Last November, we had the pleasure of attending the Fund Operators Summit 2021, at the fantastic County Hall in Westminster, London. With over 200 Senior Fund Operations Professionals in attendance, there was a real sense of community within the industry. It was two extraordinary days of panel debates, networking, fireside discussions and topline objectives, plans and thoughts for the coming years of Operations within Financial Services. Take a look at what we gathered.
When to outsource & when to develop in-house?
One of the recurring themes was ‘How can we optimise our workforce without hiring more people?’ In the digital age, answering this question becomes not a mere possibility but a necessity. Whether you are an administrator or a COO, there’s always a certain urgency to increase efficiency in a cost-friendly manner.
Automation and outsourcing are heavily explored tactics to achieve that goal. There’s a common practice to outsource Middle and Back Office functions to parts of Eastern Europe and Asia or allocate resources to exploring automation.
There’s an internal ‘checklist’ when looking to future-proof workflow and task force. Does it fit into the new way of thinking? Could the process or task be automated? Is the solution available in the cloud? Is it fitting to the idea of digitalisation? Yet, whether it’s automation or outsourcing, the responsibility and overview of the processes would still be held in the hands of a staff member. That is based on the idea that eventually these processes would be held back in-house. So, even if you explore automation and outsourcing, there will always be a human being overseeing. If there is an error or mistake – the responsibility is held internally.
So, if you asked Arne Martin Moen, the COO for Storebrand in Norway, and other panellists, they’d gear you towards ensuring your staff are happy. So instead, focus on their well-being.
The industry is ready to give recognition to the people behind the scenes, the experts and the unsung heroes – the operations team.
Focus on people at the forefront
There is a realization that the pandemic has inescapably changed the finance industry. Although it is extremely common for a high staff turnover within Operations Teams, there is a shift in the working patterns and conversations around staff well-being and headspace. While some managers had found ‘hidden gems’ within their organization, others looked for innovative, inquisitive and organized people who were good communicators. It is no longer purely knowledge of the industry and role – but also the ability to troubleshoot and adapt.
The industry is ready to give recognition to the people behind the scenes, the experts and the unsung heroes – the operations team. However, there is a lack of tools or resources to do it. The finance industry is facing a gap. The managers struggle with an overview and the ability to show investors, auditors or management the exact proof of their success. Alongside this, as information spreads over many different systems and data points, the data quality decreases.
Report and improve, continuously
In order to grow, reliable data is a must-have. Any new system, workflow, solution or process must be scalable and flexible in providing information. When it comes to scaling, the old saying ‘Data is King’ is well and good – but how you use the data is power.
In order to scale, companies need to keep up with the continually changing regulations. As regulations get tighter, companies must map out what they are doing and find structure to create an independent digital fail-safe. Not only does it allow you to consolidate information but also to classify risks and identify the most efficient workflows.
Easy-to-digest data and ambitious growth targets are inseparable. It allows valuable insights into resource allocation – be it an ability to focus on what the staff does best or streamline certain processes that are time-consuming. To say lightly, the industry is craving overview and control, and there are tools for that.
No matter how far the world and financial services industry progresses with automation, outsourcing and the blockchain – it is still a people and relationship business – and this will never change. So why not give your people a happier work environment and a more structured approach to their work? Let them flourish by providing an ability to showcase and communicate their efforts to the entire organization in real time.