Financial Services Bank on IT

The last few years have presented nothing less than turmoil for the financial services industry. A sour economy, greater regulation, significant changes in business models and a spate of new technologies—many centering on cloud computing, social networking and mobile services—have altered the stakes … and ratcheted up the risks.

Coping with this new environment is no simple task. Not only is there a need to maximize productivity and manage costs, but banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies and others must build a more agile and robust infrastructure. It’s necessary to oversee a growing tangle of technologies and requirements in areas as diverse as data management, cloud computing, business intelligence (BI) and analytics, governance, social media, mobile banking, governance, risk and compliance (GRC), and security.

While there’s no single way to achieve best-practice results, the most successful organizations focus on build-ing more powerful and flexible platforms that ratchet up everything from customer engagement to internal auditing and compliance. In today’s 24/7 global business environment, the ability to align business goals with IT systems and processes has never been greater.

“Financial services firms are under enormous and growing pressure,” says Julien Courbe, partner in the Financial Services Advisory practice at PwC. “In many cases, technology is a key differentiator.”

Financial services firms have always faced pressure to provide customers with information and services quickly and accurately. But the introduction of the Internet and mobile banking has accelerated the process and changed the stakes. High-performance systems that squeeze out maximum efficiency are now critical. Sophisticated software that can cull, manage and extract data and put it to use in new ways is paramount.

Courbe says that financial services companies are wise to focus on three primary areas: better reporting and yield-management tools that provide deeper visibility into transactions and help meet regulatory requirements; improved information processing capabilities that revolve around digitization and creating paperless systems; and a customer-centric focus that involves mobile banking and a basket of digital tools, including social media. “The interaction points are changing rapidly,” he points out.

These issues, in turn, drive technology decisions, encompassing everything from data center design and storage infrastructure to customer relationship management strategies. “The challenge,” says David Nichols, leader of CIO Services for Ernst & Young’s Advisory practice in the Americas, “is balancing innovation and new services with security and overall risks, including business continuity and disaster recovery. These issues must guide decisions about how to implement various business
strategies and IT solutions.”

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