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Financial cloud Industry Digitizing with the Cloud

Financial Cloud for the Financial Services Industry

Cloud for Financial Services Industry

Financial cloud services is an evermore popular topic these days, especially with the rising necessity of remote work options. Financial services organizations are moving to the cloud for a competitive advantage, advanced security and the potential for innovation. The global finance cloud market was valued at more than $15 billion in 2018 and is expected to reach about $55 billion by 2024, according to report by Mordor Intelligence.

One of the driving factors in cloud finance is operational efficiency. Moreover, by using the cloud, companies are able to offer end-to-end loan processing in record time, surpassing finance industry benchmarks.

Finance and asset management is undergoing a radical transformation. Four out of five organizations that participated in a Bizagi report say that providing a better customer experience that can respond to customer needs enables competitive advantage.

Digital Transformation

Companies continue to explore the cloud for financial services and its benefits. Additionally, cloud software provides companies the ability to focus on revenue and wealth management, while maintaining customer relations.

CSPs arose as a leaders in the digital transformation of various industries. These industries like retail and distribution represent sectors with medium to low regulatory oversight. This reduces some of the complexities associated with implementation.

However, adopting the cloud for highly regulated industries like banks, insurance and healthcare companies did not follow this trend. CSPs lacked the maturity to meet financial organizations’ regulatory and compliance requirements. But this has changed in recent years, with cloud adoption increasing within the industry according to a Gartner study.

Both the banking and insurance industries are adopting cloud services. The study also states that by 2020, 36 percent of institutions will use the cloud to support more than half of their transactional systems of record.

Regulations and Standards

The entry way to the cloud does have its challenges and it’s important to understand the full picture. Those who work in an industry as heavily regulated as that of financial services don’t need  reminders of their importance. There’s an expectation that Financial services organizations protect sensitive data and are subject to strict data security requirements. Data protection, business continuity, data privacy are considered when outsourcing their infrastructure over to a cloud service provider.

Financial services are among the most regulated industries with regards to data privacy and security. There’s a long list of regulations that include: PCI, DSS, GLBA, GDPR, Dodd-Frank, FFIEC, SOX and the USA Patriot Act.

Reluctance to Adopt the Cloud

With 71 percent of financial service businesses agreeing that digital transformation needs to happen fast in order to prevent commercial failure, what problems stop these companies from committing to the cloud?

In a survey released in March 2015, the majority of participants cited data security as their primary concern, with application development and testing being their primary desire of utilizing the cloud.Financial Industry Respondents Statistics on Digitizing with the Cloud

Reasons to Adopt the Financial Cloud

Despite those concerns, the reality is financial cloud security is actually an upgrade, and actually deter or remove any potential risks to data. A cloud provider uses top grade security features and a team of highly skilled systems engineers that monitor suspicious activity around-the-clock. Cloud service providers (CSP) , like our IT Support for Financial firms also implement automated backups every day to reduce risk of data loss in case of a breach. The cloud is better than traditional systems with security. Using pattern matching technology to recognize anomalies when they appear, cloud providers prevent risks rather than create it.

CSPs are extremely secure and have redundancies in place. Regardless, it’s up to each financial institution to understand what they are buying from a CSP, the type of risks associated with the service provided, and the regulatory requirements. For example, depending on the importance of a FI’s service and the sensitivity of their data, the FI can choose the level of encryption. Passwords and encryption keys can be managed in various ways; some CSPs, like Nerds Support, offer additional services like “security as a service.”

Some CSP’s, like Nerds Support, take the added step of achieving compliance with HIPAA and PCI DSS regulations. In doing so they show the capacity to meet stringent security requirements, enabling customers to leverage security capabilities to meet these compliance requirements.

A Customized Cloud

Financial institution need to assess all the risks involved in their processes. Some of those tasks cannot be outsourced. That’s why the financial organization goes through a strict evaluation and assessment of the provider to ensure the quality of service is guaranteed as promised when choosing a provider.

The greatest risk for any organization, however, is not being ready to implement a digital transformation. Larger organizations face internal resistance. There is a resistance to change that plagues both large and small companies.

As more and more companies adopt cloud solutions, however, those in the financial services industry are looking to implement the cloud themselves to keep up. The need to incorporate on demand, easy-to-use services to meet ever changing customer expectation.

