Stewart Griffiths is Co-Founder and CEO of Albany Group


Not unlike most industries, the finance sector went into something of a tailspin on the wings of the pandemic. While many scientists subsequently said that we could and indeed should have seen it coming, that was an outlier rather than a mainstream view: the possibility was far from “priced into” the market.

This has led to rocketing short term costs, with Lloyds of London expected to pay out up to £6.2bn – an unprecedented figure – but the fallout can also be viewed as an opportunity in disguise. A catalyst for necessary and, in some cases, long overdue change.

The pandemic laid bare a number of structural inefficiencies within the industry, that called for a drastic and considered response. The verdict has been fairly unanimous: the industry has had to ramp up its digitisation efforts, and become more efficient and resilient in the face of rare, disruptive events.

This is overwhelmingly reflected across different sectors. The share of digital or digitally enabled products in companies’ portfolios has leapt forward by seven years, according to a recent McKinsey survey. The reported jump was in fact nearly twice as large for the financial services sector – a testament that the pandemic has sped up digitalisation.


Stewart Griffiths

A gradual shift in mindset

Covid-19 has jolted the industry in the right direction by bringing the benefits of technology into sharp relief. It has also reached pockets of the market, which were not always necessarily as open or adaptive to technological change, and demonstrated the limits of a resistant mindset.

Part of this reluctance rests on a perception that technology will be disruptive when applied to certain areas including regulatory compliance, governance and supply chain management. Conversely, where service offerings and internal operations are concerned, the industry has had no qualms in fully embracing the power of technology. This is confirmed by research from Deloitte which found that automating manual processes (77%) remains the definitive area that companies want to strengthen with the aid of technology. Alternatively, consider the use of chatbots in banking, which could result in operational cost savings of up to $7.3 billion globally by 2023.

Other business-critical areas, however, are still being viewed as too complicated or risky for technology to tackle. This robs companies of the opportunity to streamline workflows and processes and strengthen their reporting and compliance credentials, among other things, as long as technology is seen as “off-limits.” It can also compound the challenge of meeting increasingly stringent regulation and compliance obligations.


Navigating complex supply chains

The supply chains for financial services companies are extensive, and often involve a number of organisations across multiple jurisdictions. As the complexity grows, so too does the data and the sheer administrative burden that falls on teams that are saddled with emails, spreadsheets, and an onslaught of information.

Technology can help ease that burden. It is estimated that automation alone can reduce the cost of a claim journey, for example, by as much as 30%. With everything managed through a single portal, teams can gain better oversight of third parties, analyse data and automate workflows. We recently implemented such a solution with QBE, creating a bespoke portal using Conect™, our ground-breaking regulatory technology. This served to enhance workflows; reduce operational costs; enable better oversight of suppliers; streamline communication, and ultimately claim management.


Getting ahead of the compliance and regulation curve

Assessing risk conduct levels is one the most pervasive challenges facing the financial services industry. Compliance has expanded over the last few years, and so too has the proliferation of data. There is also no reason to assume that this trend will slow down. If anything, the opposite is true, and data burdens are growing, while regulation is becoming increasingly stringent. In 2019, the FCA issued a record number of fines, while the pandemic has brought renewed levels of public interest in ESG in the finance industry, particularly among listed companies. This translates into more pressure for companies to meet complex and demanding compliance obligations.

For instance, taking a closer look at the insurance industry, companies here also need to appropriately assess the rules and determine where they are affected. This can include the delegation of activities such as underwriting or claims handling to third parties which is often not viewed as outsourcing. Regulations, however, still apply and if not adhered to, can result in hefty fines.

The right technological solution can enable financial and professional services companies to gain control and oversight and optimise their risk management. Deploying regulatory software can do just that. It is a proactive, efficient, and responsive way of minimising risks and preventing possible fallout. Risk-based regulatory technology is designed to bring genuine simplicity and oversight to supply chain management. This can serve to embed automated compliance right into the DNA of a business, minimising the possibility of human error, costs and other risks.


A tech-driven future for the financial services industry

The pandemic has demonstrated that no industry can afford to be reactive – at the whims of external change, in a constant struggle to keep up. The financial sector is no different, and the sooner it fully embraces a strategic and proactive mindset when it comes to technology, the sooner it will begin to remove the endemic inefficiencies that hold back some of its areas. Far from imposing an additional burden, embracing technology will allow organisations to save in costs, gain in efficiency, and future proof their businesses. Putting in place the right solution and infrastructure to manage risk and supply chains, will also enable businesses to stay abreast of regulation, compliance and increasing data volumes.

In an ever-shifting landscape, this involves adopting user configurable technology in a truly no-code environment. This way, businesses can focus on what matters most to their stakeholders and their futures.



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