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An Interview with Virginie O’Shea

by | Nov 12, 2021 | Interviews,

Virginie O

Virginie O'Shea

Founder and CEO at Firebrand Research

Key Topics:Capital markets technology and operational trends

Virginie O’Shea is a capital markets fintech research specialist, with two decades of experience in tracking financial technology developments in the sector, with a particular focus on regulatory developments, data, and standards. She is the founder of Firebrand Research, new research and advisory firm focused on providing capital markets technology and operations insights for the digital age.

How did you get to become an expert in your key topics?

I have been writing and researching capital markets technology and trends for the last couple of decades, initially as a journalist running the old Financial Times newsletters (back when such things were delivered in hardcopy). I super-specialized in various areas over the years and gradually moved into consulting and analysis. My role prior to setting up Firebrand in 2020 was as the head of the capital markets team at Aite Group.

What sub-topics are you most passionate about?

I have always had a passion for the industry plumbing – it might sound strange, but these areas are often overlooked by the media and analysts because they lack the glamour and newsworthiness of the trading arena. I enjoy writing about the cultural aspects of innovation and change also – we spend a lot of time looking at technology in isolation but it is the combination of technology with people that makes digital transformation successful.

Who influences you within these topics?

Every practitioner I speak to. I learn a lot from every conversation I have with people working in financial institutions across the globe. I believe the job of an analyst is to add colour to the industry trends they learn from speaking to a wide range of different voices in the industry. We’re here to make the complex, simple.

What challenges are brands facing in this space?

On the vendor side, I’d say that there are many hurdles for new entrants in capital markets because of the high profile of operational risk and the growing importance of vendor risk management. Legacy vendors, on the other hand, must modernise complex technology stacks while maintaining business as usual. Financial institution side, there are a lot of eyes on firms these days – regulators, peers, clients, and prospects all want to see innovation but delivered in a measured and risk mitigated manner.

What do you think the future holds in this space?

That’s a very broad question. I imagine there will be a lot more innovation around technologies that we don’t even know about yet and their influence on the working lives of those working in financial institutions. We haven’t even scratched the surface of things like quantum computing, for example. There will also be much more innovation in the sinister realm of financial crime, however, so firms will have to keep pace with that also.

What brands are leading the way in this space?

I wouldn’t point to any single brand as a leader across the realm of financial services – there are so many different niche areas where certain financial institutions, consultants, and solution and services vendors shine. What I’d like to see more of is collaboration and interoperability – whoever gets that right, will be well placed for the future.

If a brand wanted to work with you, which activities would you be most interested in collaborating on?

I love working with clients on all kinds of projects – everything from strategic reviews to client-facing multimedia efforts.

What are your passions outside of work?

I spend a lot of my time in the great outdoors – I love all things nature and there’s nothing better than getting out and about on the weekends. I also enjoy socialising with family and friends – so the pandemic was a really tough time on that front!

What would be the best way for a brand to contact you?

By email.


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