Executive Spotlight: Michael Oliver

As Siepe’s first Director of Sales for Middle-Office Services, can you tell us a bit more about your role and Siepe’s product?

At the moment, we are seeing a huge push in the industry from portfolio managers to outsource functionalities as they look to become more efficient, control costs and rely more on technology. My role is to speak to portfolio managers who want to explore the benefit of outsourcing internal functions and technology to a third-party or replace an existing external provider that hasn’t properly supported their service team or enhanced their technology.  

As an example, the corporate loan industry is constantly pushing for better ways to administer loans for CLO Managers. The focus recently has been to leverage technology to reduce excess overhead, automate manual processes and continue to update technology. Siepe’s Middle-Office Services suite allows CLO Managers to offload this responsibility to Siepe to streamline and digitize processes for loan administration, loan settlement, cash reconciliation and compliance reporting. By leading with technology and supplementing that with support from industry veterans, we can find the right mix of technology innovation while having high performers support client relationships. This enables CLO Managers to focus on structuring and managing CLOs, not manage their support teams and technology.


Before Siepe, you worked in corporate trust for 20 years. How does your experience in the corporate trust sector translate to middle-office services?

While in corporate trust, my focus was on business development for trustee and middle-office services in the securitization industry. This made the transition to Siepe very simple for me as I’m still dealing with the same challenges across the same products and assets.

My career started in corporate trust focusing on the operational and relationship management side of the business and eventually moved into business development more than 10 years ago. In all my roles, process efficiency and technology were the constant pain points – both internally and externally – with clients. There has been a major shift within the industry as CLO managers are starting to transition away from legacy technology and processes to find better and more efficient ways to manage their portfolios. As a result of my previous experience, I gained valuable insight into how CLO managers rely on loan administration and technology capabilities to more effectively manage their underlying portfolios. This ties in particularly well with Siepe’s middle-office platform and software solutions that provide a front-to-back solution starting with loan administrations and compliance and offering front-office software tools for portfolio managers, credit analysts and traders.  


What advice would you give to people looking to progress their career in your field? Are there any management strategies you would encourage?

Whenever I am learning a new task, I try to make sure I learn as much as I can about not only the task but the motivation behind it. For example, if a client wants to understand and gain specific insights from their data, I would ask the client why and what they are looking to achieve. By asking these questions, you’ll be able to better understand exactly what the client wants and how you can help solve the challenges they are facing.

I have also found proper project planning with realistic milestones to be successful because it allows me to better anticipate client concerns and questions. For example, large transition initiatives like introducing a middle-office service or replacing existing software and technology can be intimidating to clients who are unsure of the time commitment and resources required from them. Being able to anticipate a client’s concerns and outlining a clear concise project plan will not only make the client more comfortable but also outline expectations both internally and externally on how to execute that plan. A large component of getting a proper project plan in place and being able to execute efficiently is being collaborative with both internal and external business partners. This collaboration allows an open line of communication between all parties involved.


On the back of a record year, what goals have you set out for yourself and Siepe to achieve in 2022?

Having joined Siepe at the start of this year, I set my personal goal to learn more about the software side of our offering. Our software is very extensive and has functionality across many roles and responsibilities of the portfolio manager. Siepe’s software is the most comprehensive offering I have seen in the industry and was a major driver for me to join Siepe. Siepe also layered in borrower financial processing software with the KeyMan Intelligence acquisition last year,  which rounds out the overall software solution and provides a lot more power on how data can be analyzed by the client. 

Being able to effectively communicate with clients the benefits we offer through our software solution and marrying that with our middle-office solution, is where I have spent most of my focus since joining. This way, when I speak to prospects and clients, I’ll have a more solid foundation about what solutions we can deliver that best suit their unique requirements.

From an organizational standpoint, I want to continue to identify where Siepe’s middle-office capabilities can add value to fund managers and the steps required to build a strong solution suite. For example, last year, the CLO industry ballooned with the highest issuance total ever. Consequently, the number of transactions that managers need to focus on has risen dramatically. This is an area where Siepe can utilize its flexible platform to integrate with existing CLO manager workflows or create better efficiency by fully automating new workflows.

Similarly, with our ability to track underlying loans, we are able to ensure there is a golden copy of data to reconcile against trustees and custodians. Therefore, building out Siepe’s functionality of how managers can interact with data to derive more actionable insights is another way we can deliver more and better results for our clients.

Given the knowledge and pedigree of Siepe’s personnel, I have no doubt we’ll be able to build on these areas and bring them to life.  


In your opinion, what do you think sets Siepe apart from other technology providers in the industry? 

Siepe’s ability to step in and provide one holistic solution for its clients. Over the last year, we’ve seen a real uptick in prospects who aren’t happy with their front-office or middle-office software capabilities. Also, many service providers are seeing a higher staff turnover due to employee burnout or being lured away to competitors. The reliance on people to process and not technology has caused huge operational disruptions for clients as they see key service team members leave with all the knowledge of their transactions. This is where Siepe can help intervene and provide comprehensive solutions that can execute both functions while ensuring businesses can continue to operate smoothly and efficiently by relying on automation and finding the right balance between technology and people.


What is a fun fact about yourself?

I have quite a large extended family, with 25 nieces and nephews. I am also an avid Pearl Jam fan!