4 great ways to get ahead in 2017…. Become more agile

Mathias Wegmüller
By
Mathias Wegmüller
December 16, 2016
Blog

 

2017 will be the year that agility becomes a critical “do or die” success factor for financial institutions

2016 was an extraordinary year. Few could have anticipated the extent of change and uncertainty that financial services firms face in the year ahead, as they begin to navigate sweeping change in political, economic, market and regulatory landscapes.

New regulations like MIFID-II and the Department of Labor fiduciary ruling will come into force within 12 months, and despite them being on our radar for a while, many firms are still getting to grips with exactly how to comply with them.

And what comes next? We don’t know how recent political events will affect regulation, we don’t know what the next big regulation we have to comply with will be, or when it will happen, and we don’t know how quickly market shifts in buyer behavior will occur. With more than 200 regulatory changes and updates released daily, you never know what’s coming around the corner.

In financial services, compliance has been the must-win battle that has topped the budget spend and attention league table, for a long time. According to hot-off-the-press CEB research, compliance and legal issues remain a principal concern for the C-suite. But how can financial services firms avoid being distracted by all of this change, without neglecting compliance?

When agility becomes mission-critical

Conversations with our customers, analysts, journalists and regulators have led me to the conclusion that although there is much turbulence, no-one can be certain what lies ahead. There is much speculation, but the only certainty is change. However, instability is nothing new in financial services, and there seems to be general consensus in the Boardroom that providers simply need to understand what is required, adapt and move on. This is where agility, and the ability to adapt quickly and inexpensively, becomes mission-critical.

Industry analysts are urging the C-suite to be productive, and to use periods of unrest to prepare for the multitude of scenarios that lie ahead, by increasing flexibility and agility. We find ourselves in an unpredictable situation, where the devil is not in the detail. The best course of action is to adapt processes, and leverage technology, to inject flexibility and boost the agility of your infrastructure.

Oftentimes, the knee-jerk reaction to uncertainty is to aggressively cut investments in non-critical infrastructure and people, at the expense of both growth and innovation. Industry analysts are advocating spending prudence, however they are also cautioning firms against extreme cost cutting, when addressing issues relating to risk mitigation and lack of agility. What becomes important in this instance is to ring-fence mission-critical initiatives, and to utilize technology in an innovative and efficient way. The goal is to achieve the best possible outcome, without cutting corners.

How can you become more agile?

  • Tackle low-hanging fruit first. Projects and processes where you can easily increase agility, in a timely and cost-effective way, are the place to start. Ensuring compliant record-keeping of all digital activity – online, social and mobile – is a perfect example of this. Being a regulatory requirement, it ranks high on the agenda for every financial services firm, and it is essential that you have the agility to adapt to regulatory change, with no or minimal effort.
  • Conduct a fast but thorough review of your digital compliance status. Compliance is somewhat unique; you’re either compliant or you’re not, and anything less than 100% will not satisfy the regulator. It’s pretty black and white, and easy to assess. We’re happy to help with your review, if it becomes a bottleneck for your firm.If you do not have a technology solution in place that records content changes in your digital business, or monitors digital interactions between your clients and your employees, your firm is not compliant and lacks agility. If you do have a technology solution in place, your Chief Information Officer or Head of IT must confirm one way or the other whether you are capturing all digital activity and engagement, or not. And they should know whether your solution has the agility to ensure compliance with new or amended regulations, as soon as they occur.

If the results of your analysis reveal a weakness in agility, address this now. In doing so, you can transform this period of uncertainty into a golden opportunity to tackle the agility of one mission-critical function, once and for all.

Contact us to understand how you can adopt a more agile way of working, in your digital business.

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