Technology & Data
Our Technology Expertise
C&A Consulting provides financial services technology and business process re-engineering insight enabling our clients to achieve operating performance excellence, growth and efficiency. C&A works with clients to implement effective data management and governance structures necessary for strong internal control and regulatory compliance.
Our current, active engagements are focused on a combination of strategic and tactical cornerstones across the firm’s technology infrastructure and operating environment. Our focus is on proactive support for mission-critical functions and process controls, business continuity and enhanced security, and delivery of best-in-class servicing outcomes. Technology is a key sustainability factor in keeping costs low, facilitating the launch of new products and services with core controls and governance of sensitive data and access.
C&A’s Technology practice delivers:
- Strategic Structural Advice
- Systems Integration Implementations
- Key Investment Descision-making
- Information Security Management
- Infrastructure operations Assessments
- Project and Program Management
- Tactical Project Execution
- Vendor Selection and Management Program
- Data Management Platform Implementations
- Data Governance and Quality Programs
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Planning
C&A excels in leading complex strategic transformations, with equal capacity to effectively guide tactical baseline assignments. Our experience enables clients to gain a ‘time to market’ advantage in moving from concept to execution safely and methodically.
C&A will work closely with your organization to achieve your technology infrastructure goals and align with business strategies to support innovations and priorities that drive growth.
The following examples exemplify ways in which C&A’s work has delivered practical strategies and efficient executions for clients:
- Performed comprehensive technology assessments of a firm’s operating infrastructure, business practices and processes and run concurrent program tracks covering platform replacements, build out of a data warehouse, deployment of regulatory reporting, overhaul and virtualization of the desktop and server environments, deployment of an active-active disaster recovery infrastructure, etc.
- Managed the selection and replacement of core accounting, portfolio management, data warehouse and infrastructure in leading alternative investment firms.
- Managed development and implementation of a complete 1st line/2nd line technology operation and risk management oversight structure for an industry-leading company
- Managed development of the complementary business operations for a data management program to move from basic data stewardship to active management and control over data quality and remediation
- Project management and guidance of an independent review and assessment with the business sponsor, technology team, stakeholders and third-party vendors
- Evaluated major platform environments for portfolio accounting and management effectiveness; enabled the selection process and deployment of such platforms
- Reviewed major technology vendors in the fund administration and accounting industry for several different clients, and enabled the deployment of business process changes along with changes to firms’ technology architecture
- Evaluated current state structure, and then designed and executed remediation of business continuity, resilience and disaster recovery plans
- Recommended third-party vendors and procurement services to support decision-making for outsourcing (and in some cases, retaining) IT systems and management functions
- Provided oversight and reviewed development of a data lake, data warehouse environments using an MDM (master data management) structure as well as an ESB (enterprise services bus) messaging platform, supporting the business reporting and business intelligence tool structure for a major mortgage servicer
- Led the program management and business requirements, design, testing and rollout of a private wealth management technology portal for the client-facing division of a boutique global bank
Increased Financial Services Regulation and Compliance
The financial services industry continues to face heightened regulatory scrutiny and compliance, particularly since the 2010 Dodd-Frank reform and numerous federal, state and regulator-based provisions, thereafter. Corporate financial reporting and disclosure requirements have added new pressures on firms to demonstrate greater transparency and accountability to investors, customers, regulators and key stakeholders, resulting in substantial changes to the way technology is designed and deployed in many firms.
Company leaders are now also being held to a higher public and social responsibility standard than in the past, and consequently expect investments in technology to help drive new business while providing robust and reliable systems and infrastructure, including privacy protection and security. This requires deployment of flexible operating platforms and tools, data governance and well thought-out, documented business processes, paired with automated controls and dashboards supporting a culture of compliance and security. For example, advanced software technology and automated processes can help extract critical insights and perform data reconciliation and reporting across multiple sources, systems and interfaces.
Rapid Advances in Technology
Keeping pace with transformational changes in technology presents both a challenge and a mandate for today’s successful financial services organization. Advances in IT solutions, standards, and protocols require rigorous management and oversight to ensure efficient operations and healthy returns. Outside intelligence on new tools and capabilities also creates a rapid and often chaotic pace of technology evolution where mis-steps can set firms back materially.
Faster technology product cycles and upgrades, combined with new IT skills needed to manage these solutions, have prompted organizations to explore automating day-to-day processes that drive efficiency and improve the customer experience.
Front- to back-office operations must be flexible to accommodate unique, revised requirements for new trade and transaction entry processes, data access control, portfolio maintenance and reporting, including custody and record reconciliation. For example, deploying a new sales management tool, document management solution, system upgrade or data center migration will often involve multiple, yet disconnected stakeholders. With advances in technology, companies can seamlessly integrate disparate systems with a well-conceived plan that improves efficiency, control and collaboration. The evolution of connecting some of these capabilities directly into social media technology also creates a new level of active controls and oversight to be efficiently integrated into the firm’s architecture and operations.
Complexity in It
In today’s business economy, organizations continue to grapple with complex IT systems and processes, creating dynamic but often unpredictable environments. Organizations are increasingly faced with new challenges to achieve consensus in decision-making processes and avoid potential stalemates when selecting technology platforms, architectures and solutions. Firms must organize to adapt to changed rules and regulations, customer demand and investor due diligence, with managed cost and speed. IT must align with the business to ensure mission-critical environments respond to customers’ needs. A flexible, comprehensive and secure IT environment is a prerequisite to operating success and growth.
