Samir Pandiri is Apex Group Ltd’s new Group President and has previously held senior roles at Broadridge, BCG and BNY Mellon. Here, Samir shares his goals for Apex Group, his expectations for how technological advances will impact fund service providers, and what we can learn from Henry V.
What are your key goals for optimising Apex’s global operations?
When I think about what ‘good’ looks like for Apex Group, a few themes stand out. The first is service delivery; we want all our clients to receive outstanding service regardless of who they’re dealing with or where on the planet they are. To achieve this, we refine and perfect our processes each day, and I liken this process of continuous improvement to baking a cake every day — and every day, trying to make it a little bit better.
The second is giving clients a unique and differentiated experience that supports asset managers’ specific requirements. For example, being able to offer clients a choice of leading technology platforms to meet their needs. And thirdly, ensuring we really understand each client’s individual priorities — some will care about service, while for others the drivers will be unlocking innovation through technology, or achieving the best value — and we need to ensure we’re delivering on what matters.
What technology innovation do you expect your clients to be demanding in 10–15 years’ time?
Looking ahead, I expect that technology innovation will mean clients expect an even better service at a lower price. Delivering the technology that will enable this at scale will be a challenge, but it must be a priority if we’re to prepare for the future.
Another impact I expect it to have is a further digitisation of our ecosystem so that it’s fully end-to-end digital. It wasn’t so long ago that businesses still had telex or fax machines, and there’s no reason to think that our current means of communication won’t eventually be phased out in favour of better alternatives. Keeping on top of this change and proactively carrying out further digitisation efforts are crucial in ensuring you won’t be left behind.
Finally, although we’ve made some strides in the insights we get from data, we’re only scratching the surface in terms of where our capabilities will be. Better technology will enable service providers to not only collect better data, but also serve up much more actionable data, which should support better and more informed decision-making.
“Although we’ve made some strides in the insights we get from data, we’re only scratching the surface in terms of where our capabilities will be.”
What are your main concerns around technology innovation?
I’m an engineer by training, so the technology for me isn’t the frightening part. Instead, what concerns me is what happens if people are limited by their imagination and don’t embrace outside-the-box thinking.
“What concerns me is what happens if people are limited by their imagination and don’t embrace outside-the-box thinking.”
I find it liberating to imagine the ways technology could help beyond what we’re currently doing, and I like to ask my team how they would redesign and reimagine our processes if they were to build them from scratch today. Limiting your thinking by not being open to technological use cases you hadn’t considered means you’ll miss out on the efficiencies and improvements it unlocks — and that risk of being left behind should scare anyone.
What are the golden rules you follow in the boardroom?
I have a few! Firstly, discipline. I keep reminding myself that the board isn’t there to run the company, they’re there to guide and advise the business. And you need discipline to prepare for a meeting — you can’t go in cold, you have to anticipate the questions you’ll be asked.
Secondly, active listening. When the board is asking a question, you not only need to pay close attention to the question itself, but also to why the question is being asked at all. Rather than fire out a quick response, think about what they’re actually asking and why, so you can get to the crux of the issue.
Thirdly, stay on topic and set clear objectives. There are so many subjects that the board can talk about, from HR to competitors, that are tempting tangents which can derail the discussion. It’s crucial that you stay on topic, as otherwise you’ll get to the end of the meeting and realise you haven’t discussed what you needed to or made the decisions that you wanted to.
“It’s crucial that you stay on topic, as otherwise you’ll get to the end of the meeting and realise you haven’t discussed what you needed to or made the decisions that you wanted to.”
Looking back on your career, are there any defining moments that stand out to you?
I was born in India and then moved to the US, and it was my first international assignment in Hong Kong that stands out most. I lived there from 1995–1999, which was a historic time for the territory, and gave me my first opportunity to live and work abroad. It made me appreciate the size and complexity of the world in a way I hadn’t before and opened my eyes to learning about different cultures and their business practices, as well as opportunities to experience new places. That assignment made me a much more global citizen and gave me unforgettable experiences.
What book is by your bedside table?
I’m re-reading one of the classics, Henry V, which is a brilliant short read. Before Henry’s immortal speech prior to the Battle of Agincourt, the king walks among his troops in disguise, getting feedback and understanding how they feel. It’s a great lesson in leadership — especially when starting a new role — on how leaders can inspire and motivate people to achieve victory.