Executive Spotlight: Ethan Underwood

As Siepe’s Front-Office Product Manager, what does your role entail?

I see my role as helping to guide the development of Siepe’s front-office tools for portfolio managers and investment analysts. Part of this involves ensuring that we deliver a solution that connects traditional portfolio data with other information across different, disparate sources and brings it all together into one intuitive application.


Before Siepe, you co-founded KeyMan Intelligence. Why did you decide to start KMI and what pain points were you trying to solve?

After spending over two decades as a portfolio manager at various asset management firms, I had a growing frustration with the lack of technology available to monitor and manage risk. Given how much information was coming into the internal investment teams, the depth and breadth of data were growing too large and overwhelming for a human to derive actionable insights and make informed decisions.

This was because the credit landscape was so archaic. Looking back, it reminds me of the scene in Mary Poppins at the bank, where there were piles of physical financial statements – making it incredibly challenging to locate the relevant information that portfolio managers need to go about their day-to-day activities. 

That’s why I decided to launch KMI with Ryan Browning (now Siepe’s VP of Sales and Marketing) to modernize credit workflows and develop a more intuitive solution. We’ve built an offering that enables portfolio managers to analyze and synthesize financial documents in a more efficient and accurate manner, in real-time, and at a fraction of the cost.


With Siepe’s acquisition of KeyMan Intelligence last year, what benefits does the new solution deliver to fund managers?

When we merged Siepe’s and KMI’s solutions, our goal was not to just automate the expensive and less efficient processes; it was to connect all the information in a fund manager to improve the overall portfolio management experience.

There are still many inefficiencies with how information is delivered and filtered through to investment teams, the back-office, and analysts, especially with manual reporting processes. Even today, many firms opt to solve these issues by adding personnel to help speed up manual processes, but this complicates things further while increasing costs.

With advancements in technology, there’s no reason these processes cannot be automated. And that’s what our new platform is achieving, by combining KMI’s financial statement parsing and Siepe’s data aggregation capabilities.  Ultimately, the goal is to help managers evolve and scale their business without expanding the actual operational footprint.


What has it been like adapting to working under Siepe’s culture?

Besides the fact that I’m older than everyone, it’s refreshing to work with a team that is extremely gifted and experienced on the technology side of things. I’m really enjoying working with them to provide a client’s perspective for building new products that enrich a user’s experience and seeing these ideas become a reality.


In your opinion, what is the key differentiator that influences an investment manager to work with Siepe over other technology providers? 

The flexibility for users to access, control and optimize their own financial data and information.

When I was a portfolio manager, my biggest frustration was working with data. The asset management firms that I used to work for were unable to run their own reports and bring in new data sources – and so we needed to bring in vendors to do it for us. This whole process was a daily occurrence and was incredibly time-consuming as several hours had to be spent explaining what data was required and where it could be located. 

However, Siepe’s thesis is that the data belongs to the user. This means that the user should have as much control and flexibility as they need to manage their portfolios without requiring constant assistance from a third-party to gain insights and make more informed, strategic investment decisions.


As a Senior Executive with 20+ years in the industry, what advice would you give to others aspiring to succeed in financial technology?

I think it is becoming increasingly important for individuals to understand coding languages and to have the ability to work with information, such as databases and analytics, as part of their toolkit. It’s also important to have a forward-thinking mindset as the industry continues to evolve and change. For example, with risk management, it’s incredibly valuable to be able to uncover and realize risk as it’s going to be – rather than as it is already.


What do you see as the greatest opportunity for Siepe in 2022?

The growth of our newly integrated Siepe-KeyMan platform. When I started out as a portfolio manager, this is the exact system I hoped for when managing credit and reporting private company data. And we’re starting to gain some real momentum, with many fund managers seeing the value that our Automated Financial Data Extraction Platform can provide. Not only this but, now we can offer a full suite of IT infrastructure, portfolio management, and data reporting solutions to fund managers. 


What is a fun fact about yourself?

I once won an Elvis impersonation contest when I was in high school.