Why Good Technology Matters for Financial Services Firms

Whether it’s new regulations, industry consolidations, ever-present security risks, or the rise of non-traditional competitors, the financial services industry is undergoing enormous change. Yet many still run their businesses on an aging and disparate collection of business systems.

For comparison, consider what’s happening on the consumer side of the industry: new technologies have made traditional purchasing and banking far more convenient and just a tap away (think Apple Pay and Venmo, or card-free ATMs). Financial services leaders should be asking, “How have our business technologies evolved to keep up with increasing expectations from our internal customers—our employees?”

Traditional financial services companies may face trouble in attracting and retaining employees if they’re running on dated technologies.

The pervasiveness of digital transformation in daily life has raised everyone’s expectations. Not only is it essential to deliver intuitive and engaging experiences for customers, but your employees operating behind the scenes—managing your financials, talent, and payroll—need a system that can keep tabs on it all. They have come to expect the same, easy-to-use interfaces and experiences in the workplace as they have in the consumer world.

Invest in Your Back-Office Operations

While your front office may have transformed to meet new customer expectations, has your back office been keeping up? What technologies and tools have you provided for those who pay the bills, process payroll, create financial statements, and plan for the future? What about for the decision-makers who need access to better data and deeper business insights? How have you improved your business processes and procedures to enable your employees to become more efficient and effective?

The traditional tech stack in financial services looks less like a stack and more like a jumble of siloes—individual systems that may be good at one function but can’t handle other processes and purposes beyond that. And if your organization is acquisitive, you know that every new merger or acquisition brings in even more disparity to your technology landscape. A hodgepodge of disparate systems makes it difficult (if not impossible) to access real-time data, limiting the ability of employees and managers to do their best work.

Many organizations recognize the need to make significant changes—and the sooner the better. “PWC’s 19th Annual Global CEO Survey” found that 81 percent of banking CEOs are concerned about the rapid speed of technological change, more than any other industry sector. And 86 percent of insurance CEOs believe technology will completely reshape competition in the industry or have a significant impact over the next five years.

A Simpler Way to Evolve

For far too long, data has been siloed and integration between different systems has been more of an afterthought. Recruiting data is typically in one system, payroll in another, accounting tools in yet another, with analytics running somewhere else. This sort of scenario impacts internal processes, and employees are stuck piecing together, replicating, and fact-checking multiple spreadsheets and reports—making it difficult to ask some of the most basic questions about the current state of the business and raising doubts about the accuracy of information.

When applications are designed to work together, they support business processes and transactions using a shared set of data.

While traditional financial services companies may have the upper hand over non-traditional competitors in terms of industry maturity and experience, they may face trouble in attracting and retaining employees if they’re running on dated technologies. Add to this the fact that the financial services industry already faces a shortfall of talent. As PwC reported, “Mounting regulatory scrutiny and an ongoing talent shortage are making it difficult for many financial institutions to maintain an ample pool of talent for their control functions.”

For banks and insurance companies to succeed in today’s highly competitive market, they should consider the advantages of a single enterprise software system that allows everyone to do their best work. FSN’s “The Future of Planning, Budgeting & Forecasting Survey 2016” called implementation of a single shared business model across the enterprise in the cloud, from a single vendor and with all relevant stakeholders connected, a state of “utopia.”

A unified system can house the critical information financial professionals need—finance, HR, payroll, and planning—in one place. When applications are designed to work together, they support business processes and transactions using a shared set of data. As a result, financial services firms and their employees will have accurate information and real-time insights required to run their businesses.

Siloed technology landscapes that require Herculean integration efforts are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Forward-thinking financial organizations are increasingly moving to a unified system that empowers their employees, rather than hinders them.