Today’s profile is all about John Davis, MD of BCSG. They are the leading business apps marketplace provider and this profile takes us through his views on the industry and how he and his company are leading the way.
Our questions are in bold…
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1. Who are you and what’s your background?
I studied engineering at Oxford but soon realised that my passion and talent lay elsewhere. Engineering’s loss was Fintech’s gain, perhaps? I also went back to Oxford a few years afterwards to do an MBA. I’ve been working with banks and in the financial technology sector for 16 years now and am still very much enjoying the journey that this career has taken me on. I am also the proud father of three beautiful daughters.
2. What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
I am the Managing Director of BCSG. But simply, this means I am responsible for everything and nothing. The overall strategic delivery for BCSG is my responsibility; thankfully we have a really strong team of people around me and that certainly helps to turn our visions into a reality.
3. Can you give us an overview of your business?
BCSG are a cloud services broker who work with large corporates, typically banks but also telcos, to bring high quality business services to their small business customers; these tools and services are proven to help small businesses to be more successful. To do this, we create a customised tech platform for our clients. Where we believe our proposition is differentiated from our competitors is in the expertise and experience that we offer around that tech delivery; in proposition design, go to market support and customer engagement. That is how we stand apart in the market.
4. Tell us how you are funded.
We are a privately owned company and are as such funded by the owners. This year, will likely be the year where we will take on growth equity funding which will give us the ability to make the most of this huge opportunity in the market. We recently carried out our own piece of research into cloud adoption trends and the future of the market. The results both confirmed and exaggerated what we knew: the sector will grow and develop hugely in the next three years and we are determined to stay at the forefront of it.
5. Why did you start up the company? To solve what Problems?
When BCSG became a cloud services broker it was based on the experience a number of us had had when working in Business Banking at Barclays where we had enhanced the proposition by going beyond banking to encompass a broader range of value added services. Having left Barclays, we saw the opportunity to offer these services to all banks (starting in the UK, but now globally) which was, at the time, a massively untapped market. Small business owners are typically short on time and expertise and are often unaware of how to choose the best tools to help with the running of their business. We feel that by offering a curated set of business applications to SMEs, we are genuinely helping to drive 50% of the GDP of the UK economy.
6. Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
We mainly work with banks and large telcos but our expertise and services can be extended to any organisation which has a large base of small business customers and wants to offer a better or broader range of services to those customers. Essentially, small businesses are the end user of the services we provide and the people to whom we offer 24/7 customer support.
Alistair Walker, founder of Timeline Components Limited, is one of many customers who have benefited from our service offering:
Alistair said: “Through the use of cloud apps we have been able to give different people different responsibilities, allowing everyone to use the same app to carry out different tasks, enhancing our collaborative working. This flexibility provided by the cloud has been and will continue to be extremely beneficial to our business.”
My area of expertise is in banking and FinTech for small business customers. Nowadays, small business customers want a relationship with their banks, but don’t always feel they are getting good service. It is tough to marry up the cost to serve for banks and what small businesses want from a relationship. We and our clients believe that by evolving to a more digitally focused relationship with a small business which is centred around value added tools and business insight, it is possible to make that relationship better both in terms of engagement and level of touch.
7. If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or Fin Tech sector?
I would like the small business customers at all banks to have a greater understanding of and better access to technology tools that can genuinely benefit their business. Too often small business owners are struggling with everyday tasks and admin which is taking up too much of their working week. I think their banks should be there to guide them. I am passionate about helping small businesses and because they account for 50% of the GDP in the UK it is absolutely vital that they are given the necessary help and support to survive and flourish.
8. What is your message for the big players in the field?
I think many banks suffer from the legacy of systems and technology platforms that haven’t been invested in for many years, and that makes it really tough to deliver exceptional service to their customers. The time is right to initiate that drive to digitalisation; and doing so in such a way that it makes the relationship better, not worse.
9. What phone are you carrying and why?
I’m carrying an iPhone 6. I started on the iPhone way back when and have become used to its features and functionality. I am still far from convinced that it’s the best one on the market but it works for me!
10. Where do you get your industry news from?
A variety of sources but the main three are Forbes, The FT and TechCrunch. I think it’s great how there are now a multitude of channels and strands on which one can stay informed and updated. You see and hear about articles via Linkedin or on other social media platforms which emphasises the beauty of collaboration on the web.
11. Can you list 3 people you rate from the Fin Tech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
We follow The SME finance forum on Twitter and I’m also a member of their Linkedin Group. They post some interesting content which helps me stay ahead of the conversation. @Fintechbot and @Aden_76 (Aden Davies) are another two twitter accounts that I find interesting. Both provide news and opinion around the sector. Given my passion for financial technology, these are another nice source of industry intelligence.
12. What is the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
We are regular attendees and presenters at Finovate and one of the great things about the event is the opportunity to see cutting edge FinTech services for every type of customer. I was in New York in September and I must admit I was particularly struck by some very cool, impressive and well-focused applications around managing wealth that are coming onto the market.
13. Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to define the next few years in the Fin Tech sector?
I’m not one to make great sweeping predictions; I’ll leave that to the likes of Gartner and McKinsey. One thing I do feel completely convinced of is that the usage of cloud applications by small businesses will go through the roof in the next five years. It’s the perfect time for them to embrace this rising wave and really step into the digital era with both feet.
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If you’ve any suggestions for other hot FinTech companies (startup, or established ventures) that we should be profiling, I’m all ears. Don’t hesitate to drop me a note at email@example.com. There’s more information on this page.