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10 years of Adaptive: riding the crest of finance’s digital wave

A decade is a lifetime in technology – especially in finance. Market electronification, the rise of cryptocurrencies and a global pandemic that turned our way of working upside down have all transformed how firms think about their technology, moving it from an accessory to an essential pillar of modern finance. As we celebrate our ten-year anniversary, we reflect on the decade that permanently transformed finance and set the foundations for a digital future.
Rewinding to early 2010, I met my Adaptive co-founders Loïc, Olivier and John on a project for a large European bank. We were building an FX single dealer platform (SDP) system using cutting-edge technology of the time – the project was challenging, and we were working with great technology and an excellent team. The openness, collaboration and innovation we shared during this project were different to anything we had experienced before – we were reviewing each other’s code, sharing ideas and helping everyone in the team deliver the best possible outcome for our client.
The experience made us ask: how can we replicate this culture, drive innovation and meet the increasing demand from financial services firms to own their technology? Following our initial project, we joined forces with this idea in mind – not with the intention of building a global business but doing great and meaningful work with the best people. Shortly after, we kicked off with our first client, building a trading system for a large institution and Adaptive was born.
Technology takes centre stage
From the start, we were in the right place at the right time. A decade ago, firms were shifting their approach to technology. Digitisation was in its early stages, but its impacts were being felt. ROI on software development greatly improved through increased availability and understanding of platform-based approaches. Firms were able to achieve much greater functionality than previously possible. Jumps forward thanks to automation, connectivity and cost efficiency meant that those who did not invest would be left behind.
Standing apart from vendors providing point solutions, we saw the need for firms to control their technology to differentiate in the long term. Our approach went against the grain – while many firms looked to off-the-peg technology that could quickly digitise elements of their offering, we saw a future in addressing technology issues at their root.
While more costly than acquiring vendor products, those that brought their technology in-house have reaped the long-term benefits – tailoring their offering to the specific needs of their clients and being able to innovate faster. Greater digitisation and ownership of technology has also proven invaluable in customising and controlling essential operations to adapt to fast-changing markets – particularly during the pandemic when many switched to remote working nearly overnight.
The culmination of these changes over the past decade has resulted in the beginning of the end of the vendor era. With digitisation so widespread in finance, it is no longer enough to build a firm’s offering by relying on a combination of vendor products.
A digital future
Servicing our clients and addressing these trends has propelled Adaptive to become one of the UK’s fastest-growing tech companies, with over 250 employees and offices around the world.
The secret to our success has not only been in our technology but our culture. From our first project to our most recent one, we have invested time and energy into maintaining the openness and collaboration central to delivering excellent, innovative work for clients. We recognise that technology is now more than a product – it defines an organisation, its values and its approach to client service.
The past decade has been an incredible ride in which we have found ourselves at the centre of one of the most significant changes in the financial services industry. As the technology arms race picks up pace, we are only just getting started as we roll up our sleeves to build a digital future.

 

Matt Barrett
CEO and co-founder,
Adaptive Financial Consulting
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