Alok Tiwari, CEO & Founder, Aptivaa

Company Profile: Aptivaa is a dedicated risk and compliance consulting firm delivering risk management solutions to the financial services industry.

We offer risk consulting, solutions and analytical services to banks, insurers, as well as asset management and other financial services companies. Our domain expertise covers risk and compliance relating to credit risk, market risk and operational risk under regulatory regimes such as Basel II, MiFID and Solvency II.

Alok Tiwari, CEO & Founder, AptivaaWe assist financial services firms with a range of regulatory issues and help them overcome complex risk management challenges. Leading financial institutions have gained from our expertise in achieving and enhancing sustainable risk management capabilities.

Aptivaa recognizes the specific nature of the risks faced by our clients. Our ability to develop client-centric solutions, using structured methodologies and a modular approach, enables us to easily adapt to each client’s objectives, as well as its specific complexity, risk profile and geographic scope.

Our professional staff are highly skilled at accelerating risk management programs. We translate the challenges of emerging regulatory compliance into a competitive advantage for our clients through our focus on domain competence and our commitment to excellence in project delivery.

CEO Under Scan: Mr. Alok Tiwari, Founder and CEO , Apitvaa

Telephonic Interview by: Mr. Sandeep Gautam, Campus Editor, XIM B, The CEO Insights

You have over twelve years of experience in risk management consulting to the financial services sector. Prior to Aptivaa, you have headed the ERM practice for one of the largest four consulting firms. You also have extensive experience in developing ERM Frameworks, conducting Basel II reviews and benchmarking risk management systems. Would you like to share anything more about yourself? Please tell us something about your student career as well.

I did my engineering from government engineering college Jabalpur, my home town and masters in business administration from Devi Ahilya university campus, Indore. I started my career in consulting for UK based consulting firm called MRI consulting. The person who was heading it in India asked me what business we should focus on. I did some research and said that we should focus on risk management and ever since 1995 I have been doing this till date. After MRI consulting I joined a risk advisory firm MetLife financial. I was there for about 3 years; then CRISIL wanted to set up a risk advisory business so they invited me to head that business where I worked for 18 months. Then I joined Deloitte and then later in 2005 founded Aptiva.

What has been your experience as an entrepreneur like? Who is your role model whose leadership trait you follow or like? What triggered your move to become an entrepreneur when the usual norm is of a salaried job?

For some reason wherever I have moved I have always moved in a startup scenario where the employer either wanted to get into this business or build this business. I have been very fortunate in that sense. When I was in Deloitte I felt that risk is going to be a big subject especially in banking and services industry. I thought it’s a good opportunity to take a chance and do something to create next generation business model in India and that was the drive then and it continues to be my drive even today. The experience has been extremely exciting. In entrepreneurship you discover a new destination and you go through these ups and down s of the business and economic factors which makes it exciting.

Ours is a knowledge driven company from India which focuses on high value consulting which in my knowledge was not being done any Indian company earlier, the kind of positioning we were able to do and the market share we were able to capture, essentially you can move up the country as a whole as a high value service provider then nothing like it.

Aptivaa has been ranked ahead of the Big four consulting firms in a recent survey conducted by Indian Bankers’ Association (IBA) and it was the first runner up in ‘Emerging India’ award 2008 held in London. How do you feel about the accolades and success your company has received over the years?

I feel extremely happy for everyone who has contributed in our growth, every single team and clients. Any kind of recognition helps you to grow your dream and motivate each person contributing in growth of the company. We hope that in future we get some more and keep going from here.

Could you please brief us about the corporate vision of Aptivaa Consulting? What is the global presence of Aptivaa Consulting like? How does it differentiate itself from its competitors and what kind of marketing channels does it use?

