Clearwater Analytics’ Anurag Singh On India’s SaaS Explosion

According to a Nasscom study, the pure-play India SaaS industry has the potential to grow to $13-15 billion in revenues by 2025 on the back of a large skilled talent pool, competitive pricing and a strong ecosystem. Analytics India Magazine got in touch with Anurag Singh, Managing Director, India, Clearwater Analytics, to understand more about the SaaS industry, its challenges and growth opportunities.

Excerpts:

AIM: What is your take on the SaaS industry’s explosive growth in India?

Anurag Singh: SaaS trends including ML, AI, Vertical SaaS and providing API interfaces have enabled Indian SaaS companies to expand and grow rapidly. If the Indian startups can drive through leadership and can get leading functional solutions enabled over SaaS platforms, there is ample room for business and growth. According to a report by NASSCOM, India’s total SaaS revenues breached the $3.5 billion mark as of March 2020, growing at a CAGR of 30 per cent. The report also states that SaaS funding in India has increased by 15 per cent CAGR over the last three years.

Over the last decade, there has been remarkable growth in the SaaS industry globally, including India, and there are leading indicators of growth in terms of the establishment of SaaS solution startups. Earlier, there used to be a reluctance to let go of on-premise models, but now the market is ready for adopting SaaS-based solutions in a big way, and we are close to a tipping point for many functional areas.

AIM: What are the factors that contributed to the growth of SaaS, particularly in India?

Anurag Singh: Our industry is well aligned with the key SaaS trends of AI, data security, and analytics which largely ensures that our solutions are market-ready. Additionally, one needs to consider what is required for customer success and get the best-in-class functionality delivered in agile delivery models using cutting edge SaaS technologies. Further, India is blessed with the availability of an excellent and reasonably flexible talent pool, well-versed in the appropriate tech stack to help build leading products. 

Some of the key segments that currently contribute to SaaS growth in India include: 

  • Enterprise Resource Planning
  • Content Communication Collaboration
  • Business Intelligence
  • Customer Relationship Management

The fact of the matter is, this is the start. All non-differentiating functional areas will move to a SaaS model in the coming future.

AIM: Tell us about your major products & solutions

Anurag Singh: At Clearwater, we provide industry-specific tools and products to solve data-related challenges and help organisations establish operational best practices for data management and reporting. The web-based solution allows clients to view their investment portfolio data from anywhere with an internet connection. Investment data-related challenges vary according to the regulatory requirements and business models — this is where Clearwater tools come in handy, specifically built for a variety of unique needs.

A few of our tools include:

  • Statutory accounting support for insurance companies
  • Tools for investment managers
  • Regulatory reporting for a variety of business types
  • Asset impairment analyses and write-downs
  • General ledger and cash flow forecasting

Clearwater’s intuitive, easy-to-use web-based solution allows investment accountants and professionals to view high-level portfolio information and quickly drill into portfolio specifics. We also create automated feeds to other systems for better system integration.

AIM: Could you dilate on Clearwater’s Risk Analytics solutions?

Anurag Singh: The insightful risk analytics we provide is to ensure that investors have access to their portfolios’ exposure every day and not just at month-end. Secondly, our web-based risk monitoring solution provides access to critical financial and investment portfolio risk information. This equips our users to quickly have answers for their pressing risk-related questions, including exposures by the issuer, currency, country, duration, credit ratings, and more. 

Users can also view benchmark comparisons and analyse other risk factors, including cash flow forecasting, credit events, shock analysis, value at risk (VaR), and historical trends and exposures.

AIM: What makes Clearwater stand out in the field of investment accounting and analytics?

Anurag Singh: The trusted and innovative SaaS technology platform provided to our customers helps in bringing transparency to the world of investment accounting and analytics, which remains largely opaque in nature. Comprehensive analytics of global assets are available every day instead of in weeks and months on a highly customisable reporting platform, giving our clients confidence – they are making the most informed decisions about performance, risk, and regulations.

Clearwater’s single instance, multi-tenant business model allows clients to radically simplify their current solution, and the resulting transparency holds power to revolutionise the world of investing.

AIM: What are your thoughts on the changing landscape of the Fintech industry in the post-pandemic world?

Anurag Singh: Increased reliance on digital finance solutions has reduced the use of ATMs and physical cash transactions, bank branches are closed or operating on reduced hours, and footfalls may never return to their previous levels in the post-pandemic period. Here, digital technology and the Fintech industry promised an inclusive economic recovery. Fintech companies rely on AI, ML and Big Data to enhance offerings to customers, eliminate redundant operations, and provide quick turnaround. At some point, solutions using blockchain and asset tokenisation will start seeing traction.

On the other hand, caution needs to be followed as digital finance solutions will enhance the risk of fraud, thereby threatening data integrity and privacy. Businesses offering tech solutions in this space would also thrive post-pandemic.

AIM: How can cloud and SaaS technology help ensure business continuity in these troubled times? 

Anurag Singh: SaaS in combination with cloud infra is the perfect way to deliver a resilient, highly available and scalable solution. With added advantages like multi-region/multi-zone deployments – multiple cloud providers claim for 99.99% of the availability of their services. This offers the gateway to serving business specific to the region in terms of service, latency, and availability and thereby contributing towards business continuity by eliminating downtime. It also offers better network and security management, avoiding or eliminating disruption of operations, increased service availability and preventing DoS attacks.

AIM: Could you share one of your use cases with us?

Anurag Singh: Delphi Financial Group is a North America-based financial holding company whose subsidiaries maintain core franchises in both life and property and casualty insurance operations. Delphi is a member of the Tokio Marine Group, Japan’s non-life insurer and a leading global insurer. With the unique challenges of managing a complex global portfolio across several legal entities, the Investment Services team at Delphi needed a scalable solution to support the rapid growth and increasing complexity of new and existing asset classes. They also wanted to solve process inefficiencies by reducing the amount of manual work that needed to be performed, particularly around accounting and reporting for the more complex and manually intensive asset classes.

 In 2019, Delphi went live with Clearwater’s SaaS solution for validated portfolio data, investment book-of-record accounting, and transparent, real-time portfolio reporting. Clearwater’s multi-basis, multi-currency accounting platform is built to handle the complexity of Delphi’s portfolio. In 2020, we added a number of services for Delphi such as Position Reconciliation Automation (with 15+ additional broker, manager, servicer feeds built), Asset Class Support – Residential Mortgage Loans, Derivatives, General Ledger Automation and Compliance Implementation, Schedule A (Real Estate) NAIC Statement Automation, Implementation of Tax Basis, NAIC tie-out reporting improvements, and the Cash Suspense Allocation Tool.

AIM: What’s next for Clearwater? 

Anurag Singh: Clearwater aggregates, reconciles and reports on more than $5.5 trillion in assets across thousands of accounts daily. We have clients headquartered in the US and Europe, and we set up a sales office in Singapore last year to focus on APAC, including India. As the need for and usage of complex financial instruments increases in India, we expect to see substantial traction for our solution in India and Asia in the coming years.

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kumar Gandharv
Kumar Gandharv, PGD in English Journalism (IIMC, Delhi), is setting out on a journey as a tech Journalist at AIM. A keen observer of National and IR-related news.

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