Contract staff is critical to financial services firms looking to scale operations and ensure businesscontinuity. Firms across retail banking, commercial banking, wealth management, and insuranceheavily leverage contracted workforce to:
With remote working and mobility becoming a norm for many roles, financial services firms need inplace a personalized desktop infrastructure that ensures:
Professional service agreements commonly involve firms' access to sensitive customer data. Lawyers may need to store confidential client documents, for example, while accounting firms manage sensitive financiainl formation for their customers. This data may be subject to government or industry compliance regulations. Even if it is not, securing customer data is critical because a breach could severely harm a professional services business's reputation or violate confidentiality agreements made with clients.
Contact centers often need to add or move employees quickly in response to customer requests for new services or fluctuations in service demand. Contact centers that rely on traditional IT infrastructure struggle to scale quickly due to the constraints of that infrastructure. Not only do they need to acquire new physical machines for new employees – a process that can take a number of weeks but they must also provide each new computer with the software that the employee needs to complete his or her job.
In the face disruption from new age FinTechs, financial services firms need to accelerate customer acquisition, increase customer loyalty, and reduce cycle time by delivering services at customers' doorsteps. By providing their mobile field staff with secure access to customer information and business applications, firms can create customized and more engaging offerings for customers in a location-agnostic model.
Given the small size of most professional services firms, many lack in-house IT departments. What's more, time spent on IT management reduces employees' billable hours, which in turn undercuts profitability. In a world where the typical accounting firm (to take one professional services niche as an example) invoices only two to three billable hours per employee for each workday, any task that keeps employees from focusing on the main business is a risk. Businesses want to focus on selling their services, not acquiring, configuring, and managing their IT assets.
In order to reduce management complexity and costs, contact center companies want to consolidate their IT infrastructure into as few systems as possible. This is especially important for contact centers that operate on a large geographic scale and maintain multiple locations.
In this regard, having to maintain some on-premises IT resources and some cloud-based services poses a challenge for contact center businesses. It bloats their IT footprint and reduces their agility while adding to the costs of IT resources and management services.
Traders work in a volatile environment, where any lag or interruption in accessing the remote desktop during trading hours can have a significant financial impact. Moreover, trading involves multiple resource-intensive and time-sensitive tasks, such as pre-trade processing (risk modeling and analytics), trade confirmation, trade execution management (real-time trade optimization), trade clearance, reporting and settlement, trade fraud detection and monitoring, and post-trade management (matching affirmation and comparison)
Additionally, traders need to operate with continuous streams of real-time market data from network-heavy applications, such as Bloomberg, Reuters, and Eikon. Due to these requirements, traders need a desktop infrastructure that has:
Cash flow management is a frequent challenge for professional services firms due especially to the fluctuating nature of their income and the potential for delays in payment by their clients. More than half of attorneys report that delayed payments are a regular problem, for example. When customers pay late or payments to take a long time to process, businesses risk critical disruptions to their operations.
Contact centers face strict security and compliance requirements, especially given the fact that many collect, process or store consumer data that is subject to special regulatory protections. Gartner includes standards and compliance on its list of critical capabilities for contact centers.
To minimize the risk of security threats, businesses must ensure that their desktop infrastructure passes security audits and is regularly patched when security updates are released.
Financial institutions receive a continuous stream of data from multiple sources, and it is important to identify meaningful patterns within this data to make faster and smarter decisions. Digitally savvy firms are harnessing the power of data analytics across connected insurance (loT-based insurance), claims fraud prevention/detection, cyber risk insurance analysis (data collection, risk scoring, and benchmarking), market data management, fraud management (prevent, detect, avoid, and respond), actuarial analysis, and credit record management for personalized marketing, business decision-making, and identification of potential opportunities and threats.
In the past, professional services firms tended to rely on personal relationships and networks for connecting consultants with clients. Today, however, the Internet has greatly increased the market reach of professional services firms, allowing them to reach customers far beyond their local networks. By extension, firms located in regions with lower labor and living costs are in a stronger position to compete with those in developed countries. This means that competition between firms is greater than ever.
In response, professional services companies must be able to adapt quickly to changing market conditions by offering new services or connecting with new target audiences. Law firms that once operated locally now need to connect with clients around the world, for example, while accountants need to be prepared to meet customers wherever they are located.
In order to respond quickly to changes in client needs, as well as to adapt to challenges that may prevent workers from traveling to a physical contact center, businesses need solutions that allow their employees to work effectively from any location, and at any time of day.
