We caught up with Hassan Thalji, VP Investments & Capital Markets CFO, and Taha Syed, VP and Investments & Capital Markets Controller, to hear more about the project and Freddie Mac’s reasons for partnering with SimCorp.
Why did Freddie Mac choose to partner with SimCorp?
Hassan: At Freddie Mac, we believe that having the right infrastructure and technology are key to success. We wanted to implement a world-class operating model designed for today’s faster processing and quick data analysis. Our goal was to adopt a system that could perform all our accounting operations for capital markets on a single platform. We also needed a system that would allow us to make changes more quickly and become more agile.
For us, having modern and powerful technology that’s easy to update is absolutely essential to achieving a resilient operating model that is future-fit.Hassan Thalji, VP Investments & Capital Markets CFO, Freddie Mac
We did a great deal of due diligence and evaluated several different vendors. What attracted us to SimCorp was both the extensive functionality and their understanding of our business. Speaking with existing SimCorp customers, it became clear very quickly that they were experienced in delivering the type of solution we were looking for. We asked some of SimCorp’s existing customers a lot of questions about the product and got great feedback.
Another key differentiating factor was SimCorp’s approach to innovation and the continuing evolution of the SimCorp Dimension® platform. We know SimCorp listens to their customers and incorporates client feedback into the product. We wanted a modern solution that would continue to evolve with our business, so SimCorp’s ability to offer new capabilities on a regular basis was very appealing to us.
Linked to this point, because the capabilities available out-of-the-box are so extensive, there’s very little customization needed. This is important because having little customization dramatically simplifies the system upgrade process.
It was really a combination of all these factors that helped us to decide that SimCorp was the right partner for Freddie Mac.
What were some of the points you were looking to address?
Taha: Before implementing SimCorp Dimension, we were spending more time on producing the numbers rather than analyzing the numbers. As we continue this journey of implementing SimCorp Dimension for different portfolios, we’re realizing two important benefits. The first is that we can close the books sooner than we were able to before. The second key benefit is that we’ve been able to move the team’s focus away from producing the numbers, to analyzing the numbers, understanding the data, and preparing insights. Empowering the team to focus on analysis, rather than data generation, is a major value shift that we’re seeing.
While this ability to focus more on data analysis has always been a key objective, it has proven even more important in helping us navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting market volatility. New data is coming in all the time, which has an impact on our accounting numbers. The more time we have to analyze this data, the more time we have to verify whether the numbers align with our expectations which in turn allows us to mitigate financial reporting risk. With SimCorp Dimension, we’re now able to close the books up to two days sooner than we were before. This allows us to focus that time on re-checking and analyzing the numbers, so we can be absolutely certain that the numbers make sense.
Empowering the team to focus on analysis, rather than data generation, is a major value shift that we’re seeing. The more time we have to analyze this data, the more time we have to verify whether the numbers align with our expectations which in turn allows us to mitigate financial reporting risk. Taha Syed, VP and Investments & Capital Markets Controller, Freddie Mac
Hassan: I always like to say that numbers are not just numbers, they’re stories. From my perspective, the sooner we have the story, the better. The more time we can focus on analysis and strategy, and the quicker we can feed back that information to the business, the better.
The other point I would emphasize here is the importance of technology in building strong business resilience. To survive and thrive in this market, you cannot continue to rely on legacy systems that require manual workarounds and are difficult to update and maintain. For us, having modern and powerful technology that’s easy to update is absolutely essential to achieving a resilient operating model that is future-fit.
Technology also plays an important role in employee motivation and job satisfaction. It’s much easier to recruit and retain resources with modern technology that maximizes automation and makes work more meaningful.
Finally, from an agility standpoint, what has helped significantly is the extensive asset class coverage already available in the SimCorp Dimension platform. We’re benefiting from a very comprehensive solution and there has been limited customization from an asset class coverage perspective.
The second phase of implementation was successfully completed remotely during the COVID-19 crisis. How would you describe the collaboration between Freddie Mac and SimCorp during this time of remote project delivery?
Taha: When we first went into lockdown, I wasn’t a firm believer that we would be able to complete the project remotely. However, it all worked out very well. There were several different teams working on this initiative at Freddie Mac. Key to our success was how all these teams were able to come together to operate as a single unit. The focus was on everyone coming together to get the job done, and people really stepped up throughout the process. I was extremely impressed with the level of dedication and quality of the work delivered by all involved.
Hassan: My experience is that SimCorp is a company of very professional and hard-working people. Prior to the lockdown, we’d already established a strong working relationship with the SimCorp team. This meant that when we had to start working remotely, the trust was already there, and we didn’t miss a beat!