United States

An outside view to mesh IT and strategy

Tap into partners who can fill gaps, add knowledge

FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS INSIGHTS  | 

All the attention on new fintech ventures and the pace of mobile technology can make executives at some institutions feel like they are falling behind. Many are not keeping pace with the changes in the finance industry as mobile-based, national service platforms take market share. Smaller, regional or local players have the history on their side, but often have trouble competing on the web or mobile devices.                                               

While the herd is chasing trends, savvy financial institution leaders are looking to align their strategic plans with a strategic technology plan. This ensures technology is supporting the vision of the institution in a purposeful and measureable manner. Engaging strategic partners and building strategic relationships with them for the long-haul is one way to get on track for what’s next, while continuing to serve today’s customers well.

A managed IT services partner can help in diverse ways: from selection of technology platforms to strategic planning advice as you create, refine and execute a digital strategy.

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR A TRUSTED RESOURCE

The tech landscape is filled with movement as customers expect more robust, convenient and secure financial technology solutions. You are often required to support multiple platforms. At the same time, you need to track the rate of change and the potential costs of supporting older technologies without getting left behind.

Bolder financial executives may chase after newcomers such as Rocket Mortgage, Acorn or Zelle, but often they lack the resources or ability to execute on new initiatives while current staff is stretched thin. The right outsourcing provider can also provide the people to test a pilot program and gauge customer interest before committing to a new platform. Using an outsourced team is usually faster and more cost effective than staffing such a project internally.

IT gaps or efficiency problems often go undetected until a data leak or regulatory examination. Gaining an expert opinion—before a crisis exposes flaws—delivers a clear-eyed view of growth, security, compliance and performance needs and provides confidence that budgets are in synch with overall company goals.

Things to consider when evaluating if you should leverage a strategic partner:

  • What is your technology strategy and is it effective?
  • Is your board satisfied with current digital operations?
  • Does the IT staff know what is expected in six months, 12 months? Can they fulfill what is required?
  • What problems need solving for the performance and efficiencies of front-line staff?
  • Are there security or network needs that could be better handled by an independent virtual chief information security officer (vCISO)?
  • Do you have access to reliable industry knowledge in your current business network?

EMPLOYEES ARE IT CUSTOMERS, TOO

Remember your staff needs, not just tech for your customer-facing systems, when it’s time to assess budgets and strategies. Executives turn to IT staff for assurance that systems are up-to-date and capable, but CEOs rarely know for sure if their IT environment has capacity for growth or if their systems are already over-stretched.  

IT staffing and expertise is in short supply. Instead of paying dearly for a resource person you may not need full time, consider contracting for a part-time vCIO who has the knowledge, experience and skills necessary to help keep your IT infrastructure solid and scalable. CEOs rely on their IT teams to assess performance, but the ability to see “how it’s done” elsewhere may bring new ideas to your organization.

For example, the current shift to cloud computing has meant conveniences and self-service for end users. For managers, IT has opened on-demand options for flexible hours and has accelerated back-office systems such as internal controls and reporting.

THE VIEW FROM OUTSIDE

A fresh perspective from an outside partner can provide some peace of mind for managers, while avoiding the “how we’ve always done things” thinking that limits creativity. Leveraging a strategic partner will also allow you to manage for the future operations, regulations and security landscapes instead of reacting to it.

The amount of time needed for a vCIO depends primarily on size and staffing of your particular company and specific circumstances. Hours can be bundled into an on-demand schedule. Security is a part of maintaining client trust, so why not prove that you’re doing everything possible to safeguard your company and their money?

Deliverables or milestones for outside experts should be determined by top executives with input or advice from front-line managers. That act by itself can create a culture of collaboration that shows how much your workforce is valued. Creating a resilient, forward-looking organization can pay its own dividends as you tap the collective years of experience that lives inside every financial institution. Putting all those parts together may seem complex, but the rewards are worth it.

Learn more about RSM’s managed IT services and regulatory compliance package designed just for financial institutions.