TPG to buy majority stake in Thoma Bravo-backed tech firm Nintex

TPG is acquiring a majority stake in automation-software firm Nintex, which is backed by Thoma Bravo, according to a statement Tuesday.
The deal is valued at more than $2 billion, including debt, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the terms are private. Nintex was valued at $460 million in 2018, according to PitchBook.

Image by Bloomberg Mercury

Thoma Bravo will make an equity investment in the company and retain a significant minority interest.

Nintex helps customers automate processes without needing to code, which makes it easy for businesses to adapt, Nintex Chief Executive Officer Eric Johnson said in an interview.

He said popular uses for its products are onboarding new employees and helping manage remote working. It also helps companies figure out what processes need to be automated.

Rolling Stakes

Private equity firms in recent years have brought on rivals to invest in their portfolio companies. It’s also increasingly common for the sellers to roll over their stakes. A new partner can provide some return on investment while also setting a new valuation on an asset. Thoma Bravo first invested in Nintex in 2018.

“It’s an increasing trend in software,” TPG Capital Co-Managing Partner Nehal Raj said. “As long as the firms know each other well, you get the benefit of double the bandwidth.”

While it isn’t ready to talk about exit opportunities, Raj said some of the world’s biggest technology companies could look to deals in Nintex’s space.

“ServiceNow, Microsoft, SAP, Salesforce, Oracle — they’re all thinking about how they want to play in the automation space,” Raj said.

Hudson Smith, a Thoma Bravo partner, said the company can use both firms’ networks to scour for acquisitions. The company has done a handful of deals in the past few years and is looking to grow further that way.

Morgan Stanley advised TPG while Bank of America Corp. was lead financial adviser to Nintex, which also received advice from Macquarie Group Ltd.

— By Liana Baker and Katie Roof

Stop asking customers “How may I help you?” (and actually help them!)

“How may I help you?” It seems like an honest, straightforward way to start an interaction. A standard phrase that is friendly, polite and even feels customer-centric. For many decades, it has been the de facto starting point for customer service phone calls.

And that’s the problem. A phrase that defined the era of phone-based service is causing a very different reaction in today’s OnScreen, digital-first world. This simple, considerate greeting is starting to have the opposite effect as many see it as disrupting the digital flow of the customer service engagement.

The emergence of self-service digital tools, including FAQs and online knowledge bases as well as chatbots and OnScreen live chat has radically changed customer behavior and reset expectations. Where the customer journey once started with a phone call to a business, today most start online for self-service. When customers do engage with live agents, they are typically well along their journey, not at the starting point.

In fact, a number of studies have shown that customers usually complete anywhere from 57% to 70% of the resolution journey before engaging with a live agent. From a customer’s perspective, that’s somewhere beyond the middle—not the start.

Imagine you are midway through watching a movie when friends drop by and ask you to start again from the very beginning so THEY can catch up. Some might be willing for their friends, but no one wants to start over with a customer service agent.

After all that effort to get to this point, “How may I help you?” feels like a giant step backward for customers. A waste of time. Worse yet, it signifies that a financial institution doesn’t prioritize the customer’s time. A seemingly customer-centric question has become the exact opposite.

This creates frustration for the customer and also friction for the agents who are forced into this awkward situation. It’s not exactly setting them up for success.

Best practices from the legacy phone-based days do not translate well for today’s digital-first world. Digital Customer Service (DCS) has emerged as a better way to help customers. DCS starts by first meeting them where they are, which is increasingly online with live chat, OnScreen voice and video service.

True DCS solutions go a step further, to understand where customers are within their journey, assessing and even anticipating needs. Live Observation, for example, allows an agent to see where a customer is within the bank’s Website or app. If a customer is hovering over a loan application, for example, the agent can see this and offer to help complete the application. “Hi, it looks like you might need some help applying for a loan” replaces “How may I help you.”

The customer is not forced to start all over because the agent is now on the same page—literally. No need to restart the whole process because the agent is up-to-speed and ready to help. By offering CoBrowsing, agents can get even more proactive in guiding customers, launching web links or apps and even helping to fill out an application, say for a loan.

Ultimately, good service is about aligning to the customer and their situation at the moment. Agents that can quickly understand a customer’s needs, provide relevant help and remove friction points can help drive up customer satisfaction, drive down abandonment rates and help build long-term loyalty. That begins with the very first question. Which should no longer be “How may I help you.”

