And if it’s not positive, are we making the right decision?

Craig: You don’t want to second guess yourself too much. I’m really interested in the people side of the story and why you made the move to Refinitiv because you’re new in your role, which is great, congratulations. You’re only here 10 weeks, and you came from Northern Trust where you are head of digital investment advice so that’s going from the client side to the vendor side. So, what do you see, you only been there 10 weeks but what’s your initial impression of the differences when you switched over?

Sabrina: Yeah So couple of things to start, first and foremost, Northern Trust was one of the best organizations I’ve worked for in my career. Their emphasis on diversity and maintaining a client first focus was more than just words, and I’m really grateful for the colleagues I worked with, the clients I worked with, many of whom I stay in touch with.

So why would I choose to leave, is the question and there’s four reasons I pursue opportunities and have throughout my career. The first is that it aligns with my passions and priority. So my passion is working with a diverse set of people and teams, diverse in terms of cultures and perspectives, and then supporting those teams through times of tremendous opportunities. And if we think about the opportunity at LSEG given the combination of Refinitiv and the London Stock Exchange that opportunity was great to harness the power of diversity, to really deliver future business results.

Second is fulfillment of my personal purpose, and my personal purpose is helping people’s money work for them so they don’t have to work as hard for their money. This comes from growing up in a family and in a community that didn’t have a lot of extra resources. I had never heard of a stock or a bond until I went to college and so I was very passionate about getting the right financial information into the hands of everybody. The third reason is it increases my knowledge. I love to step out of my comfort zone. This opportunity allowed me to do that, I love to step outside my comfort zone because it encourages me to be a continual learner. It also keeps me humble. Because you have to clearly know what you do know and what you don’t know, to expand your perspective. And then the fourth was just broadening the network of opportunities, network of people I know, getting to learn from others and extending a helping hand as the opportunity arises. That all came together to connect with this new role at LSEG which is why I decided to pursue the opportunity.

Craig: And you really stepped into talking about challenges and opportunities. Quite the opportunity here. Refinitiv had just been spun off from Thomson Reuters then bought by Blackstone Group and then boom, London Stock Exchange comes and they acquire it so lots of change and which again is opportunity because what has changed, people want to do things differently so it kind of gives you the ability to put your own imprint on things.

Sabrina: Yes, I couldn’t agree more, and then you combine that with our acquisitions of Advisor Software as well as Scivantage and we really have four cultures that have blended into one in a matter of 18 months. That is large scale change for people and for our clients that have opened up a ton of opportunities.

Acquisitions and Goals

Craig: Yeah, we follow the market very closely, especially when it comes to tech, and we knew a lot about Advisor Software, Scivantage was a client of mine a while back, so knowing a lot about those companies I was pretty excited when you guys bought them to see what you would do and how you fit those pieces together, and knowing a lot of people on the wealth side, we’ve been working with them for a long time and really seeing how you were building a great team and then bringing you on board, another great team member. So it seems like you guys kind of have an all star team on the wealth side to really go after market share and make a bigger name for Refinitiv LSEG. Alright, so what are some of your goals now you’ve come in, you’ve taken over this business. There’s a lot going on, where do you see this going, and what are some things you’re focusing on?

Sabrina: If we think about the underpinning of our future growth strategy we’re specifically looking to accelerate growth by developing and delivering on a globalized strategy that’s delivered in a local way to meet client needs. What I mean by that specifically, if we think about for example private banks in North America relative to private banks in Asia, what those customers are looking for are different, but the solutions we provide can meet both of those needs.

So in terms of private banks in North America, it’s a little less trading focused and much more goals based focused, strategy focused in terms of that financial wellness and investment horizon. When we look at the broader APAC or Asia market, there’s more of a trading focus at both the advisor and the investor level. And so being able to deliver those services in a way that makes sense for those customers is really important to us. The great component about that is that we have a deep foundation of data and analytics, all of which support both of those delivery mechanisms. So we need to continue to localize our global strategy to really accelerate growth in each of those markets. Most of the Pacific reason region is different than Asia, and honestly Europe is different than North America. So we’re excited to continue to do that and really hone in on how do we use our base and foundation of data and analytics to accelerate that growth.

