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How to save millions, and your people, with automation

How to save millions, and your people, with automation

By Simon Richards is the Global Managing Director of Financial Services at tekVizion

When Standard Chartered announced in its end of year results that it will include a $900 million provision for penalties relating to investigations into FX trading issues, trading compliance was once again thrust firmly into the spotlight.

Simon Richards

Simon Richards

In the UK alone, the FCA found that more than 1,000 investment firms were falling short of transaction reporting requirements under MiFID II in 2018; with the true figure being possibly “many thousands more” as regulators become ever more vigilant. The rather uncomfortable truth is that this 1,000+ figure only counted firms that “noticed they were in breach” of the new rules while “many thousands more firms are likely submitting inaccurate reports, but are not catching them and informing the regulator”.

And what happens if the eagle-eyed regulator uncovers a reporting failure? Well, as Goldman Sachs found out earlier this year, it can be very expensive. Fined over £34,000,000 by the FCA, their lack of “accurate and timely reporting” related to some 220 million transactions over a decade.

From electronic chat rooms to email, video calls to phone calls, there is a constant fight by banking regulators around the world to have effective oversight of the communications channels and so clamp down on unscrupulous traders set on cheating the system.

But to be clear, this isn’t just about stopping the tiny minority who are committing fraud, it’s about creating a level playing field where all parties are protected, where trading transparency is paramount, and where a single record of truth is created should there be any confusion or dispute over the intricacies of a trade further down the road.

The challenge of the ‘fickle FICC call’

In the world of fixed income, commodities and currency (FICC) trades, voice trading remains paramount. These highly complex financial instruments are far from straight forward vanilla; they require long and detailed negotiation and definition. In short, they need explaining.

The final contractual element of the financial instrument is clearly important. But so is all the preamble to the trade. Where small print in contracts can be argued over, it is critical that every step of the process that went into creating the trade is known.

MiFID II requires comprehensive and evidence-proof recording and archiving of all communications relating to a trade. In practice this means that every bank must record all calls which will/may result in transactions, notify the customer that the conversation is being recorded, store all these recordings for a minimum of five years, and then finally be able to quickly retrieve upon request from the regulator all communications leading up to a specific transaction or in a given time period.

Put simply, if a trade needs explaining, it needs recording. What’s more – and on this MiFID II is clear – you cannot trade if you cannot record the trade.

Large players in FICC trading have trading volumes in the billions of dollars per year, meaning every minute a system is shutdown translates to substantial losses.

All this means that for FICC traders, their Dealerboard or Turret voice trading systems are mission critical. So, reliability is vital – and being able to rely on your reliability is the key.

How to lose over $9 million in an hour

An ITIC survey found that reliability requirements for the Banking and Finance sector were above the average of other industries, and that 86% of companies in this sector require a minimum of 99.999% (five nines) of uptime from their IT systems.

But here’s the rub: UC systems have a base reliability of no more than 99.5% guaranteed uptime under industry standards. That means at the very highest performance level, an investment firm will lose 29 hours. At an average loss of $9.3 million per hour, that’s a costly $269.7 million thrown away.

Manual testing increases system uptime to 99.8% on average, a 0.3 percent improvement in reliability that cuts downtime to 12 hours. That’s still $111.6 million in losses that could be prevented by keeping voice trading systems up. Plus manual testing adds operational costs to deployments and regular upgrades.

Augment with automation

Augmenting manual testing with automation can increase system reliability up to minimum of 99.99%, which reduces downtime per year to 36 minutes or less. That brings voice system outage losses down to about $5.6 million (and that’s for the year, not the hour!). That’s still a hefty sum, but a mere fraction of what is lost through manual test or no testing.

A more proactive automated program that increases frequency and includes after-hours testing can get that reliability up to the all-important ‘five nines,’ driving annual downtime to just five minutes. That brings the annual downtime loss to $775,000.

An automated solution costs about two percent of the overall UC and voice trading system but represents a 60 to 70 percent annual savings compared to manual testing.

Augmenting and enhancing the testing of these high-leverage systems can dramatically mitigate risk and reduce the cost while increasing the coverage of testing. By integrating test plans into areas such as audio recording compliance, automated and proactive testing every night means that issues are identified before they impact a trader and the bank’s senior management are kept fully informed together with the steps that are being taken to quickly correct the issues.

