Q&A: COO, BNP Paribas Financial Services

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Andrew Dougherty is chief operating officer at BNP Paribas Financial Services.

How did you become a chief operating officer at BNP Paribas?

I graduated from Delaware Valley College, majoring in business administration, with a concentration in finance. My first job was with an international accounting firm that specialized in healthcare financing and provided structured loans and equipment leases for hospitals and medical practices. In 2000, I moved to investment management, joining CooperNeff Advisors, part of BNP Paribas. I focused on the middle office needs of their proprietary trading businesses. A year later I became vice president of operations and development. In 2004 we began to offer our services to third-party customers, resulting in the creation of BNP Paribas Financial Services and a third-party offering for hedge funds. In 2007, I became chief operating officer and head of operations for global fund services North America.

How would you describe your role?

My role is spread over four business lines: alternative fund administration, traditional fund administration and middle office outsourcing, custody services for funds of funds and investment reporting and performance. In the U.S., our team consists of 75 people, primarily based in King of Prussia, Pa. Our fund of funds custody group is based in New York.

What's a typical day like for you?

Usually I begin by responding to overnight queries from colleagues or dealing with issues a client may have while working alongside our London or European offices. I routinely participate in morning meetings via conference call that may deal with strategy, operational risk mitigation, quality, efficiency, cost, or P&L. We'll look at trends we're seeing in various markets and determine if we can use that information to assist our other offices.

Next, I'll have ad-hoc, one-on-one interactions with my management team to monitor our daily operational production, specifically looking at our key performance and risk indicators. I also discuss the status of our operations from a platform and infrastructure perspective to ensure applications work as expected and are improved over time.

I am also quite involved in business development, and I accompany sales people to meetings with potential clients.

Any advice for up-and-coming operations managers?

I recommend getting direct exposure to the varied activities that occur within operations. At CooperNeff I leaned on my accounting experience, and when I managed the middle office I drew upon my analyst experience. When I moved into technology and IT, I learned SQL and Visual Basic so I could write my own code. As you move through different roles you develop a perspective for operations that can't be obtained in a textbook. You come to understand the challenges an operations analyst faces on a daily basis. The only way to effectively manage an operation is if you've done the work yourself.