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THE IMPORTANCE OF RISK AWARENESS AND SIX STEPS TO MANAGE AND MITIGATE RISKS WITH GRC

  • By Gaurav Kapoor, COO at MetricStream

 

Every executive hopes their company is alert to risks and that they can be resilient when hit with disaster but with the speed and ferocity of risks ever-increasing, it is not always possible. In an age where it only takes one employee – or one tweet – to smear the reputation of some of the largest organisations, efficient and effective risk responses are vital.

 

Risk awareness and response agility are critical when incidents occur, but reaction times can be particularly hindered when an organisation has grown too rapidly. This is because in the process of fast and disparate growth, functions can become siloed, operating autonomously using different – or non-comparable – reporting programmes. As such, they can’t be governed and reviewed by the board in the same context. This was one of the key issues that made the 2008 financial crash so severe, with no corporate oversight – and organisations’ strategies aiming for maximum growth at any cost – individual departments went rogue creating an illicit black hole in the financial system.

 

Since then, the focus – particularly among financial services firms – has very much been on bolstering governance, risk and compliance (GRC) capabilities. Additionally, approaches have changed somewhat in the last decade. As well as the honing of respected industry-wide defence and risk practices, new technologies, such as integrated GRC software, have arisen to help many organisations to reunify and manage multi-dimensional organizational structures with a security model and federated taxonomy that delivers flexibility to business functions, while providing the ability to correlate and report on each perspective at any level.

 

It has become vitally important for organisations to realise that while business performance is extremely critical, the full potential can only be achieved if they are performing with integrity. Consumers, shareholders, and regulators are demanding that companies are conducting business that is built on a strong culture of ethics, laws, regulations, the right controls and a sensitivity to their customers, employees and social responsibility.

 

To build a risk aware organisation, companies need to invest in risk awareness and management programmes and work toward creating a transparent corporate culture. Here are six steps to help businesses achieve this:

 

Centralise the compliance function

First and foremost, organisations in heavily regulated industries must unify any siloed and disparate GRC operations across multiple geographies and business units. Aligning GRC with the overall business strategy and objectives helps to create a holistic and integrated view of the risks and compliance requirements across multiple regulations that are affecting, or could affect, the entire organisation.

 

Assess enterprise risk management (ERM) programmes

It is important for firms to establish a consistent approach to risk management with uniform risk assessment methodologies. Ensuring all employees are risk aware will involve identifying, assessing, monitoring, and mitigating risks in a systematic manner. Companies can use advanced analytics, heat maps, reports, dashboards, and charts to gain an accurate understanding of the top risks across the organisation in order to help prioritise and manage risks effectively.

 

Solidify operational risk management (ORM) processes

Enabling a pervasive and streamlined approach to ORM is crucial for organisations looking to raise their risk awareness. Risk identification, assessment, monitoring, and mitigation is vital to delivering timely risk intelligence. It is this risk intelligence that can be fed back into the organisation to drive important business decisions, improve business performance, and reduce company losses.

 

Ensure effective business continuity management (BCM)

Another integral part of how to approach risks lies in a good business continuity management programme. Businesses should plan and execute an effective business continuity and disaster recovery (DR) programme. Good BCM programmes include risk assessments, disaster tracking, and recovery action initiation and management. Organisations should plan crisis responses – including assigning specific owners to actions – to reduce time when it needs to be enacted. It is also vital that recovery procedures are periodically tested to show any gaps in the programme before a disruptive incident occurs.

 

Use a top-down and bottom-up approach to establish a good culture

Good business culture relies on the message being conveyed and enforced from both the top down and bottom up. Employees should be participating and know how their role helps to achieve the business’ objectives. Yet, the system will only truly work if they believe that upper management is truly behind the new approach. Management should lead by example and act in ways deemed to be ethical and held accountable for the times when they don’t.

 

Utilise technology

Adopting new technology can help employees to actively, or passively, engage with GRC processes. Increasingly, more companies are turning to tools that have been consumerised. Good risk awareness and responses requires GRC to be embedded into all processes, but employees are known to cut corners if new systems are time consuming. Technology that can enhance risk awareness and  productivity, as well as create new ways of working – without impacting employees’ day-to-day responsibilities – will drive business value.

