Finance company’s operational resilience has been tested to the limits this year with COVID-19 creating unexpected challenges and changing the way businesses operate globally. When it comes to delivering business as usual, finance companies need to place great importance on an accurate and fit for purpose CRM system.

Operational resilience

The operational resilience which is defined as the ability of an organization to continue to provide business services in the face of adverse operational events by anticipating, preventing, recovering from, and adapting to such events. The fundamental principle is “bend, but don’t break.” By Oliver Wyman, has been a focus for regulators to monitor during this year.

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This operational resilience is going to be a key factor for investors when looking at which companies they predict have a future in the financial industry. We’re going to start seeing regulators looking particularly closely at how firms refine their resilience plans in the coming months, how they approach the governance of their operational resilience and the quality of their crisis communications.

The need for digital-based services

One way that COVID-19 has demanded operational resilience out of the financial industry is by forcing the adoption of digital-based services and remote working. There are however a few issues with the accelerated, forced adoption of digital-based services; for instance, the need for consistent collection and safe storage of customer data intensifies greatly.

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If you fail to consider CRM and data requirements you run the risk of not being GDPR compliant, which can be disastrous for financial businesses. Sourcing smart data capture and safe storage for your customer data have to take priority in this digital age of business we find ourselves in. This is a clear indicator of operational resilience in 2020 and should be part of any financial companies’ business plan moving forward.

Customer communications

With the move towards digital-based services, there are many nuisances that need to be taken into consideration. For example, certain physical barriers can impact processes that operate on a global scale, like sending out communications to clients in other countries with other time zones.

Physical barriers include:

  • Time - if you don’t have enough hours in the day to respond to emails, update your website or create content for other channels, and if you share information at a time when people are not listening.
  • Place - if you try to communicate with people on a channel they don’t already use, or where they aren’t receptive to the information you’re trying to share.
  • Medium - if your digital communication tools fail to work as expected, such as if an algorithm hides your message or if the people you need to reach don’t have access to the appropriate software.

COVID-19 has forced businesses to incorporate solid crisis communication plans into their processes. Including internal communications, contact with customers and with other relevant external stakeholders including regulators themselves.

In order to be able to run effective communications, ask the question “is my CRM equipped to handle sending out communications to customers?”. By this I mean are you capturing and storing the right data in your CRM to effectively communicate with your customers.

CRMs need regular cleaning and enrichment to help keep the data stored there actionable. If the data is outdated your communications will likely never reach your customers.

Strengthening cybersecurity

For financial companies in particular who may be handling masses of sensitive information, ensuring your cyber-security is up to scratch should be of the utmost importance. Security is a key player in your operational resilience, as it helps you stand against any malicious threats that may affect your customers and their data privacy.

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With the move to more digital-based services, COVID-19 has seen a lot of companies adopt a remote working culture that can if not addressed leave your financial institution more vulnerable than before to cyber-attacks.

With a growing number of finance employees taking their work home with them, they have become an even more attractive target for cyber-attacks.

Employees use a mixture of tech to work:

  • Tablets
  • Mobile phones
  • Personal laptops
  • File-sharing services

The more tech employees use to access sensitive information, the greater number of access points, resulting in more open doors through which cybercriminals can gain access to valuable data. Remote employees oftentimes fall victim to phishing scams or have their devices hacked due to weak authentication methods, creating new security challenges for corporate IT teams.

Secure Data Feature

Putting focus into keeping your customer data stored within a CRM can help protect against these types of attacks. Keeping your data in one place under lock and key will minimise the access routes, however, outdated CRMs can leave your company wide open for a potential attack.

Sometimes the burden of changing to a new CRM system seems so huge that companies struggle along with an outdated, perhaps bespoke CRM system. The problem with using outdated software is it becomes more vulnerable to attack. Developers for CRM software will work on fixing new threats as hackers create them, so if your system is old or a bespoke system that is under-staffed then it could be a high-risk system.

This is why regular updates to your CRM must be carried out, ensuring you have the most up-to-date version will help protect your data against most cyber-attacks that we know of. The nature of cyber-attacks means they are always changing which is why regular CRM process reviews are a must.

Financial services operational resilience in 2021

Regulators should take a lot of lessons from how the financial sector performs during the COVID-19 lockdowns, both in terms of finding out what existing processes and tools worked best, but also identifying vulnerabilities that need to be addressed due to a focus on digital-services and remote working.

Although the implementation of some actions might be delayed due to the pandemic, the regulatory focus on operational resilience in financial firms can only increase, from what is an already high baseline.

You can never be too careful; it takes a lifetime to build a reputation and minutes to shatter.

If you want to talk to our data services team about how best to implement operational resilience through CRM management then get in touch to schedule a chat.

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