Gartner estimates that financial-services firms spend between six and seven percent of revenue on IT.1 Yet on average, they only realize 43 percent of their technology’s potential.2 This lag in technology is often due to size, complexity and legacy systems that limit agility.
Greater regulatory changes, as well as mergers and acquisitions have resulted in a more complex IT infrastructure for many organizations. In addition, the need for leaner, meaner processes has increased since the recession. Applications that span an organization’s IT infrastructure to automate day-to-day processes, like loan origination and inter-bank transactions, can help financial service firms become more agile and increase visibility into the business. However, financial services firms must find a way to span users, systems and departments without spending millions of dollars on redesigining systems and get the most out of the IT systems they already have in place. If that’s not reason enough, here are five more compelling reasons to consider using business apps to modernize:
1. Improve efficiency and agility
The pressure to be leaner is strong across the financial services industry. New, non-financial players, like Walmart, Marks & Spencer, and Tesco, are entering the market with their own banks and credit-card services, increasing competition. And while profitability is high, with return on equity currently down for almost all banks, firms might find themselves under pressure from shareholders to increase efficiency.
To compete in this new environment, financial firms can’t afford to lag behind in technology: they need to quickly react to changes and opportunities – and the technology to make that agility possible. Low-code business apps can help financial firms obtain this agility due to the speed at which apps can be built and deployed. This also makes them easy to update as the needs of the business change. Business apps also help with efficiency by automating user-system interactions to speed up approval cycles and route information to the right users or systems, at the right time.
2. Increase customer and employee satisfaction
A manager who can’t access critical decision-making information from a mobile device, or a customer unable to access mobile banking from his phone, will feel stymied. Likewise, data entry tasks can be frustrating for employees who have to jump back and forth between monitors to manually update information that may be stored in multiple systems.
Tedious, error-prone processes and a lack of mobility can be a deal breaker for both employees and customers in an ever-increasing mobile world. Customers demand simplified, automated processes that only need them to provide information once from any device. They expect that systems will integrate at the back-end to consistently, accurately and securely update information, so they don’t have to. The right tool — one that offers mobile access and integration across systems — can be a huge boost to employee and customer satisfaction and loyalty.
3. Increase security
Security will always be a top concern for financial firms. Some business applications actually adopt the security of the underlying system of record to ensure that customer data remains secure. Instead of storing data in the application itself, they provide a conduit to where the data is stored. In this way, the security parameters that are already in place are upheld, such as who can access the data, how the data can be used, and what kinds of permission levels users have, such as read or editing rights, etc. This gives financial firms a way to improve efficiency without compromising security. Business applications can also reduce the human factor in data security because when processes are automated, employees no longer have to copy personal customer data into spreadsheets or email the data to each other, further reducing the risk of data being inadvertently compromised.
4. Improve risk management
One of the main ingredients for successful risk management is real-time visibility into the health of the business. Real-time reports and management dashboards that allow you to view all the processes you are responsible for, as well as the status of each process, can help managers ensure that processes don’t stall or become bottlenecked. Some applications will also allow you to drill down to view individual process level details that make it easier to manage risk and ensure that employees are complying with regulatory rules and guidelines.
The other ingredient for successful risk management is automated checks and balances, alerts, and triggers that are built into financial processes, such as onboarding a new customer, loan origination, trade financing, inter-bank transactions, etc. This makes it easier for managers to manage the credit risk inherent in the entire portfolio, as well as the risk in individual credits or transactions. A tool that helps integrate applications and data, and provides insights into the business, helps reduce this overall risk.
5. Future-proof your business
Updating and modernizing financial operations is about more than just making life easier in the short term. It’s also about preparing for change and future growth. Across-the-enterprise, data integration, easy-to-build business apps for all platforms, and reusable forms can all help provide a leaner, more-agile back office that gives you the information you need to make better forecasting decisions, along with the time you need to focus on the future of the business, so you are prepared to face industry challenges. Advanced form capabilities, such as the ability to input information into forms even while offline, with the ability to sync up with backend systems later, can help you go even further in future-proofing your business, especially when combined with mobile capabilities that customers and employees are coming to expect.
To learn more about how your financial services firm can improve customer and employee satisfaction by modernizing your business processes and applications, visit K2.com.
 Gartner. “IT Key Metrics Data 2013: Key Industry Measures: Banking and Financial Services Analysis: Multi-year.” December 2012. https://www.gartner.com/doc/2274915/it-key-metrics-data.
2 Gartner. “The 2013 Financial Services CIO Agenda: Realize Technology's Potential in a Digital Age.” May 2013. https://www.gartner.com/doc/2481215/financial-services-cio-agenda-realize.