 

Technology plays a critical role in strengthening monitoring and management risks in the organisation. Integrated technology solutions offer a common platform to provide greater visibility into risks and compliance issues. They also automate processes, streamlining and reducing costs of admin and data heavy processes as well as storing any important or relevant information in a centralised database for easy access.

 

Ultimately, in today’s dynamic risk environment, businesses need to learn to swim ahead of the tide of known and unknown risks. The companies that prepare and manage risks using reliable ERM, ORM and BCM practices will be able to grow organically and sustainably while integrating GRC into the very fabric of the organisation, in its employees, values and programmes.

 

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Business

HOW TO FIX A PROBLEM LIKE WIRECARD IN 60 HOURS

By Shachar Bialick, Founder and CEO Curve

 

On Friday 26 June, the Financial Conduct Authority suspended its permission for Wirecard Card Solutions Limited (the company which issued the Curve Cards and processed transactions for us) to operate, without prior notice or warning. Unfortunately, as I’m sure you’ve now seen, this didn’t just affect Curve, but many other companies relying on Wirecard in the financial sector.

So, that Friday, with just two hours notice, we were forced to temporarily suspend all Curve transactions and money transfer services, which meant that no one was able to use their Curve card from Friday at 12:30pm GMT

Thankfully, as part of our planned growth strategy, we had already started our transition away from Wirecard a few months back by becoming a principal member of Mastercard. This means that we were able to bring more of our core processes in house, as we continue our mission to simplify and unify the world of money for people across the globe.

Over that weekend, and thanks to a herculean effort from the entire team at Curve, along with our partners at Mastercard, and we’ve successfully completed our migration away from Wirecard, bringing our Card and E-money issuing in-house. This process was brought forward to minimise disruption and restore the service for our customers at the earliest possible opportunity and is a truly remarkable feat, completing a process that would ordinarily take months in just a few hours.

 

But that’s only one half of the story.

In addition to issuing, Wirecard were also our acquiring partner, responsible for processing Curve card payments. And so, whilst plans for finding a new global acquiring partner were already well underway as part of our U.S expansion, no partner had been picked and no deal had been signed.

 

So how to solve a problem like acquiring at a moment’s notice?

Enter: Checkout.com – one of Europe’s finest fintechs and, as luck would have it, the agile, flexible, hard-working heroes we needed to get us back up and running at the earliest possible opportunity.

And so, by 9:30pm on Sunday, fewer than 60 hours after we were first told Curve Cards would be suspended, we had:

  • Brought our card issuing in-house (Thanks Mastercard and GPS)
  • Sourced, signed, and integrated a brand new acquiring partner (Cheers Checkout.com)
  • Onboarded and set up Settlement and Safeguarding accounts (Merci Investec)
  • Tokenised and started testing cards (Thank you engineers)
  • Got Curve back up and running with better partners, better technology, and better unit-economics (awesome work everyone)

 

When the going gets tough….

We are so proud of our team here at Curve, and our customers should be too. This weekend shows us that we are a very unique and resilient company. Our team has achieved what many have believed would be impossible in the last two days. We are strong, we are united, we are agile, and we are… exhausted, but forward we go. We hope that we’ve proven to all, including our beloved customers the true value of being an Over-The-Top Banking Platform.

And whilst we are on the subject of our customers… Wow. The support from them has been truly overwhelming. We’ve had messages, tweets, DMs and a wave of public support like no other in our history – fuelling the team and keeping us going as we continued furiously down the path to get Curve back online.

The best companies often grow out of the toughest situations and although this has been one of the most testing times in our history, we have grown a hell of a lot in just a few days. Curve is stronger, confident, more cost-efficient and in a better position to build, innovate and scale for the future.

To paraphrase a famous bank, we are not just a fintech, we are part of something much, much bigger.

 

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Business

A CATALYST FOR CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND GROWTH IN THE FINANCIAL SERVICES SECTOR

Peter Walker, EMEA CTO, Blue Prism

 

The financial services sector has undergone a period of rapid innovation over the past decade, with the rise of fintechs and digital banking solutions, which are much more agile than traditional banking options. On top of this, the sector is now also experiencing unprecedented effects due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Institutions must transform their core operations to address these industry disruptions, not only to meet the needs of today’s increasingly interconnected society, but also to help weather the impact of the virus.

