Employee Spotlight: Aman Kumar Soni, Vice President of Data Strategy

On a regular basis, we talk with our team members about their experience working at Canoe, and their future goals and aspirations. This week, we spoke with Aman Soni, Vice President of Data Strategy.

Tell us about your background. How did you find Canoe?

My story begins with JPMorgan. Post graduation, I joined the Platform Sales team in the Corporate and Investment Bank focusing on UK Asset Owner clients (Pension Funds, Insurance Funds, Charities, and Endowments). The team was responsible for strategic sales across Global Custody, Fund Services, Foreign Exchange, Global Liquidity, Stock Lending, Collateral Management, and Clearing. I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to both prospect and manage relationships from the get-go across some of the largest funds the bank worked with. I learned the core fundamentals of how to navigate a big bank, and how to best work with clients. I did however have a constant unfulfilled yearning to innovate. 

After 5 years in the role, I decided to pursue a new challenge within JPMorgan by joining the Digital Innovation team. This was by far the most exciting group in the bank in my opinion. The remit was simple – identify fintechs that we may strategically partner with or invest in. For the next 2 years, I focused on several thematics across the entire bank (CIB, Asset Management, and Private Banking) where I specialized predominantly across both the nascent Carbon Markets and the booming Alternative Fund industry. 

Both industries presented a realm of opportunity to be at the center of driving change and transparency through innovation. Specifically, through my work on alternatives, I led the bank’s efforts to (a) build efficiencies to manual fund processes, and (b) ideate on how to improve market transparency for the industry. Naturally, all roads led to Canoe. 

They impressed me beyond measure with both their core capability (across retrieval, ingestion, and categorization of documents, and standardization, extraction, and delivery of data from private market fund documents) and the realm of opportunity to leverage their data set to improve transparency in the private markets. After conducting a 10-month evaluation of the firm, I was truly confident that there was something special about the team, the product, and the data that they are processing. 

Fast forward to today and I have left the world of big banking to join a transformative ‘start-up’ (if we can still call Canoe that post-Series B!) who are already redefining the entire private market industry. 

The paddling really begins now for me.

In your past role at JPMorgan, you’ve had direct exposure to how banks operate within the private markets. Can you discuss the goals of your new role and how these address some of the trends you’re seeing in the space?

Transparency. This one word defines the core issue within the private markets today, and what our new function aspires to solve. 

To explain this, we need to better understand the macro landscape. We are seeing increased allocation among investors to the private markets. To provide some context, at the end of 2015, global alternatives AUM was $7.3 trillion. This grew to over $13.7 trillion by the end of 2021, with the expectation that allocations will surpass $23.3 trillion by the end of 2027. The industry growth to date and anticipated future growth are largely due to a number of core macroeconomic factors:

  1. Desire for higher yields in an uncertain economic environment
  2. Diversification of investment allocations
  3. Improved institutional investor accessibility to the private markets across both the primary market and the nascent secondary market
  4. Growing retail investor participation
  5. Changing regulatory landscapes permitting greater private market exposure

As such, investors need access to more timely and comprehensive data to be able to make better-informed decisions both pre-trade and post-trade. Naturally, this can be viewed as a slow convergence of the public and private markets. Canoe is very well positioned to be a market enabler in delivering the transparency demanded. 

Canoe’s team in London has grown substantially over the past year. Can you tell us about the growing team? What is the culture like in Canoe’s London HQ?

Canoe is committed to the EMEA market, and our growth in London is reflective of our ambition to become a leading service provider in the region. We made our first UK hire 24 months ago. Fast forward to today and we are proud to have 5 London-based employees across Sales, Client Success, and Data Products. We have also just opened our first office outside of New York and are based in an incredible space in Blackfriars, London. 

Naturally, being in an office space has helped to build a collegial culture. This is partnered with our focus on creating a diverse and inclusive workspace where everyone can thrive. In the words of Henry Ford, “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.”

This is however just the start. Our aim is to have a local presence in London for all Canoe functions – particularly as we start to expand our global footprint across our entire product suite. We have a number of roles open currently to join the highly talented team that we are building. I strongly encourage you to refer to the Careers page on our website to learn more about what we are building at Canoe, and whether you believe that we are the right home for you.

Where do you typically draw your inspiration from (in work and life)?

Naturally, I am inspired by those around me. I count myself very fortunate to have ambitious, driven, and motivated friends, family, and mentors who continuously push me to desire and achieve more. 

There is however a single individual who has inspired me beyond measure – my grandfather. Surinder Kumar Soni was born in Punjab, India in the 1940s. He spent the majority of his working career at the Punjab National Bank. In 1997, Surinder launched the Om Prakash Soni Charitable Hospital alongside his brother. The hospital has one simple purpose – to help all individuals within their reach to have access to free medical appointments and treatments. He was responsible for serving approximately 200 individuals a day.

This is a story about success and altruism. Not only did he manage to pursue an incredible financial career, but he also had the self-drive and desire to simultaneously give back to the community where he was raised. He taught me to (a) challenge myself outside of my comfort zone, and (b) act today vs tomorrow. I have held both of these teachings close to my heart both in my career and personal life. 

I continuously push myself to make highly impactful change –  be it launching my own charity to empower students with access to higher education (The Soni Scholarship), or to begin ideating and building innovative data products from the ground up in my role today at Canoe.