In what is a recurring feature, Finopotamus will profile interesting and intriguing tech professionals who are positively impacting the credit union industry.
For this issue, we visited with Orion Innovation’s Global Head of Financial Services Anoop Gala. The Edison, N.J.-based company provides digital transformation and product development services to hundreds of financial institutions in North America, Europe, India and Latin America.
By W.B. King
Between graduating high school and starting college at the University of Mumba, Anoop Gala became interested in the convergence of finance and computing. This was due, in large part, to his father’s career in the space. So after gleaning industry insights from many discussions around the family dinner table, he set his sights on obtaining a degree in computer science, which included studying artificial intelligence (AI), advanced computing architectures and parallel processing.
“Computer engineering was being introduced newly in the university,” Gala told Finopotamus. “I was fascinated by computers, and my undergraduate degree in computer engineering further exposed me to this emerging field.”
Upon graduation in 1994, Gala worked as a product development consultant for Citibank where he implemented and supported core banking solutions.
“The international exposure and diverse experiences I gained while working at Citibank’s technology arm reinforced my passion for leveraging technology to create innovative solutions in finance,” he shared.
Gala would go on to hold posts at Finastra (global head of product), Myhasis (global head of payments) and SLK (financial services and insurance chief client officer), among others. In 2019, he became global head of financial services for Orion Innovation.
“Technology departments are dramatically different from what they were just a few years ago. Financial institutions (FIs) are at the forefront of adopting new technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and blockchain,” he said. “Previously, technology and business teams often worked in silos, but now they work together in a more agile manner, fostering greater collaboration between business, product and technology teams.”
Orion Innovation’s mission, he explained, is to help FIs navigate the digital transformation journey by leveraging the company’s experience in digital strategy, experience design and engineering.
“We start by understanding the challenges faced by financial services organizations in embracing disruption. We combine engineering and design thinking expertise with a deep and holistic understanding of the financial industry to deliver transformational business services and digital solutions,” he continued. “Our team has successfully delivered large-scale modernization efforts across every financial vertical, resulting in increased profitability, improved return on investment (ROI) and better overall user experiences.”
The company supports more than 7,000 employees operating in delivery centers across North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, India and Latin America.
“Our team includes a large and growing group of women working with credit unions and financial clients,” Gala said, adding that the majority of employees have tech-facing positions.
“Having a diverse and international workforce of engineers, product designers and domain experts is crucial for meeting digital transformation expectations in the rapidly changing credit union and financial landscape,” he shared. “Different backgrounds bring different perspectives to improve the overall banking experience for every consumer.”
To keep employees “engaged, energized and educated,” the company requires 100 hours of learning per employee per year.
“It’s been a game changer for our people and has enhanced our collective ability to deploy the industry’s latest, most advanced technology,” he said. “By embracing a culture of continuous learning, we can generate new ideas and perspectives, boost morale and raise overall employee performance. It’s a win-win-win for our people, clients and company.”
Evolving Digital Landscape
In Gala’s view, the proliferation of tools and platforms — from mainframe COBOL to cloud and software as a service (SaaS)-based technologies — are reshaping FI and credit union business models. These advancements, he added, can potentially revolutionize customer interactions and cater to unique needs.
“As software and hardware costs decrease, financial institutions can adopt technologies like automation, AI, machine learning and cloud computing more easily,” Gala continued. “Key trends include personalized experiences, fintech collaboration and the digital transformation of credit unions. These advancements can potentially revolutionize customer interactions and cater to their unique needs.”
Noting that credit unions were historically different than other FIs due to reliance on third-party platforms and products, the noted evolving digital landscape is changing that paradigm.
“Credit unions are now seeking to create more personalized experiences by building their own platforms. This shift toward digital transformation allows credit unions to focus on the specific needs of their communities and offer tailored products and services,” he continued. “As credit unions embrace digital transformation, they can differentiate themselves in the market by providing immersive, frictionless experiences for their members.”
Driving Member Satisfaction
Whereas credit unions were slow to embrace certain fintech vendor relationships in recent years, Gala said players of all stripes are being welcomed to the game.
“As fintech companies continue to disrupt traditional financial models, credit unions recognize the value of collaborating with these companies to stay competitive,” he explained. “Orion partners with leading fintechs to implement their cutting-edge core banking, payments, lending and sales and servicing products.”
To illustrate his point, Gala noted that Orion Innovation recently acquired Banktech Software Services, a core banking implementation partner for FIs. He explained that Banktech is a multi-regional partner for Temenos, and that expertise adds to Orion Innovation’s core banking and credit union integration capabilities.
“We also expanded our footprint in Latin America with the acquisition of GoNet to support FIs and credit unions in the region,” he said, adding that these collaborations cater to the unique needs of credit unions, while driving member satisfaction and growth.
“Our objective with credit unions is to accelerate their digital agenda and maximize product decisions delivering higher ROI and a differentiated experience on the digital spend,” Gala said.