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Building relationships to deliver innovation and transformation in financial services

Digital disruption around the world has brought down the walls that have traditionally shielded the financial services industry from new challenger brands. Whether it’s changing consumer demands, threats from more agile FinTechs and InsurTechs, or emerging financial or cybercrime risks, adapting to change is now business-as-usual. 

Added to this, the world continues to be turned upside down as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has seen banks across the world having to close their high-street presence – as well as their headquarters and administrative offices – pushing the majority of staff to be home based (at least in the short term).

This, in turn, has meant customers have all had to move to predominantly banking online, which has highlighted some of the shortcomings in traditional banks’ online channels and processes. Until recently, the primary focus of many hadn’t been on replacing face-to-face processes; instead, they had been looking at delivering self-service options.

As a result, larger institutions have had to quickly reassess their strategies and accelerate transformation programmes, to help them improve their competitive position and agility, to be able to cope with the mix of new market models, shifting commercial objectives, and customer expectations. 

‘Core banking transformation’ is a phrase that will strike fear in the heart of any financial services executive – and has been compared to open heart surgery by some. However, working with a Global Systems Integrator (GSI) partner, moves the process from complex surgery to something more akin to a classic symphony, fully and logically laid out and documented, with the GSI partner as the ‘conductor’.

GSIs can act as a strategic partner for large financial services companies, bringing a depth of knowledge and experience that would be impossible to cover in an internal project team. This allows them to design architecture, processes and technologies, based on the customer’s exact requirements – both now and in the future – while also having clear processes and methodologies that allow them to oversee major projects with proper governance and controls. 

They also have partnerships with technology vendors, which gives them access to the latest technologies, which they can integrate into their approach, if it is the best option for the customer. In addition, they also have a close working relationship with vendors and access to their engineering teams, enabling them to ensure they are choosing the correct technologies for customers, and are able to tailor them, where required.

Not only does this help to mitigate risk from day one, it also allows large companies to take out costs from their IT operations, whilst ensuring they are able to move and innovate at pace, whilst still balancing regulatory, security, data privacy, and other challenges.

However, this needs to be managed carefully, and requires meticulous and structured planning in order to decide which applications and services will run in the cloud. Success hinges on creating the right set of cloud environments that can power next-generation applications and better satisfy user expectations—while sustaining the traditional applications that the business has relied on for years – and that is where GSIs come in.

Now, more than ever, the deep relationships between vendors, GSIs and customers are critical in delivering innovation and transformation – particularly in the financial services sector. This will allow more traditional financial organisations to compete more effectively with newer challenger brands, whilst driving down costs and delivering an infrastructure that is agile enough to respond to changing customer and regulatory demands.

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