ENTREPRENEUR
PROFILE

Kerril and Paul Burke

Merit Software

Business Purpose

Merit Software creates software that is used to identify, communicate, case manage, pay and settle receivables and payables of all types of operations that arise in banking, particularly in the Investment Banking industry.

 

Personal Bio

Originally from Galway, Kerril and Paul Burke are brothers and founders of Merit Software, a specialist financial services software company. The two founded Merit Software to bring together the specialist business and finance knowledge with the disciplines of personal financial packages that would be easy for the end user to use.

Prior to the formation of Merit Software, Kerril Burke spent over 10 years working in operations for Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB) in London and as a chartered accountant  for PwC in Dublin.  His focus was on process re-engineering and product development in both Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse. He is responsible for strategic direction, client engagement and product development for Merit Software.

An experienced software & electronics engineer, Paul Burke is responsible for software strategy, architecture and development at Merit Software.  Before setting up Merit Software with his brother Kerril, Paul worked in software development specialising in financial and planning applications with a client-focused user interface.

 

Company Profile

Merit Software Limited is the pre-eminent supplier of operations receivables and payables software to leading Investment Banking franchises.

Merit Software gained its first customer in 2001, based on developing the initial software over the previous two years. The customer in question had a tactical requirement while they developed their enterprise solution and therefore expected to use the software for two years. Merit Software realised that the requirement fitted part of the original interest claim solution that they were developing.

Based on the opportunity, Merit Software worked hard to make the solution strategic and the software is still being used by that initial customer today. The business area supported was dividend and coupon claims receivable and payable management. In a recent Global Investor Survey, in the dividend and income collection category, four of the top five investment banks use Merit Software’s Claim Manager solution.

Merit Software is focused on creating industry leading solutions that support their clients in identifying, calculating and managing the many types of operations receivables and payables that arise in a controlled, efficient and automated manner. Merit Sofware’s solutions are used by investment banks, brokers, asset managers, hedge funds and other financial institutions. Particular areas of focus are satisfying clients risk reduction  objectives, increasing funding efficiency, improving straight through processing, customer service enhancement and meeting increasing regulatory and tax reporting requirements.

Merit Software have been delivering client focused solutions for top tier clients for over 12 years. Solutions have been deployed by their clients globally with current clients utilising the software in UK, Europe, North America and Asia. Around the clock, Merit Software solutions are supporting clients in delivering control and transparency over significant receivable and payable balances as well as managing the cost and benefit of these items.

Over the years, the number of global customers has grown to seven. However, given the size and scale of these organisations, Merit Software has been given the opportunity to implement receivable and payable solutions in a wide range of areas such as dividends, coupons, interest claims, fees, and brokerage.

Merit Software’s customers include seven leading global Investment banks and are currently based in locations such as London, Dublin, Germany, India, Singapore and Malaysia.

Merit Software’s client focused approach allows clients to deploy incrementally on a modular basis with the key being customer choice and speed to deploy.

 

– ENTREPRENEURIAL INSIGHTS –

What vision prompted you to start-up your business?

Kerril was working for an Investment Bank, who were best-in-class in identifying Interest Claims. He wanted to automate the process but it was not prioritised while he was working there. We decided that if we developed an automated software based solution it could be marketed to the existing bank and its counterparts.

 

What were the best & worst pieces of advice you received when starting out?

Best:  “Do not worry.  If the software does not work, you can always go back to your day job”.  Also, rather than detailing features, listen to the client, hear their pain and then address their issues, not the ones you think they have. Finally, from an accountant’s perspective – “Revenue for vanity, profit for sanity”.

Worst: “You need to have a management team in place to scale the company before going to market” – needless to say, we did not take it.

 

How did you secure your first investment?

We did not secure investment but funded/bootstrapped it ourselves.

 

What was your “back-to-the-wall” moment and how did you overcome it?

As an accountant, Kerril made a mess of what was the most important initial sales pitch.  We did not get the business, but Kerril had a word with himself that if it happened again there was no point in proceeding.

 

What moment or deal would you identify as the “game changer” for the company?

Our first sale to an Investment Bank.

 

What are the biggest challenges you face now?

Challenges include scaling the business and the risk that gives rise to for a small company taking on external management.

 

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

Our biggest achievement is to be accepted and used by 7 global investment banking customers across up to 7 different business areas and multiple geographies.

 

What top tips would you give entrepreneurs starting out today?

  • A good idea is great, but sales are the basis of a business. Customer feedback will help you refine the offering.
  • Develop a “partnership” type approach with customers – it should be a case where both parties win.
  • Try not to be too dependent on external parties.
  • Constantly monitor and track progress.

 

Were there any early signs that you would eventually follow an entrepreneurial path?

Born to Irish parents in London, we were brought up in a house where my mother and father succeeded in business. They made a lifestyle change in the late 1970s by returning to the West of Ireland where we lived. They eventually returned to London and then managed to build a successful business again – a great example to us.

 

When making a new hire, what key characteristics do you look for?

Technical ability, ability to work in a team and a hunger to develop themselves which we believe will benefit both the employee and the company.

Year: 2013
Category: Emerging
Sector: Financial