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Is Financial services IT in a mess?

A reality check

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Tech Panel Whether it’s insurance or banking, those working in financial services keep coming in for a lot of stick. Over the years, many organisations have spent shed loads of money on IT, yet customers still complain about bad service, broken processes and the fact that nothing seems to be joined up. This brings the state of IT into sharp focus.

Financial services IT professionals are being pulled in all directions. New regulations have been coming in thick and fast, and there’s no end in sight. At the same time, everybody’s clamouring for ‘innovation’, insisting that improving customer service is top priority.

For many firms, all this is happening against a backdrop where legacy systems (some of them decades old) and more recent applications are held together by a complex mix of point-to-point connections and/or some kind of ‘backbone’. In some companies, it’s got so bad that a bowl of spaghetti might be mistaken for a simplified version of the systems diagram.

Needless to say, all this makes maintenance and upgrades a nightmare. And that’s before we’ve taken into account the demands for new applications, and useful reports and analysis to come out of those often fragmented and barely-held-together systems. Maybe it’s all getting too complex to handle? Then there’s the small matter of budgets. When it comes to regulatory compliance, extra money typically gets released sooner or later, even if only grudgingly. But for the rest, the refrain is “if you want to spend more, find savings somewhere else first”. That in turn can lead to corners being cut, with the almost inevitable consequence of systems outages, some of them in the full glare of publicity.

But who knows – maybe we exaggerate.

Whatever the truth, we want to find out, so if you have experience of the way technology is being used in banking, insurance and other parts of the financial services sector, or have views from another perspective then let us know in the comment box below.

Better still, if you work in the finance sector itself, tell us about the real pressures and constraints you are subject to through our latest Reg reader survey here.

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