Technology as the Key to Empowering Alternative Asset Investors
Over the past three years, Maria Rutledge has led a team of 30 developers, analysts, and data architects in building the infrastructure that powers our unique liquidity solutions and overall client experience. In her new role as Chief Technology Officer, Maria is shaping the future of how we can equip and empower our clients to take control of their alternative investments through technology-enabled solutions.
By keeping Ben at the cutting edge of technology and collaborating with experts across our business, Maria believes Ben can meet the growing demand for liquidity within the alternatives market and provide a seamless client experience. “At Ben, Technology isn’t a side-show—it’s the show,” she shared in an interview about her recent promotion. She also discussed the importance of security and innovation in the ever-evolving financial services and technology industries.
Keeping Technology at the Core of What We Do
When I first joined the team at Ben, I was thrilled to work with incredible, highly qualified colleagues across the firm who immediately saw the value and importance of integrating technology into everything we do. From the very beginning, we built Ben as a technology-driven firm to allow collaboration and integration among our teams, from Originations and Underwriting to Risk and Accounting. This technology-first approach helps us create liquidity solutions that are tailored and specific to our client needs and keeps the team agile, enabling us to rapidly deploy technology solutions, address specific client needs, and spot new opportunities on the horizon.
Our team is continually challenging ourselves to better understand what our clients need and identifying ways we can improve our systems. We call this a “blended cloud” forward strategy, where we can 1) deploy custom, proprietary solutions to help our clients secure competitive advantages in the market, and 2) configure widely used, reputable enterprise applications —including Snowflake and AWS — to keep our systems secure and reliable. We continue to improve upon our strategy with the use of the latest technologies, including artificial intelligence which has allowed us to create greater efficiencies for our teams and equip them to do what they do best.
By keeping IT a firm-wide priority, we’re able to adapt to industry challenges without missing a beat. For example, when COVID-19 hit, Ben was already fully equipped with the right technology to ensure a smooth transition for both our colleagues and our clients. Further, as the pandemic stretched out, we were able to continue innovating rather than building solutions in response to the challenges a distributed working environment creates for firms with less automation and technology integration.
Empowering Clients Through Security and Usability
Over the past few years, I’ve seen the expectations for a seamless and intuitive client experience within fintech become the standard. My focus is to build on this expectation by replicating the experience of “walking into a bank” online—where we truly know our customers and their preferences—while keeping their privacy and security our top priority. Rather than having technology replace relationships, I view it as a way to enhance and improve our client relationships.
This starts with actively listening to our clients and innovating alongside them to meet their needs. We launched our liquidity platform with a secure and efficient online experience to empower our clients and their advisors. This simple and rapid offering has been expanded through AltAccess, which allows clients to track their current deals through the entire process and see how we are helping them find efficient liquidity solutions for their alternative assets. The transparency we’ve created with our clients through this platform helps establish trust and it is compounded by our foundational focus on security.
The value we place on security is woven throughout our infrastructure. We’ve designed every process to protect our clients’ information, with extensive input from our Underwriting, Risk, and Legal teams. As cybersecurity becomes a threat for all businesses, our process and infrastructure keep us ahead of the game.
The Future of Beneficient and Technology at Large
As Ben’s first CTO I am honored and encouraged to not only advance Ben’s technology systems, but to make an impact on the next generation of women working in STEM. I believe it’s crucial for women to have visibility and opportunity in STEM, and I’m proud to partner with organizations like the National Charity League, Vogel Alcove, and others dedicated to advancing and developing the skills and talents of other talented and ambitious women. It is my hope that through these partnerships and my work at Ben more women will explore careers in technology as it is a critical component of any business.
Technology is the common denominator across all Ben’s business units and client experience. I believe it’s how we can enhance and scale our new and existing offerings to match customer needs and preferences. Technology is at the heart of Ben and I’m thrilled to be part of a team that is transforming the alternatives market.