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Q&A with Colin Mitchell, Director of Risk Management Solutions, USA
Part Two

Don Curren November 30, 2018

Q. How would you describe the corporate culture at Cambridge and how does it play into our ability to offer a more tailored service than the competition?

A. I think, in general at Cambridge, we have a very collaborative approach that helps that a lot. Speaking as someone who worked at a bank, and in previous jobs, I found it was like a one-man show. You’re on an island, you have these customers, they have those customers, and it’s very seldom you’re working with someone else, at least in foreign exchange – you might be working with someone else in a different field at the bank.

Here, I’m often working with one or sometimes two people. I think it’s more conducive to sharing ideas, sharing best practices, and sometimes having the time to be out of the office and pitching clients, being able to travel to rural Alberta or Manitoba or what have you to pitch in person where the banks are really ignoring that space.

Q. How much of your time is spent getting out to those rural areas, relatively remote places, and contacting with clients and prospects out there?

A. Quite a bit, actually. Maybe 20% of my time, whether it be travelling in the Lower Mainland to places like Abbotsford or Chilliwack that are probably under-served by the banks, or southern Alberta, which I get out to a couple of times a year.

A pretty good chunk of my time is spent on in-person meetings pitching to customers who are probably underserved by their bank outside the larger centers.

Q. What kind of potential do you see for the expansion of Cambridge’s risk management business in the US in particular?

A. I think there’s a lot of potential. I think Canada has been always a few steps behind, from a foreign exchange perspective, as far as knowledge and products go compared to Australia and the UK, and the US has always been a few steps behind Canada as far as FX hedging goes.

It’s been primarily hedging through forwards and maybe to a lesser extent through collars and vanilla products.

I think there’s a lot of potential. It’s our job to educate our customers, first, about the different hedging tools that are out there. They might not be receiving that at some of the banks. Not everyone’s dealing with the Chases and the Wells Fargos. Some of them are dealing at some of the smaller regional banks, which are more prevalent in the US, and they’re not necessarily showing their clients the different hedging tools that are out there.

There’s more large companies in the US, more FX volume and probably overall a little less competition from a non-bank perspective than there is in Canada, Australia and the UK.

Q. How do you see the acquisition of Cambridge by FLEETCOR affecting the risk management end of the business?

A. I think it’s nothing but positive. And it’s even a bigger deal in the US – not being a privately held company based in Canada – instead your parent is publicly traded in the US. I think where you really see the most positive aspect of that is around larger customers. The more upmarket you go the more customers care about counterparty risk or credit ratings and things like that.

The fact FLEETCOR is part of the S&P 500 and the Forbes 1000 may make a big difference to a lot of customers, especially when you’re pitching in the US, or even midsized to large customers in Canada. I’ve been asked several times for FLEETCOR’s credit rating by prospects that work in Canada.

Q. How do you see the industry evolving in the future.

A. I think in general the industry has changed a lot over the last 10 years and it’s going to continue to change.

It really gets down to two different streams. You have payments – the technology play, the payment-capability play – and then you have the risk-management side of the business.

I think automation and hedging is going to continue to grow as some of these customers who traditionally, let’s say, booked spot over the phone move toward technology and start booking those transactions online and start looking at hedging. I think the role of a dealer in Canada is going to change with more time spent off the desk pitching to clients booking high value transactions as the sales/traditional dealer role merge.