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THE RISE OF SOFTWARE ACCOUNTABILITY IN FINTECH

By Dr. Greg Law, CEO and co-founder, Undo

In 2017, the financial technology (FinTech) community should be on the lookout for the term “software accountability” to take center stage. Since software is such an important and omnipresent aspect of everyday life, programmers everywhere need to truly understand how their software has performed. The idea of software accountability is simple: it is gaining visibility into what software has really done and shedding light onto why it has failed or misbehaved. With regulations like MiFID2 and BCBS239 impacting the FinTech community, the auditability and accountability of the underlying software is going to become increasingly important.

Banks, and financial services companies more broadly, are like airplanes – without having the highest standards of software quality in place the results can be catastrophic. With this kind of pressure, the industry regulators are right to insist on a clear audit trail of who changed what code. Increasingly this is extending from the realm of changes to the code itself to what the code is doing at runtime. Amongst the swirling regulatory environment, most banks are under pressure to do more with fewer resources. DevOps and its associated tools, like those offered by Undo, are going to be key in helping financial institutions to meet these regulatory burdens in a more productive and manageable way.

Compared to ten years ago, software development practices are almost unrecognizable today. Agile, test driven development, continuous integration (CI), and deployment mean we can develop software faster and of better quality than ever before. A typical software project might run 1000s of times more tests every day than an equivalent sized project would have a decade ago. But these advances, great as they are, present their own set of challenges. For example, the most commonly used methods of identifying software failures still remain time-consuming and rely on manually logging and identifying sensor data. As the sheer amount of data grows at a rapid pace, software recording is going to require automation in order to properly track and capture software’s behavior. Over the next year it will be essential for FinTech programmers to implement automation across the entire DevOps cycle, from development to testing and all the way to deployment and full production.

With the emphasis on software accountability, financial institutions will need to have a team of quality developers to oversee execution. Software is eating the world, and because of that, it’s only a matter of time before finance is overtaken by technology. While this shift opens up more jobs in the FinTech sector, the competition for talent also rises. We can say with certainty that in 10 years’ time the programming landscape is going to look very different. In fact, we’re already seeing engineers’ salaries in Silicon Valley outstrip those of bankers on Wall Street – and Wall Street has noticed. Banks now need to fill so many programming jobs that the industry is facing a talent shortage. This has spurred an entire industry to crop up, with companies like HackerRank using algorithms to spot the coding potential of people holding off-brand degrees such as art or chemistry! Simultaneously, we’re seeing companies like JPMorgan Chase open in-house technology training programs, and blue chip firms like Goldman Sachs overhaul the way it hires junior staff.

Regardless of where your FinTech program stands, or where firms are sourcing their talent, the auditability and accountability of software is crucial and is only going to grow in importance. For Undo and the customers we serve, 2017 is all about allowing developers to write better code, faster.