Streamlining of IT may be achieved by implementing a flexible and straightforward, yet completely virtualized environment. By reshaping IT into a more complete and integrated structure, one can reduce IT complexity, leverage shared resources, and increase the overall usefulness and performance of integrated applications and data. Advances in ‘cloud-based’ security and architecture are accelerating this adoption, a trend which C&A has deep experience in.
Technology should enhance enterprise knowledge management, operating efficiency and the client experience. Proactive data governance can facilitate improved decision-making, sustained corporate performance and enhanced collaboration augmented with the use of predictive analytics and warehouse solutions to realize data’s full potential.
Management of risk is an executive priority in financial services organizations today. Risk management exists in many forms, including financial, IT, operations, market, security, reputation, organizational, etc. Various incidents or events that compromise IT can adversely impact a firm’s operations and processes. Therefore, assessing the probability of a risk event or incident with predicted impacts, or consequences, is essential.
Technology investment and best practices can mitigate institutional risk and detect threats, vulnerabilities, and asset exposures to thwart business disruption, corporate reputational damage, and impaired client relationships with severe financial consequences.
A confluence of industry and regulatory drivers impact risk management and include the following:
- Regulatory environment. Firms must fulfill new registration, financial reporting, audit, and disclosure requirements. Investor due diligence has changed how data is collected, organized, reported and communicated. Diligence efforts often entail third-party administration of books and records, a robust business continuity strategy, and a higher degree of transparency in disclosure.
- Breaches of data security and confidentiality. These serious problems could impact your firm, your customers, and your investors. Although public data breaches have captured the major headlines and attention, many other forms of data breaches and inappropriate access continue to be problematic across the business community. Advanced planning and a strategic approach enables companies to prepare for the worst and avoid eroding market share, damaged corporate reputation and financial fiasco.
- Legacy / Inertia. The “legacy” of how a firm’s internal structure, and increasing cost of resistance to change (whether political, economic, or lack of experience with newer technologies and vendor products) have evolved over time, stem from:
- Custom-developed applications which operate in silos
- Obsolete systems requiring expensive, risky technology change to keep up with changes in the business
- Multiple accounting systems
- Reactive decision-making culture
Managing a Controlled Environment
A major challenge to controlling and managing a firm’s technology and operating environment is the deployment of third-party solutions and services, including critical applications such as order management, CRM, risk management and the general ledger. Creating environments that leverage such capabilities, while maintaining proper control over the change management processes and data privacy, is essential to the firm’s business operation.
Deployment of a well-designed control framework, alongside process workflow, will enable the firm to optimize resources, including third-party services, while protecting the integrity and security of the operating model.
What / How C&A delivers
Key Business Outcomes
- Assess technology and develop recommendations to improve infrastructure/services, business practices, controls, costs and sourcing
- Define requirements and guide implementation of critical reporting, content management, data systems, etc.
- Restructure, ‘revitalize’ and assess business practices, technology and operating structure, controls and processes
- Update and re-rationalize operating systems, core applications and business and software tools to current competitive systems available
- Redesign business process workflows to improve transparency, disclosure and reporting
- Remediate operational, governance, compliance and resource deficiencies
- Develop a strategic plan to identify operational efficiencies and opportunities for improvement; rationalize virtualization technologies to cost contain and streamline the overall platform
- Rebuild platform and operating structures on a selected basis for integrated, updated and enhanced functionality
- Improve workforce productivity and reduce costs, including through off- and near-shoring staff
- Strengthen technology controls, communications and oversight
- Streamline the delivery of infrastructure services and improve the consistency of the end-user experience
- Remediate technology strategic planning to enhance business continuity and disaster recovery
- Facilitate data center migrations
- Deploy virtualized platforms, support mobile functionality and remote desktop engineering
- Identify data governance operating requirements and gaps
- Review critical systems and workflow
- Review the enterprise architecture, platform and data design
- Identify capable inside and third-party vendor services and oversee custom development life cycle steps
- Validate and strengthen the technical and user testing frameworks including scripting and quality control
- Enhance the control frameworks to improve oversight
Data Management and Governance
- Validate and develop the firm’s data management model
- Confirm and facilitate proper technology and business ownerships and communication protocols
- Review or implement a data quality lifecycle
- Establish controls and leadership accountability over data
- Review the plans and structure that secure the IT environment and data
- Review and identify the tools, vendors and roles surrounding InfoSec/CISO operations
- Validate the existence of an appropriate 1st line and 2nd line defense structure including roles definition
- Review the analytics and reporting requirements and enhance functionality, as needed
Risk & Regulatory
- Define risk assessment and management processes
- Enhance business controls and financial reporting
- Manage the due diligence review
- Train staff to improve oversight and strengthen compliance
- Develop technology and operations infrastructure and business processes
- Create enterprise technology and data governance strategy and program
- Identify best practices and implementation steps for an enterprise data management program
- Provide project leadership and guidance to coordinate sponsors, stakeholders, technology teams and third-party vendors
- Facilitate the transition of key senior management roles
- Recommend systems and best-in-class third-party vendors and expert solutions
- Improve the quality and consistency of the end-user experience and delivery of infrastructure services, including key performance indicators and standards
Examples of C&A technology engagements