The Cutting Edge of Finance and Technology

The reporting and analytics team at Qtrade is the other half of the finance team along with the corporate accounting team. While each team has their core responsibilities, the two teams are tied at the hip and have a reliance upon each for information and data exchange.

As previously mentioned, Qtrade is multi-entity, multi-line of business corporation that offers a variety of solutions
along the wealth continuum. While each line of business is focused on their own activities, it is up to the reporting and
analytics team not to only provide reporting and analytics to the individual entities, but also provide key, critical corporate data and maintain a holistic view of Qtrade.

At most firms, the role of Business Intelligence (‘BI’) usually falls under the realm of IT. BI is traditionally an IT based function that consists of databases and technical based employees who use databases to create code to produce reports for business users. While the technical employee is familiar with the data and producing code, it is the business users who provide most of the analysis and vetting of the output. However, in 2015 Qtrade essentially created a new reporting and analytics department under the CFO to take over the BI function. It is my honour and responsibility to lead this team.

At Qtrade, BI is part of the reporting and analytics team, meaning that unlike most firms it is a finance function and not an IT function. In order to accomplish this goal of moving the BI function to finance two things had to occur; first an investment in technology and second, creating a team of financially based analysts who could not only perform the analysis, but write the code to draw upon the data themselves.

For the technology part, Qtrade has created a SQL based data warehouse. While data warehousing is not unique or proprietary to Qtrade, it is an evolutionary step forward for the firm. The challenge with being a multi-line of business firm is that many of the lines of businesses have their own or multiple pieces of software that are used during the course of the day, all containing data. While the data warehouse is now functional at Qtrade, we are still adding new data sources to it. At Qtrade we have identified 26 disparate systems of data we will be incorporating into the data warehouse to provide a single source of information for the whole firm.

Combining these disparate data sources, of which two are the finance database and the ERP into one centralised system allows the reportingand analytics team to create some very thorough financial analysis oftrades, assets, clients, lines of business etc. to create new holistic reports,channel profitability statements, an A to Z cost per trade analysis and so on.

These are items Qtrade would not have been able to produce without this new team. The team does not have to go looking for information, we are the single, central point of data and information. We ensure that when there is a report, a KPI, a data point, that it should only be provided by reporting and analysis to create reporting and data integrity across the firm. In too many firms, and historically Qtrade was no exception, you had multiple people producing similar reports with inconsistent output. At Qtrade we are well down the path to eliminating this.

While the reporting and analytics team does have a technical resource on it to maintain the ETL’s and databases, the rest of the team are finance based analysts who have the ability to code. The team has a mixture of finance, economics and statistical undergraduates and almost every member of the team has or is pursuing a financial designation such as the CPA, CFA and MBA. At Qtrade, we expect that our financial analysts to be fluent in coding and be able to talk about such items as data fields and schemas as well as profitability and gross margins. At Qtrade we firmly believe we are the new breed of financial analysts where finance and IT crossover. We are a hybrid of finance and IT.

By being a hybrid of IT and finance, this creates many opportunities for Qtrade, not the least being efficiencies. By being the familiar with the source data and also being financially savvy, it reduces the amount of back and forth between the end business user for who the reporting and analytics is being created for. However, since the analyst can do both the coding and analysis and is familiar with not only that particular line of business, but what is happening corporate wide, it allows the analyst to provide additional insight to the request. It also allows the team to create their own analytics to support both the CFO and CEO. We turn data into information that decisions can be made on.

The hiring challenge for Qtrade is to find this unique set of individuals, who also possess soft skills such as customer service as the team does see itself as a customer service team to both our B2B partners and internal customers. However, we hold the firm belief that in 10 years from now the hybrid analyst will become the industry standard and we here at Qtrade are trying to be on the cutting edge of creating the new hybrid world of finance and technology!

Name: Gregory Hood
Company: Qtrade Financial Group
Email: greghood@qtrade.ca

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