ComTech talks to Amphora leadership about the vendor’s re-emergence, future plans and positioning.
ComTech Advisory: What has been the key to turning Amphora around under your leadership?
Chris Mudry: Listening to our clients. I was amazed by the small amount of interaction we used to have with our clients before I joined 3 years ago. We now have a strong structure and process where clients needs are listened to, enhancements processed and planned into our quarterly releases across all our clients.
A second aspect, in which my CTO colleague Sajindra Jayasena was instrumental, was to strengthen our development and QA process, allowing us to have a much stronger code base, faster time to market for enhancements and especially releases that worked from day 1. I can say proudly that for the past 2 years, we did not have any major issues with our releases, which was not the case before and is still often the case with our competitors.
ComTech Advisory: Where do you see Amphora in the vendor landscape? How is it differentiated from your competition?
Chris Mudry: The CTRM landscape is very fragmented. There are a lot of small players who claim to have it all but all lack the depth of almost the basic functionality that a CTRM requires. We then have 3 major competitors with whom we compete hard… sometimes we win, sometimes they win…
What makes us special and different though is that we are the only vendor where the CEO, CTO, head of sales and several other key staff worked in top tier trading houses or banks. None of our competitors have this and we talk to our clients and potential new clients, I believe this makes a difference. This is how we managed to more than double our clients in the past 2 ½ years.
David Glasspool: Heading up the sales team, I personally remain on the project until go-live occurs. Using my previous experiences in implementations we can shorten this process. Transparency throughout the implementation phase is key with weekly project summaries, (achievements this week, plan for next week, risks to project deadlines), and daily tasks set for members of the project working group. Our innovative CTRM solution is adaptable and scalable with clients receiving free upgrades. All the major applications are configured by the users to allow for the data to be viewed based on the task, with constants applied so the CTRM is flexible for each client, which range from 5 to 800+ users. Additional commodities, markets and booking companies can all be added quickly by the user, for free, by simply adding to the reference data with no need to re-implement the system. Amphora purely focuses on CTRM, it is our only source of income, so we are not distracted with other sectors such as Treasury/Bonds.
ComTech Advisory: What do you see as the key challenges for CTRM as a software category these days?
Chris Mudry: Automation… automation… automation. The days when having the ability to enter a complex formula trade, schedule it and invoice it and feel you were a hero are gone. People expect straight through process from deal entry automatically entered via OCR, scheduling, and loading data entered automatically via other direct interfaces and the same with their invoicing. This trend will continue and therefore the key is not to have a system that does it all anymore, but rather a CTRM system that can easily communicate with other platform in a trading house eco-system.
David Glasspool: The CTRM sector in the last 5 years has seen a large increase in M&A. Amphora has instead chosen to focus on current client issues and enhancements in a market now with fewer options for a CTRM vendor.
It is now easier than ever to switch providers, “less sticky”, due to API standardisation, as a result client retention will be key going forward so you have to ensure your current clients are happy with the solution and service you provide.
ComTech Advisory: What is the status of Alchemy and when will it be released?
Chris Mudry: Alchemy covers the concentrates markets/products. We are extremely proud of Alchemy. Every Concentrates player we demo it to has been extremely impressed. We are now in the last development phase and we will go live with our first client and partner in the first half of 2022. We will then start to enhance it to make it workable for base metal functionalities (warrant, specific identification, etc.), as an additional Alchemy module that we will market under another name/brand, yet to be revealed.
David Glasspool: Previously, I was the Product Owner of Alchemy, so I am very excited about the launch next year. My goal as Head of Sales will be to demo this to every major concentrates company, then expand the functionality in following releases so we can provide an application that metal trading companies will benefit from.
ComTech Advisory: Are there any other products or initiatives planned at Amphora?
Chris Mudry: Yes, Clarity and our SaaS services. We started to work on Clarity 2 ½ years ago. This will be the Holy Grail that so many CTRM vendors have tried. Instead of relying on a long night cycle / end of the day process for your PnL, inventory valuation, etc. We have totally automated this process and all PnL and valuation will be live. This is unique features will allow like stress testing, shocking, etc. that no other CTRM can offer today.
David Glasspool: Clarity as well as providing additional functionalities, also focuses on the user experience. Reports will be launched from a single dashboard that interact with each other with a very impressive UI.
ComTech Advisory: What do you want Amphora to mean to your clients and the industry at large?
Chris Mudry: I want Amphora to resonate with trust. There is nothing more important for me that having clients that trust us, trust what we tell them, trust that we will deliver a good product and always support them.
David Glasspool: Having worked at Amphora for 8 years, I have seen a huge development push under Chris’s leadership based on our current client’s feedback. Frequent free upgrades are provided, with transparency on all issues that our clients may face. There are no hidden costs.
About Chris Mudry, Chief Executive Officer, Amphora
With over 20 years of experience, Chris understands the operational aspects of a commodity trading organization and risk management. He has built trading organizations from scratch and is skilled at managing small and large teams across different functions, geographical regions, business practices, and cultures.
Chris’ depth of knowledge from setting up several trading businesses and restructuring others has given him an extensive understanding and experience across all aspects of the industry including trading, risk, operations, compliance, back office and trade finance. During his career, Chris was closely involved with the deployment and management of different CTRM software systems across oil, gas, and base metals.
Chris holds a degree from the University of Geneva and Graduate Institute of International Studies (GIIS) in Geneva where he obtained a degree in international relations with a specialization in international trade and the role of international trade in economic development and international law. He also holds an international MBA from Nyrenrode in The Netherlands given in partnership with Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Chicago, United States) and with Stellenbosch University (Capetown, South Africa).
About David Glasspool, Head of Sales & Marketing, Amphora
David started his career in trading operations in Enron 20 years ago and then moved on to be a natural gas trader for BP. Prior to sales, David spent over 7 years as a Senior Business Analyst for Amphora. This involved successful demos and implementations for new clients across multiple commodities including Oil, LNG, Biofuels, Concentrates.
David’s solid background in commodity trading is coupled with experience both in trading and project implementation, allowing David to have a clear and in-depth understanding of what is achievable and how.
At Amphora, David is responsible for driving revenue across all the company’s markets and regions.
David holds an MEng degree in Mechanical Engineering from Imperial University.