New innovator: Quickstep Consulting
Providing bespoke training to the funds sector
“I couldn’t help thinking there had to be a better way of providing this training,” says Alan Farrell, Quickstep Consulting
With more than 20 years experience in the funds management industry, accountant Alan Farrell set up Quickstep Consulting in 2005 to provide bespoke training to the funds sector. As Ireland is a funds hub, with some 40 per cent of global hedge fund assets being serviced from here, Farrell assumed the bulk of his clients would be Dublin-based. In fact, there was worldwide interest in his courses and Farrell found himself travelling extensively to deliver them.
“The trips were successful but I couldn’t help thinking there had to be a better way of providing this training,” he says. “At the time I was very surprised to be approached by investment managers and fund administrators from places such as New York, the Caymans, Bermuda and Hong Kong so I knew there was a demand. This is when the idea of harnessing technology to deliver our courses began to germinate.”
The result is Training On Demand, a newly-launched web enabled service that provides video-based training on topics such as money market fund accounting, futures, fixed income securities and anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing.
“We are in a highly specialised area and this is probably why it hasn’t been done in this way before,” Farrell says. “It’s too niche for the big training providers but not for a smaller company. With my experience in the sector I have been able to pinpoint the tuition to meet very specific needs but at a global level thanks to the web platform.”
Farrell cut his teeth in hedge and mutual fund operations at a time of significant growth for the sector in Ireland. He became interested in the whole area of training when his employer asked him to establish an in-house training department. “I realised my passion was for designing and delivering pragmatic courses that made the subject matter easier to learn, and allowed participants to transfer what they had learned to their day-to-day working environments,” he says. Quickstep’s clients include BNP Paribas Fund Services Dublin, global asset servicing provider, CACEIS, and Capita Financial Administrators Ireland.
Farrell estimates the cost of developing Training On Demand at around €40,000 in terms of hard cash. However, the time input was significant. Farrell says 50 per cent of his time and 80 per cent of his business partner Orlagh Moore’s time was spent on the project for the past two years.
The payment model for corporate clients is an annual subscription. This gives them unlimited access to training for a specified number of users. They also receive a monthly report outlining participants’ results. Individuals can buy access on a monthly basis.
Farrell says the flexibility of On Demand Training will make it an attractive option to small and medium-sized firms that don’t have the scale to justify the cost of face-to-face training. “They may have teams in different locations or maybe can’t release a whole team to attend a course at a given time, or can’t release staff at all during normal office hours,” he says. “We originally set out to provide online training for corporates but we’ve been surprised by the number of individuals who are buying training. We have customers in Canada, the United States, India, Switzerland, Ireland and the UK.”
In 2013 with the help of an Innovation Voucher from Enterprise Ireland, Farrell linked up with academics from DCU who collaborated with the company on a search engine marketing project. “Because of the nature of the product, our marketing efforts will be focused online. However to date the majority of our referrals have come by word of mouth which is very encouraging,” says Farrell.