To quote our CTO: Trade Ledger is teaching an ‘old’ accountant new tricks

4 min

At the beginning of the year, Trade Ledger was lucky enough to entice Matthew Carpenter to join the team as Chief Technical Officer to lead both our engineering and product teams. 

Matt’s experience of building Qantas Money and working for Amazon Web Services, where he led some of the largest and most complex cloud transformation programs, was just what Trade Ledger needed to help take us to the next level.

Now 9 months in - just enough time for the honeymoon period to be over and to start seeing the fruit of his labour - we wanted to catch up with Matt to get the lowdown on his time so far.

Why Trade Ledger? Why now?

After a decade at the Qantas’ and Amazon’s of the world, building new products to innovate within established brands, but ultimately still reinventing the wheel so to say, I wanted a new challenge. I wanted to join a startup that was breaking new ground and genuinely tackling real-world problems for the first time. 

Trade Ledger is taking a 3,000 year old problem and turning it on its head.  

Through a simple but clever use of data and technology we’re bringing about a new age of credit risk thinking. Taking on the joint role of Chief Technology Officer and Chief Product Officer allows me to infuse my passion for building great products while reaping the fulfilment that comes with doing technology and engineering well. 

I’ll own up to being an Ernst & Young trained Chartered Accountant by trade and Trade Ledger is an amazing opportunity to combine my two-decades of skills and experience from both the ‘fin’ and the ‘tech’.

The day I signed my Trade Ledger contract: From left to right - Matthias Born (Co-Founder), Matthew Carpenter (CTO), Martin McCann (CEO & Co-founder)

Where has the majority of your time and energy been spent?

The majority of my time and energy so far at Trade Ledger has been spent responding to the unique demands of the economic conditions in 2022. 

Our business and our clients and their customers have been rapidly evolving. Across all three we’ve seen a fast emerging trend that business-as-usual is no longer business-as-usual and that the only guarantee is that business tomorrow will be different from today. 

This has seen the head winds change to a tailwind for us at Trade Ledger. We are no longer pushing water uphill to convince our clients and partners that data-driven credit risk decision making has moved beyond being a once-off activity to being a continuous exercise that is vital to successfully managing, mitigating and responding to shifting credit risk landscapes. 

I am very proud of the team for how they have been leading the thinking with our clients to move from the application-centric mindset, where credit risk is managed at a point in time through a one-way direction, to a facility-centric mindset, where data is used to manage and enhance the entire lifecycle of a financial product from origination to closure.

What surprised you most about the industry?

The uniformity of conversations we have with new and potential clients - regardless of where they are in the world. 

It is always the same dance. It starts with them telling us how unique they are compared to every other bank in the world. They then ask us to essentially rebuild our platform to mirror a dozen or so internal spreadsheets and workbooks that they have relied upon for decades. 

This is where the team politely explain that they are not that different and that their treasured 10-15 year old spreadsheets no longer meet regulatory requirements. We then go on to point out a dozen or so calculation errors in their spreadsheet, which undermines their credit risk decisions. 

There is a massive opportunity to change the way banks look at managing working capital globally - and lenders looking to grab hold of those opportunities need to think about transformation, not just automation.

What insights have you gained about the industry?

My observation is that the power of data is yet to be fully embraced by the industry. 

The mere synchronisation of real-time accounting data applied to modern data analysis - including proven supervised machine learning techniques such as linear regression - is beyond compelling and unbelievably timely given the current economic conditions. 

Taking credit risk procedures beyond a ‘tick and bash’ back office process into the 21st century through being able to bring high-performance computing to bear has nearly limitless potential for this industry. Even just calculating invoices or receivable balances that sit a standard deviation or two outside the line of best fit can be very formidable in assessing credit risk and making informed decisions. 

Have you had any 'this makes it all worth it' moments?

The team! I am beyond grateful to be a small part of this amazing team. As a global startup we have attracted young, eager professional talent into the business - across every discipline in some of the world's major cities like Sydney and London. Every day they make coming to work a joy. Being a global business means there is never a dull moment. 

And the cherry on top, I always look to encourage a vibrant sense of humour at work and some of the team are genuinely comedic gold. A massive thank you to our founders Martin McCann and Matt Born for this amazing opportunity.

What would a successful 2023 look like?

Data. APIs. More Data. More APIs. Combined with a deep understanding of how our clients and their customers are wanting to leverage the data they have on hand.

Whether it’s creating additional business value through further reducing and mitigating risk, providing greater capital adequacy relief through an enhanced application of data, or driving efficiencies as our clients see ever increasing demand from their customers due to constantly changing and uncertain economic conditions. 

If we can stay ‘close to the metal’ on our clients' business models then we can shape 2023 into the year that working capital finance revolutionises the global supply chain.

What excites you about the future of working capital and Trade Ledger?

In the last 12 months working capital has become a topic on the tip of everyone's tongue. 

From HSBC announcing us as their global partner for working capital at SIBOS 2022; or the tech titans making big announcements of their own to unlock the potential of supply chains freed from working capital constraints; or be it the big consulting houses such as Bain & Company publishing comprehensive thought leadership on the imminent future of credit and embedded finance - the world is talking about massive change coming very soon. And Trade Ledger is at the forefront of this.

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