Weekends don’t have to be testing

But this isn’t just about avoiding lost revenue through downtime, it’s also about operational efficiency – and both the financial and human cost that comes from operational inefficiency. The reality for banks’ Operations teams is that the weekend is the only time when they can get access to the trading floor and carry out the all-important upgrades and testing of these business-critical voice trading systems.

This traditionally manual task quite literally requires them to ‘walk the floor’, testing each and every turret to ensure that essential security patches and feature upgrades have been installed correctly and that the system is working properly ready for the markets to open on Monday morning.

Not only is this a significant labour cost for the business having to pay a premium for weekend hours, it’s also a significant investment of time by the Ops team which means they are having to work anti-social hours at a time when recruitment is already a challenge across the financial services sector.

For an average sized trading floor of about 1,000 turrets, this requirement to physically ‘walk the floor’ and conduct manual testing over a weekend is a significant overhead. It translates into a team of 20-25 people having to come into the office on a Saturday and each spending 4-5 hours simply checking everything is still working.

And this assumes everything is working. If they find something wrong, then the impact on both people’s time and labour costs soon start to snowball.

If the onsite team can’t identify the problem, they have to bring in on-call engineers (so their weekends and family time are also never their own even if things are working). If these engineers can’t explain the reason for a failure and correct it, they have no choice other than to roll-back the software and schedule a repeat of walk the floor on Sunday with the previously working version.

Banks of course try to keep to their own Ops teams as small as possible and augment them with specialist on-call engineering support from their vendors and SIs. However, with security patches going live every month, break/fix patches quarterly and feature releases twice a year, maintaining the voice trading system is a costly business. If issues are found and roll-backs are required and the update rescheduled, these costs are quadrupled with the bank is left with no alternative but to pay for this engineering resource at premium weekend rates.

Test don’t trust

Banks aren’t conducting this testing for fun, it’s not a nice to have. Their trading systems are business-critical; and getting it wrong exposes them to the potential wrath of the regulator. MiFID II mandates effective call recording, making effective testing processes even more important and onerous. Just because the proverbial ‘red light’ is flashing on the call recording system, it does not automatically follow that the system itself is recording properly. You can’t record silence when the trading floor is closed over the weekend; you need to record live traffic.

To ensure compliance, testing must be done daily and cover every Turret on the trading floor. Periodic sampling can no longer be seen as a ‘every reasonable effort’ by the regulator, and leaves the bank exposed to significant compliance risk.

And this daily testing of live systems would be a time-consuming and costly operation – were it not for automation.

By augmenting manual testing with proactive automated testing, banks can reduce downtime, free up Ops time for innovation and value creation, and provide real peace of mind that if/when the regulator comes knocking they’ll have the all-important recordings available.

How To

Guest Posting

Guest Posting 1

The internet has set up brands at every corner of the street and getting people to visit yours is a mix of skill and art. The attempts to layout customer roadmaps to your brand which aren’t abandoned are not new and the struggles are the same as before. In fact, the struggle to have your brand heard has piled up as competition keeps emerging and viewer attention span keeps getting fragmented. This has led to a surge in brands using conventional advertisements to highly compress their message to the audience.

This is not the best gameplan to bet on. Ads are perceived by many as intrusive, insincere and housing an ulterior motive. The audience is bombarded with ads from every angle and making it shorter does not really help. Most people don’t react the same way to guest posting.

A guest post is a piece of brand journalism which lives on a publisher’s website. Sponsored posts are an advertorial piece of long-form writing that is created to be highly engaging. They avoid the intrusive and abrupt conventional-approach of ads and indulge in a more respectful and subtle modern-approach for recommending your services or products.

Choosing the right platforms to publish your guest post is crucial as the platform is seen as your partner and representative. Your chosen platform must balance between writing a blog post and a traditional advertisement, stray away from being intrusive and stick with being subtle and respectful. At Global Banking and Finance (GBAF), we offer the opportunity to bank on our decade-long experience and expertise in writing balanced content like this.

How Can Guest Posts on GBAF Help You?

Constantly investing time and effort into writing and publishing on your blog is great for fostering and strengthening your already existing audience relationship but this doesn’t help you reach a new audience.