Glia is reinventing how businesses serve their customers in a digital world, supporting a growing list of financial institutions. Glia’s solution enriches web and mobile experiences with digital communication choices, OnScreen collaboration and AI-enabled assistance. Learn more at

To learn more about Digital Experiences, check out the new book Digital Customer Service: Transforming Customer Experience for an On-Screen World

Smoothing the bank-fintech relationship

The bank-fintech partnership isn’t always a match made in heaven. The topic spurred the inclusion of a fintech-bank “couples counseling” session at the Association for Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) Anti-Financial Crime Conference last week in Las Vegas. While banks and fintechs have partnered for years to enable new functionalities and services for customers, with these […]

Standard Chartered taps FinLync to expand reach of bank’s treasury management offerings

Standard Chartered has tapped Singapore-founded fintech FinLync to help expand the reach of its treasury management offerings, specifically the bank’s application programming interfaces (API) developed for corporate treasury management. APIs, or software gateways, allow applications to pull data from databases. While treasury management can otherwise involve significant manual tallying of data, API linkages can help […]

UiPath aims to release on-premise solution in November

UiPath, the robotic process automation (RPA) vendor that went public in April, will offer its automation solution as an on-premise application called Automation Suite. The final beta is in public review through the end of the month. The release will be soon after the close of public review, which is restricted to companies that register […]

Digital banking solutions providers ranked in Aite-Novarica Group report

Digital banking solutions provider Backbase was ranked best-in-class in a new evaluation of eight banking point solutions vendors. Aite-Novarica Group’s assessment taps the Aite Matrix, which looked at elements including vendor stability, client strength, client services and product features to determine vendors’ overall competitive position. Other banking point solutions vendors in the evaluation ― though […]

Responding to Ransomware: Security experts share steps for remediation

Bank Automation News asked six cybersecurity experts how to defend against ransomware attacks, which have been on the rise this year. It’s best to be on offense with a plan before an attack, experts say. Organizations should prepare for a cyberattack by running through scenarios to ensure everyone knows what to do, said Carolyn Crandall, […]

DeFi ‘blowing up,’ Coinbase chief compliance officer says

That banks and financial institutions can no longer ignore the cryptocurrency space may be a bygone conclusion. But are they ready for decentralized finance within that space? Cryptocurrency has seen rapid adoption, with estimates that 23% of Americans now own crypto, a panel said yesterday at the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) conference […]

Vista seals $1.5B deal for software firm Blue Prism

Private equity firm Vista Equity Partners is to acquire automation software developer Blue Prism Group Plc for about 1.1 billion pounds ($1.5 billion), in yet another takeover of a U.K. tech company by a foreign buyer.

Blue Prism recommended Vista’s bid of 1,125 pence a share in a statement Tuesday. The offer represents a premium of about 35% to Blue Prism’s closing price of 832 pence on Aug. 27, the last full trading day before takeover interest became public.

The deal barely claws back the value lost this year as Blue Prism’s shares fell by around a third, pulled lower by concerns over gaps in its portfolio and the cost of developing the products needed to keep the company competitive.

Blue Prism’s shares fell as much as 3.3% to 1,150 pence in early trading Tuesday in London.

“While investors will no doubt have hoped for more, we note that Blue Prism has lowered full-year 2021 revenue expectations,” Jefferies analysts wrote in a note. “This obviously creates a weak negotiating position to extract a high price.”

It’s the latest in a growing number of British companies being sold to overseas buyers as foreign investors take advantage of valuations depressed by the pandemic and Brexit.

Image by Bloomberg Mercury

The government has welcomed the trend as a sign of confidence in the country’s economic prospects, yet it’s also sowing concerns that promising growth industries are being stripped of their expertise and strategic autonomy.

In February Dialog Semiconductor Plc was acquired by Japan’s Renesas Electronics Corp in a $5.6 billion deal, and in July Tencent Group acquired game developer Sumo Group Plc for $1.26 billion.

Bloomberg first reported details of the Blue Prism acquisition. Some 23% of its shareholders have said they will back the deal, including Jupiter Investment Management and Lead Edge Capital Management, according to the statement.

Blue Prism said in late August that it was in discussions with Vista and another private equity firm, TPG, about possible offers for the company.

