Why Your Front Office Needs a Data-Driven Culture

May 8, 2024
Read Time: 6 minutes
Inst'l Asset Managers

In the age of digital transformation, financial institutions are continuously seeking innovative ways to stay ahead of the curve. A critical aspect of this transformation lies in creating a future-ready front office. Leveraging the power of data can help firms optimize their client interactions, enhance operational efficiency, and unlock new areas of growth. With the right data analytics tools, firms can deliver customized experiences at scale, make more informed investment decisions, and generate increased revenue growth.

But it’s not enough to have the right tools and technologies. Firms will have to connect the dots between insights and technologies, build a broader vision on how to apply them, and ensure end-to-end integration exists.

Transformative potential

The real value of data lies in extracting meaningful insights and using them to make informed decisions. Using advanced analytical tools and technologies helps firms gain a deeper understanding of their clients, identify emerging trends, and make forward-thinking decisions based on educated predictions.

Equipping front- to back-office teams with data-powered solutions and the right skillsets helps to put the growing volumes of data to use. This is not driven by technology alone, but rather by a holistic view, including:

  • Strategy and organization: Shared understanding of the value created by the entire organization and how this information can be harnessed, managed, and utilized.
  • Process and controls: Processes that allow a firm to organize and efficiently use data.
  • Data and technology: The embrace of partnerships to take advantage of the latest technologies.
  • Governance: A clear framework for data governance whose goal is efficiency and compliance.
  • People: Retaining, attracting, upskilling, and supporting the right talent with the right capabilities.

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Driving culture from the top down

Used thoughtfully, vast volumes of data can help a firm embrace a fresh era of innovation. As firms in financial markets respond to perpetual change, the chief data officer (CDO) plays a critical role in guiding their team in understanding and conceptualizing how to put data to work.

A skilled CDO can harness the enthusiasm about how to use data to transform the way their firm works from top to bottom. But it’s the knowledge behind the data that allows a user to put it to work and extract value from it. As firms continue to collect, store, and analyze increasing volumes of data, the importance of a leader committed to the role is paramount to a firm’s ability to execute their vision for the future. And, critically, front-office buy-in is necessary to develop a comprehensive roadmap.

Building confidence in data

In addition to instilling the value of a data-driven culture, a CDO can be effective in helping others understand the benefits of data and obtain “buy-in” from other executive leaders. Equally as important, a CDO must have the creative freedom to build a robust infrastructure and the skills to execute on it, helping others to see opportunities to build upon.

Agility is also paramount in this role. Adapting new tools, promoting data literacy, empowering teams to use data in their daily roles, and ensuring easy access to tools that enable independence are now essential to success.

Questions a CDO might ask

Moving toward being a data-driven culture requires a change of mindset and behavior, attitudes, and habits. New technologies, solutions, and establishing team roles require support from the right skillsets and capabilities.

Financial firms of the future will be looking for a new breed of data stewards who can handle sophisticated data analysis, while demonstrating fluent communication skills, business acumen, and political know-how.

  • Does your team or department have the right skillsets and capabilities to support a data-driven organization?
  • Does the firm structure support a data-driven culture?
  • Are the right people engaged across the firm?

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Transforming the Front Office

Firms must ensure data is accessible and usable throughout their organization. A robust technology infrastructure and self-serviceable tools will help diverse teams engage with data in a more meaningful, efficient, and holistic manner, with a focus on:

Technological infrastructure

  • Centralized data environment
  • Scalability and flexibility
  • Interactive tools

Process implementation

  • Robust governance
  • Data quality management
  • Effective cataloging and metadata

Data-driven decisions

  • Single source of truth
  • Unifying disparate data sources
  • A focus on the costs of data management
  • Enterprise-wide data strategy

To compete now and succeed in the future, firms will have to commit to a strategic, data-driven culture. Still, there will be challenges to address:

  • Though data creation is increasing, it’s still true that too few firms are effectively using data to gain a competitive advantage.
  • Becoming truly data-driven involves linking a data strategy to clear outcomes and prioritizing data as a strategic asset.
  • Data-driven firms will miss opportunities unless they lean into the value of advanced and emerging technologies.

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Investing in people, tools, and resources

Employees must be trained for the different roles that come with the advent of a data culture. Investing in the tools and resources needed to promote data-driven skills is key. A thoughtful front office and CDO will plumb their firm’s internal pool of talent and help them reach their full potential.

Unearthing existing talent from within the firm can be a win for everyone:

  • Developing, growing, and educating talent from within can increase the breadth and depth of data-driven capabilities.
  • Putting the right motivational factors in place to achieve long-term retention where there is clear purpose is critical to success.

Don’t get held back by an “intuitive” culture

Some firms still maintain a “gut feeling” culture, where decisions are made based on experience and intuition. From this starting point, transformation can be challenging.

Firms can be challenged not so much by the lack of usable data or the necessary software, but by issues of behavior, beliefs about the use of data, and lack of cross-functional collaboration. To reimagine the innovation, growth, and increased efficiency that insightful uses of data can bring, a firm might have to confront some old behaviors:

  • Lack of a firm-wide data strategy, front-office support, and employee buy-in
  • Poor data quality that requires excessive time and effort to cleanse
  • Lack of transparent, trusted, and integrated data that is accessible at speed
  • Fragmented data and a slow data supply chain owing to legacy systems and outdated governance practices

Integrate new technologies to serve your goals

Leaders who create a robust framework to identify, evaluate, and integrate technology can empower internal teams with the proper tools to curate data, build pipelines, generate reports, and run analytics without external dependencies. Putting this power in a firm’s hands is another key element in creating data independence. By giving teams the ability to create value from their unique data, firms can take an important step toward cementing the internal acceptance of a data-driven culture.

Put it on repeat: Data is a strategic asset that drives growth

Data-driven front offices can maximize the value of data — using it to innovate and as a base to make critical firm-wide decisions. Firms with a forward-looking view are characterized by a strong data foundation, cloud-based optimization, and an insights-driven culture — open to AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics at their core.

Data-driven front offices are laser-focused on optimizing internal operations. By leveraging data analytics, firms can streamline processes, automate routine tasks, eliminate bottlenecks, and ultimately increase efficiency and cost savings.

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The right partner can help

Firms that aspire to enhance client satisfaction, optimize operations, and refine their strategic direction are investing in powerful technologies and analytics expertise. However, progress can be challenging without an explicitly formulated and communicated data strategy embedded within the firm’s culture.

To learn about more ways to transform your organization and how customized solutions may benefit your firm, read our article on Organizing Your Securities Data with a Security Master.

Matt Weisman
Matt is Vice President of Business Development at Arcesium. In this role, Matt is responsible for working closely with clients and prospects to solve complex business challenges, while helping them streamline their investment operations and data management functions.


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Matt WeismanVice President of Business Development, Arcesium

Matt is Vice President of Business Development at Arcesium. In this role, Matt is responsible for working closely with clients and prospects to solve complex business challenges, while helping them streamline their investment operations and data management functions.

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