The role of corporate finance in financial services firms has evolved as the demands for balancing growth, regulatory compliance and risk management become increasingly important. According to CFO Magazine and an AlixPartners survey, 71 percent of finance executives polled said their companies need to have access to more robust business information. What’s driving this demand? Firms must be able to improve visibility, insight and control over financial performance, and this can be done through technology-enabled transformation initiatives.
Going forward, successful financial stewardship and the corporate finance function for organizations will require new strategies and ways of thinking about:
In our finance transformation webinar on Wednesday, Sanjay Balan, a finance and accounting expert for Perficient’s financial services practice, will guide you through the strategic vision and components of successful finance transformation projects that will help your enterprise to: identify gains in operational efficiency, improve forecasting and reporting, reduce risk, and optimize the strategic functions of the finance organization.
To register for the webinar, click here.
Improve Efficiency, Compliance and Productivity Through Finance Transformation in Financial Services
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Life is an adventure and weekends are meant to embrace the new…as long as you are carrying cash.
Spending time in the community and randomly stumbling upon fairs or carnivals is one of the great joys of life. But without cash, these joys can quickly turn into frustration.
In the past few weeks, I can recall at least three times where my spontaneous adventure was turned into a joy ride through the city looking for cold hard cash.
We loaded up the family in the car and drove to the museum. Once the museum was in sight, it was impossible for my 5-year old daughter to contain her excitement. There’s the museum!!! Right there!!!
We pulled into the lot and were pretty excited that we arrived early enough to score rock star parking…until we saw the sign:
We decide to double check and ask the attendant, “Do you only take cash?”
“Yes, but you can go to the lot down the street. They take credit cards.”
We drove to the other lot and they did, in fact, take credit cards, but only at a walk-up machine. So we had to pull over and block traffic while we paid with our credit cards. I felt like the person holding up the line at the grocery store by paying by check. Except I wasn’t.
Everyone loves a parade! Again, we loaded up the car dressed in festive gear and covered in sunscreen. We left early so we wouldn’t have to walk a mile. We were pretty proud of ourselves as we approached the parking lot, until we were notified:
And we turned around and drove about 2 miles until we could find an ATM, pay the fee and turn around to sit in 20 minutes of traffic where we ultimately parked about a mile from the parade route.
I live in Missouri where the fall is an explosion of color. We decided to head out to a farm to pick pumpkins and get lost in a corn maze. We drove down one country road after another until we reached our destination. We walked up to the kiosk where they informed us:
CASH OR CHECK ONLY
We, of course, didn’t have cash, but we did have a check! Otherwise, we would have been heading down the road for a few miles to get to the local gas station.
Who is at fault here? My family, obviously. How many times do we need to go through this same Groundhog Day type situation before we start carrying cash?
I’m guessing, many more. We just aren’t cash people…and more and more people are trending that way.
According to a report from Bankrate, 40% of Americans carry less than $20 on them (with women being more likely to not have cash), 9% carry no cash at all. Almost half of all Americans are carrying little or no cash on them.
“Consumers prefer to pay with plastic, debit or credit or some other type of mobile technology,” says Greg McBride, chief financial analyst for Bankrate.com
In a situation like this, you can either change the person or change the path. The data is showing that consumers are moving away from cash. The path needs to be changed so business can meet consumers where they are. They are already at your doorstep, but they can’t come in.
According to Javelin Research,
“plastic cards purchases comprised 66 percent of all in-person sales, with nearly half of them, or 31 percent, made with debit cards”
With players such as Square, PayPay, Google and Apple, it’s time for the small mom and pops to take a step toward the future and make the path easier for potential customers.
Getting consumers in your door is one of the biggest obstacles for any business. Once they get there, don’t leave them sitting on the doorstep holding onto their credit cards.
Follow Perficient on LinkedIn here.
Four years after the signing of Dodd-Frank, financial services firms have a better understanding of both the challenges and potential benefits for their organization. While financial institutions are starting to get a better grip on Dodd-Frank reforms, one area where regulators are still coming to grips with and finalizing guidelines is incentive compensation. In fact, Section 956 was proposed in April 2011 and still has not been finalized. While this does mean we’re still in limbo with many of the Dodd-Frank regulations, banks still need to be prepared.That means financial institutions covered under this rule should have a formal review process in place for managing incentive compensation. Additionally, banks need to have the governance structures in place to ensure excessive compensation is not paid and the organization itself or their customers are not at risk.
