How partnerships can enable digital transformation

Optimizing Collaboration for Financial Services Firms

Financial services firms increasingly trust cloud-based solutions that are more agile, cost-effective, connected and efficient than legacy systems.

In a recent webinar, David Gurlé, formerly of Symphony, and Steven Quick, Principal Solution Architect – Financial Services with Amazon Web Services (“AWS”), discussed how many financial institutions are working to transform faster while also meeting ever more stringent compliance requirements on data safety, security and transparency.

Solving the paradox: agility with transparency and trust

Financial services firms are in the unenviable position of catering to sophisticated customers that expect the highest standards of privacy and security while also complying with stringent regulations that require absolute transparency on-demand whenever needed, often for transactions that occurred years ago. At the same time, rigid processes and legacy technologies can inhibit the digital transformations underway at most firms.

The financial sector faces a unique paradox. It needs both the utmost transparency but also the utmost security (and of course compliance). How do you solve this? David Gurlé

For the financial industry, trust has always been considered a foundational principle. Symphony’s solution – to create a safe enclave where the exchange of information between trusted users is fully automated – was viewed with scepticism at first when we were founded 6 years ago.

Partial trust is unacceptable, and any network is only as strong as its weakest link, so firms must ‘trust but verify’.

In this context, security must be implemented as layers, from measures taken on-premises to solutions used by partners tasked with storing or treating data hosted off-site. In this context, Symphony’s truly end-to-end encrypted collaboration solution (and backed by our verified, trusted director of half a million financial services users) acts as an overarching shield that makes the entire communication chain both secure and trustworthy. When required, Symphony can also deliver regulatory transparency via tools like a key-split mechanism, whereby an encryption key is divided into parts given to various custodians, to be re-assembled only upon the request of clients or regulators.

When it comes to trust, Symphony sought a world class foundational partner for cloud services underpinning the Symphony platform. Over the past few years, Symphony built and has expanded its partnership with AWS. AWS’s open architecture is designed to deliver security and flexibility at the lowest possible cost as part of an agnostic solution available to firms across industries, including finance. As Steven Quick notes “We are democratising access to machine learning so that anyone can access our APIs and explore what works for them. As we can constantly integrate security measures informed from our experience in various industries, we can deliver an up-to-date solution to all users”.

Crucially, AWS’s multi-tenancy approach means that users only pay for what they need, giving even small firms the ability to handle huge capacity without having to invest in developing and maintaining a proprietary architecture that may not remain competitive over time.

From “chats” to communication-powered financial services workflows

Always fascinated by an industry he sees as the epicenter of the world economy, Gurlé realized that in the digital era, the seemingly basic “chats” occurring between – and within financial institutions – and their clients were in fact complex messaging and conversation workflows that serve as the central nervous system of the industry and the economy. Symphony continues to evolve from a secure chat platform into a critical market infrastructure provider where deep workflows are seamlessly integrated and connected, increasing efficiencies across transaction lifecycles, client lifecycles and more.

Digital transformation means integrating systems, automating what is done manually and accelerating what’s automated with tools like artificial intelligence” David Gurlé

The need to deliver high assurance interconnectivity between market participants in this vast ecosystem led both to the creation of Symphony and its close partnership with AWS. “Working with Amazon accelerated our development and enabled us to focus on our unique value proposition” Gurlé says. Growing at 30%+ a year and active in the US, Europe and Asia, Symphony’s rapid expansion is sustainable in large part because it is free to focus on its core activities instead of having to focus resources on the cloud-based services provided by AWS and other partners.

Symphony is rapidly deepening its workflows to solve fundamental challenges within financial services. It continues to expand into new segments of the financial services industry such as investment banking and wealth and asset management. Symphony believes other market participants could also benefit from its solutions and that all participants benefit from a compounding network effect. For example, corporate treasurers in most companies manage relationships with several financial institutions via email, phone and single-dealer platforms while relying on an army of personnel to run spreadsheets and confirm transactions. Slow, rudimentary and error-prone, Symphony believes the corporate treasury function is ripe for streamlining. “Think of what you can do on your mobile. That’s where we think corporate treasurers should go.” says Gurlé.

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