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April 23, 2024
min read

Reflections on four years of ZILO™ with cofounder, Chris Northwood

We caught up with ZILO™ cofounder Chris Northwood as the business turns four years old. Chris has been with ZILO™ since day one and has played a big part in the company’s progress, adapting to the changing market landscape and continuing list of successes.

Having worked in the industry for over 15 years, and with Phil for over 10 years at IFDS and FNZ, Chris talks about what gets him out of bed everyday and excited to come to work.

What was the inspiration behind ZILO™?

Phil and I have known each other for around 10 years now, working together at three different organisations.

Working with  asset managers over many, many years, I saw that there was this frustration at the poor experiences of the customer with their transfer agency systems. For example, the length of time it took for customers to make even basic changes to their legacy platforms and the hassle to run simple cash reconciliations. Compared to other industries, the digital servicing to end consumers was really substandard. Phil and I recognised this and wanted to change what people deemed as normal, and thought that we could do a better job of it. As simple as that!

ZILO™ was set up at the beginning of COVID, was that a coincidence or did lockdown drive it?

COVID wasn't a factor in ZILO's creation, but just another challenge for us. We knew we were always going do this, and it was having that belief to do it. It's one thing thinking that you can do a better job, and it's another thing actually being brave enough to try and make it happen.

We had the bravery to start ZILO™ and so far we are pulling it off.

ZILO™ is now four years old, a lot has changed since inception. What is one of the biggest changes you have seen?

I think I'd have to say the maturity and the governance that now exist, the hugely talented people we have on board, and innovative ideas we have. The professionalism of the governance model is now at a level that I couldn't have imagined four years ago.

What is your role at ZILO™? What does your day-to-day look like?

My role is to find the right customers and opportunities for ZILO™. You can't chase every single opportunity that's out there, you have to be sensible about the right fit for ZILO™.

Once we've qualified some of those opportunities then it's just about making it happen. I spend a lot of time putting the framework in place, putting the plans together, working on contracts and commercials.

What do you like about working at ZILO™?

At ZILO's it’s about having the vision of where you want to get to. We've created the vision, we're selling the vision to customers, and it's resonating.

We believe in being honest with clients about where you are and what you can do. If you say you're going to do something, we make sure we do it. It's following on, having that follow through, and having it with conviction that makes me excited.

Looking forward, what excites you the most over the next 12-24 months?

I know we've got the best global TA platform in in the market, and I want everyone else to think the same way as me and I think we're getting there.

There is positivity around ZILO™, what we're doing and how we're going about it. I want this to continue to grow, with the hope that our clients and our prospective clients talk positively about ZILO™ in the same way that I do everyday.

What are some of your favourite memories of working at ZILO™ so far?

There's a few, signing the first global MSA was a milestone event for us. Getting that first client signed and live was huge, so that clearly has to be a memory.

Going back a few years, when we were in our first serviced office we had three keys, and I didn't have one of them. I turned up at the office one morning and asked the reception to unlock our front door, which they said that they would do but it was going cost me £15. It stays with me as a particular humorous point of our journey when we were starting up. I must note being the good negotiator that I am, I managed to get us off the fee!

Thinking back to when you and Phil started in 2020, where did you think would be in 2024?

I sometimes pinch myself as to how far we've come in such a short space of time. If you were to tell me that we would be live in the market with a full order book of clients that want to work with us, with a team of over 100 staff, I would not have believed you. I am so proud of and thankful to all the individuals who have been part of the ride so far.

What was one of the biggest highlight of the last 12 months?

Series A has to be up there. It was such a difficult environment to raise money in, not just in our industry but across the whole market. So for us to successfully raise £25 million, and to end up with the quality of the investors that that are now working with us, it's a dream.

What is your work ethos and do you have any advice for our team or anyone looking to join the ZILO™ team in the future?

I'm always working or thinking about work. Some of my best ideas have come from walking the dogs around the field. Phil and I have spent hours on the phone, and still do, just bouncing thoughts and ideas off each other. I wake up early in the mornings every day because I am genuinely excited about what the day has to bring. I would want the same for other employees or new employees of ZILO™. Hopefully they feel the same way when they join. I'm excited to be here. Nothing's too much trouble. I want to get up out of bed and jump on the train to come work. That feeling is priceless.

We're looking to recruit talent. A focus for ZILO™, and me personally, is having high integrity, motivation and resilience. You've got to keep going, pushing through. You must have resilience in a startup, you get knocked down and you have to get up and keep going. People will always be telling you no, I won't buy your product, I won't market it, I won't put you on the front page. You've got to keep pushing on when everyone is telling you to stop, you've got to keep going. I think that's the behaviour that you need to have if you want to work and be long term and successful as ZILO™.

Contact details

Andrew Wilson
ZILO, Chief Commercial Officer
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7920 3150
Tim Pearson
Tavistock Communications
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7920 3150
Katie Hopkins
Tavistock Communications
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7920 3150

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