The second component of that is really listening intently to clients, and the market. We have a wealth of solutions we can provide now between Scivantage, Advisor Software legacy Refinitiv, now LSEG that allow us to meet advisors across their work stream. So imagine our growth strategy going forward is a three legged stool. The first leg of the stool includes your wealth enablement tools, and that allows advisors to run their business on a day to day basis very effectively and efficiently. You can think of market insights using the client 360 views, and client portfolios insights into news, etc. The second leg of the stool is how we help the wealth advisory firms actually grow their business. So it’s our growth tools that help them connect to the end investor. These are the tools where we have investor facing interfaces that they leverage that uses our same data and back end, active investor which is deployed directly to the investor space from a trading perspective. The third leg of the stool, really incorporates all that market data news and analytics that go across the two to stabilize the bench, and then if we think about the seat of the stool, it’s really that customer experience. We offer a wide range of experiences from fully turnkey to our clients where a private bank or large broker dealer can execute our services in a manner that allows them to do it pretty simply across the firm. We also have the ability to configure the solutions in any way imaginable to meet our client’s needs, and all of that is powered by the latest in technologies, whether that’s API technologies, or the code upon which we build, we’re really seeking to customize that experience as the seat of the stool that all three of those growth legs feed into.

Wealth Enablement and Growth Tools

Craig: That’s a very detailed answer, it’s exactly what we’re looking for. Thank you. There’s so much to unpack there so when you talk about the three legs of the stool, I’m working backwards. We’re seeing API’s become much more of a requirement for all vendors to offer because more clients are building their own solutions and building their own interfaces and want more control, rather than picking one vendor to own everything, they like to have options. But they want to do both at once, sometimes they want one vendor to handle multiple sometimes they want to bring another vendor so having those API’s to be able to connect to what you want is becoming more and more important. But one other thing you mentioned earlier was the wealth enablement tools and the growth tools. So, when we are talking to broker dealers, we find that they are much more attuned to growth than cost savings. They’re much more likely to spend money on a tool or a vendor if they can help them grow faster, increase revenue, versus oh we’re going to save you money in this way. Is this something you’re finding as well and you see these tools leading the charge of bringing data out to your clients?

Sabrina: It is something we’ve seen. So if we break it up, broker dealers absolutely are focused on growth versus cost savings, I would say private banks have a bit of a different flavor given the need to invest in the core of the technology across the bank. So I’ll say it more broadly, there are some that are further along than others. From a broker dealer space, some of the things we’re seeing in terms of accelerating growth our marketing strategy for example, and how marketing tools are embedded into the solutions that are provided. We have developed partnerships where we now can bring those marketing tools to the broker dealers, specifically focused on how do we accelerate the growth of their business.

There are other areas we’re looking at and onboarding is a key pain point, continues to be a key pain point across this industry, I would argue that no firm has found the “solution” to address that. At LSEG now now we have a broad range of capabilities, where we could at least help address that in the number of the key pain point area. So, going back to growth as we looked at growth we’re also thinking about what are those pain points that still exist, especially for broker dealers and private banks looking for growth that we could help provide or supplement in terms of making it easier for them to grow their business.

Craig: I like how you added private banks, we’re seeing the same thing that they private banks and broker dealers do share a lot of the same pain points and you really hit the nail on the head there, onboarding and also something we work a lot with. We work with onboarding vendors we work with a lot of broker dealers and they do complain, and I’m sure you saw that when you’re head of digital at Northern Trust, it’s all about onboarding. A major portion of your digital experience is onboarding, if they don’t onboard well, you’ve soured things and you have the abandonment of clients who just leave, and say, if you can’t even get that right, how can I trust you with anything else.

Sabrina: Well, it’s so true and think about if one of the things we’re looking at is white glove service is becoming self service. Historically white glove service was not self service, it was having someone take all the data for you, enter it all, be there to provide it. Now, given the shift in the industry, from everything from buying insurance, to purchasing a home, so much of it has become self service, the expectation is that flows over into the financial services space. We’re not quite there yet, but that is the expectation that the white glove service is the self service going forward with the human connectivity as needed to enhance that process and that relationship.

Craig: You could also say that self service has to become more like white glove service where they’re expecting higher end service from what used to be just let them look, click a couple things, let them open their own accounts. Now you really need to build out a really great experience for them.

Sabrina: Agreed.

How Does Refinitiv Differentiate Itself?

Craig: You’ve hit on a couple great themes I think you’ve answered the next question was, why would a broker dealer come to Refinitiv but we just talked about the wealth enablement tools and the growth tools. Are there any other reasons why a broker dealer would select Refinitiv? They have a lot of choices, and we work with Michael Kitces, we partner with him on his Advisor Tech Map and if you’ve seen that map is 300 logos of vendors in the space growing all the time. So what’s Refinitiv’s value add, and how do you differentiate yourself?

