Today we are joined for this week’s profile with Jack Horton from Whites Technology Group.
“Whites Technology Group specialises in the development of disruptive and cost-saving technology solutions for businesses and individuals which deal in inter-national currency transactions and investment management”
Our questions are in bold.
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Who are you and what’s your background?
I am Jack Horton, Chief Executive and co-founder of Whites Group, specialising in building payment services technology to help businesses become more efficient and save money.
I started in Engineering, building laser machinery, but I’ve always had a very entrepreneurial mind-set, so after that, I started a number of businesses, buying and selling different items.
Having tried (and failed) at a few ventures, I decided to pursue one of my great passions and move to London to work in Financial Services – this included FX trading. I worked in London for 2 years, which gave a great insight into the industry, whilst also highlighting what is the industry was desperately lacking. I saw a niche market, and so in 2012, myself and my co-founder, Freddie, founded Whites Group.
What is your job title and what are your general responsibilities?
As CEO, I am responsible for the day-to-day running of Whites Group, including the hiring and managing of staff members, compliance, client management and sales. Making the daily decisions about successfully growing the business and driving Whites Group forward in the Fintech industry is also my main aim and responsibility. I often travel to South East Asia, as we have recently opened up an office in Singapore – I take responsibility for meeting new clients and intro-ducing them to Whites Group’s services.
Can you give us an overview of your business?
Whites Group was founded only three years ago in 2012, and is fast becoming a new and highly disruptive force in UK financial technology, with a vision of bringing complete transparency to the traditionally costly and confusing foreign exchange market.
We’ve developed our own proprietary platform, ‘Invest Admin’ (IA), which enables new and established fund managers to outsource all of the back and middle office functions, from transaction management to compliance, reconciliation and end-client reporting.
Whites has found a significant niche, especially with early-stage fund managers, who are able to run their entire fund efficiently and cost effectively, requiring very little additionally support. In addition to this, via the use of different tranches of its technology, we are able to serve a variety of differing verticals across the financial system.
By providing a technology based alternative to historically labour intensive work, we have already created waves within the financial market, especially as a result of our clinical focus on personalised customer service. Each Whites client is provided with personal points of contact at the organization, able to tailor outsourced packages directly to client needs. Our aim is to relieve the administrative headache for startup, whilst reducing their need to employ in-house staff to a bare minimum.
Further to the IA service, we are developing a proprietary technology platform – SettlePay. With this, we aim to lift the veil on foreign exchange transactions, allowing businesses to see exactly how much they have historically been charged in real-time for currency transactions and enable them to understand the lowest possible rates going forward. By providing complete transparency, we are giving businesses the power to either negotiate fees with their current foreign exchange providers, or use the SettlePay service directly to achieve the best rates on the market. Businesses are given the very unique opportunity to regain full control and clear understanding of the foreign exchange market and their own foreign currency transactions.
As the company is based outside of London, we offer significant benefits, such as being able to charge less for the services on offer, due to fewer overheads. It’s allowed us to really make our presence felt in the market, providing exclusive customer service and money saving patented technology for less – we’ve opened up high-end technology to both large corporate companies and SME’s alike.
Our company has continually invested in technology and people for the last 12 months, and with that in mind is looking to continue to develop new technology and increase staff numbers to support and grow the business going forward. The unique technology gives the company a stronger foothold in the market place with increased market share, whilst the staff numbers support the growth and assist with the ongoing development of products in the future.
Whites has recently opened offices in South East Asia, namely in Singapore. Our presence in Singapore will be a significant stepping stone for the business – it is expected to double the size of the company and spread our unique services to one of the main financial capitals on the globe.
Tell us how you are funded.
Whites Group was completely self-funded, with not a penny of outside invest-ment diluting founding ownership.
Why did you start the company? To solve what problems?
Having worked in London at a top tier investment bank, I saw an opportunity and niche market area. From this, I created Whites Group with a view to supply customers with a service they were not currently getting from their existing supplier.
Our main motivation when both creating Whites and designing our service technology was the customer – we designed everything around them. We wanted to give complete control and a unique tailored service to each individual client. No two businesses are the same and their requirements vary, so we are able to adapt each outsourced package to specific customer needs. ‘Invest Ad-min’ (IA), for example, enables new and established fund managers to out-source all of their back and middle office functions, enabling companies to focus on what they do best. SettlePay, on the other hand, gives complete transparency and control to the customer, simplifying the traditionally confusing and hidden world of foreign exchange transactions.
Who are your target customers? What’s your revenue model?
Invest Admin (IA) target customer are early stage fund managers. The service enables new and established fund managers to outsource all of the back and middle office functions, from transaction management to compliance, reconciliation and end-client reporting.
SettlePay target customer are SME’s who want to save of their foreign exchange transactions. This service allows users to see how much they have historically been charged for foreign exchange transactions and enables them to see the lowest possible rate going forward. Businesses can either negotiate a fee with their current foreign exchange providers, or use the SettlePay service directly to achieve the best rates in the market. Our aim is to help SME’s save money and get the best forex rate, rather than being seduced by hidden bank fees.
Whites Group revenues are predominantly derived from exchange transaction fees on foreign exchange.
If you had a magic wand, what one thing would you change in the banking and/or FinTech sector?
I would change the way payment services companies are considered by both the banks and regulators. For the market industry to grow, the restrictions placed on some smaller payments businesses need to be better understood. For example, when we were in our infancy, the restrictions put on us by our bank nearly crippled the business. Thankfully, since then, we have built a solid relationship with our bank, but I still think it is an area that needs to be addressed.
What is your message for the larger players in the Finance industry?
My main message would be to embrace new technology. Thanks to forward thinking startups in the Finance Industry, technology development is already at large and the industry is becoming flooded with great new innovative ways to bank – whether it be making payments or accessing accounts. Soon, consumers will expect a technology-based service and if it is not embraced now, the larger banks could be left behind.
What phone are you carrying and why?
I have an Iphone 6 – it does everything I need and is easy to use.
Where do you get your industry news from?
I keep up to date by reading Reuters, Bloomberg, Financial times and City Am – they provide insightful articles on current news in the Industry, as well as a good breakdown on future trends etc.
Can you list 3 people you rate from the FinTech sector that we should be following on Twitter?
– Oscar Grut – @oscarwgrut – Oscar is a journalist for Business Insider. He writes great articles with interesting viewpoints..
– Mark Petty – @pettymark – Mark is CPO at Lenio and has an interesting views on the industry
– Anil Aggarwal – @anildaggarwal – Founder of Money2020
What’s the best FinTech product or service you’ve seen recently?
I really like Mondo Bank. Although there are a couple of ‘new’ banks entering the market at the moment, I think Mondo’s product is excellent and will be a real player in this market in the years to come.
Finally, let’s talk predictions. What trends do you think are going to de-fine the next few years in the FinTech sector?
In recent years, we have seen huge growth in certain areas of the financial sec-tor, but the one area I believe will see massive growth, is that of efficiency of compliance procedures. It is something we, as a company, have been looking at in depth, and have a new product launching in Q1 2016 – watch this space.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s more information on this page.