Behind the Idea: LemonTree

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Low-code is the future of software development and is forecast to quadruple in value by 2024, according to Prescient & Strategic Intelligence. Accelerated by Covid-19 most organisations have seen the need for rapid transformation to their technology stack and low-code applications enable unprecedented flexibility.

LemonTree is the first low-code development platform for middle to back-office technology, with a suite of tools designed for financial services. Fully custom platforms or single applications can be built 80% quicker than traditional approaches and can manage complex financial data, transactions and accounting processes.

Gareth Hewitt, CEO of LemonTree

Gareth Hewitt is CEO of fintech start-up LemonTree Software. He is a highly experienced IT professional with 20 years’ experience developing alternative investment software. Experience which became the insights for founding a cloud-based configurable software solution, in 2011. Later co-founding Bridge Fund Solutions, then sold, solidified his belief in the deep-rooted need for technological change in Financial Services.

What has been the traditional business response to financial technology innovations nationally?

Back and middle-office technology has been stagnant for many years. You see three or four major players in every industry vertical, plus Excel as the main drivers of technology. Given all the great innovations across financial services, why is this area struggling to move on? We see two main reasons.  Firstly, from a client perspective they often have heavily customised systems with proprietary solutions, processes, calculations and a suite of 3rd party solutions around a core platform – to implement changes has been historically a major project. Secondly, a lack of competition over the last 20 years has resulted in the legacy providers having no incentive to evolve.

However, from a client perspective, the market is becoming more competitive, regulatory and client demands are growing and the internal pressures to change are greater. The existing legacy systems simply have too much technical debt to evolve quickly enough to these client needs, and therefore we are seeing new challengers into the market.

How has this changed over the past few years?

There have been drastic enhancements in technology over the last few years. At LemonTree, we’ve combined the power of low-code, with an API and a suite of financial services specific tools, to overcomes these challenges for clients.

Low-code is now well established as an alternative to the “build from scratch, or buy” options of the past 50 years. You gain all the benefits of developing custom solutions, without the expertise, or resources historically required. Resulting in 80% quicker build times and significantly lower cost than traditional methods.

APIs (Application Program Interface) are another relatively recent change in the industry. Most commonly they are heard in relation to open banking, unlocking the ability to easily transfer data between one bank and another, or a new additional service. We understand data integration can be one of the most challenging parts of any project. The LemonTree API, makes data integration seamless for any existing systems, data sources or applications. Additionally, anything built on the platform is instantly connected to our suite of tools or any other application.

Our clients benefit from this quick development with a dedicated suite of tools underpinning their unique data structures, financial and accounting processes.   We defined this suite of tools as our Triple Lock. As an example Canvases are one of these tools. An instant, isolated replication of your entire system and all your data, no matter the size. You can make changes to any number of data items, and through our API technology see the impact in any part of the platform, from our integrated multi-currency general ledger, to your custom reports or waterfall, all in real-time.

Is there anything that has created a culture of change inside the company?

We’re in a privileged position that we could clearly define our culture from the beginning. My opinion is that culture needs to be intrinsically linked to everything across your business, brand, technology, intellectual property and people. If you try to force a culture into a business, without understanding every touch-point it becomes disjointed and ultimately will unravel.

As co-founders, we’ve always taken an alternative approach to our various opportunities, so it started from our personal values. We are passionate about bringing change, and importantly enabling others. If you give people the right tools, with the right support, you’ll always be amazed by what they can achieve. To this end, we want to be a positive disruptor in the market.  This mentality gives us the right balance of attitude, values and approach.

Covid-19, although a shocking impact on society and the economy, has meant clients have also been shaken from their traditional habits. They are actively looking for disruptors to help overcome changes which will outlast the immediate impact. Be true to your proposition, your values, your culture and you will naturally find the right place in the market at the right time.

What Fintech ideas have been implemented in LemonTree?

We have embraced, what we feel will be the biggest change to how we build financial services technology in the future: Low-code. We’ve combined this new approach, with identifying the consistent and enterprise-grade requirements required by financial services business into a tool kit and our API. Finally, we also have out of the box industry vertical solutions built on the platform, such as our alternative asset product, and are working with partners in different verticals, such as insurance and banking, to make many more. It is this unique mix, which enables clients to own, customize, or create their custom applications to manage their middle and back-office financial processes, whilst also ensuring they are future-proofed and can add their proprietary processes to the solution as practices evolve.

What benefits have these brought?

Ultimately custom solutions to client-specific problems, or increasingly their opportunities deliver specific benefits for each client. This is the main reason clients want more customised solutions. We enable our clients to achieve these solutions, in an approach which makes them possible – by saving 80% of their time, reducing the dependency on 3rd parties and taking greater ownership.

Our suite of tools enables faster, ownable financial reporting, hierarchical data analysis, improved regulatory audit compliance, greater accuracy through removed manual processes and improved decision making.

Do you see any other industry challenges on the horizon?

The complexity, breadth and required transparency of data that organisations will have to manage is going to significantly increase. This pressure will not only come from external sources; regulators, investors, customers, but internal teams. By having a greater and broader data set, fully transparent, and instantly accessible, business will leverage greater insights and opportunities. As we have seen across a number of industries to date.

Can these challenges be aided by Fintech?

Absolutely. The ability to manage and analyse large, complex data sets is now a proven skillset of the industry. New, exciting players will continue to emerge in this space to provide the technology to enable an acceleration of this opportunity.

Final thoughts…

Every client has unique needs, which to date have been serviced by vanilla applications designed to fit 80% of the market. However, more than ever businesses need to be in the 20% to remain distinctive and competitive. Low-code platforms such as LemonTree, ensure the technology which powers these businesses can meet this vital need.

  • Gina is a FinTech journalist (BA, MA) who works across broadcast and print. She has written for most national newspapers and started her career in BBC local radio.

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