Harnessing Technology for Global Finance: Sadeq Safarini’s Approach at Vector ML Analytics

Author
Hua Wang
Published
April 14, 2024

Under the guidance of CEO Sadeq Safarini, New York-based Vector ML Analytics is emerging as a player in the financial technology sector.

Specializing in financial modeling and reporting tools, Vector aids banks and credit unions in planning, forecasting profit, managing capital risk, and ensuring compliance. Despite its relative youth at three years, Vector has a growing client base and annual recurring revenue.

Leveraging AI

Machine learning, a critical subset of AI, focuses primarily on statistical analysis rather than the broader applications typically associated with AI. “We leverage machine learning to enhance predictive accuracies,” explains Sadeq. “One key area we concentrate on is time series analysis, which involves examining historical data—similar to how meteorologists forecast weather patterns—to predict changes in interest rates and assess their impact on banking operations.”

Vector utilizes classification algorithms, another facet of machine learning, to anticipate and evaluate banking events such as defaults, prepayments, and refinancing opportunities. “These tools allow us to predict not only the likelihood of such events but also their potential impact and timing,” Sadeq adds. This capability is invaluable for banks as it helps them mitigate risks and optimize their responses to different financial scenarios.

“By integrating these sophisticated machine learning models, we’re able to offer nuanced insights and actionable intelligence, greatly aiding banks in decision-making processes,” he concludes. This strategic application of machine learning algorithms plays a crucial role in transforming raw data into a coherent narrative that banks can use to refine their strategies and operations.

Digital Tools

Vector ML uses a diverse array of digital technologies to maintain its competitive edge. “Our core programming language is Python, enhanced by PySpark for large-scale data processing,” explains Sadeq. This combination is pivotal for handling the extensive datasets typical in financial analytics. The company also utilizes Google BigQuery and AWS for cloud services, and integrates with other cloud providers to diversify its digital infrastructure. React is used for the user interface, ensuring a responsive and intuitive client experience.

This robust technical setup has not only fueled internal efficiencies but also supported Vector’s international expansion. “We have developers in Asia, operations in Africa, and client engagements across Canada, Europe and Latin America,” Sadeq shares. This global footprint is supported by a strategic online presence, spearheaded by effective content marketing that draws international clients organically.

Navigating Global Policy

Vector’s global operations subject it to a complex web of international business and technological policies.  Sadeq expresses concern over policies like a digital tax and the termination of the WTO eCommerce Moratorium, which he believes could severely disrupt the digital economy. “Such a tax would inhibit the free flow of data, potentially driving companies to seek less regulated, possibly insecure methods to transmit data,” he argues, highlighting the adverse unintended consequences of well-intentioned regulations.

Protecting IP

As for mandatory disclosure of source code and algorithms, Sadeq asserts that “companies will never share this.  They might give you dummy coding algorithms and keep the real ones.  No one shares their trade secrets.”

Let’s consider a hypothetical scenario: imagine if Google were to publicly disclose all its trade secrets. Suddenly, everything that makes Google unique—years of R&D and countless hours of labor—could potentially be replicated by someone in another country. “What remains special about Google if its proprietary secrets are common knowledge?” asks Sadeq.  “This is akin to major corporations like Coca-Cola or KFC revealing their secret recipes. If that were to happen, their unique selling propositions would vanish overnight.”

However, the government’s stance is that they would secure and safeguard such disclosed information, not openly share it. This policy, while well-meaning, might not be as foolproof or beneficial as intended. “In theory, keeping these secrets secure sounds ideal, but in practice, it’s fraught with risks,” says Sadeq. “The best approach is to keep sensitive corporate secrets off the table entirely.”

Seeking Policy Reforms

The challenges deepen when considering the demographic and expertise of policymakers. “It’s similar to someone unfamiliar with aviation attempting to regulate cockpit technology,” Sadeq adds. Many policymakers lack direct experience in tech, potentially leading to ill-informed regulations that might do more harm than good. “We need people who understand the intricacies of technology crafting these policies,” he concludes. This emphasizes a critical gap in current regulatory approaches: the need for genuine expertise within the realms they aim to regulate.

“Just as the FDA reviews new drugs with physicians, scientists and other experts in medicine, we need a similar body for technology policy, staffed with individuals who have real technical expertise,” he suggests. This would ensure that policies are not only well-intentioned but also practically feasible and beneficial to the technological ecosystem.

Reforming Startup Investments

“We often find ourselves revisiting investors with milestones achieved, hoping for the next round of funding just to keep operations moving,” he adds. This iterative fundraising model is not just cumbersome but highlights a critical gap in the current investment frameworks which fail to consider inflationary pressures and the real costs of scaling technology ventures.

The need for a revised, inflation-conscious approach to startup funding is critical. “It’s not just about adjusting to higher figures but aligning funding stages with realistic milestones in a startup’s growth trajectory,” Sadeq suggests. Such a strategy would entail detailed metrics for funding, ensuring startups have a clear path to escalating their funding as they hit specified revenue milestones—$100,000 at $20k annual recurring revenues, followed by another $100,000 at $50k ARR, and so on.

Sadeq emphasizes the importance of such reforms in the investment landscape: “While I’m not proposing a complete overhaul, it is crucial that both investors and government funding bodies recalibrate their support to truly reflect the economic realities facing today’s startups. This adjustment is not just beneficial but necessary for sustaining innovation and entrepreneurial growth in our economy.”

Simplifying Compliance

Sadeq further details the financial strain excessive regulation places on emerging companies: “We’re not like the big players yet. Most times, we’re not turning a profit; we’re struggling to stay afloat. So, spending $50,000 on compliance and legal fees out of a $100,000 funding round doesn’t leave much for product development or growth.”

He proposes a more tailored approach to regulation that recognizes the unique challenges startups face: “Why not implement a simplified tax filing for startups? A flat rate of, say, $100 could cover it. This would keep our focus on innovation rather than on navigating a labyrinth of costly regulations.”

To alleviate these burdens, Sadeq suggests a practical solution: “If regulatory compliance is necessary, then it should come with support. Offering grants to cover these legal costs would help startups comply without sacrificing their operational budgets.”

Sadeq’s insights emphasize the need for regulatory frameworks that support rather than stifle startup growth. “More regulation means more legal work, which translates into higher costs. It’s essential that we adjust these requirements to foster, not hinder, the next wave of innovation,” he asserts.

Conclusion

As Vector continues to navigate the complex interplay of technology and international business, Sadeq remains committed to leveraging digital innovation for global expansion while advocating for policies that support the broader tech industry’s growth and sustainability. His insights offer perspectives for policymakers, suggesting a path toward more informed and effective regulation that fosters innovation rather than stifling it.

Vector ML Analytics

Sadeq Safarini