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The financial services sector operates in a highly regulated landscape of ever-changing legislative requirements that often impact or compete with organisational growth goals.

Efforts around operational efficiency, optimising business processes, innovating product development and pricing, compete heavily with strategies focused on product improvement and speed-to-market.

While many organisations look to consolidate back-end management systems, outsource parts of their IT infrastructure or engage outsource providers to manage their claims process, few have looked at addressing the challenges they face each time there is some new financial regulation change and how that impacts disclosure production - these being at the very core of finance service organisations.

These challenges are explored in more detail in the executive brief, Constant Regulatory Change:  Annoying distraction or transformation opportunity? and shows that there is a clear opportunity to streamline and transform these processes to deliver increased efficiency, ensure compliance, improve risk management and better support the strategic business goals of the organisation.

The executive brief validates the business case for finance organisations to invest in streamlining existing disclosure and product document processes, pointing to a 30-50% improvement in the end-to-end management of product portfolios and disclosure documentation.


Challenges of the process

While business priorities point to the need for efficiency, compliance and risk management, financial service organisations aren’t currently providing investment or tools to support these priorities in relation to the authoring, approval and publishing of their disclosure documents.

Most organisations follow a highly manual, multifaceted disclosure process that spans across multiple departments where both internal and external contributors are using disconnected and outmoded tools.

As a result, there is an overly complex process prone to error and generating significant rework, unnecessarily adding to the cost and risk of managing the product portfolio.

Many participants are involved in the process; often spread across divisions, locations and even time zones.  New documentation requires the attention of cross-functional teams comprising product management, compliance, legal, marketing, publishing and underwriting.

Additionally, the tools being used by most organisations to manage the disclosure process are inadequate in collaborative capabilities and cannot proficiently manage and consolidate multiple stakeholders’ input, comments, reviews and approval.  Typically, creating or updating any disclosure or product documentation involves emailing multiple versions of Word documents to various internal and external collaborators, who then manually have to track and consolidate changes.  This manual process carries considerable risk in terms of version control and human error.


The impact of deficient tools and processes

Financial service organisations are expending significant resources to manage this highly complex process to ensure the delivery of accurate documentation to the market.  A complex process coupled with inadequate tools leads to increase risk across the entire business, exposing them to commercial, compliance and reputational risk.

With product rolls that are conducted at least once or twice per year, and which can take up to 3 months, it comes as no surprise that launching new products and associated disclosure documentation takes the typical organisation longer than 12 weeks. This lack of agility enormously impacts time-to-market and the ability to rapidly respond to changing commercial or regulatory conditions.

This process continues to be an immensely costly and resource-consuming exercise.  Until now, the cost and impact has been hidden, often spread across multiple areas of the business.


A fresh approach to disclosure production

Whilst many organisations accept that disclosure production is an inevitable  “cost of business”, others are seizing the opportunity offered by digital transformation initiatives to fundamentally re-think how outcomes are achieved. Mature organisations are taking a holistic approach to transforming traditional product disclosure processes to better align with customer-centric delivery models and, at the same time, achieve streamlined portfolio management, delivering significant reductions in cost and risk.

Customer Communication Management initiatives are delivering on the promise of mass personalisation. However, efficiently delivering on customer-centric initiatives requires transformation to occur “from the inside out”. The entire product portfolio definition, description, disclosure, personalisation and delivery processes need to be effectively “joined up” to fully address all stakeholder’s needs.

  • Product Managers need more efficient ways to manage the process of updating, reviewing and verifying disclosure related content; but more than that, their contribution in terms of intellectual property is often “lost in translation" along the process to publication.
  • Risk and Governance Officers face a constant battle to ensure disclosed information is accurate and not misleading, in an environment requiring rapid turnaround as a result of compliance changes and product updates.
  • Marketing Teams need to ensure the quality of the output, in an environment where multiple brands and client-specific customisations apply to similar common content.

A solution with collaborative authoring, workflow, approval and publishing engine capabilities ensures that documents and digital assets required under disclosure legislation are structured, managed, updated, authorised and published to the organisation’s brand guidelines, removing the historic challenges of manual processes, content and approval coordination, heavy formatting and expensive design and studio bills.

By incorporating proven techniques - enabled by highly intuitive software designed to address the core challenges of disclosure production - leading financial services organisations are already realising significant benefits, increasing process efficiency and delivering products to market in “internet time”, whilst at the same time significantly reducing the risk associated with traditional product disclosure activities.

To read more about streamlining the product disclosure process download the executive brief, visit Objective or email [email protected].