During an upcoming webinar, led by Perficient’s financial services practice and our IBM team, we’ll be discussing the challenges and implications of Dodd-Frank on incentive compensation and how an integrated sales performance management solution can benefit your organization. Check out some of the highlights and key takeaways over on the IBM blog and register to attend.
For a more in-depth discussion on the application of sales performance management solutions to satisfy some of the regulatory requirements under Dodd-Frank, download the recent white paper, “Overcoming Strategic Challenges of Dodd-Frank with IBM Sales Performance Management Solutions”.
New market forces and key drivers have forced financial services companies to redefine the way they do business with consumers and corporate clients. To enable long-term competitiveness, firms are thinking about new ways of thinking, innovation and executing winning business and technology strategies around: growth and profitability, new business models, risk management and efficiency and cost control.
Ongoing regulatory changes, new budgetary constraints and rapid advancements in digital technology are making it hard for financial firms to transform for tomorrow while managing the customer and operational challenges of today. Perficient recently published a new interactive digital guide, “Transform for Tomorrow: Navigating New Forces in Financial Services”, providing valuable insights and an outlook on the most important issues facing decision-makers within banks, mutual fund companies, capital market firms, hedge funds, private equity firms and insurance carriers.
Key Findings and Takeaways
Technology is considered to be one of the top enablers for transformation in financial services. Arguably, it can be a differentiator for firms in an increasingly competitive financial services landscape. Throughout the entire customer interaction lifecycle (Engage, Transact, Fulfill and Service), technology is at the core of business strategies designed to help firms interact with and better serve their customers. Keeping pace with technology advancements and consumer demand for new banking and financial services is an ongoing challenge.
Back-office functions such as Human Resources, IT and Finance have been forced to refocus on cost reduction. As a result, financial services companies are evolving to more centralized operating models in the form of shared services to more strategically address regulatory compliance, engage and service customers, as well as enable the development of new products and services. Heading into next year, we’ll continue to see a heavy focus on long-term initiatives to support new operating models that will generate savings and improve operating performance. Firms are evaluating which functions can be outsourced, identifying global location strategies and maximizing the use of nearshore, offshoring or multishoring capabilities.
Evolving business needs, increased cost pressures and slow growth in new markets is making aligning operational efficiency with enabling technologies a critical area of investment for companies. Trading institutions are embracing low latency infrastructure and other practices to accelerate and improve trade lifecycle efficiency. Banks are rationalizing branch network performance and optimizing digital delivery channels. As a result, the stakes have never been higher, nor the opportunity greater, to employ new practices, tools and platforms to help firms overcome performance challenges.
A significant amount of financial IT spending is allocated to risk and compliance initiatives. This will continue to be the trend in the near-term for financial services companies, as firms look to leverage technology to control costs and better manage reputational, financial, operational and IT risk.
To learn more about these issues and how your organization can respond to these challenges with forward-thinking strategies and innovative technology solutions, download this new interactive and digital guide from our financial services industry experts.
In addition to the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus and Apple Watch unveiled this afternoon, Apple also announced Apple Pay, the long-awaited mobile payments platform, creating quite a buzz in the payments and financial services industry. Apple has taken a leap of faith jumping head-first into contactless payments, biometrics, wearables and tokenization with the new iPhone 6 and Apple Watch. Many payment startups, mobile operators and even tech giants like Google, have failed to see widespread consumer adoption of mobile payments platforms for a number of reasons: a lack of added value, a poor user experience, data security and privacy concerns, retailer resistance and countless other barriers. I think this move will solidify not only their ability to disrupt payments, but is only the beginning of their master plan to revolutionize consumers’ financial lives and shake up the financial services industry.
What will make Apple Pay successful and why does it matters to financial services companies?
Apple’s Leadership Position and Stakeholder Buy-in
Apple is known for its ability to not only disrupt but also be recognized for its leadership position in the industry pushing the boundaries of technology innovation as they’ve done in the past with the iTunes Store, iPad and MacBook products. Few can rival the success Apple has consistently had and will continue to have as the company expands its business beyond the traditional smartphone and tablet market into new areas. This is can be a very important “win” for banks and financial services companies looking for ways to help make consumers’ financial lives better.