The skepticism by financial institutions is understandable. However, they were using Amazon Web Services which is a public cloud provider. There are CSP’s that cater to mid-market businesses and offer personalized services to their partners in the financial services industry. These types of services are more characteristic of private or hybrid clouds.

For example, CSP systems engineers at Nerds Support take the time to evaluate their partners’ current IT infrastructure through an extensive consultation process, rather than pushing a one-size-fits-all cloud service.

Things to Consider

The point here is that CSP’s are not all the same. They vary in the services they provide and how the go about implementing the cloud itself.
When adopting a cloud strategy, financial services decision makers should watch out for:

• Cloud providers that are unwilling to use compliance and up-to-date security to improve and personalize their service.
• Cloud providers that lack the financial services expertise necessary to maintain compliance and regulation standards.
• Make sure that your cloud contract states you keep ownership over all your data.

Customer Support is Important

In the early years of cloud computing, customer support was a huge issue for users. Users plagued by poor response times, inexperienced technicians and overall poor customer experience. Since then, CSP’s have taken great strides in improving support. Cloud technology has been around long enough to better implement through industries that benefit.

If you need a rapid response to client issues, make sure that your cloud services provider has options available for technical support. These options should include phone consultations, email and user training.

The reason to emphasize this point is because a CSP partnership is one that works best when it’s long term. Choosing a cloud provider that dissatisfies means going through the grueling process of migrating from one account partner to another. The problem is, many of these applications don’t easily transfer to other systems.

What are you waiting for?

It’s time for the financial services industry to leverage financial cloud to improve productivity, security and service. The opportunities and capabilities are there. For more information on  financial cloud services, call us at (305) 551-2009 or contact us with the button below.

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Financial advisor working remotely from home on his computer.

4 Things Financial Firms can do to Succeed Remotely

Financial firms are in the best position to succeed in a remote environment. Engaging with clients is easier than meeting in person and much of the work can be done regardless of location.

Americans are slowly adjusting to working from home. As states begin to ease the quarantine restrictions some companies are declaring permanent remote work environments. Companies like Facebook and Twitter are offering their employees the opportunity to work from home indefinitely.

Many firms have already moved to a fully remote operation and many more will do so in the future. However, moving to remote work can be difficult if handled incorrectly. Creating a successful remote operation is a new challenge CPA’s and financial firms will have to overcome.

When the lock-down started business owners looked to getting operations up as quickly as possible. Those who hadn’t migrated to a cloud based system did so. Others only migrated partly. While others still, struggled to adapt to a fully remote workplace. Video conferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft teams grew in use and popularity.

Daily downloads of the videoconferencing app Zoom increased by 300 million participants since March. Businesses and employees spent time researching the different videoconferencing application and IT services companies that best fit their standards. But that’s only the beginning.

If you as a financial firm want to succeed in a remote environment you have to navigate cooperation, time management, data security and keeping your business functioning even while everyone may be so distant.

Here are a few ways to achieve success for your firm while working apart.

1) Take Advantage of Your Remote Environment

Maybe you’ve already noticed, but it’s difficult to distract each other with office gossip when there isn’t an office to gossip about. 85 percent of employees are either not engaged or disengaged at work. As a result, there is a 7 trillion dollar loss in productivity. Many offices have an open office layout which create a 32 percent drop in productivity.

However, this is harder to replicate when you’re forced to work remotely. Instead, the productive thing to do is to set virtual office hours or schedule meetings for a specific hour the day. Employees and staff can reserve a meeting however you choose. This might appear obvious to some but even in a remote environment it’s easy to get side tracked. You get one call from one colleague and then anther call 20 minutes later from an employee.  By the time you finish, you might not remember what you were doing in the first place.

Designate a period of time in your weekly and daily schedule for all meetings. The routine will also keep you focused and organized. Keeping a routine can lead to positive mental health. A routine can help manage stress levels and less overall anxiety, according to one study by Northwestern Medicine. College professors and councilors are very familiar with this system. It would be like having virtual office hours where team members can choose a slot and book a meeting.

2) Adapt to Technology

If you stop and think, if something like the Lockdown of 2020 had happened ten years earlier, remote work would not be possible. The emergence of cloud technology and communication apps like Microsoft Teams, Skype, Facetime, and Zoom together is what allows for a successful remote work environment.

Moving forward, many experts expect these changes to persist, bringing in a new era of remote activity. For financial firms, advising, asset valuation, and consulting will be done remotely. Firms should be looking to build on this change and integrate a remote reality to their existing operation.

