There’s no question that the Covid-19 pandemic has permanently altered the way we do business. Regardless of what tomorrow holds, the financial asset management industry has had to implement new policies and procedures that will continue into the future.
Obviously, an unprecedented event, the pandemic, has forced firms to activate their business continuity plans. Some have made a smooth transition. Others are discovering that their plans need serious re-evaluation and improvements.
As we moved deeper into the new market environment and explore how we must change the way we do business, several key considerations have risen to the top of the priority list.
Data Security in an Online World
Firms have been doing business using internet technology for some time, but the current environment has served as a real-time stress test for its capabilities. Companies are looking at higher data security measures up and down their business chains. This includes how clients interact with them, how staff members interact with each other, and how the firm interacts with its third-party vendors.
Out of necessity, most clients have moved to online portal and dashboard options in order to access their accounts. Here they can review their account performance and business decision-making, initiate new requests—like opening and closing accounts–or move assets from one place to another.
With the lack of personal interaction, the threat of identity theft has risen dramatically. Firms are reviewing their permissions and password controls to ensure the highest standard of security.
Things like two-factor password access are now the base-line. However, organizations are exploring issues around blockchain technology—familiar from its use with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin—that offer a higher confidence in protecting data and private information.
Controlling Access to Critical Information
Likewise, as work and staff move online, firms are strengthening their inhouse policies and procedures to control access via regimented permissions controls. Staff responsibilities are reviewed for “need to know” protocols that help them perform while protecting data confidentiality.
Even hardware issues are being re-evaluated. Positions that previously had no alternatives for remote work environments must now catch up to the rest of the firm. By ensuring that the organization’s data, information, and procedures are limited to company-specific devices and software, firms are able to maintain control of the flow of data with no loss to personal staff devices in the home.
Finally, how firms interact with their third-party partners and vendors has also come under scrutiny. Whenever a company needs to go outside their internal systems, a potential security risk arises. Businesses are examining the security of these channels for weaknesses that may affect their operations and clients.
The Priority of Workflow Management has Moved Front-and-Center
Practically overnight, the pandemic changed daily routines for everyone. With the abrupt shift to remote work environments, firms have had to scramble to implement access for their staff members to get their work done with as little business disruption as possible.
In the case of fast-moving environments like the stock market, down-time was never an option. As a result, new issues have risen that must be addressed before they cause major issues.
Naturally, different areas of a firm rely on different software and technology for their work. Maintaining oversight of all these processes and workflow status has become a challenge for C-level executives, managers, and supervisors. They have had to find new ways to monitor projects, performance, and results to keep current with the value, quality, and success of their businesses.
The answer has been to invest in new workflow management platforms that can aggregate all the various aspects of the firm into one place with easy access and analysis of workflow. These workflow systems must be clear, scalable, and easy-to-use.
Businesses like asset management, accounting, or banking, must all abide by strict government statutes and laws and other regulatory agencies world-wide. In these cases, workflow management systems are becoming a mandatory asset in order to create auditable work trails and a fail-safe for risk control and compliance issues.
Collaboration is Now a Key Person
Remote work has put new demands on staff interactions. Without the ability to interact in an office, staff members need to figure out how to work together when they don’t have face-to-face access with each other. Firms are exploring collaboration technology tools to facilitate work and, perhaps, even improve it.
While utilities like online video conferencing and instant communication software have obvious benefits, companies find that with so much of their data and information moving online, they can streamline how their staff interacts.
Cloud-based solutions have been the go-to pathway to success in this area. Once the ability to access data anytime, anywhere, is put into place, new ways to use that data have grown. Previously staff members had to spend time seeking out the work product of others. Now they can now access it directly, in real-time, enabling new-found efficiencies in the online workplace.
By opening the ability to see how their work interrelates with others’ work—and the overall needs of the firm—staff become more invested in their jobs by seeing their value more clearly. They also are finding that the pool of creative problem-solving has expanded. With more people using the same information, ideas are exchanged on how to use systems better, improve them, and execute higher performance.
Online Efficiency and Security Are the Future of Asset Management
The recent health crisis has forced everyone to re-evaluate their routines and processes. As the financial industry moves forward, they are meeting the new challenges by responding to market, client, and government demands with advanced technology solutions.
The goal has been to incorporate greater efficiencies through access and collaboration while maintaining and reinforcing security measures that will keep client assets safe and businesses thriving.