To gain consumer adoption of mobile payments, it takes a lot of promotion, education and collaboration on the parts of the banks, retailers, and technology developers. Already we’re seeing a partnership with and collaboration from the three major payment networks: MasterCard, Visa and American Express. Debit and credit cards issued from banks like Capital One, Bank of America, Chase, Citi and Wells Fargo, will be an important component to bring Apple Pay’s seamless mobile payment experience to their customers. These banks account for 83 percent of credit card purchase volumes in the US. According to Apple’s press release, some of the nation’s leading retailers will support Apple Pay, and Apple Watch will also work at over 220,000 merchant locations across the US that have contactless payment enabled.
Facing Vulnerability and Privacy Concerns
Data security and privacy are often viewed as top concerns for mobile banking and mobile payment applications. The almost daily news of data breaches has tarnished consumers’ trust in the credit card industry and the recent iCloud hack leaves Apple with something to prove. The Touch ID, Find My iPhone, and Secure Element features may very well be the missing links to improve consumer sentiment toward mobile payments and finally ditch their credit cards and physical wallets. Apple Pay is a also step in the right direction for card issuers abandoning magnetic stripe cards and aligns well with EMV adoption that will require retailers to upgrade point-of-sale systems with NFC readers. NFC stores encrypted ‘Device Account Numbers’ tied to an iTunes account, and the use of tokenization technology adds another level of security to the transaction building consumer trust. Another interesting bit of news, Apple won’t collect or save transaction information, purchase history or sell credit card data like other merchants and other third-party providers. This is a good move by Apple to build loyalty and trust with customers. Read the rest of this post »
Banking organizations continue to face a changing regulatory landscape. Compliance failures can result in stiff financial penalties and reputational damage that can negatively impact an organization. Some bankers may view compliance as a necessary evil. An opposing point of view is that regulatory exercises are an opportunity to achieve organizational growth.
While most organizations are focusing on improving the efficiency, and reducing the cost, of compliance to not just survive but thrive in the current regulatory environment, compliance efforts can deliver other benefits for banks. Financial institutions who have undergone the stress testing programs can leverage insights for not only capital planning decisions but day-to-day business decisions. Unfortunately there is no “one-size fits all” solution for banks; however, there is one key ingredient to success – automation.
I recently wrote an article featured on Wall Street Technology Association that discussed two key areas of automation as banks shift toward a more “hub and spoke” model to manage the requirements for stress testing programs. Maintaining a forward-looking view of enterprise risks and applying those processes elsewhere in the organization may not only change your view on compliance efforts, but may be a game-changer for your organization in the years to come.
While attending a recent Wall Street Technology Association (WSTA) seminar in New York, I participated in a discussion with other members (financial institutions) and service providers around the topic of data security. I think it’s safe to assume that everyone acknowledged the cost of handling a data breach far outweighs the cost of proactively securing data as long as the threats are broadly identifiable in advance. However, a vast majority of financial institutions are still working towards a more proactive and less reactive approach to handling this common problem. As the diversity of types of data and their physical locations continues to expand, the threat of stolen data and DDoS attacks is increasing exponentially. As a result, firms are having to be more diligent which requires collaboration between the business, application and infrastructure stakeholders.
Below is a summary of six key things on every IT department and compliance officer’s mind when it comes to the corporate governance of their organizations’ cyber security framework and infrastructure.
Business Architecture and Secure Data
Most secure data threat-modeling efforts take an asset-centric view (i.e. which of your IT assets are the most critical). Taking this approach, 30-40% of assets are often deemed ‘critical’. A better approach is to start with business architecture to determine criticality from a business perspective.
Looking Ahead: Cybersecurity Meets Physical Security
Cyber attacks against financial services institutions are becoming more frequent, more sophisticated, and more widespread. One sophisticated bank heist involved hackers eliminating the withdrawal limits on prepaid debit cards and common street criminals making more than 2,000 ATM withdrawals. New York City prosecutors noted that this is one of the biggest heists in city history.
According to a cyber security report by the New York State Department of Financial Services, a vast majority of institutions – irrespective of size – utilize a wide variety of security technologies aimed at systems monitoring and preventing a cyber breach. While most financial institutions have deployed anti-virus software, spyware, firewalls, vulnerability scanning tools, and encryption, many firms are still exploring data loss prevention (DLP) tools and policies and procedures around cloud computing.