What can your firm do to remain competitive, updated, and secure. Invest in a cloud service provider. IT services are going to be pivotal in the coming decades. Managed service providers will be in a position to make or break your firm. Look up the different cloud models and their features. Are they FINRA or SOX compliant? Where are their servers located? Are they stored somewhere outside the U.S.?

Nerds Support specializes in working with financial firms. However, there are many options available when hiring a managed IT service provider. Some are better than others, depending on the industry. You have to factor in security, location, knowledge of your industry, and even availability.

The Workplace platform provides a comprehensive solution that combines cyber security, compliance, & remote work needs.

The Workplace platform provides a comprehensive solution that combines cyber security, compliance, & remote work needs.

Is there someone you can talk to when something goes wrong? Do you have a point of contact? Sometimes a support team consists of strangers and other times it’s the CEO.

4) Build a Better Team Remotely

Human beings are social animals.  Although remote work is beneficial to productivity, it might be harmful to be socially isolated from your team. But there is a solution.

Team building is an important tool for social bonding and improving motivation. Setting aside an hour at the end of the week to celebrate that week’s accomplishments is a good example of team-building. There are a ton of other games and exercises you can try over video chat. Many have done virtual hangouts. Virtual happy hours are also popular. Even virtual competitions with certain free online games have brought offices together.   

5) Make Sure to Reconnect with Reality

The biggest issue in a remote work environment is that everything does seem to blend together. When you can’t distinguish your bedroom from your workplace it’s easy to get lost in a work-all-the-time mentality. Having an office has the psychological benefit of creating a barrier between your personal and work life.

A Stanford study showed that after 50 hours a week productivity sharply drops. Even worse, after 55 hours productivity gets so low that working becomes counterproductive.

I bring up the Stanford study because the comforts of working from home can often trick you into working more. Working an extra hour won’t kill you but the added stress of feeling like you’re at work at all hours is a serious problem. Establish clear boundaries for yourself and your team. When it’s time to log off, you log off. Communicate with your team your unavailability after a set time. Go for a walk, listen to music, but most importantly stay away from your computer.

 

Financial firms use finacial cloud computing to remain competitive

How Financial Firms Can Digitize & Stay Competitive

Financial organizations are using financial cloud computing technologies to remain competitive as new research reveals banking and finance are becoming more dependent on emerging technology.  

In the old days, the cloud technology was adopted by small start-ups who didn’t have legacy architecture in place or the resources necessary to develop their own onsite IT. Now, larger institutions are moving to the cloud as well. Financial cloud computing stems from the growth of modern cloud providers. They have better security, compliance controls and privacy features. Furthermore, a modern cloud provider can automate many of the manual tasks that could put companies at risk if done improperly. Companies use the cloud to meet compliance and cybersecurity standards.
Although transition to the cloud requires upfront investment, for many financial firms the change means more than cutting costs.

Changing Demographic & Tech

56 million Millennials (ages 23-37) were working or looking for work in 2017, according to the PEW research center, making them the largest portion of the U.S. labor force. This means millennials are becoming the largest drivers of the economy. Millennials are on average more technologically savvy than the previous generations and have driven growth towards a more digital economy.

Banks and other financial institutions must adapt to account for this new trend. Digital banking users have increased from 26% to 51% between the years 2012 and 2017, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. Consumers are banking digitally, meaning through desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones.

82% of consumers ages 18-24 were using mobile banking platforms in 2017, indicating a shift towards a more personalized banking experience. They also want to sign up for banking services without needing to visit a physical branch.  

Valued Digital Financial Banking Features Statistics

The Rise of Mobile Banking

Based on a 2018 survey, PwC, a professional services firm, found that mobile users grew from 10% in 2017 to 15% in 2018. This means mobile banking is becoming more popular as time passes. Taking all of these statistics into account, banks should adjust their priorities towards increasing and personalizing digital banking services. There is growing competitive pressure coming from companies like Alibaba and financial startups to go digital in terms of how companies should function and engage with customers.The goal is to make banking services available to people in remote locations where they may others be unable to access local branches.

Digitalization 

Digitalization is also far less expensive than banking in a traditional brick-and-mortar branch. PwC ‘s report titled  Bank of the future: Finding the right path to digital transformation, mentions how some banks create full on digital native banks that use completely digital customer interface and back end.

