How Apps Will Change Investment Banking For The Better
Investment banks have been particularly slow in adopting enterprise apps compared to other industries, and the reasons go far deeper than a simple reluctance to change.
In fact, investment banking is an industry that generally finds it difficult to adopt new technologies for a variety of technical, regulatory and financial reasons. Until recently an added issue was also the industry’s partiality for BlackBerry smartphones.
However, as BlackBerry devices continue to be phased out and employees begin adopting iPhones and Androids, the possibilities for using and creating a custom-built investment banking app have become much higher.
Obstacles to enterprise app adoption
There are many obstacles stopping investment banks from adopting enterprise apps, but the main three are cost, meeting regulatory requirements and security concerns.
1. Cost. Although investment banks do not normally lack the funds to adopt new technologies, they are always keen to lower costs as much as possible. This means that when adopting any new technology they need to know that it will bring them return on investment.
Determining the value that apps could provide is therefore a main concern for investment banks, and the inability to offer exact estimates is often an obstacle.
As with all new technologies, data is normally scarce at the early adoption phase, and investment banks may be reluctant to take a leap of faith until they have seen the positive effects brought by enterprise apps to other banks.
However, if an investment banking app or apps can contribute to lowering costs, it will certainly be in banks’ interests to consider them.
2. Meeting regulatory requirements. Investment banking is an industry which must comply with strict regulatory standards. These standards are in the form of systems that carefully audit, monitor and report on trading activities.
As a consequence of these standards it is often difficult to bring about changes in technology, such as mobile apps, that do not completely align with regulatory systems.
However, there is great potential for mobile apps to be incorporated into these systems by being specifically used to carry out the very processes that are part of them. In this way, not only would apps not disrupt existing regulations, but they would actually help banks to conform to them while saving time.
3. Security. Finally, security is unsurprisingly a matter of major importance for investment banks. There are certainly concerns that allowing sensitive information to be put into mobile apps may breach the security systems in place.
Currently employees wishing to work remotely have to go through elaborate security systems to work on a laptop or a computer. Introducing mobile apps into the equation would make it necessary for mobile security issues to be addressed and the right security system to be put into place.
However not all areas of an investment bank need elaborate security systems. Areas such as sales, marketing and compliance do not handle the same kind of sensitive information as other areas, so these departments would be obvious first choices for introducing enterprise apps into the business.
Ultimately security is an obstacle that can be overcome, particularly with the many security solutions that mobile apps now integrate with.
What business areas of investment banks could apps benefit?
A sales support app is a great way to visually present information to clients at meetings.
Whether information to do with the product, analyzes or proposals, mobile apps can help investment banks to demonstrate what they can do.
Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones can be easily passed around among people, making for more dynamic and visually engaging meetings and helping clients to better understand an investment bank’s services.
Another area in which enterprise apps show great potential is in support.
An important support task is reporting incidents. This is normally in the form of a disaster-recovery system where employees carry a sheet of paper around with lists of all the relevant contact information in case there is a major incident.
Currently investment bank employees report incidents via text messages or other means, and this is an area where mobile apps have a lot of potential. What if incidents could be reported via mobile apps?
Not only would this make for a smoother reporting process, but it would also save banks considerable costs by moving away from paper-based systems. At the same time, contact information could be included in the app, and easily updated whenever needed, eliminating the risk of having out-of-date information.
Training and compliance
Another process that investment bank employees often go through is regular compliance and other forms of training.
Currently, this is normally done through interactive training and evaluation on a computer. However, investment bank employees often have to travel and go to external meetings, so offering a mobile solution would be beneficial by allowing them to complete this training remotely or during commuting time
Due to regulatory requirements at investment banks there is a lot of emphasis on CEOs and operating offices attached to trading desks and functions giving more regular reports.
In the past most of these reports were manual; figures and values were collected into a spreadsheet and sent to managers on a weekly or monthly basis.
However with the introduction of systems to ensure banks meet their regulatory requirements, this method of reporting has become much more automated, but still requires the need for lots of manual adjustments.
There is great potential for an app to integrate into this process, by picking up data from trading desks and creating reports on an automated basis and even monitoring trading desk activity on a real time basis.
Such an app would allow managers to see their desk trading activities and receive daily reports as well as give them the ability to refer to up-to-date reporting information from meetings and when on the move.
An app allowing trade floor IT support teams to track incoming issues while they are on the move from task to task could help make problem resolution much faster and enable traders to get on with their work sooner.
There is still a long way to go before investment banks adopt enterprise apps.
However, most of the common concerns preventing investment banks from embracing mobile apps and workflows can be addressed by existing mobile solutions; from ensuring high security standards, to ensuring that apps integrate with existing company solutions and workflows.
With the great benefits of enterprise apps being increasingly seen across industries, it is up to investment banks to take the necessary steps to enter the mobile-first world and become leaders in their industry.
Only then will they be able to reap the great benefits that apps can bring to all departments and workflows, including sales and marketing, training and reporting.