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Saturday October 1st, 2022

LSEG’s Fadhil Jiffry on eliminating uncertainty and unlocking opportunities

Fadhil Jiffry Chief Financial Officer and Head of Finance Centre of Excellence for Sri Lanka

The London Stock Exchange Group (LSEG) excels at building tech solutions for global financial market entities and stock exchanges that help them deal with unprecedented volumes and volatility, multiple complex laws and regulations, fickle sentiments, and rapid upheavals. As such, the unfolding economic challenges here and overseas are part of LSEG’s businesses. For most people working at the £6.8 billion- revenue LSEG and its Sri Lanka hub, navigating the new set of challenges may seem like any other day at the office.

LSEG’s Chief Financial Officer and Head of Finance Centre of Excellence for Sri Lanka Fadhil Jiffry says the global tech giant is committed to expanding its capabilities in the country. LSEG is investing in measures to mitigate the impacts of rising inflation, enhance employee wellbeing and ensure its global capital market clientele continue to avail themselves of LSEG’s transformative tech solutions.

Sri Lanka’s economy had a bumpy ride for several decades, but the corporate sector has demonstrated extraordinary resilience to build stable global companies that continue to grow and expand. LSEG Sri Lanka is one such company in the tech industry. Can you briefly take us through its successes and proudest achievements over the years?          

LSEG has had a well-established and successful relationship with Sri Lanka since they acquired what was then known as MillenniumIT (MIT) in 2009. The MIT journey began in 1996, quickly garnering an international reputation for world-class tech solutions and launching into aggressive expansion after being acquired by LSEG to become a global technology leader. LSEG is renowned for its engineering skills, and we continue to build and deliver best-in-class, scalable, high-performance and robust tech solutions, mainly for capital markets around the world. One of our recent flagship projects was the successful implementation of a new clearing platform for the Equity Clear service of the London Clearing House that handled nearly 80 million transactions in the first five days alone. That was during the global Covid-19 outbreak in 2020, a testament to our expertise, resilience, and resolve.

Outside the technology business, we established the Global Centre of Excellence for LSEG in Sri Lanka with a team of about 200 people in 2016. The operation has grown to more than 1,200 people supporting LSEG worldwide on infrastructure management, application management, end-user computing, cloud solutions, and more. We also provide the full spectrum of corporate functions, including services related to capital market regulations, finance, HR, marketing, internal communications and others.

While the last three years have been challenging for the economy locally and globally, LSEG has been able to thrive by exceeding customer expectations and influencing the transformation of global capital markets with relevant and timely tech solutions. From a recognition perspective, LSEG has won many international and national accolades for our products and services, social responsibility campaigns, gender diversity initiatives, and crisis management capability. During the pandemic and beyond, we continue to be among the highest foreign exchange earners in the ICT sector.

How is the unfolding crisis here, and the global economic challenges impacting the business? How are you responding to these challenges and reassuring and motivating your people?

When the economy contracts locally or globally, it affects new investments, technology budgets will take a hit, and there will be freezing on technology spending. We saw this to some extent during Covid. However, the pandemic also opened up opportunities for companies like LSEG to step in and provide world-class technology solutions that can withstand high volume and volatility. We had many requests from enterprises to support them, particularly those that could not handle the surging volume during that period. This created more opportunities for us.

From the Sri Lankan perspective, the current economic crisis has created a lot of challenges. With the supply of essentials and fuel crashing, leading to power outages, transportation bottlenecks and runaway inflation, people live and work under challenging circumstances. We have taken several measures to ensure our employees are insulated from the economic crisis so they can focus on what they do best. We have adopted a hybrid model so people can choose to work from home or the office. We have also given them the infrastructure for that.

All our offices have remained open throughout, and we have redundancy capabilities in all our locations to last for months in extreme circumstances. Our support to employees extends beyond the needs of the business to their personal needs because we are committed to enhancing employee wellbeing. We acted very early and adjusted all our employees’ base pay to support them during this period of high inflation and provide welfare allowances and other assistance. We have an onsite crèche where staff can place their children in a safe play and learning environment.

We invested more than £3 million to refurbish our Malabe campus as part of LSEG’s global real estate strategy to create enabling environments for people to thrive in a hybrid work environment. Also, as a multinational organisation, we support mobility and offer overseas career opportunities. We have quite a few staff who have taken on global roles and work out of our head office in London, not just on the tech side, but even in other areas such as Finance and HR. LSEG has always been a company where employees feel secure and have the freedom to excel in their careers. We will continue to monitor the domestic and global situation and take appropriate action as needed.

How are your clients reacting to the unfolding crisis in Sri Lanka? How are you addressing their concerns?

Despite the economic crisis, we have continued to deliver 100% on all our commitments. As technology continues to support global markets to handle volumes and volatility, our centres continue to run 24/7, 365. In April this year, we announced an agreement with the Qatar Stock Exchange to provide our trading, clearing and surveillance technology, and our teams delivered on the first drop as scheduled by June.

LSEG has always been ahead of the curve and has strong business continuity and resiliency plans that have been tried and tested multiple times. That is something that the customers are well aware of, and they have confidence and trust in our capabilities to consistently deliver above and beyond. We also firmly believe that Sri Lanka will bounce back, and given its strategic importance, LSEG will continue to invest and build its footprint in Sri Lanka.

What are your plans for the immediate future?

As a leading diversified international market infrastructure business, LSEG has constantly evolved, having mastered the art of adapting and thriving under different conditions. We will continue in that trajectory, constantly unlocking growth opportunities. LSEG acquired Refinitiv, a global provider of financial markets data and infrastructure, in 2021, and we now have a significantly broader global presence than we had three years ago. The acquisition has created more opportunities to build on our global strengths out of Sri Lanka. We are confident in our potential to grow in the country and will continue to support our stakeholders, internal and external. For LSEG to grow, we all have to grow. I see exciting times ahead for LSEG, promising a lot of change and new opportunities so we can grow together.