A new Refinitiv report, Workspace Without Limits, explores the data challenges financial professionals are facing, and the role that technology, interoperability and programming skills play in solving for some of these challenges; enhancing productivity, and helping firms differentiate against the competition.
- Our survey of 1,200 financial professionals shows new ways of working are urgently needed to keep up with an industry undergoing rapid digital transformation.
- Open architecture capabilities and interoperability standards are needed to drive simplicity and speed, and address the data challenges associated with app overload.
- Firms need to be investing in the workflows of tomorrow. Growing numbers of financial professionals are already learning the language of data – programming skills – to improve efficiency and create more time for higher-value tasks.
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From investment bankers to analysts to portfolio managers, the message from the 1,200 financial professionals worldwide surveyed in Workspace Without Limits was the same: traditional ways of working are no longer keeping pace in an industry being rapidly transformed by digital technology.
In 2021 this is especially true, with the drive to digital given extra impetus by the COVID-19 pandemic – 86 percent of financial professionals say the pandemic had made their organisation more digital and data-centric.
I was struck by findings that revealed the challenges of those still working in data silos and closed environments, continually importing and exporting data manually between Excel sheets. For example, some 40 percent of senior bankers surveyed report delays caused by swapping data between applications; 37 percent report errors.
Perhaps more surprisingly, all respondents say they typically use nine different applications to complete a single task – which undoubtedly has an impact on productivity.
Open and interoperable standards are key
This message of frustration is paired, however, with a message of optimism.
The industry is awake to the problems and is either moving towards embracing open architecture and new, interoperable ways of working – or preparing to do so.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents say their company participates in working groups on developing interoperability standards.
LSEG has an important role to play here, and our commitment to an open access philosophy will help us better support our customers’ needs across the financial markets value chain.
It’s not just about promoting community and efficiency within the markets. It’s also ensuring that customers have choices in the way they work and consume content whether that’s to build, buy or partner solutions.
The ability to access high-quality data flexibly, so that it commingles and interoperates with other data sources, becomes a key component for those looking to benefit from more transparency and control over their data use.
Upskilling the next generation of financial professionals
Our report also highlights that the industry is adopting coding to build more advanced data models and automate routine tasks. Already, 20 percent of financial professionals told us they code at work; a further 54 percent say they are either learning or would like to learn.
One of the most interesting benefits of coding that respondents see is the ability to differentiate amongst the competition: 81 percent of those that use coding in presentations tell their clients about it to demonstrate the breadth of modelling and testing that went into the thinking.
Not all professionals will be keen to make the switch in the immediate term, but the next generation of bankers and analysts may not have a choice.
Internships at major buy-side financial firms now require graduates to be able to code in Python. Five years ago, that wasn’t the case, but the industry is very clearly shifting – firms need to create time for upskilling and experimenting with new tools in order to remain competitive and retain top talent.
I hope you enjoy reading Workspace Without Limits. It shows the financial services industry at a tipping point, convinced of the benefits of open architecture and the willingness to embrace it.
It also shows that the industry is hungry for new ways of working with data to deliver more meaningful business outcomes – from better deal flow to broader coverage universes with potentially higher returns – only if equipped with the right tools, skills and sponsorship.