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Data and Reporting - a Financial Services Help or Hindrance?

The past few years have seen the financial services undergo a period of unprecedented change. While trying to keep up with the ever-changing demands of consumers, FS organisations are also facing a barrage of increasingly granular reporting requirements. Many are struggling to keep up – August saw G20 leaders issued a second warning that some jurisdictions may miss deadlines for implementing new banking regulation. This followed reports by both the Financial Stability Board (FSB) and the Basel Committee highlighting that many banks are struggling to meet the reporting requirements implemented in the wake of the financial crisis.

Data requirements form a large part of this challenge, with banks needing a breadth of data wide enough to improve customer services, and satisfy regulators. However, increased supervision can also be beneficial for organisations, forcing them to improve the quality of their data, and demonstrate appropriate data usage for business decision making. There are certain steps that all FS organisations can take to ensure that they don’t fall behind with compliance:

Make a start: My number one recommendation is for FS organisations to take a hard look at what they need to change to meet the latest reporting requirements, and ensure that the data is in place in a way that allows them to draw insights from it. This can seem like a complex task, with data stored in different locations and in different formats but, once organised, it will put each organisation in a much stronger position to tackle any manner of industry challenges. Embracing a data lake approach may be one way to approach data consolidation without disruption

Manage your response to regulation: It’s now commonplace for regulators and industry bodies to request timely reports and want to interrogate the data behind them. Each FS environment needs to be set up to pose a wide variety of queries in a changeable regulatory environment, in a way that doesn’t inhibit innovation. It’s also crucial to implement a reporting structure to manage what’s needed to meet key deadlines, with clear reporting lines to identify who is ultimately responsible

Ensure you have the skills you need: Either through consultants or data scientists within your team, ensure you have access to the skills you need to deliver against new regulatory challenges. Beyond this, these teams can help to develop new processes and even identify new product opportunities opened up through data analysis. What’s crucial is that the skills are also in place to align the data scientists with the needs of the business itself, drawing on trends but in context to identify opportunities and risks

Collaboration is key: Regulation isn’t a concern solely for one part of the business. It needs to be tackled across the different business divisions and operational lines. Technology can solve some issues, but only when implemented with collaboration from stakeholders. What’s also important is collaboration across the industry, with knowledge sharing between organisations, regulators and industry bodies, to find the best routes forward, be they in standards, self-regulation or best practice processes, for everyone involved

The role of technology:  Technology is moving at a fast pace and changing social and business interactions more than we ever expected, in a short space of time. We’re discovering new ways of working, and new processes to follow, but there are lots of synergies around areas of the business which can be solved through reporting and data. In particular, risk management and regulatory compliance can be led by technology distilling the vast information and data available, to produce manageable insights for the CFO and heads of risk and compliance. By making this process far more seamless, in some cases almost streaming data through analysis tools in real time, we can deliver fewer errors, better tracking of data, expose the business to less risk and spend less time reporting for regulatory compliance – all leading ultimately to reduced costs.

The essential elements for any financial services organisation to get on top of are the quality of the data and precision of it. The last thing anyone wants is for the wrong data to be used to drive decision-making, but ultimately it requires a team or leader to set out which data should be used and to ensure that this is accessible to those requiring it.

It is also crucial is to look at best practice and to learn from it – not simply from other FS firms but from the wider industry. Take manufacturing; it’s a great example of an industry which has introduced feedback loops based on data which have identified siloes in production, spotting maintenance requirements before things break, streamlining opportunities and more. These examples can have real relevance to the financial services sector, from understanding how to consolidate data, through assessing how the feedback opportunities based on real-time insights from data can be used to refine business processes, particularly as regulation continues to play such a prominent role in the industry. With FS organisations already struggling to comply with new sector regulations, there’s no time to waste in getting going.




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