In order to maintain a competitive advantage within the industry, satisfy the changing demands of their customers and meet intensifying regulations, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) technology can offer a way forward by providing a platform that runs Digital Workers – intelligent software robots that complete activities in the same way as humans, by mimicking and learning business processes like people do.

With the unprecedented surge in demand of business operations, work isn’t being delivered at its full potential, and at the pace required. People are increasingly unable to support businesses’ needs of extracting and formatting data into a number of different systems, as well as performing a number of tasks which are better suited to technology. This work can lead to stressful environments and errors in a highly regulated process.

 

Addressing the changes in the financial services landscape

Digital banking apps like Monzo and Starling have in the past few years transformed the way people handle their personal finances, and the banking solutions now available to customers means that they have become accustomed to seamless service.

Speed is everything in financial services, and against a backdrop of economic and political uncertainty, traditional banking institutions need to consider changing the way they operate. They must heed the example of digital natives and become more agile, so that they can quickly adapt to unforeseen circumstances in the market.

As the demand for the sector’s services increases in response to the government’s mandated initiatives, such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CIBLS), companies will have to pivot their operations to keep pace with the changing landscape. We always hear about how sectors can digitally transform, and RPA-based Digital Workers can help companies to begin their digital transformation journey and accelerate that innovation.

Implementing Digital Workers

In this challenging climate, where traditional business models have changed overnight, organisations need to fulfil the demands of enterprise operations at the pace required to remain competitive. Increasingly, people won’t be able to support this demand on their own, and technology will plug the gap that humans cannot fill.

A lot of customer-facing activity in financial services is process-heavy by nature. It involves dealing with large amounts of sensitive information and adhering to strict processes, which creates a lot of admin. Strategically deploying Digital Workers and intelligent automation can help businesses to streamline a number of these admin tasks, such as processing loans and mortgage repayments. Automating this process frees up employees’ time so they can improve other areas of the business that automation alone can’t deal with.

Covid-19 has renewed the pressure on financial services organisations – not just simply by increasing the sheer volume of customer service calls, but also by introducing new operational stresses through remote working. Implementing automation technologies in a strategic way can help financial institutions get in better shape to cope, not just during this time of uncertainty, but in the long run. In a recent survey looking at how organisations around the globe are using Digital Workers to stay resilient, positive and competitive in this new economic reality, 95% of business decision makers in financial services revealed that they already have plans in place to extend their use of automation across their business.

 

Support during Covid-19

In response to the pandemic, Blue Prism has set up the Covid-19 Response Programme, donating Digital Workers and services to assist across a number of sectors, including on the front lines of the health emergency, transportation and financial services. These deployments illustrate how RPA can help – as by using Digital Workers, business will be able to maintain business continuity and provide the necessary services to citizens during this difficult time.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Leeds Building Society has turned to Blue Prism’s RPA technology to rapidly increase its deployment of Digital Workers, helping it to cope with the high demand for mortgage holidays. Mortgage payment holiday requests now exceed 2,000 a day and this is all now being handled by the RPA solution, reducing calls to the contact centre by 75% and providing answers to most of these requests within 21 seconds. This allows front-line colleagues to focus on delivering better customer experiences, and back-office processing teams to work on other priorities for the business. Most importantly, at a time of profound uncertainty when many people are under financial pressure, it helps to quickly resolve their issues.

For a long time, the financial services sector has been slow to adopt new technologies which could speed up internal processes, primarily due to the need to comply with regulatory requirements. Yet automation can help these organisations to adjust to rapid regulatory changes. For example, by helping them to audit their data and processes. Without automation technology, businesses might have to recruit and train temporary staff or hire support from a business process outsourcing provider, which could come at a significant cost.

 

The future of automation in the sector

Financial services perform a vital role in our economy. But the pandemic also provides an impetus for organisations in the sector to transform their operations, and automation has huge potential when it comes to this transformation. By 2024, Gartner predicts that automation technologies will replace almost 69% of the managers’ workloads. The Covid-19 crisis could be a catalyst to hasten the migration of routine and rote business processes and help the sector to keep pace with the changing economic environment, as well as rising consumer demands.

 

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