Vista aims to combine Blue Prism with existing portfolio company Tibco Software Inc., which it acquired in 2014. It plans to maintain Blue Prism’s U.K. headquarters and invest in research and development, people familiar with the matter said. One of its independent directors, Murray Rode, was previously a longtime member of Tibco Software’s management and served as its chief executive after its purchase by Vista.

Activist investor Coast Capital, which owns just under 3% of Blue Prism, recently said it’s open to a private equity takeover of the company after initially opposing a sale. The investment firm’s founder, James Rasteh, said the company’s management had now earned his trust.

The software company’s depressed valuation reflects concerns about gaps in its product portfolio and its distance from key clients and investors in the U.S., Rasteh said in August. He said his firm had spent five months drawing up potential operational improvements that would accelerate Blue Prism’s sales growth.

Vista, which focuses on investments in enterprise software companies, was founded by billionaire Robert F. Smith in 2000. It has more than $81 billion in assets under management, according to the firm’s website.

— David Hellier, Liana Baker and Aaron Kirchfeld with assistance from Amy Thomson (Bloomberg Mercury)

Movers and Shakers: New CEO named by RPA vendor Workfusion

Two leading players in the robotic process automation (RPA) space made executive hires this month, including today’s announcement by WorkFusion that Adam Famularo will lead the vendor as its new chief executive officer. Famularo joins WorkFusion from erwin Inc., where he served as CEO and doubled revenue over a four-year period, according to a WorkFusion […]

FIs look to disaster recovery solutions amid ransomware attacks

Core provider Jack Henry reported an uptick in the number of financial institutions integrating its backup and recovery solutions in response to this year’s escalation in ransomware attacks.

The Gladiator Centurion Enterprise-Level Recovery (CELR) solution is backing up 80% more financial data than it was 18 months ago, according to the Missouri-based Jack Henry. CELR backs up a bank’s data in encrypted file transmission then moves it into storage. This ensures that if a bank is targeted by a ransomware attack that has altered its data and wants a payout to correct it, the bank has an offline record to restore its systems, Stacey Zengel, senior vice president and president of Jack Henry Banking, told Bank Automation News.

“The key thing you have to have encryption. You have to have several copies as well, because you might have gotten compromised with ransomware five days ago,” Zengel said. “And that’s usually where [hackers] operate, they’ll sneak something in and then, you know, a few days go by and all of a sudden you have an issue.” More than 300 banks and credit unions are using the core provider’s CELR solution, she added.

CELR provides cloud-based backup and recovery by installing software at the bank that sends a backup of a bank’s servers and third-party enterprise systems offsite to Jack Henry’s facility located 175 feet underground in Branson, Mo. Jack Henry’s backup solution backs up to air-gapped cold storage. Air gapped means the data is taken offline so it’s secure from cyberattack. Cold storage – in some cases relies on pulling tapes to back up – costs less but is slower to retrieve than “hot storage,” which is used by always-connected cloud providers such as Amazon and Google. If an emergency or disaster occurs, the financial institution uses a virtual server recovery module to remotely access the backed-up systems from a Centurion recovery center.

The air-gapped cold storage is key to the $293.9 million Citizens Bank & Trust’s disaster recovery planning, Senior Vice President Annette Hord said in a press release. The bank is headquartered in Campbellsville, Ky. “Today, with added vulnerabilities from ransomware attacks, knowing that backup is in air-gapped cold storage is vital to our continuity planning,” Hord said. “It’s an added layer of defense that can preserve our data and our reputation as a trusted financial institution.”

Jack Henry recently launched another security feature called SecurePort, a solution that helps banks provide end-users with timely access to their accounts in case bank systems fail. SecurePort moves critical data into a source vault that is encrypted, unchangeable, and completely separated from the bank’s infrastructure and resiliency planning, with a designated restoration platform. An early adopter is the $1.2 billion Las Vegas-based Meadows Bank.

This year has been marked by high-profile ransomware attacks, including the Colonial pipeline attack and the REvil attack on meat supplier JBS S.A. which paid out an $11 million ransom to the Russia-linked ransomware gang. There’s more at stake than just attacks: Last week, the Biden administration announced it will be more rigorous about tracing ransomware paid out to hackers, a move that could impact banks and other financial institutions.

