Though he's been on the job for less than a year, Raj Mahajan, president of SunGard's Brass business unit, already is putting his stamp on the integrated trade and order management provider. That stamp includes transforming Brass from an organization focused on new sales to one dedicated to better serving the needs of existing customers -- and gaining a larger share of wallet by doing so. Mahajan joined SunGard in 2004 when the company purchased his firm, Kiodex, a commodity risk management software business that he started in 2000 with a coworker from Goldman Sachs, where Mahajan was a commodity trader and investor. At SunGard, he has been tasked with making sure the organization thinks not simply as individual business units but across segments and customer types. Contributing Editor Anthony Guerra recently had a chance to talk with Mahajan about how he's working to strengthen Brass.
WS&T: What is SunGard's new market strategy, and how did it lead to you taking the reins at Brass?
Mahajan: Whether you are trading commodities or options or equities or cash equities, we want to be thinking about that industry in a horizontal, holistic way to make sure that we are thinking about the trends that are affecting traders -- not just from the perspective of individual units but as a company. That's what precipitated my move to become the head of the U.S. trading segment. When you take a look at those businesses, Brass is really the crown jewel in that segment. So taking over day-to-day operations made a lot of sense.
WS&T: What is your agenda for the company?
Mahajan: The single biggest thing that I'm focusing on is really bringing a customer-centric focus to the business. Our customers' [businesses] are under an extraordinary amount of duress, whether from regulatory changes, declining commission rates -- you name it. We have a lot of customers -- 150 -- and I think the important thing for people here at Brass is to realize that we are not going to grow through just signing up new customers. The way we're going to grow is by helping those customers we have get more profitable.
WS&T: How do you go about doing that?
Mahajan: The premise is that if we increase our clients' profits, they are going to split some of those profits with us. So if you look at [our clients'] expenses, for instance, this is a period where almost on a daily basis there are new regulations and compliance restrictions. So they are looking for us to help them interpret that. ... If Brass can reduce their compliance expenses and spend, that's one way to improve their profits.
Now, as we go into Reg NMS, we realize there is a whole new area of compliance focus, even beyond the OMS. So we actually created a new product called EnGard to help them manage their compliance spend. That's one way we are going to increase their profits, because instead of hiring lawyers and compliance experts, they will just call up Brass. And when you need tools to do sweeps and make sure you are in compliance, then instead of building a product or enhancing a product, you can use Brass' ASP. So that's a big part of the focus of the business -- being customer centric.
WS&T: What are some of the changes you have brought to the business?
Mahajan: When I came in, I saw some room for execution improvement opportunities around how we structure the business. For instance, we have a sales organization that has been, up until recently, all focused on new clients. One of the things we did was say, "OK, you are going to stop focusing on new clients and focus on existing clients." So we've taken people who are historically salespeople and we've moved them into account-manager roles. That's one internal change.