Guest posting opportunities on our platform gives you access to an untapped audience base. This is a significant advantage in two ways:

  • Familiarity: We have built our audience through our authentic, thought-provoking and storytelling writing nature. Our audience is familiar and receptive to this writing style. When we adapt your content in the same format, it allows your content to have better reception compared to traditional ads. Also, your content will adapt to the environment of content which makes it feel natural and less abrupt or intrusive.
  • Trust: When a consumer learns about your brand through someone they trust (someone like a renowned brand, friend, some industry authority, etc), they are more likely to trust you, too. Our audience’s trust means a chance for your brand’s voice to be heard. It also means having customers who have completed their journey of brand choice. When they choose you, it will be an additional choice of transition from our platform rather than a new choice of approaching you. They only have to go half-way.

With amplified brand reach and redefined trust, your brand visibility and credibility will be boosted. We also help you boost visibility by leveraging our social media channels which currently have 135k followers and keep growing every day.

Another major area of impact when doing guest posts with GBAF is the focus, delivery and expertise of writing. The audience members will engage with your content much more than they do with your traditional ads. This will increase the chances of convincing the customers who doubt, skepticize and speculate becoming customers of your brand from afar. Writing to deliver your promotion with value-driven content also allows you to plug in a recommendation at a crucial point of the problem with your brand as the solution.

Lastly, value-driven content avoids the intrusive BUY THIS! style of writing. Here, the focus is on communicating your knowledge and therefore allows you to establish yourself as a thought-leader in your niche.

All of these combined benefits act as a catalyst to boost your brand reach, funnel attention to your brand, gain a competitive advantage and knock down all other challenges presented in separating yourself from your competition.

Final Thoughts

Brand adoption is slow. Abandoning an old familiar brand route for a new one is difficult. People rarely reach out to brands and they sprint the other way if they see brands reach out to them through conventional and dull ads. In such a deadlock scenario guest posts can provide the perfect strategy to bet on.

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How To

Why Guest Posting is Your Best Bet

Why Guest Posting is Your Best Bet 2

In a scenario where new businesses are popping up everyday, one of the major challenges brands face is that of devising an organic and effective way to get the attention of their target audience. And one of the first solutions that comes to mind is the internet and consecutively, digital marketing. Even though its all-pervasive nature has made it both super-easy to reach people across the globe, the internet also comes with its own set of challenges. In this article, we will discuss the tough-to-crack parts of digital marketing, things that almost every brand representative or marketing executive has to face in the present date.

The oversimplification of digital communication has deceived many brands into believing that it’s the only way to reach their audience. However, the reality is hardly so. Today, there are more platforms and media formats than there have ever been before and newer ones keep emerging everyday. As a result, the netizens have developed a rapidly decreasing attention span. As a result, brands are wrestling to fit their message into as tiny a space as possible in what can only be called conventional methods of advertising.

For many brands, digital marketing proves to be an ordeal that takes years to crack, all the while draining the brand’s potential for more business and/or larger reach. It is worth noting that one of the major challenges that most businesses face is that of people avoiding ads altogether; no matter how good your ad is, chances are that people don’t want to see it, resulting in zero engagement. The second and bigger challenge is that short messages don’t convert those who are unaware of your brand, to brand loyalists. Instead, these ads are likely to affect only those who are already considering buying into what your brand is offering, which might be a small share.

This is where Global Banking & Finance Review (GBAF) comes in. We offer you the opportunity to overcome both the challenges (and more) in one go through our guest post services.

Guest Posts Have An Edge Over Normative Advertisements

Guest posts are advertorial pieces of long-form writing, created with an aim to engage the audience by taking away the impression of normative ads. How? Sponsored posting articles are so designed that they address the audience’s demands or queries, and also offer your brand as a solution instead of point-blank marketing. Consequently, this makes the audience spend a longer time engaging with your brand than they would do with, say, a pop-up ad. Through a guest blog post, your brand has the space to engage in a fair exchange because the article delivers value to your audience rather than being a conventional sales-driven advertisement.

To sum it up, sponsored posts fall right on the sweet spot between a blog post and a traditional advertisement on the spectrum of advertising.