Stop Moving the PII
PII stands for Personally Identifiable Information. We all have it, and the criminal element wants it. With this information, a hacker can create a credit card account for you, not just use your existing account. Financial services firms need to ensure that they properly authenticate their users without moving the clients’ information to places where it can become vulnerable.
The BYOD Dilemma
Many firms are moving to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) solution where employees use their own phones, tablets, laptops on the company network. This approach requires a well-thought-out data security strategy for selecting and separating user and corporate data, selective encryption, user and device blocking and wiping, mobile content management (MCM) and access control. Global companies should pay even closer attention. In Germany and France the individual owns the data on their device.
Approximately 66% of data loss is due to human or system error from an insider. The cost of a data breach starts in the millions of dollars. Most organizations do not have the knowledge or experience to identify all of the gaps in their infrastructure. Prevent unauthorized information disclosure or exposure by encrypting files, using audit trails and dynamic permission controls with a security solution that can monitor data at rest, data in transit and data in use.
Contact Center Fraud
Ever wonder why automated menus at a bank’s contact center take so long? It’s partly because they’re conducting a fraud investigation. And if they’re not, they should be. Fraudsters are known to be repeat callers to the same call center and to stay ahead of them, financial institutions will need flexible architectures that can support a repetitive analysis while regularly refining the criteria to catch new trends and patterns.
Trying to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to IT issues is a challenging task. Emerging technology forces in the financial services industry are already impacting business. The convergence of these forces does present challenges; however, it also provides a window of opportunity for financial institutions to elevate business performance and gain a competitive advantage. Perficient provides a monthly perspective on some of the most talked about IT issues and emerging trends to help industry professionals identify and rationalize their IT investments.
Many of the discussions the Perficient financial services team had at SIFMA Tech this month revolved around the operational and technology challenges of regulatory compliance. Regulatory change continues to be an unavoidable expense and a top concern as financial institutions look to avoid potential risks of reputational damage, growing customer attrition rates and performance. Much of the news this past month had a similar tone and shared similar messages – to face the mounting pressures firms are starting to take more of a cross-functional approach to regulatory readiness and will make investments in technology, resources and cultural change.
Evolving requirements, market forces and customer demands are dictating transformations across the asset management industry. Exploring new avenues for growth, including the application of new technologies for product innovation, portfolio management and retaining clients will be critical. Many firms will find this difficult without a modern technology infrastructure to keep pace with industry forces
The explosion of digital banking and the complexities it has introduced for banks is forcing many to look for ways to become more agile as a business in order to compete with the more nimble software-based startups. Banks continue to operate in silos and struggle with building a comprehensive view of the customer needed to engage and personalize the banking experience. While there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution, technologies such as analytics, mobile and cloud can help banks overcome data challenges, get a 360 degree view of the customer and gain a competitive advantage.
Fintech disruption and innovation is nearing a feverish pitch. We’ve seen a considerable increase in the number of financial-based or “fintech” startups cropping up over the course of the past few years on social media, making headlines, and even conferences like Finovate dedicated solely to showcasing some of the best technology innovators. Our corporate headquarters is being considered as a top financial services hub with Jim McKelvey’s fintech accelerator, SixThirty, calling St. Louis home. Fintech investment has grown considerably over the past year adding to the competitiveness of the financial services industry. The growth in fintech investment is affecting traditional financial institutions in several ways – attracting talent away from banks and competition for consumers’ wallets. Some of the leading financial institutions have opened innovation labs, partnered or bought a startup. How will others address this trend in order to survive?
Efficiency is one of the biggest business drivers for financial institutions and technology serves as an enabler to help firms achieve operational excellence. From business process management (BPM) tools for loan and investor services to client on-boarding solutions or low-latency trading, technology allows firms to expand into new markets, cut costs, enable business agility and overall productivity.
The key drivers of global finance and new technology forces have converged on the financial services industry forcing firms to adapt and transform their business in order to win market share and operate more efficiently. Our financial services team is excited to head to New York next week to participate in the discussions at SIFMA Tech around how technology is revolutionizing the industry. But before we pack our bags and head out, here’s a rundown of trends, speakers and sessions you won’t want to miss. We look forward to seeing you there!
5 Discussions You Won’t Want to Miss
SIFMA Tech Sessions and Speakers of Note
SIFMA Tech will be jam packed with great topics and tracks, but here’s a rundown of speakers and some of the session highlights I look forward to.