Sabrina: We have a few value adds, we think about why else they come to us, one in terms of newer solutions is our active investor solution that is focused on allowing individuals to trade. What’s important here right because there are FinTech firms that obviously cover this space is that we bring with it a level of understanding in terms of risk associated with financial markets, how data is provided to the end investor to make those more complex trading decisions that helps broker dealers avoid some of the risks you could find with earlier stage fintechs that don’t fully understand the regulatory environment and broker dealers operate in. The second is really how we deliver insights from our news. So we take that news and deliver it in a way that the broker dealer for example can see their client portfolios, stocks in those portfolios, and then relevant news associated with how they should or shouldn’t trade things they should consider as they’re looking at those portfolios. That dashboard perspective is extremely strong for broker dealers. The final it’s just the depth of the ESG data, we look at ESG a bit differently than many of our competitors in this space in terms of how we rate ESG down to a fundamental level in many areas social, climate. Looking at your impact to the overall economy, diversity at the board level, you name it, there’s a number of individual areas, that helps broker dealers actually offer customized solutions or configure their ESG solutions for their clients based on what their clients care about, rather than just a broad ESG spectrum so that would be another reason broker dealers look at us, in terms of the provider choice.

Craig: That’s something we were talking about earlier, we’ve done a lot of market research on data solutions for broker dealers and we review the Refinitiv feature set. And one of the things that jumped out from our research team was the ESG data set and how strong it was, how you had all the API’s, you had the connectivity that firms can build right into it, and pull the ESG data and it was more the depth and breadth of it, and the methodology. That’s important, because there are a lot of firms that have more data, but the methodology is not sound. And when it comes to ESG it’s not like fundamentals where well the earnings are this or they’re not this, when it’s ESG well how do you measure those things? How do we measure the environmental, social, government, how do you measure governance? There’s no one right or wrong way, but we really like the methodology you used to create the rankings there so you know if I’m picking this stock, because the ESG ranking from Refinitiv said so, I can be sure that I’m not gonna be surprised down the road, at least that’s our opinion.

Sabrina: Yes, I couldn’t agree more.

Craig: So, let’s backtrack a second. You mentioned the active investor solution, super interested in that. What kind of traders is this for, how do you compare this to other solutions, there’s lots of other trading solutions out there, targeting end investors like Robinhood, for example, why would they not use that and what’s the advantages of the the Refinitiv active investor solution for broker dealers?

Sabrina: The active investor solution is built to the audience is the end investor, it’s also built with the regulatory environment in mind, and that becomes important because we also have a large trading desk right at LSEG and so we understand what broker dealers face in terms of those regulatory issues and the way then the data is structured, and the limits we put on that end investor become really important in adhering with those regulations so that’s one of the key areas we stand out relative to the other, I’ll call it solutions in this area, for individuals who are looking to actively trade. The other component is, especially for broker dealers, if they have proprietary research for example, that gets embedded and incorporated in that active portal, which becomes important in terms of raising our clients brand so when we think about brand going forward, one of our areas of shift is we don’t want to elevate our brand, our goal should be to elevate the brand of our clients to their end investors to accomplish our purpose or mission, and this really allows us to do that by serving up both proprietary research, as well as the market research that we have available.

Craig: I think that combination is what makes your data more valuable, the proprietary and the non. Again, a lot of firms have one or the other, but it’s hard to find both, and that play well together so you can get both from one place. I want to throw out what I think is a benefit to active investor solution, and compared to Robinhood. One of the things that bothers me about Robinhood and I’ve been very vocal about this on Twitter and other areas is there’s payment for order flow. So, you’re using it for “free”, I’m using air quotes for free, but they’re selling your orders to high speed traders and things that are now front running you. So you’re not really getting the best price and again each client may not care because it could be just pennies or dollars, but it adds up over time. Whereas the active investor solution, and I think I understand this, you can integrate it into a broker dealers existing order management system.

Sabrina: Yeah, true.

Craig: Right, so that would bypass that you sell the benefits in the broker deal because they look, you can go to Robinhood, they’re selling your data, we won’t do that, we’re getting the best price.

Sabrina: Agreed.

Integration of Refinitiv into LSEG

Craig: I like that about the product. Okay so we are running out of time, I want to make sure I get to a couple more questions before we go. So can you talk a little bit, I know you’ve only been there three months, can you talk a little bit about some of the benefits and the integration of Refinitiv into LSEG? So this is new, Refinitiv was just spun off from Thomson Reuters in 2018, and then already 2020 there they’re merging to LSEG so it’s a lot of upheaval. How do you see the synergies, at a high level, bearing out of the next couple years?

Sabrina: The highest levels, the synergies were one of the reasons I was so excited to join. I get really excited about this, so I’ll share what I can share this point which is LSEG has never been able to offer this range of capabilities in terms of data to actual investment implementation to the exchanges. So we’ve not only extended those capabilities from pre trade in price discovery through the clearing, through to providing that interface for our clients to do the same, but we’ve extended our global reach with the merger of these two organizations, and the enhancement of the data sets then becomes critical. So we can offer front to back synergies for clients. It’s also coupled though with a profound sense of responsibility for our customers, and global communities. If our purpose, which it is at LSEG, is to drive financial stability and empower economies, and enable customers, we become a poor partner that they rely on to do that and to generate sustainable growth.

