Our Insights

In conversation with Joanna Meager

Joanna Meager, Global Head, Product and Client Experience, Head I&TS UK, talks to Funds Europe about standardization and the realities of navigating through the pandemic.

Standardization across the asset servicing industry is vital to back-office efficiencies. Has standardization gone far enough to reduce operational friction and costs for asset managers and their clients? What sticking points remain, if any, and what needs to happen?

The circumstances brought about by COVID-19 have been a catalyst to standardize, automate and implement efficiencies and technology solutions across the industry at pace. While standardization remains a priority, it is only part of the wider journey. ‘Standardization’ can still include manual processes. The key to creating efficiencies, cost savings and reducing operational friction is digitizing manual processes. Digitizing time consuming, lower value tasks allows staff to focus on higher value activities often resulting in a better client experience.

While standardization remains a priority, it is only part of the wider journey.

Working with clients to understand their needs throughout the digitization journey is crucial. Rather than looking at ‘what’ needs to be done, the focus should be on ‘why’ it needs to be done in the first instance. Once we understand the ‘why’, there are usually more ways to approach and digitize the task. Collaboration is paramount to ensure clients’ goals and objectives are met every step of the way.

Please tell us something about the stresses and strains of delivering asset services during 2020, due to the onset of the virus and lockdown.

As RBC I&TS operates in 16 countries across North America, Europe and Asia, we felt the effects of the pandemic on a global level, and adapted quickly. Successfully transitioning over 90% of the global workforce to remote working, within weeks of the pandemic, provided a seamless experience for our clients. Not only did we continue to service clients, and exceed their expectations, but we did this whilst handling multi-fold increases in volumes compared to pre-COVID-19.

Prioritizing the wellbeing of our employees, through assisting with childcare, home office set up and technology needs meant that we could continue to deliver first class asset services to our clients during this difficult period.

The pandemic provided the opportunity to leverage our technology and expertise to ensure continuity for our clients whilst implementing new enhancements.

From a service standpoint, the pandemic provided the opportunity to leverage our technology and expertise to ensure continuity for our clients whilst implementing new enhancements. Some examples of digital enhancements we made in light of COVID-19 were: digital automatic payments, digital oversight reports / automated reporting, e-signature tools, enhancements to RBC One client portal, the implementation of real time live data dashboards and more.

The challenge now is to continue the momentum gained through these efficiencies and continue to look for ways to digitize the client experience.

What will custodians be focusing on most in the year ahead, both generally and with respect to asset management clients?

Digitization continues to be a top priority for the year ahead, as we build on our operating model, and work to digitize and automate key processes to enhance the client experience. We adapted seamlessly to a virtual working environment, which has enabled us to accelerate digital efficiencies across all aspects of the business, and has set us up to confidently enter 2021 with client service excellence at the centre. Giving all users, including clients, line of sight into our digital roadmap will encourage collaboration and strengthen trust, resulting in higher-value service to clients.

Maintaining positive momentum and continuously adapting and reimagining the client experience will be the key to success in the year ahead.

 

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Sources

  1. Originally published by Funds Europe (October 2020) Issue 190