Sarasin & Partners is a privately owned firm of asset managers, headquartered in the heart of London’s financial district. A specialist in sustainable investing, the firm provides services to charities, private clients, pension funds, independent financial advisors, families and institutions.
Sarasin & Partners is responsible for investing £13.9 billion on behalf of its clients. It is, therefore, absolutely critical for the firm to have robust and auditable internal processes that comply with stringent legislation enforced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK and other regulators. With a focus on sustainability, the firm continually seeks ways in which to reduce paper consumption.
While the firm’s processes already complied with relevant regulations and were followed diligently, they often relied on the use of paper forms and were therefore not as efficient as they might have been. Documents requiring approval signatures could be generated by 220 members of staff and passed across up to eight different desks, over three floors in the building. Approval processes took many days to complete, and it was often necessary for employees to phone or email their colleagues to ascertain the status of an approval. Furthermore, when audits occurred, employees faced the time-consuming task of collating all of the necessary hard-copy documents to provide evidence of the firm’s regulatory compliance.
Sarasin & Partners’ initial goal was to improve the efficiency of one single process: its procedure for logging incidents relating to operational risks. The firm, therefore, started evaluating specialist risk management and incident reporting solutions, commonly used in the financial sector. Soon, however, the IT team realized that the firm’s requirements could be met more advantageously using K2 Five.
“The risk management packages offered a lot of functionality that we weren’t going to use and were similar in price to K2,” explains Stuart Bonnell, Head of IT at Sarasin & Partners. “By opting for K2 instead, we gained a business workflow platform that we could use to not only improve our incident reporting but also streamline many other processes throughout our business, as part of our ongoing program of continuous business improvements.”
Now, Sarasin & Partners has six K2-based processes in production and many more in development, so the decision to purchase K2 in place of a point solution is delivering long term value for the firm. “We achieved a return on our investment in K2 with the creation of our first K2 solution,” Bonnell says.
Following the adoption of the K2 platform, Sarasin & Partners has significantly improved its business efficiency. In particular, the firm has reduced the time required to record operational risk incidents, share information about the incidents internally, identify suitable mitigations and take appropriate action. “The end-to-end time required for our incident reporting process has reduced by 75%,” Bonnell says. “In the risk management team, this has resulted in the equivalent saving of one day per week for a full-time member of staff.”
Another K2-based process helps Sarasin & Partners comply with General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in a more efficient way. The automated workflow sends notifications to members of staff advising them about which data sets will be deleted and what action they need to take if they want to retain certain data, within the GDPR legislation. This K2 process completely removes tasks that were previously very time-consuming, while maintaining the vigor of the firm’s GDPR compliance.
The use of K2-driven processes also improves the firm’s readiness for audits, because the records needed to evidence compliance with regulations are all online, all in the same place and all in a consistent format. One K2-based process for reviewing and approving literature about financial products and promotions is estimated to save a week of time in the lead-up to each audit – and audits can occur up to three times a year.
An additional benefit from the use of K2 is improved transparency in business processes. Managers can use the K2 platform to monitor the progress of tasks and generate reports. For example, managers can gain clearer oversight of the number of declarations made by members of staff about personal financial trading and act quickly if any potential concerns are identified.
The IT team at Sarasin & Partners found it very easy to get up and running with K2 Five. It received some help from K2 to create a proof-of-concept during the pre-sales stage and two days of on-site support. After that, the team was able to refer to K2’s online resources and quickly build bespoke business processes. “It was very easy to integrate K2 Five with our in-house investment management system using the SQL broker,” Bonnell says. “It really did take just a few clicks.”
Looking ahead, the company has plans to develop many more K2 processes, further increasing the return on its investment from K2. One new process planned will streamline the client-onboarding process and help the firm to deliver a high quality, efficient service for its new customers. “Users have provided positive feedback that our processes are quicker and more straightforward than they were before,” Bonnell says. “Users have also seen that the IT team can adapt K2 processes quickly to take on board their suggestions. Now we are moving ahead with new processes to aid the continuous development of our business.”