comSpark Podcast - Glenn Warden, Chief Information Officer and Principal at Bahl & Gaynor
ComSpark Thought Leader
Glenn Warden, Chief Information Officer and Principal
Bahl & Gaynor
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Vernon Kennedy: Hello, we are here today with Glenn Warden, Chief Information Officer of Bahl & Gaynor, an Investment Company in downtown Cincinnati with about 60 employees. My name is Vernon Kennedy and I am president and CEO of ActiveWrite, and I'll be your guest moderator today.
Technology obviously is becoming more and more pervasive in the professional workplace. Can you share with us a little bit about how your, how it evolved in your industry and your network, your home network, and what that means for you and for your clients?
Glenn Warden: That's an easy question. I don't have one.
VK: Oh, OK. No network.
GW: You know, I am a CIO that grew up in the tech field. So yeah, I grew up, you know, started in support and network engineering and things like that. So, I always had a pretty complex home network and stuff like that for quite a long time. Maybe a couple, a decade or two. But now I, uh, try and simplify it, I have very little. A couple of MACs at home, and we're an Apple shop so we've got some, the kids use their Macs and we’ve got some I-pads and an Apple TV and I-phones and that’s about it. So, we try and keep it as simple as possible. No network. We have one printer that usually doesn't work, but.
VK: Isn’t that always the way it is? Those wireless printers and network things.
GW: Yeah. I can't even do the wireless printer. Just make sure it's got a cord to it.
VK: Yeah. I’ve got a couple of teenage sons and it's the same way. It's a real hodge podge of devices. We've got PCs here, we've got I-pads there, and I-phones and everything else. What do you all use at work? I mean, what is the, what’s kind of the underlying technology for your network at the office?
GW: Yeah, we've, uh, we've virtualized all of our desktops, but being in the finance industry, a lot of our applications are still Microsoft based. Our industry, you know, you'd think would be pretty innovative, you know, being the investment finance industry, but we're actually a pretty archaic, you know, things move pretty slow in our industry. And uh, so there's really a lot of the different software and things we use are still client to server-based applications, and they really haven't moved to a software as a service or a cloud-based type applications. We're doing a lot of that in house, but I'm really a lot of its Microsoft based. So, our desktops are all Microsoft based still, you know, they're all Microsoft Windows based machines.
VK: You said that in your industry, it's kind of slow to adapt and evolve I think. Why do you think that is? Is it because of it's a heavily compliance driven? Or what seems to be the reason for that for a slower adaptation of the technology?
GW: I think part of it is it's pretty complex. You know, the investment management process is pretty complex. You know, for instance, in our software, we've got, you know, there's a lot of different moving pieces to it and there's very few vendors or um, you know, people that provide a full breadth of all the different product lines that you really need. So, for instance, we've got your portfolio counting, your trading systems, your reconciliation systems, your pricing systems. You have billing systems, all these different systems that don't really have a, an ERP like they do it a lot of other industries. And a lot of these, they connect to brokers, there's online training, there's a lot of different facets that go into it. And I guess because of that, you know, they're, they haven't gotten to the point where, there's not a vendor that we have that um, is a true all-encompassing software as a service type vendor.
So, so it tends to move a little slower. There's just a lot of moving parts to it. And I think that's, you wouldn't think it would be too complex, but you know, there's some complexity to all these applications and I think it just moves was pretty slowly that way. There could be some play with the regulatory but not really, and I guess it's just more of the industry and the technology, not necessarily regulatory that keeps us archaic.
VK: Fair enough. How does your company approach things like end user support through the, through service tasks or help desks or things of that nature?
GW: We really hire the best investment professionals in the industry, you know, very seasoned, you know. Our average investment advisors, we've got 25, 30 years of experience. So, we really hire, you know, high-end investment advisors and I feel that they really need a high level of support when it comes to any other technologies.
