Despite their perceived differences, compliance, visibility and oversight are all directly related. No business can run effectively without them, and financial services firms should ensure that these three essential components have a central place in the company's operations. To that end, what can business leaders do to improve these three areas of importance?
1. Retain knowledgeable staff
As in most industries, employees are a financial services firm's greatest asset. A good staff can overcome just about any obstacle, and the only way to go about acquiring such a team is to retain the best. Ensuring that workers stick around can certainly be difficult, especially considering today's job hopping culture. However, experienced employees are needed to achieve optimal compliance, visibility and oversight.
"A company's greatest resource is its employees."
After all, compliance regulations aren't exactly easy to understand, and navigating them properly takes training and know-how. This is especially true of testing procedures designed to analyze a company's ability to stay compliant. In fact, a study from PricewaterhouseCoopers found that 52 percent of survey respondents had difficulty testing their compliance capabilities due to employee retention problems. This knowledge gap is a driver for more automated solutions that leverage rules and stopgaps to create guardrails for compliance users.
Companies looking to stay compliant and maintain reliable visibility must give knowledgeable employees reasons to remain loyal to the firm. Bonuses and other financial compensation options are certainly a good idea, but it's also important to give valuable employees room to grow within the organization. The best workers generally aren't content with dead-end careers, and you'll need to ensure that your best people have opportunities to move up.
2. Move away from paper when possible
Nothing slows down a company's daily operations quite like paper. It's also difficult to track. Whether paper is moving through the mail or simply between offices within an organization, it's often impossible to know where a particular document is at a given point in time. What's more, paper records often rely solely upon the author for correctness. Human error will always be a possible factor, even with the most meticulous employee, which means that many documents are returned because they're not in good order, or NIGO.
Of course, paper just makes sense in certain scenarios, and financial services companies certainly won't be able to move away from paper entirely in the near future. Still, making an effort to transition to more digital options can drive both compliance success rates and enhanced overall oversight. Since manual processes are a reality, this author believes that "socio-technological systems" will rule the day. Systems that tie humans and technology together to produce the desired results.
3. Invest in a compliant straight-through processing solution
When you move away from paper, what about document transmission and retention? Many organizations have used cloud-based services to fill this space, with excellent results. The cloud can be accessed anywhere at anytime, and it doesn't force the company itself to create the IT infrastructure needed to store and move documents. In fact, a 2016 report from Robert Half and the Financial Executives Research Foundation found that 62 percent of financial companies currently use the cloud or plan to soon.
Companies looking to improve visibility, compliance and oversight should consider a cloud-based straight-through processing system, such as the ePACS solution offered by Docupace. This product minimizes NIGO rates with a variety of built-in tools, such as cascading data from one sheet to the next. By dramatically minimizing the possibility of human error, organizations can increase their compliance while decreasing the need for human oversight.
What's more, digital documents and data is infinitely easier to share and access than paper documents. In paper documents, the data is latent and static. Company leaders and other employees can more easily check on the progress of a particular form. However, completely moving away from paper isn't always easy or even possible, which is why Docupace enables you to print out forms with individual barcodes on each page to facilitate tracking. Once the form is back in the system, digital processing takes over. It is this seamless combination of human interaction and technology that will drive the industry out of the paper jungle and towards pure digital processing.
Tom Embrogno is a principal of Docupace Technologies and brought to market the first cloud-based SEC/FINRA compliant supervisory and storage system that satisfies SEC rules 17a3 and 17a4. In each of these roles, Tom developed a strong background in information technology, cyber security and investment banking, allowing him to see first-hand the inefficiencies that are a typical part of the traditional financial services business.