CIO50 2020 #25-50 Salvatore Trimboli, EL&C Baillieu
Salvatore Trimboli, chief technology officer for stockbrokers EL&C Baillieu wanted to help the firm’s advisors better distil massive volumes of key market data each day, and ultimately help them make their clients more money.
The first step was creating an ‘Advisor LENS Portal’, in other words a centralised hub, which leverages machine learning to provide analytical reporting and intelligent market data.
Now, when advisors switch on their PCs in the morning they’re able to get a quick snap-shot of global market movements and trends.
“The platform is hosted in our private cloud consuming big data sets from multiple external platforms to serve them up in a meaningful way to all,” Trimboli notes.
This supports the Adviser Advice platform, which is a proprietary white label record of advice platform (ROA), helping advisors provide “advice-at-scale” by dramatically shrinking the amount of time traditionally spent manually preparing documents and distributing them to clients, whilst adhering to strict compliance obligations.
“With the click of a few buttons a client can securely review their financial advisers’ recommendation of which stocks to buy, hold or sell from their mobile device,” Trimboli explains.
“This is then automatically rebalanced against the current portfolio with any changes then executed through to the ASX market.
Much of this occurred against the backdrop of a mass staff migration from Skype to Microsoft teams, as well as all EL&C’s public ASX companies that present to our advisers and clients every quarter.
Getting the data right
Successful machine learning projects are dependent on having the right structures in place for gathering and ordering data. And Trimboli notes that for EL&C “we knew this would provide consistent and timely reports on demand”.
He and the team also had to address specific operational and cultural challenges, for instance creating new processes – supported by education and training sessions – for inputting data into new formats.
“Once we had the buy in to show that the new way of working was streamlined, little effort was required, and the change adoption was accepted well,” Trimboli recalls.
He and the team actively sought to take lessons and observations from one field with the business and wider financial services sector and apply it elsewhere.
“We systematically repeat this process and also look externally to compound our exposure and experience.”
They also thought carefully about how to make small, incremental improvements along the way.
“I think of things such as ‘lean’, where a culture of continuous improvement strives to make a lot of small and seemingly insignificant improvements across a wide range of areas, with this culminating in substantial improvements across the organisation,” Trimboli adds.
“Companies such as Amazon have become masters at this, with continuous experimentation of their web interface resulting in daily optimisation of the user experience.”
Likewise, he seeks to be methodical, regular and consistent in how engages with his team, and also with management in explaining how projects have performed and making the case for further investment and support for technology.
“The first and most important way for me is to understand the business strategy and how I best can impact and influence our leaders,” Trimboli says.
He seeks to achieve this first and foremost by committing to ‘truthfulness’ and ‘transparency’.
“Committing to speak and listen to facts and create a culture where it feels safe to raise difficult issues by being vulnerable to speak up when I personally have a lack of clarity or understanding in situations.”
He also seeks to take responsibility for the choices he makes, whether that be through “action or inaction”.