This year, financial services firms have been required to respond and adapt to rapidly changing circumstances brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has it forced a sudden shift to remote working for the majority within the industry, but it has also brought about unprecedented levels of uncertainty and market volatility. As part of our Virtual Summit 2020, I was joined by three financial services industry experts to understand exactly how major players within the world of finance have adapted to these uncertain times.
Jittu Lulla, Wealth Architect at Broadridge Financial Services, Alexandre Conceição, CIO at BBTS, and Marinela Tudoran, Managing Director at Credit Suisse, shared their perspectives on this issue and their experiences adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic and the volatility it has brought with it. Here they share their insights into the importance of resilient infrastructure and planning to handle unexpected turns of events and how they are continuing to foster innovation.
Preparation was key - Marinela Tudoran, Credit Suisse
At Credit Suisse, we were well-prepared to adapt our ways of working from a technology perspective as we had put remote access infrastructure in place in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Since then, we had been periodically testing working offsite, so when the pandemic hit, those in our tech department had full capabilities to work from home. The challenge came in rolling this out to all departments and educating our traders and clients, for example, on how things would work.
We were able to navigate this by taking a structured approach to rolling out the technology and capabilities. We divided the process up into five streams, including testing the capacity of our network for remote access and rolling out equipment and upgrades. Our traders need high-performance systems as they deal with large volumes of real-time data, so this stage was critical to avoid any downtime for them. We also needed to ensure we had scalability and resilience, which, thanks to our robust trading platform, we did. This meant we could reroute the trading floor automatically to avoid slow or weak links. Our preparation beforehand and structured approach to rolling out capabilities meant 95% of our workforce switched to remote working over the course of a single weekend.
In terms of coping with market volatility and uncertainty, data analytics and machine learning capabilities have been extremely beneficial. These technologies have enabled our sophisticated monitoring system to identify problems before they happen so that we can quickly contain them and mitigate risk.
Driving growth and economic value for clients with data fabrics – Jittu Lulla, Broadridge Financial Services
At Broadridge, we’ve adopted a data-as-a-service model, so during the pandemic we’ve been finding new ways to continue leveraging our data assets and capabilities to drive growth and economic value for our clients. As part of this, we wanted to provide an end-to-end enterprise data system to facilitate seamless access and ensure data quality, uptime, and availability.
As the data travels through the system it changes shape, so we required analytics for computation and aggregation, and a data layer to describe the data and provide access. We also needed to consider governance, which required setting policies and access controls to audit lifecycle management. To facilitate this, we built a data fabric which was a three-pronged process. We first had to normalize the data and store it in a normalized format, then second, we built APIs to access the data and intelligently ingest and extract it. Next, we moved on to the retrieval stage and providing aggregation services.
By creating this data fabric, we’ve been able to ensure our platform can integrate, transform, normalize, and harmonize data so that we can help our customers achieve growth even during such volatile times.
Continued innovation in the face of uncertainty - Alexandre Conceição, BBTS
In Brazil, 40 million people still don’t have a bank account so there has been a massive drive by the central bank to foster competition between banks and include more people in the banking system. One initiative to help achieve this is open banking. However, banks and fintechs in the country have been reluctant to open their systems up due to the high cost of integration and the need to ensure their customers’ data is fully protected. By developing a partnership with a Brazilian fintech we’ve come up with a solution – in the form of an integration hub – to solve this problem.
Instead of every player being connected to each other, we’ve created a standard which allows banks to create a single integration within the ecosystem. This approach gives them total control of APIs and enables them to act as a supplier or consumer depending on how they want to work. As it’s essentially a pay as you go service and requires a single investment, it’s not expensive and will help to expedite the process of integrating financial players in Brazil. In short, it will create more services for customers and more opportunities for banks.
To hear more from these industry experts about how their organizations have coped with this period of uncertainty and how they are increasing resilience to prepare for the next crisis, replay our discussion.