The push for platform-first operating models and omnichannel customer acquisition strategies has resulted in an uptick in new digital products and platform development across the financial services value chain. The IT team that builds, develops, and maintains these systems of engagement works round the clock from across the globe. Diverse contributors, including in-house teams, independent contractors, software vendors, and service providers, work in a complex application landscape, which also houses core banking systems and customer and financial data.
A robust, uniform, and repeatable development environment with role-based controls is needed to ensure safe, secure, and audit-trail-logged access to production data and codebases belonging to these platforms.
Natural disasters that destroy data centers can significantly disrupt business operations. So can security incidents such as ransomware attacks, which make crucial business data inaccessible.
To defend against these risks, businesses need proactive data backup and recovery services, as well as desktop infrastructure that is resistant to disruptions.
Financial services today are embracing borderless operations, which have been strengthened by the setting up of global offices in search of growth markets and the leverage of Business Process-as-a-Service (BPaaS). To achieve cost optimization, organizations are increasingly offshoring transactional activities such as account management, payment processing, and reconciliation, in addition to F&A and HR.
This also implies an increasing legislation and regulatory compliance burden, to address which data sovereignty is a key consideration. After the EU enacted GDPR in 2016, many other countries globally enforced privacy and data protection regulations. Accompanying restrictions around where certain data categories can reside can hinder firms looking to leverage the benefits of a global workforce.
To better respond to the evolving business climate, financial services firms are accelerating growth through consolidations, divestitures, mergers, strategic partnerships, offshoring, and acquisitions. In doing so, they need to ensure business continuity amid sudden variations in the workforce. Transitioning employees across functions such as cards, retail banking, commercial banking, wealth management, lending, and investment banking also need quick omni-channel access to the
acquiring bank's platforms and applications to function productively.
In such situations, pressure mounts on the IT organization to quickly provide workspaces, computin end points, and platform access to the newly onboarded employees. Long device procurement times and delays in access approvals could result in productivity loss, employee angst, and overall service disruption.
Personally Identifiable Information (Pll), credit card details, investment details, account attrition data, trade intelligence, claims disbursal ratios, and encryption keys are just some of the diverse data types used by different functions daily. Financial services firms must continuously regulate access to large volumes of critical, confidential, and sensitive information to establish data boundaries and ensure that data is accessible only to relevant users.
Indiscriminate and unintended data access increases the chances of misuse, fraud, and misappropriation. Given the relatively larger attack surface for cyber security threat actors, unsecured data access may cause breaches that accrue huge financial and legal obligations. Wrongly accessed investment data has, in the past, been the trigger of insider trading at some large brokerages and trading houses.
While customers may be transitioning away from traditional touchpoints such as retail branches
and ATMs and shifting to born-digital channels, the contact center is still a critical component of the customer experience. By handling calls related to customer service, collections, payments, and inquiries, the contact center is not only an important concierge for service redressal, but also a great avenue for new business generation.
Traditional contact centers have had trouble responding to seasonal peaks, as well as disasters. This has been evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, with longer lead times for service delivery and decreasing customer satisfaction scores. Scaling operations to meet sudden volume spikes in service requests is a tedious task, as firms need to onboard new employees, enable federated access, and provision physical workspaces and hardware. The lack of flexibility and resilience of insourced contact center operations is a major cause of concern during such black swan events.
Financial services firms are critical to an economy's well-being. In the face of adversity, it is vital for these firms to showcase resilience underpinned by planned, mandated, and regulated operational continuity measures.
In particular, organizations need to plan better for circumstances in which employee access to the workplace might be severely limited or even restricted. While employee safety is paramount, an alternative is required to ensure secure access to financial data, Pll, and critical platforms.
Born-digital financial services enterprises' adoption of newer business models has put immense pressure on traditional financial services businesses. While legacy firms have responded in part by pivoting to an omnichannel strategy and investing in digital platforms, physical touchpoints remain a key service delivery mode. Establishing full-fledged physical touchpoints are, however, a capital and time intensive endeavor, especially in distant locations. Lower density of physical touch points is a detriment to the penetration of banking services in these areas.
Claims disbursal in the automotive insurance sector depends on insurance inspectors, who investigate and assess liabilities. To ensure accurate and timely claims disbursal, insurance inspectors travel extensively; record witness statements, imagery, and police reports; and conduct damage assessments. They use various workflow applications, risk assessment tools, payment platforms, and fraud modeling platforms. Given the highly mobile nature of their work, these users need reliable and secure access to tools and platforms to work with confidential PH, payment records, and provider IP.
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