Top 10 financial services IT stories of 2013

2013 has been the first year for a while when businesses have talked about growth. While the finance sector remains ultra-cautious there are investments being made in technology as customers demand new ways of interacting with banks

Businesses finally started talking about growth again in 2013. While the finance sector still remains ultra-cautious there are investments being made in technology as customers demand new ways of interacting with banks.

Regulation, regulation, regulation is the current mantra, being chanted in finance IT departments as regulatory bodies tighten the rules that control banks fearing a repeat of the carnage created by the 2008 financial services crash. For example, the Independent Banking Commissions report and subsequent ruling means banks must separate (ring-fence) their retail and investment operations.

But there are some positive signs that IT is seen as an important tool in the recovery. In retail banking, Barclays, for example, is transforming itself for the digital age. As is Nationwide Building Society, which has transformed its legacy infrastructure. Retail banks have to improve customer services with the ability to switch accounts easier than ever with the new seven-day switching service live.

But legacy systems are a major thorn in the side of banks. The failing in IT at the Royal Bank of Scotland, where customers have been locked out of their own accounts, is evidence that banks need to rip and replace systems that have been running for 40 years.

Here are Computer Weekly's top 10 articles that go some way towards painting a picture of 2013 for financial services IT:

1. Parliamentary commission calls for electrified banking ring-fence

A parliamentary report that looks at the effectiveness of plans to separate retail banks from investment banking operations has called for legislation to prevent breaches of the ring-fence.

2. Nationwide IT transformation is a launchpad for customer acquisition

Nationwide’s £1bn IT transformation is beginning to show its benefit as the building society launches its latest current account, in its bid to take a bigger share of the UK retail banking customer base.

3. Barclays expands Pingit to attract businesses

Barclays Bank has added two features to its Pingit app, which will appeal to businesses by making it easier for customers to buy goods and services using their phones.

4. Barclays bank trials touchscreen devices in branches

Barclays bank is to trial touchscreen devices in branches to add to its digital credentials, following the deployment of wireless in its branches.

5. How endemic is IT underinvestment in UK retail banking?

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) has failed to invest properly in its IT systems over the years, leading to a number of high-profile IT failures that have caused customers the ultimate discomfort of being unable to access their own money. But how endemic is this underinvestment in UK retail banking?

6. Bank account switching service project attracts global attention

The success of the Payments Councils project to introduce a system to reduce the time and complexity related to switching UK current account providers has stirred interest from overseas organisations.

7. Bank legacy systems will remain until CIO life expectancy increase

CIOs at banks lack the job security required to transform IT by replacing legacy systems that have been in place for decades. IT heads at banks are lucky to get two years in the job, so to take on a multi-year project as complicated as legacy replacement is seen as professional suicide.

8. Technology you can bank on

Social media is being used by a group of entrepreneurs to create a bank that uses the technology to overcome the cost and complexity of traditional banking, while increasing customer trust through an online community.

9. CIO Interview: Matthew Oakeley, global IT head of Schroders

Matthew Oakeley left Oxford University with a law degree but switched to a career in IT. After 11 years at Swiss investment bank UBS he joined asset management company Schroders, where he has been global head of IT for eight years.

10. CIO interview: Yann L’Huillier, Tradition

When Yann L’Huillier joined trading firm Tradition in April 2010. He had a three-pronged challenge: to prepare the organisation for increasing electronic trading; rebalance IT budgets to favour its trading activity – rather than merely keeping the lights on; and to restructure the global IT organisation.

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