The competitive edge in the fast-changing landscape of financial services won’t necessarily go to companies that solely focus on customer-facing products. Instead, it will go to those that unlock more value from data. That’s how organizations will be able to respond to customer needs, implement agile workforce models, and ultimately, gain a competitive advantage—even amid unprecedented disruption.
Netherlands-headquartered trading firm IMC elaborated on this idea in a customer panel at Workday Industry Insights Europe, our recent digital event.
“Our business model is based around offering the best price, from both the buy side and the sell side of the products that we are trading, and our margin comes from the difference between the buy side and the sell side,” said Timothy Hall, a program and project management IT lead at IMC. “For us to do this, we actually need a lot of technology. So we need to be able to consume a lot of data.”
“We really need to be able to, in real time, have a great understanding that what we are seeing is what the market is seeing as well.”Timothy Hall Program and Project Management IT Lead IMC
The capability to effectively leverage data requires one source of truth for all data—operational, financial, and HR— and in real-time. This setup speeds up the reconciliation process, and consequently, enables organizations to quickly make business decisions amid a fast-moving business landscape.
What’s more, the seamless reconciliation of data from what’s considered the front-end of the business (the operations) to back office systems (such as finance and HR) enables financial services leaders to make decisions that align with the needs of the business and the current landscape.
IMC leverages interconnected data to make sure what they’re seeing from within the company reflects reality. “We have data feeds going from the front office to the back, and then we also have data feeds going from the outside world to our back office,” Hall said. “We really need to be able to, in real time, have a great understanding that what we are seeing is what the market is seeing as well.”
In a survey conducted late 2019 and early 2020—just before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis—a list of top priorities in the financial services industry included better complying with regulations and requirements, and improving products and services, said guest speaker Oliwia Berdak, vice president and research director at analyst firm Forrester, during the financial services analyst perspectives session at the Industry Insights Europe event.
Financial services firms will need to deliver on three ambitions in the coming years: customer experience excellence, “zero back office,” and adaptiveness.
But soon afterward as the industry was navigating the pandemic, most of the previously identified priorities lost importance—and firms put a greater focus on using “the crisis to really improve their innovation abilities, to use it to leapfrog their competition and make the most of this changing environment,” Berdak said. “And a second priority that also suddenly appeared in the top five is accelerating the shift to digital business.”
For that shift to happen, Berdak explained, financial services firms will need to deliver on three ambitions in the coming years: customer experience excellence, “zero back office”—meaning that there is a strategic plan that leverages methods, technologies and architectures to make back office operations more efficient, more seamless, and more automated—and adaptiveness.
“The world, of course, continues to move, and in order to survive and thrive, I think that we can all agree that the only things that firms can do is embrace that end-to-end digital transformation,” Berdak said.
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