The global economic recovery has meant many businesses that had prioritised the cost of IT implementations have moved toward focusing on the business value technology can add to the organisation.
The financial crisis which began in 2008 hit every sector hard, but wealth-management businesses were among the most directly affected. One such was asset-management firm London & Capital, that now manages over $4.3bn of assets.
CIO Glenn Murphy (pictured) says that, as the global economy picks up, London & Capital’s IT department has had to shift focus. “We are moving away from the national economic uncertainty of the last five years, where cost-appropriate solutions were foremost on everyone’s mind,” he says. “There is more confidence in moving towards systems that add business value and deliver real-time value to our clients and front-office staff.”
He says the IT department is underpinning the growth in business, creating systems to improve client reporting and management. But it’s not just about supporting business growth – regulatory developments have imposed demands for systems that will allow London & Capital to meet changing compliance needs. “Due to regulatory challenges, more pressure has been placed on the IT to meet those changes,” says Murphy.
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Murphy has worked in financial services IT for over ten years, with a particular focus on wealth-management. Over an 18-year career, his IT roles have ranged from re-insurance to business-to-business organisations. He has a degree in physics and computing from the Open University, as well as IT, business, project management and coaching qualifications and certifications. In his current role he is responsible for the IT and project management functions at London & Capital, where he has spent the last three years implementing major transformation projects.
He says the IT department uses a mix of in-house and external resources to support the business. “We are very proactive about using outsourced providers to support the business," he says. "It enables the department to remain scalable and focused on service provision.
“This year, one of our biggest investments will be in the private cloud.”
The company is moving its trade-order and portfolio management systems to a private cloud. “This is part of a major outsourcing approach which will enable us to remain scalable and flexible with our client’s needs in the years ahead.” He says the major investment comes after a gradual approach to the cloud. “It follows on from the stepping stones we put in place over the past three years to build and demonstrate a growing confidence in cloud.”
This gradual approach suits a company in the risk-averse finance sector. “The private cloud remains a strong option for us. We’ll continue this approach with new implementations and when we review existing services. The cloud has come a long way in the last five years, with more providers offering the safeguards the financial services industry needs.”
Another area where the company’s natural posture is to be interested but cautious is social media. As a financial services organisation, London & Capital watches social media “with a great deal of interest,” he says, identifying opportunities to improve how it communicates with clients.
The company is investing in mobile technology to improve customer engagement. “This is something we are investing in with third parties, bringing opportunities to our clients to receive the information they need, in the manner they want.”
Murphy believes the role of the CIO has changed dramatically over the last decade and will continue to do so. “Like all good leadership approaches, maintaining a strong, pragmatic approach to change is a necessity,” says Murphy.
He expects supplier management to become a more important skill. “With more technology being developed by dedicated IT companies, and the constant drive towards cloud and technology outsourcing, the role of the CIO will be one that looks for the technologies that will benefit the business. It will, however, lend itself more to developing heightened supplier and contract-management responsibilities, away from managing in-house teams.”
Murphy expects the people that make best use of data to have the most important role in the business. “With big data and analytics offering incredible value to organisations, those that understand the data, its value and how it can be used across all business functions will become the true chiefs of the future.”