A core systems strategy for rapid finance sector growth
Global wealth management provider
Our client is a leading provider of wealth management and insurance products for high-net-worth customers, operating across multiple global financial markets. Less than 10 years since it was founded in 2013, this young company has grown rapidly through acquisition. The result is a huge technical infrastructure of different applications and core systems.
Following its most recent acquisition, our client is now made up of four distinct ‘entities’, which are effectively separate companies. Areas such as leadership, products, processes and platforms have operated in siloes within each entity. This has left the organisation with an increasingly siloed infrastructure, in which teams struggled to scale and lacked the agility to respond to new regulations.
Fundamental decisions had to be made about the group’s roadmap.
esynergy was selected to conduct a review of core systems across the business’s four entities. Our client needed an unbiased assessment of each entity’s core platforms, coupled with product and technical strategy recommendations that enabled scale and ensured adherence to new and incoming financial regulations.
Our market-leading experts were able to deliver business recommendations from an experienced external perspective, and also advise on applications, system configurations and working practices to support these recommendations.
Our client’s top priority was to get our recommendations for new products that emerge organically. These are the products designed and built by our client’s existing capabilities and teams. A little further down the priority list came products that emerge inorganically, for example through acquisition.
esynergy also spotted opportunities to fine-tune architecture and development elements in and around these systems. These tweaks would facilitate future work in the business’s key area of propositions.
Our review: how it worked
esynergy analysed documents, materials and interviews provided by our client. We also looked at information available in the public domain.
We then drew up proposals, followed by a report, which contained recommendations for:
- Selecting and configuring primary systems for product launches and proposition development initiatives;
- Rationalising current policy and investment administration platforms, along with supplementary and supporting applications;
- Improving other enabling areas such as architecture, processes, training, operating models and governance.
Our review: what we discovered
Our client was already seeing small incremental improvements in the pace of launching and configuring new products. However, the business lacked the organisational maturity and process industrialisation to launch multiple high-quality products or product variants per year.
Based on those findings, we recommended that our client:
- Define and communicate a holistic digital strategy;
- Introduce a single group-wide core platform and digital forum, where all significant core decisions are discussed and approved. We recommended that this platform is designed in collaboration with business, architecture and engineering teams;
- Bring in a robotic process automation (RPA) team to scrutinise use cases, and recommend uses for robotics that don’t create additional layers of complexity;
- See and communicate technology as a value centre and strategic enabler, rather than purely about cost and efficiency.
Our recommendations: helping tech teams do more
esynergy’s team found that our client’s technical support teams lacked the capacity to absorb current demand, let alone future demand.
The organisation was overly reliant on a few highly experienced internal business and technical experts who were unable to scale beyond their limits. Our client did have access to reliable third-party experts who could provide extra capability on demand, but this access was limited.
Huge demand on internal teams left the system unable to deliver significant process improvements such as automation and environment provisioning. Experts didn’t have the capacity to onboard new resources, pay down technical debt or work on feature improvements and development.
Based on these findings, we recommended that our client:
- Use out-of-the-box product features from off-the-shelf applications, instead of developing and customising platforms to match non-standard processes;
- Run policy and investment admin platforms in headless mode where possible, and expose their services for use via integrations and APIs;
- Simplify and rationalise its core platforms and peripheral systems with regular progress reporting.
Our recommendations: improving core platforms
Our client runs a number of core platforms inherited from, or built to cater for, each of the organisation’s separate entities, regions or product requirements. Each entity has its own favoured core suite of applications.
esynergy’s team found that these systems frequently suffer issues such as duplicates and architectural problems, and this currently makes them unfit for our client’s planned future development.
We recommended that our client:
- Develop a clear strategy and decision framework for core platforms. This change in approach would require a period of simplification, rationalisation and paying down significant amounts of legacy and tech debt;
- Consolidate duplicate platforms, simplify and rationalise siloed teams and processes, and integrate to a group-wide data warehouse. These steps will help avoid unmanageable data migrations;
- Harmonise operating models and platforms where necessary, to ensure current and future regulatory compliance.
Addressing these issues will go some way to simplifying and rationalising our client’s core platforms.
Our recommendations: processes, product and people
Many of our recommendations sat across the whole business, including hiring and product development. These included:
- Introducing a single group-wide call platform for representatives across the business, including architecture and engineering, where all significant core platform decisions could be discussed and approved;
- Industrialising and developing capability for product development and launch, and investing in capability building, R&D and talent. This would allow the group to differentiate in the market, and scale with lower operational cost and risk.
The outcome: a scalable digital strategy
Our client is a relatively new business, but carries significant legacy. Its rapid growth and acquisitions mean it is juggling large technical debt and a complicated mix of technologies, processes and operating models in a highly regulated industry.
At the point of esynergy’s engagement, the organisation had reached a scale and complexity which, without targeted intervention, could lead to significant operational risk and costs. It would also have risked regulatory breeches, which in turn would result in significant fines.
Following our review, the organisation has set up an Architecture Board of Excellence, and esynergy has a monthly catch-up with the company’s CIO, with further projects under discussion. The group now has a clear strategy that will help all its teams adhere to fast-evolving regulations and support further rapid scale.