Listen: Bank overtakes Facebook in hackers’ playbook

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‘Developers are the new bankers’: Wells Fargo analysts predict wave of job cuts

The era of bankers dominating banking is over as software developers rise — and a record wave of job cuts will soon sweep the industry.

Photo by Bloomberg Mercury

That’s according to Wells Fargo & Co. analysts led by Mike Mayo, who estimated that the technology improvements and automation these developers bring will allow the industry to cut 100,000 jobs over the next five years.

“New job additions could lower reduction levels, but our conclusion is still that this will be the biggest reduction in U.S. bank headcount in history,” Mayo, along with six other senior equity analysts, said in a note to clients late Monday.

Banks spend more on technology than any other industry and had to set aside a whopping $200 billion for information technology last year alone. That’s meant the technologists they hire play an increasingly important role inside the world’s largest financial institutions, the Wells Fargo analysts found.

Many of the job cuts will hit lower-paid roles. The financial-services industry — which operates some of the world’s largest call centers — will likely “aggressively” reduce headcount in such locations, the analysts said. Branch workforces may drop 20% over the next several years, and could account for as much as one-third of banks’ total reduction.

Software developers wield greater influence over lenders’ purchasing decisions and budgets for their tools are ever increasing, the analysts found. That means banks are looking to add technologists and front-line employees to help manage their apps and websites as consumers rapidly adapted to new finance tools during the pandemic.

“Developers are the new bankers,” Mayo and the analysts said in the 110-page report. “These tend to be higher-paying positions, so it may be the case that while banks reduce headcount, they don’t lower compensation as quickly.”

Lenders have had trouble improving back-office functions, the analysts found. That’s partly because banks are deliberately cautious when upgrading those systems and they face extra regulatory oversight when doing so.

“Progress in the back office remains a slog,” Mayo and the analysts said in the report, noting such employees currently account for about half of all bank employees. “Some will succumb to technology, but others may require changes in regulation or laws to be fully eliminated. In any event, banks should be able to significantly cut back-office headcount over time.”

Banks have spent years promising that the extra spending on technology would ultimately help drive down costs. While it might be bad for job prospects, it’s finally poised to help profitability, the Wells Fargo analysts found.

If interest rates normalize over the next five years, it would shave more than 9 percentage points from the industry’s efficiency ratio — a measure of profitability that represents how much it costs to produce a dollar of revenue, Wells Fargo found.

“We believe tech requires banks to better compete, enables the biggest structural change in history, and puts record efficiency within reach,” the analysts said.

Aite-Novarica Group research ranks 7 core providers for digital banking solutions

When it comes to core providers, Temenos edged out six others as the “best in class vendor” in a matrix released last week. The Aite-Novarica Group released its Aite Matrix: U.S. Digital Banking Solutions of CoreProviders ranks vendors by overall competitive position, stability, client strength, product features and client services. Temenos “has been able to […]

Temenos goes live with payment processor Paymentology

Customers of banking software company Temenos gained access to a cloud-based payment processor when an app for Paymentology went live last week on the Temenos Marketplace, a self-service digital store, Temenos announced.

The collaboration gives banking clients of the Switzerland-based Temenos pre-integrated third-party solutions to deliver card products with spend controls and other features backed by secure cloud-native payment processing technology, Temenos said in a release.

“For the provider, the benefits are that they get access to a very broad market reach and a very broad customer base,” Martin Bailey, director of innovation and ecosystem at Temenos, told Bank Automation News. “And for our customers, they get access to a curated set of solutions that they know has been through some good due diligence, so they can build a truly composable solution and make themselves individual in the market.”

The Temenos platform offers cloud-based, cloud-agnostic, API-based digital banking, core banking, payments, fund management, and wealth management software products. More than 3,000 banks and financial institutions are running Temenos cloud-native banking software and software-as-a-service (SaaS) solutions, including the $2.98 trillion HSBC and $1.6 trillion Credit Suisse. The marketplace, part of the Temenos ecosystem, connects banks with fintech solutions like Salt Edge, Qualco, Wise and Bluecode.

Launched in 2015, London-based Paymentology specializes in replacing legacy issuer card processing with a payment processing platform used by challenger banks such as Revolut and Standard Chartered’s Mox Bank.

