Everyone in the world of asset management understands the necessity of business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Authorizing regulatory bodies under the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) require such plans. To date, the SEC has strongly encouraged the establishment of business continuity plans for registered investment advisers (RIAs) and has proposed rules to demand them.
Why Should Business Continuity Plans Include Remote Working Alternatives?
Asset management firms have long planned off-site business continuity with a focus on operations. Of course, the access to data, financial accounts, and technology are critical to the smooth transition of workflow off-site. The emphasis has typically been supportive of the investment and technology groups and assumed that, while disruptive, the response will be a short-term need.
As we have seen in the first quarter of 2020, an unexpected event can demand a significant reduction—or even elimination—of on-site staff. Naturally, the first step would be to determine where your staff is located during a disruption for business to proceed as normally as possible.
While many firms, especially large ones, have the means to rent space elsewhere, an event that includes the current demand for social isolation means that staff will, more often than not, be located in their own homes.
Certainly, mission critical aspects of a business have always been addressed, but what happens to everything else? Can all staff access their work, files, systems, and colleagues with the same ease? Those responsibilities do not disappear when a disaster strikes.
A firm must be able to function at all levels, and the best way to achieve that is to examine every position for its off-site remote worker needs. A comprehensive data management and workflow platform can achieve these goals.
How Can a Data Management Platform Help a Financial Management Firm?
Knowledge management is key to the success of all businesses. Financial companies have legal and regulatory requirements that necessitate addressing issues of access, archiving, info-sharing, and transparency. Effective communication is paramount.
Remote workers need access to as many aspects of their work as possible in order to be an effective team player. Every step of the investment process precipitates a series of notifications that propagate across the firm. When an investment decision is made, orders need to be sent to the trading desk. Risk control measures need to be examined, and compliance rules can come into play.
Executed orders need confirmations, account reconciliations performed, and client accounts require record-keeping. Marketing materials may need to be updated, clients informed of their account status, and sales and client service staff apprised of changes.
A single transaction involves a surprising number of people, all of whom need to access the data, interact with databases, and update systems to keep co-workers informed—and working. By pooling this information and workflow into a single, robust data management platform, firms can ensure their daily business will continue uninterrupted during an event that demands secure remote work performance.
Why is One Data Management Platform Better Than Others?
The complexity of information management for asset management firms has increased exponentially. For many organizations, separate systems have been built over time on an ad-hoc basis, often with little thought to integration with each other.
From third-party services like Bloomberg or internal spreadsheets to trade order tracking systems and compliance checks, these siloed data sources can drag efficiency and productivity when the only way to access them is through more restrictive systems like email or texting. Even worse, through face-to-face interaction only.
Even in the best of circumstances—on-site with all staff on deck—poor documentation management can reduce productivity. Every minute staff spend searching for a document, trying to schedule a face-to-face meeting, or waiting for someone else to provide data is productivity lost. Remote workers face even greater challenges if they do not have access to data, other staff, or need individual approval every time they must utilize a different system.
A single, unified system can alleviate this drag significantly—both in-house and at remote sites. With one system platform, permissions and restrictions for use of various components that feed into the system can be handled easily in one location for any member of staff . Legacy systems, third-party services, and internal workflows will still exist. However, instead of working only in regimented silos, their data can flow into an umbrella platform that captures the data and workflow in one place for anyone who needs it.
Remote Work is The Future of Asset Management
The current crisis will inevitably change how all businesses operate. With the disruption of supply chains, reduced manufacturing in far-flung places, and the absence of staff in a centralized location, financial management firms of all sizes must plan for business disruption beyond short-term pressure events.
Companies must position themselves to assure their clients that they can provide the highest quality service no matter the circumstances. Since the financial world in particular can be volatile on a day-to-day basis, the concept of “short-term disruption” is even narrower.
The technology exists today. Confidence in the ability of a business to perform has always been vital in attracting new clients and maintaining existing ones. Now, as we enter an extended period of uncertainty, there is one critical business decision to make.
How can your company demonstrate that it is flexible and nimble in addressing a crisis when clients need that assurance most. Operations and data management software platforms that integrate and unify investment teams, sales and marketing, compliance, risk control, and general administration must be the goal for every firm.