It’s been almost twelve months since Ori Hazan stepped in as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at Antelope Systems, a CRM and lead management firm. Formerly a VP of Business development at Panda Trading Systems, Hazan got his start in the retail trading industry at FX industry as a financial dealer at GLTFX in 2011.
This week, Finance Magnates caught up with the CEO to see how things are progressing at his firm. Speaking to Hazan after he had just touched down in Cyprus, we discussed changes in business strategy, how the European Securities and Markets Authority’s product intervention measures are affecting his business and what retail brokers are looking for when they come to a company like Antelope.
You moved into your current position back in February, what was the transition from a trading systems provider to a CRM and lead management solutions provider like and what skills did you bring that have helped you in your new role?
From a personal standpoint, having been involved in the industry for many years, I have experience in being a tech provider and understanding the business needs. When I joined Antelope Systems, there was an amazing team of developers already in place. What I have added is the business understanding, turning Antelope from a cutting-edge technology company into a business solutions provider addressing the real needs of companies.
Our goal is to build the best possible systems for Call Centers and Lead Management while providing the highest level of service to our clients. We aim to provide technology that serves you rather than you serving technology.
By this we mean, reducing unnecessary clicks or switching windows/systems, reducing decision making in lead distribution and letting the technology free up agents to contact the right leads and allow managers to manage their people. Our target is to make our systems available to anyone with the least amount of effort and in the shortest possible time and simply make their business better.
What broad trends in the retail trading industry have you seen since coming in as CEO?
The environment has definitely become tougher. Regulation, banking, compliance, payment processing, and competition are all making it harder for Brokers. The rate of acceleration of these conditions is increasing all the time. Brokers are taking on more processes in terms of compliance and keeping payment options open while the costs of acquisition are increasing amid competition, shrinkage in marketing channels and increase costs. Many brokers are bringing more operations in-house, such as media buying and increasing their knowledge to operate more like leading e-commerce industries.
With this has come a demand for optimizing call center operations. Our clients are looking for systems that enable them to manage their resources better. The more they can increase conversion rates, the more it mitigates the increased costs of acquisition and compliance overhead costs. Demand for end-to-end CRM systems that can be easily deployed has increased, but the NINJA Automated Lead Management has become the star of the show. Especially now that Brokers are taking on more diverse markets and more languages – which leads to more desks and more teams to manage.
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It’s been argued that ESMA’s recent regulations will drive out the ‘churn and burn’ broker model and force companies to start developing long-term relationships with their clients. If that is the case, how does it affect a company like Antelope Systems?
Regulation has forced Brokers to change in many ways. One way Antelope Systems has seen from the perspective of Call Center Management is the need for sophisticated and automated lead management, better management tools and the ability to manage more and more desks and teams. Brokers are investing in better communications with their leads and traders across the board – from initial conversion to long-term retention.
Because the barriers to conversion are so high with KYC and issues with payment methods, it has become even more critical to make each contact more meaningful while releasing agents to do what they do best – sell, rather than jump through hoops navigating through internal systems or even dialing out. Companies that can overcome that initial barrier, also have an advantage in retaining their clients, as it is more difficult for their clients to switch to competitors easily.
Antelope has only been around for a couple of years, and it seems as though your core products CRM and lead management-focused. Do you have plans to expand your current offering or branch out into providing new technologies?
Over time, the core of the business has become the automated lead management, and we see this as the main growth area. Other systems and services make it easier for our clients to get more added value, but demand is strong for intelligent automation. We believe that this is more where our future lies – an automated lead management system that can be deployed to any system, any CRM, any trading platform, and, deployed extremely fast, with minimal disruption.
If you do not have a CRM, we can provide one. If you need an affiliate management system, we can provide one, but we understand that more and more companies have their own solutions and want to deploy on top of what they have. We do not want to make companies change their systems; we want to make their systems work better for them.
Post-ESMA, we’ve seen a number of brokers adopting affiliate marketing programs to counter restrictions on advertising. Have you seen a concurrent rise in demand for your affiliate marketing products?
There is an increase in demand for affiliate traffic, as there is an increase in demand for traffic in general. Competition is high for quality traffic, and there has been an increase in demand for effective management tools across the board. Systems need to cope with more data and make faster real-time decisions. Affiliates are just one part of this puzzle.
In general, we have seen a growth in the need for tools to manage networks – including affiliates, media, partners and more. The networks are becoming larger and more complex and being able to analyze performance and manage networks has become more intricate.
In the past twelve months, we’ve seen a number of AI type lead-generation and marketing solutions brought to market. How have you integrated that technology into your products? More broadly, how do you see the increase in the use of such technology affecting the brokerage industry?
AI and machine decision making has become the core of our business. It is not just integrated with our systems; it has become the main product. We have adapted AI and automation to be able to interface with any other systems as these are the key elements businesses need today. The NINJA Automated Lead Management System is our flagship product, and this is where demand from businesses is coming from.
Most people will know Antelope Systems through the retail trading industry, but your product seems like it would be useful to a range of different businesses. Are you providing your technology to any other different types of businesses beyond retail trading firms or trying to do so?
Any business that has a base around Call Centers need our technology. The limit is just imagination. If the business has a flow of leads that needs to be contacted, then our systems can route the lead to the right representative to optimize the desired outcome. Retail financial trading is one sector, but the same technology can be applied to many sectors like high street/ retail or institutional banks, insurance, real estate, health care, and the list goes on. The key is making our systems flexible to work with any other system or CRM quickly and easily, and this is what we have done and what we are working on.