The partnership will provide banks with real-time data feeds that can include more than 120 lines of information associated with any transaction, rather than the 10 to 20 lines of data most legacy systems use, Bailey said. This gives banks more granular, actionable information on customers’ habits.

“A lot of the value in banking comes down to what you know about the costs. So, things like analytics and explainable [artificial intelligence] are key to making sure that you understand that, and both of those are very data-centric,” Bailey said. “So, the more data you can feed them, the better. There’s more that we can correlate; there’s more that we can spot trends. It’s just a much richer set of data to work with.”

Remitly launches IPO at $43 a share

Remitly, which provides cross-border remittances and financial services for immigrants, today began trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market. The Seattle-based fintech, with $312.6 billion in assets, priced its initial public offering (IPO) at $43 a share under the ticker symbol RELY. Shares climbed to a high of $50.70 at 11:45 a.m. before dipping to […]

U.S. Treasury’s ransomware crackdown: What it means for banks and FIs

The Biden administration this week announced new security guidance to target those who facilitate ransomware payments, laying out an action plan that focuses on disrupting criminal networks and virtual currency exchanges. It follows on the heels of a surge in ransomware payments, which more than doubled from 2019 to 2020 to some $400 million globally. […]

Ex-hedge fund manager’s startup hits $2B value

Advance Intelligence Group, a technology startup led by former hedge fund manager Jefferson Chen, topped $2 billion in valuation after raising more than $400 million from investors led by SoftBank Vision Fund II and Warburg Pincus.

The central business district of Singapore. Photographer: Lauryn Ishak/Bloomberg Mercury

Northstar, Vision Plus Capital, Gaorong Capital and EDBI also joined the Series D financing round, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. Having boosted its valuation from about $400 million in 2019, Advance Intelligence is now one of the most valuable startups in Singapore.

The firm was co-founded by Chen, the 39-year-old former Farallon Capital Management executive who headed private investing in Greater China. Before that, he worked at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. where he was involved in initial public offerings and mergers and acquisitions of Asian companies including Baidu Inc.

Since its inception in 2016, Advance Intelligence has incubated a string of upstarts under its umbrella in the financial services and retail industries. They include big data company Advance.AI and e-commerce merchant service platform Ginee. Its Atome Financial has a “buy now, pay later” app Atome and digital lending platform Kredit Pintar in Indonesia.

“Our vision is to use the AI technology to transform two industries: financial services and retail,” Chen, Advance Intelligence’s chief executive officer, said in a video interview. “These two industries are highly correlated and intertwined. We are trying to put them together into one ecosystem.”

The startup is following in the footsteps of Sea Ltd., a Singapore-based tech startup that went on to become the most valuable company in Southeast Asia in about 10 years. Like Sea founder Forrest Li, Chen was born in China, became a Singaporean citizen and has an MBA from Stanford University. He’s also aiming to build a global business.

Advance Intelligence plans to use the fresh capital to invest in research and development, recruit talent and expand markets and products, Chen said. It has 1,500 employees and operates in 12 markets across South and Southeast Asia, Greater China, and Latin America.

Credit Suisse Group AG acted as exclusive placement agent for the funding round.

— By Yoolim Lee

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JPMorgan adds to tech acquisitions with college platform Frank

JPMorgan Chase & Co. bought college financial-planning platform Frank, the latest in a string of acquisitions the largest U.S. bank has made this year to compete with both big technology firms and fintech upstarts.

Photo by Bloomberg Mercury

Frank will help JPMorgan bolster its relationships with college students, the New York-based bank said in a statement Tuesday. The platform, which offers a streamlined financial-aid application process as well as online courses, serves more than 5 million students at more than 6,000 higher-education institutions. Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

“We want to build lifelong relationships with our customers,” Jennifer Piepszak, co-head of consumer and community banking at JPMorgan, said in the statement. “Frank offers a unique opportunity for deeper engagement with students.”

JPMorgan Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon warned shareholders earlier this year that the banking industry’s disruption by technology has arrived. He pledged to “get faster and be more creative,” with the firm since announcing a series of related acquisitions. Earlier this month, JPMorgan said it reached a deal to acquire restaurant-guide company the Infatuation.

Frank was founded in 2017 by Charlie Javice, who was 24 at the time, with the goal of making college more affordable for millions of Americans. She will continue to lead Frank and become head of student solutions on JPMorgan’s digital products team.

— By Hannah Levitt