By Stephen Stanton-Downes, chief operating officer, Mvine

Ever since the global financial crisis of 2007-08, regulation has driven reform in the financial services sector – and there is no sign of this trend slowing down. Financial services organisations are conscious of the need toupgrade systems in line with the growing challenges presented by this rapidly evolving environment. In doing this,the key barrier is the need to integrate legacy infrastructure with the latest next-generation networks.

2014 has seen a growing focuson the quality of banking serviceswith new EU regulatory laws such as the Payment Services Directive (PSD) and Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) emerging. This means financial organisations will face further checks with respect to bank transfer transparency, security and data quality.

Going forward,financial services organisations need to develop enterprise architecture that enables them to implement change rapidly in response to future waves of regulatory change and the shifting demands of an increasingly sophisticated customer base.

But how can such an approach best be delivered? Systems integrators and IT service providers are generally quick to warn that this kind of major change will be complex, necessitate in-depth implementation and roll-out process and require a significant investment in integrating and transforming back-end systems.

Stephen Stanton Downes
Stephen Stanton Downes

The solution here does not, however, have to involve ripping and replacing traditional systems infrastructures.This is not to say that organisations should not carry out any back-end systems integration at all but they need to ensure that this is customer-driven rather than because of the need for architectural purity.

After all, today’s customers are calling out for the transparent approach that regulations are designed to encourage.What is needed above allis an overarching engagement layer that protects investment in existing systems without requiring large-scale integration.

In line with this, we are witnessing the emergence of next-generation client portals that embrace users from multiple organisations, inside or outside the firewall, allow financial services organisations to see their clients from a single dashboard;provide businesses with the opportunity to proactively engage with customers andof course, deliver simple, secure data transfer.

The benefits for financial services organisations are far-reaching. The deployment of client portal technology allows financial services organisations to deliver systems of engagement and achieve extensive benefits for themselves and clients in timeframes and with costs that are extremely favourable in comparison with traditional development methods.Moreover, secure file transfer eliminates the need for protracted and error-prone email communications and reduces the potential for disputes.

There are a vast range of applications for everything from private wealth management to retail banking client reporting in asset management and institutional reporting. In fact, wherever there is a needfor a joined-up view of a portfolio across multiple investment types, or a requirement to develop systems of engagement, there are applications available that provide the end user with a dynamic, personalised and contextual experience. Off-site accounting teams could use financial collaboration portals to securely share and consolidate financial reports into one central hub, for example.  Insurers could deliver their reports to a single, secure portal for subsequent review and sign-off.

Client portal technologies also give organisationsgreater choice and flexibility over how theyintegrate back-end systems. They should not feel that they have to do everything upfront. Theycan drive high levels of customer engagement, flexibility and agility, even with limited integration. This enables them to go through the full transformation of those systems more at their own speed, allowing them to decouple the delivery of some user benefits from back-end integration programmes.

Being agile and flexible enough to meet the demands of the evolving regulatory environment and an increasingly sophisticated customer baseare the key measures of success in 21st century financial services provision. Back-end integration will always be instrumental to delivering this but, in time, next-generation client portals that deliver omni-channel customer engagement are likely to have an equally crucial role to play.

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Stephen Stanton-Downes, chief operating officer, Mvine

LinkedIn:           Stephen Stanton-Downes, chief operating officer, Mvine