The report also says, that branch transactions cost about $4 each, while online and mobile transactions cost $0.09 and mobile transactions cost $0.19. Automation is the biggest channel in terms of growth for many businesses across the board.

Going digital makes banks more agile as well. It allows them to quickly adapt to changing customer trends and tastes. Going digital will provide for a testing ground for new services and products where a bank would otherwise have to commit to a strategy and hope it’s successful.

Financial Cloud Computing 

It’s possible to use modern IT infrastructure to set up a digital bank using third party architecture, also known as cloud services or cloud computing. In other words, one can set up an entirely digital bank without the need for internal IT, which would be a huge financial barrier. Instead, one may outsource hardware, software and maintenance to a cloud provider, further decreasing costs and risks.

The true benefits of the cloud appear as teams use these features to operate in more dynamic, agile and efficient ways. The cloud uses virtual machines, digital computers to share and distribute new projects across platforms and devices.

The main reasons companies are adopting the cloud are to improve mobile access and collaboration. Collaboration services improve workplace efficiency, communication and overall improves their bottom line. Companies that migrated to the cloud experienced a 19.3 percent faster growth than those who hadn’t.

Furthermore, the average financial services firm uses 1,004 different cloud services, according to a study by Skyhigh. The survey was performed for 3.7 million finance employees across more than 14,000 cloud services. The report was anonymous and tracked the usage data of bank employees, insurance companies, investment firms etc. Also, the fastest growing cloud service category in the industry is collaboration. This included programs like Microsoft office, Gmail and Evernote.

Security & Compliance: IT Solutions for Finance

While this might sound exciting it means nothing in such a heavily regulated industry as finance. Less than 0.1 percent of financial firms using the cloud meet compliance requirements and security standards. IT solutions for financial institutions are subject to human error as it is. But many cloud providers lack the experience and expertise to help manage highly sensitive data financial institutions must keep secure for their clients. Choosing the wrong provider could mean failure to comply with PCI DSS, SOX, and GBLA standards. This means looking for a provider that specializes in high-end security that complies with these governmental regulations with extreme care. A cloud provider that you can trust, means a firm your clients can trust as well.

A secure cloud means not only compliance, but proactive preventative IT solutions for financial firms specifically. Even secure cloud services pose a risk. A hacker can gain access to data stored in the cloud using login credentials obtained through targeted social engineering or malware. It’s a common practice for users to rely on same passwords with multiple online accounts. 31 percent of people reuse the same passwords, according to a University of Cambridge study.

Multi-factor Authentication

A hacker could gain access to an employees Instagram or twitter account and those to login to other cloud accounts. Look for a cloud service with multi-factor authentication, this decreases the likelihood of this happening. For example, with a multi-factor authentication process, even if your passwords were obtained, the employee would receive a notification on their mobile device requesting authorization. If authorization isn’t given through the device, the user cannot gain access.

Some cloud services providers, like Nerds Support, use programs that require users to change their passwords every month, further decreasing the chances of a breach. The same Cambridge study also revealed users rely on the same 20 unsecured passwords as login credentials. Changing passwords periodically will force the user to create new and distinct login credentials. Highly trained systems engineers could provide further insight into crafting intricate passwords that are inaccessible to anyone except the user.

 

Nerds Support has 17+ years of experience helping financial institutions digitalize while meeting important IT compliance.

Do What’s Best for Your Firm

 It’s important to understand that digitizing everything is not necessarily the best option. Each bank is different and has different strengths and core capabilities. You might not be in a place to fully digital overhaul.

In order to succeed in digitizing where others fail is to define and evaluate your long term strategy. PwC suggests you consider the questions:

  •  What do we want to be known for?

  • What consumer segments are we targeting?

  • What are our core capabilities and how can a digital strategy strengthen them?

Many industries are also on the way towards digitization in order to appeal to the Millennial and Gen -Z that’s following behind. This also means that adopting a digital infrastructure is going to be pivotal in business-to-business (B2B) interactions.

Having outdated or incompatible business models may become a deterrent to industries you want to service and conversely, an updated, innovative structure may appeal to start-ups or bigger companies that are looking to change and want to work with work with institutions that they feel will help them achieve their goals.

Contact Nerds Support today for a complimentary IT assessment where we identify gaps and areas of opportunities in your IT infrastructure.

Transform your team into an agile, lean, modern work environment with Nerds Support’s IT Solutions.