Cris Conde, recently elected chief executive officer of SunGard, says now is the perfect time to acquire top information-technology talent.
"In my entire career I have never seen a better time to hire good people," he says.
Hiring top-level talent, says Conde, is one of the best ways for a company to differentiate itself from its competitors, even if it means replacing current headcount rather than adding, something that's almost impossible to justify under current economic conditions.
"Sometimes you have to be ruthless and upgrade (personnel), seeing who are the mediocre performers and replace them for top talent," says Conde. "Sometimes, it's worth paying to hire them even if you don't have that much for them to do right now. Over the long term, it will have a dramatic impact on your competitiveness."
Conde, who has been with SunGard since the vendor acquired Devon Systems (a firm he co-founded) in 1987, has been SunGard president since March 2000. He will retain that title along with his new chief-executive-officer role.
Conde says that he has no grand plans for taking the company in a new direction, following the replacement of CEO James Mann, who will continue to serve as chairman of SunGard's Board of Directors.
In terms of future initiatives, Conde says that hardening straight-through processing, or building in more STP-chain redundancy for improved business-continuity planning, along with automating the back offices of mid-sized investment managers are SunGard priorities.
T+1 however, is no longer an SIA, or SunGard, priority, as the debate around moving to a one-day-settlement cycle was recently put off until 2004. Conde says that, though STP is essential, the benefits of moving to T+1 were just not there for certain segments of the industry.
Mid-sized investment managers, he says, are sometimes forgotten when the industry comes up with such initiatives. "Several things (around T+1) are not cost effective, in particular, as they relate to medium-sized investment managers. The very small ones outsource and the very big ones have critical mass. Until the outsourcing paradigm changes, you won't see the necessary cost/benefit numbers (for mid-sized investment managers) and, at that point, T+1 will sail through."
Conde also says that SunGard will continue to be aggressive in research and development, allocating $200 million in non-client-funded R&D this year.