So back to the comment earlier, every decision we make becomes extremely important and how we do this and how we achieve our purpose over time with some of the more specific areas I can see in the wealth space that could be synergies going forward. A great one is our investment solution expertise. We are now combined with FTSE Russell, there’s a ton of investment knowledge in those organizations, bringing that investment solution knowledge to bear for our wealth clients will be really important as we look to go forward in this space. There are other synergies as we think about potential future market opportunities in capital markets for example, that we’re thinking about and actively discussing so I can’t guarantee anything but what I can say is the synergies between wealth investment solutions and capital markets are extremely strong, and we have a close partnership today, as we’re setting strategy going forward, to understand how we support one another, to empower the sustainable growth for the global economy.

Craig: Truly unique set of vertically integrated tools and businesses that doesn’t exist anywhere else. There’s no other exchange, NASDAQ doesn’t have a technology solution they can deploy, New York Stock Exchange doesn’t have that. So it’s quite unique I think and I’m interested to see how this plays out and how you more tightly integrate this vertical solution from the exchange to wealth to investment solutions to capital markets. Can you talk a little bit about vendor consolidation, what are you seeing there because we’re seeing a mixed bag some broker dealers are looking for one vendor to do it all and as we like to say one throat to choke, and others are doing a best of breed. What are you seeing how would Refinitiv play out in that vendor consolidation trend?

Sabrina: I actually see a range as well in terms of clients who, for example, we have one client, a large client of ours is looking at developing a best of breed solution today, and we are actively partnering with them in terms of where do the LSEG wealth solutions make sense in that best of breed, how do they think about it more holistically, how can we partner and help with that structure? So, given our API first approach, we can work well in that we have other plans who are looking to do the exact opposite, find that “one throat to choke”, but really thinking about putting together the power of one to three large organizations that can enable them to have a custom solution but operate where they’re the strongest. What we see here is that we leverage them partnerships that are best of breed in the solution we deliver to those clients so they don’t have to build those partnerships, we’ve done it for them. So if we think about the marketing partnership we have, we are partnering with an organization that only focuses, how do we deliver marketing services to grow advisory businesses. If we think about widget capabilities or visualization capabilities for partnering with best in class firms that provide that to the market so that our clients don’t have to do that and then we manage those partnerships and provide that all in one solution to clients and those key areas across data analytics and service.

Craig: Yeah I see it is a really powerful option. There’s so many choices out there, but still the larger the firm, and we work with some of the largest enterprise wealth management firms in the space, the more they tend to gravitate towards trusted partners like Refinitiv that can do more. And you’ve got footholds, what I really felt was interesting about the acquisition and the spin off, and I come from the market data business long time ago that Thomson One was always our competitor, I worked at Broadridge and before Broadridge was spun off, it was ADP Brokerage and we had a front office market data solution that competed with Thomson, that was always our biggest competitor. They I think eventually bought that business. But once you’re in market data, you’re in almost every enterprise business has to have market data, and has Thomson One somewhere because they rolled up some other businesses so you’ve got a foothold in so many different companies, you’ve already got the contracts the MSAs, relationship manager so then it’s like, Hey, look at this data look at our ESG now look at our other solutions. Do you see that as something that you can do all this cross selling, that having all these different vertically integrated solutions will enable you to do that?

Sabrina: So we do see a very large opportunity there, this goes back to intently listening to our clients for growth. When we think about our larger outside opportunity that intently listening to clients is important, because we’ve got so many capabilities, but the clients don’t have capacity to hear about all those capabilities unless they’re connecting to a direct pain point they have at the moment. So our growth is dependent on intently listening identifying the true pain points not the symptoms of the pain points, and then being able to bring to the table the right solutions at the right time to help that client drive growth going forward.

Craig: Sabrina, you’ve said it all. I think we are out of time, I really appreciate you being here. I’m glad we were able to connect. I’m glad you’re so open and available, I know you’re you’re swamped, you’re only there three months you’ve got a million things on your plate. So I really appreciate you taking the time out to speak with us.

Sabrina: Thank you, it was fun, I appreciate the invite and enjoyed our time together today.

Craig: Nice talking to you.

Sabrina: You as well.

Click here and schedule a Discovery Session to find out how Ezra Group can help your fintech firm grow revenue in the wealth management space.



The Wealth Tech Today blog is published by Craig Iskowitz, founder and CEO of Ezra Group, a boutique consulting firm that caters to banks, broker-dealers, RIA’s, asset managers and the leading vendors in the surrounding #fintech space. He can be reached at craig@ezragroupllc.com