Daniela Rothley loves personal interactions and meeting clients in person but joined LPA Group as a consulting partner in Germany in April this year during a Covid-19 lockdown.
Rothley said: “It was a bit surreal starting a new job with a new company when I was not allowed to meet people and just saw them on screen, especially in a people business where you normally have lots of interaction.”
LPA provides technology and software solutions for capital markets but Rothley joined to further build the consulting business on a pan-European basis, including in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, alongside consulting leads Christian Behm and Hans-Joachim Lefeld. She has more than 20 years of experience as a consultant and at major banks and was previously at Infosys, a consulting and outsourcing business.
Rothley said LPA’s growth plans and its reliable long-term relationships with clients of more than 20 years are a differentiator. She described the consultancy as having a strong network with lots of opportunities, while also being flexible as it is small enough to make quick decisions. Last year she met some senior managers at LPA who said they wanted to expand their footprint and market.
“The firm is definitely on an expansion path and I had some good conversations regarding the experience and ideas I could bring to the table, and chemistry with people is also a very important part of our business,” added Rothley.
Peter Schurau, chief executive of LPA Group, said in a statement that Rothley has shown an aptitude for identifying future client needs and providing additional value, which will be critical as LPA continues to grow.
Schurau said: “Her expertise and years of experience will be valuable as we continue to develop our consulting offering for clients across the technology stack, including in emerging areas such as the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning.”
Clients have pain points around reducing costs and so want to automate and digitalise processes and reduce the total cost of ownership of their IT architecture. Another major topic that Rothley is discussing with clients is how they bring in disruptive technology.
“They carry out proofs of concept with prototypes around artificial intelligence or machine learning but need to move to the next stage of the evolution in how to integrate them into their architecture at scale,” she said.
Firms also need digital client interaction solutions which offer a better user experience to the customer and enable them to make quicker business decisions. For example, they can use AI to access different kinds of data sources rather than connecting them manually to decide whether to do a deal.
Rothley expects there will be more technology-focused consolidations in capital markets. She added: “Most clients are using heterogeneous infrastructure which is quite cost intensive, but this system complexity is not necessary anymore.”
Clients are also interested in decentralised finance and digital assets, but discussions are at a very early stage as it is a completely different business model. In addition, regulatory requirements are always on the agenda, especially as they may require adjustments in business processes from front to back office.
Although Rothley began her new role during a lockdown, in Germany she can meet clients outside and they are becoming willing to meet in person again.
“I love to align with clients with virtual coffee breaks if we cannot do it in person,” she added. “Consulting will involve less travelling so we will have to adapt.”
Personal interactions and meeting clients in person will remain important in order to understand them, to understand what they are feeling and their drivers, and this cannot be replaced by a video conference. Rothley explains that she really misses the non-verbal client feedback which cannot be seen on a small screen.
Working from home is also still an evolution for some clients. “The challenge is not technology, but in not having teams sitting together, meeting on coffee breaks to discuss something or walking around the floor to clarify something directly with other business areas,” added Rothley. “Remote workers need to have a self-starter attitude and organise their day to bring results to the table.”
Rothley previously worked at consulting firms Sopra Steria Consulting and SQS Group, and banks LBBW and Dresdner Kleinwort. Her areas of expertise include front office operations, trade finance, regulatory compliance, and software system implementation, integration and roll-out.
While studying business management Rothley found the finance and banking business interesting, especially understanding what is behind different kinds of products. For 10 years Rothley worked in banks but switched to consulting after the 2008 financial crisis for a new challenge.
“I like to learn more about different clients and their cultures and see different kinds of projects,” said Rothley.
She admitted that the switch was more difficult than she expected at the beginning, especially the need to have a self-organising attitude without having colleagues around as sparring partners. However, she learnt a lot quickly so that she was comfortable after six months.
Rothley explained that part of the reason for her success is the ability and willingness to challenge herself every day.
“Clients will have seen your CV, but you still have to convince them you are the right choice the first time because most of them don’t know you,” she added. “I really love it when the client is happy afterwards with the results and the timelines.”
In order to be successful Rothley believes you need to be willing to take responsibility quickly, make decisions and be willing to work on and learn about new topics and areas. In consulting a key factor of success is that you also need to use your experience to sell ideas and projects to build reliable relationships with clients.
Her advice is that sometimes you have to take a little risk and proactively try something different to move to the next level of your career.
“You have to be happy with your life and the whole environment so don’t hesitate too much until it is too late,” she said.
She also thinks that a lot of women are too critical of their mistakes and don’t use their experience as an advantage that they can bring to the table.
“For sure, humans make mistakes but that can be turned into a positive statement as a learning factor and they should be confident going forward,” added Rothley.
In order to increase diversity, the industry needs to support female professional colleagues and enable their potential. Rothley said: “If women are interested in being a trader or being in mergers and acquisitions, they should just do it.”
©Markets Media Europe 2021