In addition to getting a copy of Breaking Banks signed by Brett King himself, I’m looking forward to the “Lunch with Technology Entrepreneurs” panel he’ll be participating in. Financial innovators, like Moven, are disrupting the way financial services firms think about their business and customers. The unique perspectives from this panel of technology visionaries will not disappoint.
While still on the topic of disruption, the IBM session with Kristof Kloeckner, “Harnessing the Power of Disruptive Technologies” will be a good one. I listened to a similar keynote from Ginni Rometty while at NRF 2014 this past January. She talked about four emerging technologies that would continue to disrupt the industry. Similar to that discussion, Kloeckner will discuss the role that mobile, social, big data and the cloud are playing in transforming the financial services industry. We’ve also had more discussions with our clients around DevOps as an approach to application delivery for greater speed to market and quicker time to value. In an increasingly competitive landscape, the ability to deliver software faster will be a differentiator for financial services firms.
As a technology marketer myself, the topic of social media is always of interest to me. Financial marketers have the unique challenge of monitoring social conversations and overcoming compliance workflows to respond to customers on social media in a timely manner. For firms, like RBC Capital, Wells Fargo Advisors and Bank of America Merrill Lynch this is undoubtedly a complex obstacle to overcome as the need for more personal interactions with customers continues to be in demand. I look forward to the session, “Social Media – Technology, Management, and Compliance” with compliance executives, Iain Duke-Richardet, Stephen Bard and Doug Preston, as they share best practices and opportunities to explore social channels using technology platforms and monitoring tools in financial services.
Join Perficient Financial Services at SIFMA Tech 2014
SIFMA Tech brings together the best and brightest technology solution providers redefining the future of the global finance industry – and we’re one of them. Join us as we showcase our industry expertise and discover how we help today’s leading firms respond to these five critical areas now and in the years to come. Attendees have the opportunity for personal meetings with our industry experts to discuss the unique technology challenges and new business approaches you face. Be sure to stop by and meet with our team of industry experts, or request a one-on-one executive meeting by visiting us at booth #1210. Learn more about our presence at SIFMA Tech.
Today we’re featuring a guest post from Krystle Vermes, marketing manager at Seismic, discussing how financial enterprises and financial advisors must stay ahead of the game with clients. Seismic is a Perficient technology partner and will be joining us on May 20 at 1:00 ET for a webinar, “How to Improve Sales Performance with Next Gen Sales Enablement Technology in Financial Services”.
Change is coming.
A report released by global analytics company Cerulli Associates in 2013 discovered that one-third of financial advisors intend to leave the industry within the next decade. The median age of this group continues to increase, which may be partially responsible for the inevitable decrease.
However, jobs in this field also tend to be demanding. Investment News magazine specified that the demand for financial services continues to increase as Baby Boomers retire and young adults inherit more wealth.
Is it any wonder that there is a lack of experienced industry experts willing to dive into the mix? Perhaps up-and-coming technology could fulfill growing demand while making financial matters easier to handle for advisors.
The Enterprise Solution You Need
The financial services industry is full of numbers – you likely already knew that – but with numbers come a slew of data. This information is housed on laptops, desktops, tablets and smartphones where it eats up space.
Unless a financial firm is willing to put forth the time and effort to keep critical business collateral up-to-date, there’s a good chance that the stored information isn’t always fresh. It may be a financial advisor’s responsibility to spend a few hours each week updating documents with relevant content, but wouldn’t it be easier if this could be done in minutes?
This is where Seismic comes into play.
Any financial advisor will tell you that it’s a daunting task to verify that all business collateral is not only relevant but compliant. Seismic can guarantee all of this and more, which is why the financial services industry turns to it as robust enterprise solution.
Customized presentations and reviews can be generated with a single click using Seismic. The proper disclosures can be included with any file, and documents can be made using data from external sources such as Salesforce and Excel.
Collaboration is also a breeze for advisors – documents can be shared between users within Seismic and uploaded onto a mobile device in seconds. Best of all, there’s no need to scramble to compose items such as investment reviews, pitch books and performance summaries. Seismic can help users automate these processes and save an extensive amount of time.
There’s no guarantee that technology such as Seismic will dramatically increase the number of experienced advisors who migrate into the field over the next few years. However, is it too far-fetched to envision a world where these miniscule tasks are automated so we can all spend a little more time working toward our goals?