The 10 Most Influential Women In Tech 2019

Chitra Baskar: Her Leadership Changed Asset Driven Firms’ Operations

Chitra Baskar

For asset management operations, such as in hedge fund and private equity organizations, the constant challenge is to keep ahead of and consistent with efficient and productive processes in an environment of ever changing technology, regulation, and competition. And this overarching environment is undergirded by demands such as transparency, accuracy, timeliness, and reliability in reporting across complex global assets.

It is here where Chitra Baskar saw a need, co-founded and built a firm, Viteos, and continues with her visionary leadership, and with her colleagues, to change the industry.

Chitra was Co-founder and is COO of  Viteos Fund Services LLC. She and her fellow founders identified operations as an unmet and underserved area for profitable growth. They decided to explore operations in an anticipatory way, and to actually define the space. From there, they developed innovative services and technology, combined with accounting expertise, to meet the market demand. Presently, Chitra directs the daily operations of Viteos, even as she remains visionary in the strategic direction of the company in the years ahead. These directions include AI, robotics, machine learning, and Blockchain on the product side, and expansion into new client areas such as Private Equity portfolio accounting on the client side.

Chitra already possessed expertise in investment operations, and diving deeply into this previously shunned area was both challenging and gratifying. Prior to founding Viteos, Chitra led IL&FS, where she worked as the COO of Securities and Transaction Processing Services, and which served as a launchpad for her thinking around gaps in the solution set in Capital Market operations – including the viability of an outsourced business processing model.

A Journey Started From Early Childhood, Building to Exceptional Achievement and Poised For the Future

“Little girls with dreams become women with vision.” This held true for Chitra. Since her school days, she was taught to consistently learn and improve. In 9th grade, she set her goal to become an accountant, for two reasons: it would draw on her talent and enable her to make a difference, regardless of the industry she entered. The fact is accounting was the platform from which she would become an entrepreneur. It informed her view that accounting could offer value to clients – if it were wed to advanced technology delivery.

She set as Viteos’ mission an understanding of operations in depth, and in bringing innovative thinking to what was previously underserved. Now, many of the world’s most complex managers rely on Viteos services and technology for: trade support; reconciliation; collateral management; regulatory reporting; systems implementation; and shadow accounting.

As managers broaden their complex assets, Viteos’ experience in deploying accounting relevant technology addresses operational concerns brought about by these assets: accounting; reporting; allocation; and process monitoring. This automation and STP approach unburdens firms’ teams so they can focus on investing. It is this ability to deliver and to provide unparalleled client service that makes Viteos the leader in middle office operations worldwide.

And, as investing and regulations grew more complex, Viteos was there to fill the need. The firm now serves the most complex assets in hedge fund portfolios, and more so for the world’s largest and best known brands.

Further, her team also developed a modular collection of technology solutions with robust capabilities which inter-operatively turn data into useful information. Chitra mandated this modular approach so that each module is created to be intuitive from an accountant’s viewpoint and engineered to automate post-trade activities with minimal manual intervention.

The modular technology is the engine driving efficiency in servicing clients and the platform operates singularly or collectively. Clients can opt for the full suite or any combination of components. Interoperability, core to the platform, accelerates data inputs, regardless of source. Complete flexibility and customization is the experience of Viteos clients, who benefit from embedded robotics, and Machine Learning development.

As one example, the comprehensive technology reporting library, VU 360 is specifically designed for the middle and back office including exposures, profit and loss, attributions, cash projections, and other essentials. This wide-ranging digital library consists of reports, which are customizable to users’ individual needs via simple modifications. Moreover, VU 360 is built on a foundation of knowledge and collective experience from servicing multiple hedge funds of differing complexities, product mixes, and strategies.

Chitra BaskarLeading with Determination and Persistence for Strategic Results

Early adoption to technology, enhanced by ongoing innovation, has been the backbone of the Viteos service model. Viteos has consistently been successful because, in addition to its accounting expertise and technology, it delivers exceptional client services. This again is rooted in the principles of being anticipatory of client and market needs and in demonstrating an understanding of each client’s particular business, especially in areas of complexity. Her consultative approach has resulted in partnerships over time, while also making major contributions to the industry as a whole, such as the development of shadow accounting as a category offering.

Chitra BaskarAchieving Future Growth Through Management Vision and Focus

Consistent with the anticipatory approach, Chitra and her team are leveraging market dynamics and industry trends. Since the firm’s inception in 2003, outsourcing as a productive approach to operations has proven to be true – and will become more rather than less important.

Says Chitra: “By far the most significant trend is the exponential increase in complexity of investment operations, driven by exotic instruments, intricate asset accumulation structures and jurisdictional requirements that managers must handle to remain competitive. These include asset class, regulatory reporting, trading, reconciliation, collateral management, shadow accounting, and treasury – even systems upgrades. As operations are our sole business, we unburden firms of the inherent cost and maintenance concerns while staying abreast of requirements and developments.”

While driving the global strategic growth of Viteos with Hedge Funds, Chitra is also managing its entry into the Private Equity/Private Debt area. The extensive experience of Chitra and her team in the Hedge Fund space further helped them to lead in Private Equity.

Chitra BaskarUtilizing Values with Consistent Learning

As a successful tech centered-woman, she is also changing the dynamics in a male-dominated industry. Chitra empowers other women to increase their roles in the company. She oversaw the gender diversity expansion of Viteos from 13% women to 27% from 2015 to 2017, and was instrumental in setting up a network for Women in Hedge Fund Operations as a support and mentoring organization focused solely on the challenges facing women in hedge fund services.

Viteos’ expertize in valued investment management services is an example of Chitra’s consistent learning and contribution towards the company’s success. Since the beginning, she always brought creativity, innovation, learning, growth, and integrity into her work. Today, she encourages and motivates the Viteos team to utilize those values in the company’s environment. Armored with two and a half decades of experience in financial services, Chitra has successfully build Viteos from strength to strength. The dynamic COO of Viteos gives credit to her colleagues and clients for her success. She also appreciates her family for their essential support, enabling her to maintain a good work-life balance, and in her outside activity, most especially in brining Indian music into the U.S.

Chitra BaskarSecret of Chitra’s Success

“I think people need to move past competence to excellence in the skills necessary for their work. Determination and persistence in work and being nimble without losing sight of the vision also counts for a lot.”– Chitra Baskar