So, I call it, you know, kind of a white glove service, you know, that's what we try and provide a white glove service. So really the best we can possibly get. The best response times, the best resolution times, the best people working on the help desks, the support desks. We have, um, you know, our service level agreements that we signed with our outsource vendors for help desk or application support, infrastructure support; we really try and get the best you can possibly get. And we also provide a lot of visibility all the way up to, you know, to my desk even, you know, with things. So, there's, you know, my network engineers support people, you know, they are very in tuned to what's going on in the help desk and um, you know, and that I even review that. And so, there's a lot of visibility. We make sure things are getting, getting taken care of that. And we really, we do surveys and ask people how they're, what their service is, and um, you know, I call it a, uh, the happiness factor. You know, we, we did surveys and we look at people and we look at the SLAs, and we look at numbers, we look at key metrics and you know, all these different things. But at the end of the day, when I walk around the office and ask how, what they think their experience is, and if they're happy, then I'm happy and if they’re not, you know, then we've got to deal with something and make it a little bit better.
VK: Well, in this environment, a lot of people is, as you mentioned, your kids and my kids, they all have their own various devices and they tend to get information from a lot of different angles. So, in this kind of bring your own device environment, how does that impact your daily life through the investment advisors or the clients getting their information or, that type of thing. Do you see that as being a big issue?
GW: No, not at all. I might be in the rarity in the camp on this one for an IT leader. But for us, and I'll tell you why. For us, the B.Y.O.D, I say bring it on. Any device, bring it on, let's let the users bring their own devices to work. The reason why I can say that is because we've adapted a pretty advanced virtualization process. All of our servers, all of our desktops are virtualized, and everything's contained within that virtual desktop. Our users can access all of their information via the virtual desktop from any advice in the world. They could access from their I-phone, their IPAD, MACs, PCs, any device they can access everything. We deal with a lot of the security through remote access issues, you know, those things are dealt with by the, with the virtualization. We're also looking to virtualize the applications as well. It deals with a lot of the concerns that most people have with a B.Y.O.D, or mobile devices and things like that. We've dealt with virtual desktops.
VK: But do you do that all from your host network though, right? I mean because you mentioned that you were kind of slower to move to an SAS type platform. So, are you not cloud based or are you mostly on PREM with your service?
GW: No. All of our, our entire data center, all of our servers, desktops, everything is off PREM in our data center. We have nothing on site. So, from a B.Y.O.D perspective, a security perspective, a backup, redundancy, replication perspective, it really helps a lot with that. So yeah, when I said are in the industry is kind of a dinosaur when it comes to the, the applications, it's really the business line applications. Bollinger, our infrastructure is really top notch in my opinion, our security software or infrastructure software, you know, it's um, we really have a top-notch program there I believe.
VK: And people, I think, I'm sure your customers respond to that too because everybody is really hyper concerned about the safety of their money and the type of firm that they have. You know, monitoring it and giving them advice. You know, we've talked a lot about, security and some about governance today. Not all companies have those types of plans in place and maybe, maybe not all of them are as far along as you are. So, what would be your advice to companies that are retooling or deciding to find my dig down and set up a security or governments plan?
GW: We started this process about two years ago really revamping our cyber security and governance program at Bahl & Gaynor, and we've come a long way since then. The number one recommendation I would give to people if they're really, they're starting off with this process, is to get all the stakeholders involved in the process. I think it's extremely important.
So many people look at cybersecurity, um, the, you know, governance, things like this as an IT issue. And it is, I can't stress enough that it is not an IT issue. You know, there are it components to cyber security, but it is not an IT thing at all. And that's very important to get all your main stakeholders all the way up to the CEO, CFO, COO, Chief Compliance Officers. They need to be involved at some level. And I think it's important to get those stakeholders involved. Once you identify your stakeholders, I think it's really valuable for companies to do a, uh, some type of risk assessment, too look at your risks. And when you start developing a cyber security program, identifying the program, your policies, your procedures, are then based off your risks And you know your risks are versus kind of going in blind folded, or assuming what those risks are.
VK: Thank you very much for your time. We certainly enjoyed having you.
GW: Thank you. I appreciate it.