An interview with Nic Pollock

Nic Pollock

FST Media: What are your priorities for the next 6 months?  

Pollock: Decimal has built the world’s most advanced automated financial advice platform and delivered success with key cornerstone clients. The market is now ready and eager to adopt so we are focused on executing our sales plans, starting with the launch of Eqilize and Tentalon offerings in Australia.

A key part of that success and our ability to scale will be the Strategic partners we can work with in adjacent technologies, value adding and implementation. This is a very high priority as well.

We are already making plans for what geographical markets we enter next but the focus for now is definitely on winning key Australian clients and developing strategic partnerships with global brands that will also assist in our geographic expansion.

FST Media: What role does robo-advice play in the Australian fintech market?

Pollock: Automated or Robo-advice is one of a number of key areas of growth in the fintech market, some would say the hottest.

A 2015 report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) identified the first consolidated taxonomy for disruptive innovation in financial services. Those areas were:

•    Market Provisioning 
•    Investment Management 
•    Insurance 
•    Deposits & Lending 
•    Capital Raising 

Automated advice fits into the Investment Management, Insurance and Deposits and Lending areas.  

FST Media: What technology or innovation is proving to be the single biggest game changer for robo-advice?

Pollock: If one had to be singled out it is overcoming consumer confidence in the process and benefits of financial advice. It is technology’s capability to make the complex simple coupled with technology automatically providing an audit trail and giving the consumer comfort. Ability to automate algorithms was never the challenge. The ability to simplify complex concepts via cool user interfaces and connect multiple stakeholders via open cloud platforms is vital but it’s the ability for robo-advice to transform financial advice proactively, transparently and efficiently that is proving to be the biggest game changer.  

FST Media: How are you leveraging big data and analytics to meet customer demand for personalised products

Pollock: Increasingly the customer expectation these days is about personalization. The Decimal platform can readily conduct its own analytics over the inevitably large sets of data we are managing and what the customer segments look like and how they behave. Decimal is unique in that it works with existing accounts and therefore immediately garners analytics from a broad multi-segment population. The Decimal platform will also integrate very effectively with other analytical engines such as IBM’s Watson and other big sources of Data such as Salesforce CRM to understand, learn and continue to pursue a customer’s personal journey or offering which is frictionless.

FST Media: What notable examples have you seen of financial organisations innovating to acquire and retain the interest of Gen-Yers?

Pollock: In our experience the organisations we work with overwhelmingly want to appeal to all generations to offer digital advice. To that extent user experiences and front ends can differ in any number of ways to engage with different demographics. Also, because of Decimal’s ability to interact with existing customer and admin systems, compelling personalised offerings can be made to Gen Y or any other generation or segment.

Certainly one of the key characteristics of Gen-Yers (compared to previous generations) is the expectation of instant delivery from anywhere at any time; that’s been one of the drivers behind not just robo-advice but all manner of automated, cloud-based technologies designed to make products and services more accessible and available outside standard business hours.

FST Media: What developments in regulation are crucial for the development of the robo-advice sector?

Pollock: The recent initiative undertaken by ASIC to support the robo-advice industry with clear regulatory guidelines is a welcome sign that robo-advice is being taken seriously by the broader financial sector. And ASIC has quite clearly articulated the key aspects for consideration.

It’s also worth noting that compliance is not something to be viewed in isolation but needs to be an integral part of robo advice offerings. Consider the impact of scalability – as funds under advice grow, so too does the level of risk to an organisation. So compliance needs to be built in, scalable and customizable to cater for changing circumstances. The good thing for Decimal is that those things have been core considerations since we started our development journey and whatever recommendations, guidelines or regulations are introduced, our platforms are designed to cater for them.

FST Media: What tools or references keep you abreast of emerging technology trends?

Pollock: The best tools and references are actually our customers and partners, who play a very important role in driving technology because they provide a direct link to industry and end user requirements. To us, the definition of a true “platform” is to create ecosystems for customers and partners to leverage and to add value.

The Decimal platform ticks all the boxes of enterprise currency in terms of being secure, multi tenanted, cloud based, mobile, scalable, auditable etc. We are constantly talking to our customers and partners about what’s coming next and we have experts in that field, not least our founder Jan Kolbusz who has been building enterprise grade technology for 30 years.

One of our customers said to us that what differentiated Decimal was we were truly “customer first”. 

That’s because with Decimal there is so much opportunity to leverage front end technologies to deliver engaging and rewarding financial experiences for all customers and we are just at the beginning of this journey. I’m really excited about what our customers and partners will be able to bring to this to make the seemingly complex simple and engaging, and allow everyone to leverage financial services regardless of net worth.

Ultimately I am a financial services customer so it’s a combination of what my customers tell me and want to see as well as what I want as a financial services customer.

FST Media: How do you achieve a work/life balance? 

Pollock: Right now I’m not sure I do and I certainly wouldn’t claim that I have anything new to tell to help others. At almost 50 and having just celebrated my 20th wedding anniversary, what I do know is that I have achieved a balance at times in the past, and I know I will again in the future, but right now we have a lot to do and it can’t wait. And it’s bloody exciting and no doubt will be rewarding.

FST Media: What is the legacy you wish to be remembered for?

Pollock: If the question is around being the leader of Decimal then I see myself as just one of the leaders of Decimal that brings certain skills and talents to the team. If you look at some of the most successful tech companies they are often predicated on a really powerful partnership of leaders or founders. The most obvious current example is the 10 year overnight success of Atlassian. To that extent, the successful partnership with Jan Kolbusz, the visionary and founder of this great company and technology has to be a legacy.

So what I hope to bring to Decimal, together with Jan, the founder and the shareholders of Decimal, is the successful market realisation of the huge opportunity he has created.