Yacov Wrocherinsky, CEO of Infinity Info Systems: "The people we are looking at have an entrepreneurial spirit. They are willing to take initiative, and they have to be able to work in teams. We look at how people view their career journey, and we also look at the choices they make. We want good listeners so they will work well with our in-house team and our customers."
Yacov Wrocherinsky started Infinity Info Systems, a New York City based IT consulting firm catering to financial services companies, in 1987. Infinity specializes in customer relationship management implementations and helping hedge funds and other buy-side firms use software to better serve their clients. Before starting the company, Wrocherinsky worked as a senior systems analyst at IBM.
Could you tell us about your career trajectory? How did you come to specialize in financial IT?
I've been involved in the technology field since the mid-1980s. I was born in Argentina, and came to the U.S. as a teenager about 22 years ago. I worked in technology and marketing research for IBM, and began Infinity after seeing the potential of technology and how it was evolving. I saw there was a high demand, especially in the finance industry, for having a more efficient work environment.
I'll never forget it: It was the late 1980s, and I was in the CEO's office for a Fortune 100 financial institution. This CEO had four full-time assistants working to manage his Rolodex and manage his appointments. I realized there was something I could do to help his environment on a very basic level.
We initially implemented basic contact management systems and then went on to customer relationship management. I knew technology was something that I could tailor for a specific business. For finance IT consulting, it's a convergence of skills - business and technical. Technology allows you to bring it all together for a financial business on a strategic, technical and infrastructure level.
What do you think is the biggest change on the horizon for those in finance IT consulting?
Regulatory compliance, like Sarbanes-Oxley, is playing a much greater role in technology. But probably the biggest thing is that users or customers have become much more sophisticated in their understanding of technology, and they have a higher expectation. They are much more demanding of the technology. The younger generations, when they get into the workforce, will make the baseline even higher.
Customers are simply much more dependent on technology, and they are connected all the time - Blackberries, smart phones, accessing information from wherever they might be, maybe globally.
Do you favor employees with a financial background and some IT skills, or IT people with some financial knowledge?
It's a hybrid of both. Certainly, people in financial services are much more technological savvy than they were before. Technology is mainstream. It's not a foreign concept anymore. The people we are looking at have an entrepreneurial spirit. They are willing to take initiative, and they have to be able to work in teams. We look at how people view their career journey, and we also look at the choices they make. We want good listeners so they will work well with our in-house team and our customers.
What's your typical day like?
There's no such thing as a typical day. As the CEO of a $15 million company, I'm responsible for the overall direction of the business. There's quite a bit that I delegate to the management team. There are various business disciplines, as in any company - IT, sales, marketing, finance, legal - and I need to be proficient in those areas. We have a strong management team here, and it's important to hire good people. I coordinate and give my advice when it's needed.
What do you see as the field's greatest need?
The industry is maturing. Like any other profession, there's a need for ongoing education, or some kind of formalized continuing education. Much like doctors or any other professionals who must keep up with the latest information, finance IT professionals need to do the same. There is room for general doctors, but specialization and industry know-how are key.
At Infinity, for example, each year our consultants go through recertification for the products we represent. We also send our professionals to a variety of business conferences, so they can learn the specific industry. By providing a certain service to our customers in that industry, we have to be attuned to the changes.
You have to have a peer network of colleagues, and you need to look at your competitors, as well. Many times we talk, and we learn quite a bit from one another. It's becoming more challenging for the smaller shop or the independent consultant to keep up with the ongoing education that's needed to provide a service to the industry. But I still believe there will always be an opportunity for the independent consultant who can become an expert in certain specialties. Their survival will depend on it.