The Evolution of IMC’s Tech Revolution

IMC is a leading global market maker buying and selling securities on multiple trading venues worldwide. The company’s success is built on consistent, sizeable, ongoing investment in talent, technology, infrastructure, and strategies. With offices in Europe, the U.S., and Asia, cross-border collaboration among traders, engineers, developers, and risk and compliance managers is fundamental to IMC’s success.

We spoke to Johan Benning, CFO and management board member, and Timothy Hall, global head of business applications, about IMC ’s technology journey with Workday and how that has evolved from both an IT and cultural perspective.

Can you tell me how IMC has changed as a business over the last few years, and what’s most exciting about the space right now?

Benning: One of the interesting things here is that the industry in which we operate was subject to disruption a number of years ago when screen trading was introduced. Instead of trading on the floor of a stock exchange, it was now possible to trade via a computer screen, with everything coming together through the matching engine of the exchange.

This led IMC to develop automated trading strategies here in Amsterdam, and very quickly we could apply these to all major exchanges throughout the world, from Chicago, to Sydney, to Hong Kong. It was incredibly disruptive in the world of exchanges and securities trading. It gave us the opportunity to scale up very quickly by leveraging technology.

As such, technology is now super important to us, which is the same for our competitors. The industry is very technology savvy. For us, it’s very important that we further extend our advantage by spending development time on our trading systems. Therefore all our non-trading applications are deliberately based on the software-as-a-service (SaaS) concept.

You just described how businesses must embrace new technology to stay competitive. Can you talk about the moment IMC’s leadership realised that they needed to transform the technology for both the finance and HR functions?

Hall: Back in 2012, we had just gone through a period of rapid growth, and it was clear that the existing systems were not able to keep up with our operations. It was important that we did things correctly, things like intercompany transfers, and our old finance system wouldn’t let us. We wanted systems that could not only support IMC at that moment, but also going forward.

We were not initially looking to combine finance with HR functionality, but as we started looking into the project, it became clear that there would be big advantages in doing this. Back then, our teams would spend a lot of effort reconciling monthly headcount numbers between HR and finance, which was obviously a big waste of time in terms of our resources. By combining information in one place we could avoid this duplication.

To put our financial data into the cloud was also revolutionary back in 2012, but as a highly regulated company we wouldn’t have made that choice without doing the due diligence to be extremely confident that Workday wouldn’t lose or compromise our data. As we had people who were experts in security, it was relatively easy for us to do that analysis. 

What data are you extracting from Workday, and what types of reporting are you doing?

Hall: Within Workday, we have most of our finance and HR operational reports. Management reporting is done outside of the system as it requires additional external data, but we also seamlessly pull Workday finance and HR data into this using the available APIs.  

We are a data-driven company and reporting is used everywhere in terms of our decision making. We need to be on top of what we’re doing, so we have to have up-to-date, reliable, accurate data that’s ready when we need to look at it. An example is recruiting. We have custom reports built within Workday for our recruitment teams that can be run on-demand.

We’ve talked a lot about data and how you’re choosing the right technologies that will enable IMC to run at pace. I know you are also working with Adaptive Insights, which recently joined the Workday family. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Hall: We’ve used Adaptive Insights for business planning for around three years now. We wanted to move to a more dynamic, continuous form of planning rather than relying on just an annual planning process. This helps us react quicker to potential risks and market changes, to update plans in real-time, which benefits everyone. With the two technologies working together that makes life so much easier and we expect that will only get better as we move into the future.

Any thoughts on the future evolution of Workday, and what are you most excited about?

Benning: I see Workday as a hugely innovative company, and it needs to maintain that spirit of innovation. That’s why I’m very excited about the Workday Cloud Platform. The way I see it, you’re inviting others to develop solutions within the bigger Workday environment. So, you’re opening yourself up, and I think that’s super important to remain innovative. If I look to the future, that will be a great benefit, not only for us, but also for other customers.