Another Saffer makes it big in the US

Another South African is making headlines in the United States. Pierre Naudé is the CEO of the global fintech company nCino, which listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange on Tuesday.

It was one of the most successful listings of the year so far, with the share price spiking from its IPO price of $31 a share to more than $91. This briefly valued the company at nearly $7 billion or R110 billion. At this market capitalisation, the company was larger than locally listed financial giants Discovery and Absa. nCino’s share price has subsequently dropped to around $70.

In an interview on RSG Geldsake, Naudé did not want to comment on the success of the listing and the performance of the share price. “I was busy with a media interview when the first trades came through, and I heard the cheers from the staff. From a personal perspective, it was something very special.”

nCino CEO Pierre Naudé. Image: Supplied

Naudé hails from a wine farm near Worcester in the Boland. He joined Boland Bank where he met Johann Dreyer, a former Springbok athlete, who became his partner at several other ventures in the US.

“I was a programmer, and Boland Bank sent me to the US on several occasions, and was part of the team who developed the first ATM system or Saswitch in South Africa.

“I then realised America offered significant opportunities and in 1987 my wife, small baby and I relocated. I was a programmer, or a gun for hire, and travelled to where there was work.” The Naudés eventually settled in Iowa.


Naudé worked at several fintech companies and was approached by a group of bankers in Wilmington in North Carolina after S1, the company he was working for, was sold. (Dreyer was CEO of S1).

“They asked me to set up a company to develop software solutions for banks to process credit applications more speedily and efficiently. We started in a tiny office in Wilmington with seven employees. I put up a sign against the wall which read ‘nCino – Worldwide Headquarters’ to frame the mindset.”

The business grew quickly and today the company employs 900 people in the US, Canada, Britain, Japan and Australia.

More than 1 100 financial institutions around the world use its range of cloud-based software solutions.

The company’s largest customers include Bank of America, Barclays in London, and McQuarrie in Australia.

Read: Banks waking up to fintech threat throw billions into digital

nCino does not have a presence in South Africa, although the company is talking to local banks. “We service South Africa from our London office and have built up good relationships, but we haven’t signed with a local bank. I expect that we will sign an agreement in due course, and I will be very proud if and when this happens,” he says.

nCino has received numerous accolades, including being featured in prominent industry rankings such as the IDC FinTech Rankings, the Deloitte Technology Fast 500, and the Forbes Cloud 100 for two years running.

According to the prospectus, nCino’s revenue rose from $38 million in 2018 to $138 million in its 2020 financial year. The company is not profitable and suffered a loss of $18.6 million in its latest fiscal period.

Asked why the fintech company settled in the relatively small town of Wilmington and not in Silicon Valley, Naudé said: “It is fantastic not to be part of Silicon Valley. The staff turnover rate there is between 15% and 25%. I don’t know how you build a company with such a turnover rate. Ours is much lower than 10%.”

He adds that there is much talent available due to the lifestyle North Caroline offers. “Last year I hired 225 people in Wilmington from 10 000 applications. We can choose who we want to employ.”

Naudé still has family in South Africa and visits every two years or so. “I hope to get back when Covid is over.  It’s always fantastic to come home.”

Luister na Ryk van Niekerk se onderhoud met Naudé: 

By Neil Hall
For The Daily Mirror

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