As the landscape of communication continues to evolve in our increasingly digital world, the financial services industry is feeling the pinch of regulatory scrutiny. In recent years, financial firms have faced nearly $2 billion in penalties from the SEC and CFTC due to unregulated “off-channel” messaging. This surge in “off-channel” communication, including usage of platforms such as WhatsApp, WeChat, SMS, LINE, and mobile calls, is largely fueled by the rise of hybrid work. Yet, regulators maintain that all business communications must be monitored, auditable, and occur only within official channels. In the words of SEC Chair Gary Gensler, “As technology changes, it’s even more important that registrants appropriately conduct their communications about business matters within only official channels. And they must maintain and preserve those communications.”
Gamestop was a Magma Moment, But Financial Ops Teams Got Burned…
What happened over the past few weeks was what I term a “magma moment” in the financial markets. Reddit. WallStreetBets. GameStop. And more. Something molten and disruptive erupted and will change the landscape of the financial markets as it now turns igneous. The market volatility and agility were on full display. But the financial operations teams in the middle and back office were the ones who truly felt the heat and pain. More accounts to onboard, more transactions needing to ensure settlement. It all meant longer hours, more pressure and duress added to existing stresses. Exacerbated by disconnected and tedious manual processes in both client lifecycle and transaction lifecycle management. We just saw market fundamentals disrupted in real-time. But…there is a parallel (and more positive) disruption required to transform client onboarding and post transaction processes. It needs to happen. And soon. Think: augmented operations. Human-centric collaboration technology, automated workflows that dramatically reduce (someday even eliminate) the email/phone/fax productivity death loop.
What Is The Ops Status Quo?
Let’s take client onboarding as an example. What is a day in the life of a client onboarding team? Many of you know it well, but to summarize:
- Execute on a queue of client onboarding requests all marked ‘priority’
- Gather data from clients and other internal and external sources
- Key data in one place, key same data in another, and then again
- Meet internal SLAs while fielding calls from front office on progress
- Collaborate with stakeholders across legal, credit, compliance, ops across time zones
- Abide by global regulatory due diligence standards for KYC/AML/Reg Reporting
- Ensure 2 eye and 4 eyes checks are fulfilled and files are Ready To Transact
- Be accountable for work and collaboration across many parties
- Deal with latencies due to many many manual emails, calls, faxes, etc.
What Needs to Change?
Sometimes by asking good questions, we can start to visualize what change looks like. If we dissect the typical ops day, we ask:
- How am I going to meet my deadlines? Stay ahead of SLAs?
- How will I manage my queue with so many co-dependencies?
- How do I collaborate and get visibility across the onboarding lifecycle?
- How do I create transparency?
- How do I hold others accountable?
- How do I create urgency for outsource business partners?
- How do I manage my email inbox?
- How do I keep colleagues & clients happy (sales, compliance, etc)
This Is What Change Looks Like
Ops teams need their own version of a magma moment. In the world of Symphony’s customers, we see augmented operations, using human-centered collaboration technology and automated workflows that reduce the email/phone/fax productivity death loop. Connection is important but context is essential.
Let’s imagine a slightly different day. This is a very generic example utilizing Symphony’s collaboration platform (currently used by over half a million financial services professionals globally), but you can extrapolate similar risk reductions and efficiencies across many different flows. For example:
8am: Use Symphony to Instantly reach APAC team, confirm they already have new client ownership data, eliminating need to reach client during major market volatility
9am: Eliminate 60 typical emails and cc’s by creating 1 Symphony Room
10am: Escalate suspicious PEP profile to compliance via VIP Symphony room
10:30am Have time for real coffee break
11am: Reduce context switching 25% by pushing data into Salesforce and alerting sales of progress directly via Symphony (Symphony offers strong integration with Salesforce)
Noon: Have time for a real lunch break
1 pm: Connect with Outsourced Onboarding team externally via secure collaboration, adhering to all compliance policies, 1 hour conference call becomes 12 minute meeting + chat
2 pm: Flow data into CLM tool automatically via Symphony bot, saving 90 mins
3 pm: Use Lexis-Nexis via Symphony, reducing context switching by 20%
4 pm: Confirm multiple new clients onboarded.
4:30pm: Send transparency report to management via Symphony room and @mention key managers
5pm Leave on time for Yoga class
Creating The Magma Moment for Ops Teams
That future is here and it’s possible today. It’s time for the Ops Magma moment. How do you apply human-centered digitization to augment your efforts? How do you gain real-time context and collaboration? How do you reduce context switching while also increasing the ability to connect with counterparts? All magma moments create leaders and laggards. What better way to increase your ability to compete than by streamlining some of the most inefficient processes in the middle and back office?
You may also like
We live in a fast-evolving age of information, where Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools are starting to be used in many areas like financial decision-making and
Almost a decade ago, Europe led the way in shortening the settlement cycle to T+2 – a task that required wholesale re-engineering of European market-structure. Mere months from now, European securities firms will again be challenged – this time with the move to US NEXT-DAY settlement. Once more, our market participants face a complete restructuring of entire organisational workflows.