Here’s Why You Should Run Guest Posts on GBAF

At GBAF, our team understands the importance of the environment in which your brand is introduced to an audience, something that leaves a lasting impact on their minds. It goes without saying that this very impression will influence and drive their future decisions on whether they want to engage with your brand and buy what you’re selling. Hence, it is our staff that is usually responsible for writing the posts that go up for your brand on our website. This allows for the sponsored post to merge in seamlessly with the existing content in our website instead of sticking out like a sore thumb. The aim in doing so is to create these posts in a way that does not distract or seem abrupt as guest posts are meant to be adaptive to an existing environment. So, even though it is essentially promoting your brand, a sponsored post is more of a brand journalism piece than an ad.

On our platform, we understand the importance readers attach to authenticity and value. This also allows GBAF to have a firm grip on introducing your brand effectively while simultaneously catering to the audience’s needs. Our team works around the clock to gain our audience’s trust by continually delivering authentic and value-driven content to our readers for more than a decade. When you partner with us, that resource pool is easy to tp into. When a consumer learns about your brand through a reliable source (for instance, someone like a renowned brand, friend, some industry authority, etc), they are more likely to trust you, too.

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How To

Why You Need to Take Guest Posting Seriously

Why You Need to Take Guest Posting Seriously 3

When customers are largely in control of marketing conversations, traditional advertisement has lost its touch. How you educate your prospects and out-educate your competitors now win the battle and generate leads.

If you’re the spokesperson of a brand or if it is your job to tell a story that your customers care about, you know how important it is to be generous, to share your ideas on a platform that promotes storytelling, and to position your brand as the most trusted partner for your customers.

The challenge with quick, easy micro-copy is that it fails to make an impact. It’s like a quick-fix that we try to use in everything we do. However, quick-fixes don’t heal a burning pain-point. A thoughtful, easy-to-read, user-friendly guide does.

At Global Banking & Finance Review (GBAF), we help you help your customers. Here’s how.

Guest Posting: How it Works

Guest posting is the art of telling your story to your audience without shoving it down their throats. It’s not an advertisement, but a thought-leadership content piece that educates & promotes your brand to your target audience without interrupting them.

  • Our editorial team works your content piece to present your brand on our website
  • The sponsored articles adhere to the context, the tone, the voice of your brand and represent it in the way you’d like to portray to your audience
  • The content piece is lucidly written and only does one job, i.e. educating your audience
  • The piece is long-form of content that allows your target audience to engage with your brand longer (much more than an advertisement)
  • It doesn’t distract, interrupt, or intrude the audience
  • Sponsored posts are designed and articulated to solve the audience’s pain-point and showcase your brand as a solution-provider

Why Should You Run Guest Posts on GBAF?

GBAF is a platform that garners a community of over 135,000. Here are four reasons for which you should run guest posts on GBAF:

  1. We help you increase the engagement with your audience: We don’t depend on surveys to understand what your target audience wants. For the last ten years, we have been serving various kinds of readers. And we know them personally. Thus, we know how to place your content to increase engagement.
  2. We put your audience ahead of the marketing funnel: When you run an ad, you start from scratch. And as a result, the first step is always to start with the beginning of the marketing funnel. When you publish a guest post on our platform, your target audience already begins to trust you since we’ve put years of work in building the community.
  3. We help you generate leads: An ad is interruptive. When you submit a guest post on GBAF, it teaches instead. And directs the audience to take action. As a result, you generate more leads. In this era of marketing, the brand that educates better, profits more.
  4. We offer you cost-effective solutions: When you run sponsored articles on GBAF, you’re in charge of your budget. You decide how much you’d like to spend per month. And we support you with cost-effective solutions backed up with the results so that you can calculate your ROI upfront.

How to Submit a Guest Post on GBAF

  • Check categories:
  • B2B: CSR, Green Tech, AI & Big Data, Ongoing Training for Employees, Manufacturing
  • B2C: Travel Destinations, Trends on Buying a Home, Working Remotely, Electronics
  • Follow guidelines:
  • Format: Word format
  • Send at: [email protected] (or use this page to submit a guest post)
  • Length: 750 – 1000 words
  • Image: We need an image of the author (specifications: width – 800 px. & heigh – 600 px.) with original credits
  • Additional requirements:
  • Author Bio: Provide an author bio (name, title, affiliation, bio, and contact). You can add a link
  • Profile: Give a brief overview of the company, key information about the company, major projects, certifications, and company logo. Please submit the profile in word format

We review your submission and if it adheres to our submission guidelines and quality standards, we will connect with you before publishing the article.

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