GOING GLOBAL

Dubai 2016 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Wissam Khoury, Managing Director of Middle East & Africa of SunGard Financial Systems, on working with the Dubai Financial Market, using technology for Islamic banking, and making social media work for companies.

Wissam Khoury
BIOGRAPHY
Wissam Khoury is managing director for the Middle East operations of SunGard Financial Systems, overseeing the development and expansion of SunGard’s business across the Middle East. Prior to SunGard, Khoury was regional manager of Misys Middle East. Before that, he was a solutions practice manager at Reuters Limited. Khoury holds a BBA in business administration from the American University of Beirut, where he received multiple awards from the Dean’s Honor List. He is also a certified financial risk manager with the Global Association of Risk Professionals and a board member of the UAE Chapter of the Professional Risk Managers’ International Association.

SunGard works very closely with the Dubai Financial Market. What have been the main benefits of this partnership?

A large part of SunGard's business is focused on capital markets. This region's capital markets are now attracting significant investment and interest from other parts of the world. We have partnered with the Dubai Financial Market in order to help and promote capital markets in the region. In fact, we have similar arrangements with a number of exchanges such as Borsa Istanbul in Turkey.

How would you evaluate the level of transparency through automated and integrated solutions by companies in the region?

Having a reliance on technology and integrated solutions helps in two ways. Number one is the ability to give clients better services. If there is not a proper solution and proper services to provide customers then there is a risk of losing those customers. The second one is cost: Once there are proper integrated solutions, then efficiency increases and that should positively contribute to any cost reduction.

How can financial institutions take advantage of social media, and what role does SunGard play in this?

In the Middle East there are financial institutions that have invested significantly into their technology, including integrated social media platforms. I do not think it is just an option anymore as the end user expects these types of solutions from their provider. Also, companies want to keep track of their reputation in the market. We have solutions that can help institutions monitor internally what goes out on social media and gather data from social media related to their reputation. I think this is a very powerful tool that organizations can take advantage of.

What are the key requirements for Islamic banks to position themselves in the global market?

Islamic banking differs not only by region or by country, but by individual banks themselves. A key element for global positioning for these banks is flexibility. Using technology helps clients adopt sharia-compliant practices, which differ from bank to bank, whilst still taking into account the more general global standards of Islamic banking.

SunGard recently expanded to Turkey with the implementation of Front Arena trading solution to FinansInvest. What opportunities do you see in the Turkish market?

The Turkish market is a very interesting market. If you look at GDP, Turkey was still growing when Europe was facing challenges. The Turkish currency was not the best performer in 2015, but it is a very active market, especially on the capital markets front. Turkey and its capital markets are changing, particularly in terms of technology and in allowing new types of trading. Turkish banks are also restructuring themselves to create “Chinese walls” between capital markets trading and investment banking, like their western counterparts. A few other factors include a growing derivatives exchange, new instruments entering the market, and European investment in Turkey. When it comes to opening up to international markets, Turkish banks have to adopt solutions that have an international reach. SunGard solutions has helped FinansInvest in the Turkish market and become more internationally recognized; we are helping it to attract more clients and be able to make decisions quickly. We are very pleased to be in the Turkish market at this time. Our solutions have proven to be quite successful by combining the best international standards and quick implementation; giving clients exactly what they want. This market has requirements and our solution is a natural fit. Because of that, we have increased our focus in Turkey and expanded our office.