We want to be a thought leader and service provider of choice for financial services client who are primarily seeking comprehensive professional risk management programs. Ever since we founded the company initially we never focussed on India as a market. We were always focussed to begin with Middle East as a market. Our first client came from Middle East and we started building on it. Today we are leaders in the niche market and went against most of the competitors. Sometime back we moved into parts of south east Asia so we are focusing on Malaysia, Philippines as two principle markets . Within Europe we are largely focussed on UK and also in Spain, Cyprus. In Africa also we are able make some good break through like Libya, Egypt and Kenya. At this moment we are just exploring the western market.

We are very focussed on government system compliance of financial services that’s what differentiates us in the market place. We have made significant investment in building the IP in specific domain. Till date the company has built over 10 IP which has been used across clients. The strong focus on building the next level of knowledge IP differentiates us from our competitors. About marketing channels we do both direct sales and partnership model. Typically in a new market we enter through a local partner to cut down on time to market as the person would understand the local buying behavior and market positioning. Once we establish ourselves in the region, we like to manage sales from our own direct sales network. It’s been the combination of partnership and direct sales model. One more important component is referrals from existing clients which also plays an important part in our growth.

The recent downturn has caught many companies off guard. What according to you is the biggest hurdle faced by the financial industry today?

The financial industry had over expanded and now we have to go through consolidation phase which is going to be extremely painful. Thus the biggest hurdle in my view will be more focussed on the behavioral part of finance in which people have to reconcile with the new world and the new world is not very attractive to anyone. Somewhere the basic rules of financial services i.e. trust and prudence got lost. I believe everybody has to now behave in a very different manner and reconcile with the situation going forward. Financial services manage people money which is driven by trust. The whole cycle of monetary movement revolves around trust and now there are very few trusted names left in the market. So we need to go back to the long list of trust.

Do you see an opportunity in this recent downturn? What kind of challenges does the company face or expects to face in near future? How do you see the future of Aptivaa Consulting five years down the line?

Yes, there is definitely a big opportunity in the recent downturn. Historically if you see all the great businesses were built in adverse time companies like GE, J. P. Morgan and IBM were built during depression. So in my view it’s a big opportunity where you can build a new business model at a fraction of the cost. There is availability of capital as at bad times the capital also has differentiating quality. Now people are finely differentiating between good idea and not so good idea.

Currently every company is facing unpredictable time, thus every company has to navigate through uncertain times. If you talk to any client or industry leaders no one has clarity beyond few weeks. Nobody knows what will happen. But building a strategy around uncertainty is a big challenge. Fortunately for us the uncertainty has brought risk to the centre stage right from regulators to board. So five years down the line I see great future of Aptivaa. Now risk has become in a broader concept governance risk and compliance that’s what our focus is. If things turn out to be as we are expecting may be quarter four of this year regulators might start coming out with new paradigms on governance risk and compliance. So five year down the line we should be five to ten times bigger than what we are today.

What kind of background and domain expertise you look for in your employees?

Our criterion is very simple, we don’t look for prior risk experience or knowledge though it is preferred but it’s not a hurdle at all. Though one should have good analytical bent of mind, comfortable with numbers, good in quantitative aptitude, who likes to be in consulting kind of role which involves working on new ideas and domains, client facing, working in teams and of course an inclination towards financial services. We never do rule based recruitment we are quite flexible about it.

Do you think that the B-Schools today are on the right path of tapping the creative bent of mind of the potential entrepreneur? What kind of growth opportunities does the company provide to a MBA graduate? Does Aptivaa Consulting recruit management students from Indian B Schools?

We do recruit from Indian B-Schools. However this year we are recruiting very selectively. The education system in India is much formatted. Until this format is broken I don’t think it can really tap a potential entrepreneur. The structure is very job oriented. From day one student tries to mold himself up to fit in his desired companies. I don’t know how frequently the alumni come in and provoke these guys to be an entrepreneur. In America we hear so many times that students drop out of college to pursue their own interests. They provoke the student to follow the path they believe in ant try to tap their creative bent of mind

Any message for The CEO insights?

Yes, The CEO insights can take the brand forward by conducting industry round table discussions at various locations and try to involve the industry more. We are there to support and contribute The CEO Insights in its endeavors.

(Please send your queries at ... )

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *