FinServ Technology Optimization and MSPs

Technology Optimization for FinServ Companies and the Role MSPs Play

In any organization, technology optimization—the need to ensure that your infrastructure is consistently operating at the highest possible levels—is critical. For financial services companies, the combination of vast amounts of customer and other data they house and expectations around user experience technology innovation and “always on” service makes it absolutely critical.

“Given those needs, taking steps to ensure that your technology is operating at an optimal level needs to be a core consideration,” notes Scott Spatz, partner and President of Cooperative Systems. “It’s something we have built our normal operating procedure around—taking that time and initiative to step back from day-to-day service and operations to evaluate our current infrastructure and evaluate our roadmap going forward. We actively work to understand what’s working well and what’s not, taking the time to do the risk analyses and scans of our environment to consistently ensure its integrity.”

To that last point, consistently testing the integrity of any technology environment is key to keeping it optimized. 

“Beyond the general guardrails you have in place and monitoring that helps to identify anomalies and threats is taking a proactive approach to technology optimization,” Spatz says. “That means taking steps such as penetration testing, additional vulnerability testing, simulated phishing and social engineering attempts, and more. Think of consistently stress-testing your environment and making adjustments based on the insights you gain as a technology optimization cycle.”

FinServ Technology Optimization Needs

For financial institutions and financial services companies, regulatory and compliance bodies can sometimes dictate technology needs and expectations.

“Part of what those organizations need to account for are ongoing compliance changes or updates that might impact data security or general cybersecurity needs, and that’s a loop that never really stops,” Spatz says. “That’s one key component. The other is ensuring that your technology is consistently aligned with where your company is headed from a strategic standpoint.”

It’s a delicate balance, and determining where the opportunities lie, along with the pitfalls, requires near-constant attention. 

For example, the rise in AI in almost every sector presents unique decision-making challenges regarding technology optimization in terms of determining what’s appropriate for the institution and how it can best be implemented.

“AI is a good example of that, where we see opportunities for efficiency improvements across many different businesses,” he says. “The possibility of better customer service, improved decision-making, faster data analysis, and more is relatively new and clearly attractive. But given that risks exist—many of which are not yet known—highly regulated businesses like financial services need to be deliberate about what they implement. AI might be a form of optimized technology, but there’s still more work to be done in terms of effectively and securely using AI for a financial institution. Think about the recent issues with deep fakes and the person in the UK who was tricked into releasing millions of dollars, thinking their financial institute’s CEO had approved the transaction. We see the benefits, but want to be circumspect about how we implement any technology.”

Instances like those described above also highlight the need for staff training and clear policies. 

“Education, training, and policies are critical,” he says. “That includes communication. You might have excellent policies, but if you’re not consistently communicating them and training staff, it doesn’t much matter. Any business’ biggest risk is their staff, because so much vulnerability to scams and hackers can be introduced through, so they need to be regularly reminded about what to look for and how to look for it. And for financial institutions and services firms, that vulnerability can be particularly devastating should a breach occur.”

MSPs Ease the Burden

For regulated businesses like financial services, managed service providers (MSPs) can provide valuable support when it comes to technology optimization and maintaining infrastructure needs in general.

“You’re able to lean on the expertise, breadth, and depth of an organization that does this day in and day out, keeping financial institutions and services firms covered,” says Spatz. “When you think of the needs—network infrastructure, cybersecurity, data centers, backup and disaster recovery, and more—an MSP offers access to the technology expertise, tools, resources, and systems that community banks, credit unions, and other firms typically don’t have. In addition, having an entire team with a range of technology expertise applied to your organization day in and day out, allows you to focus on running your business and not worrying about managing IT needs.”

Spatz also calls out the difference between an MSP and an IT service company. Generally, an IT service provider is a smaller organization that may not have the depth an MSP provides, given its larger, more diverse staff and range of tools and resources. 

“An MSP’s expanded scope also offers economies of scale,” Spatz offers. “For example, given our size and capabilities, we have the ability to provide more comprehensive, thoroughly managed services packages and a guaranteed level of service. As an established MSP, we’ve been optimizing technology for the financial services sector since the mid-2000s, providing a managed services platform based on our understanding of their particular needs and regulatory compliance requirements. We regularly participate in their auditing cycles, work with financial services organizations’ core service providers, and know their workflows and how they integrate with a financial institution’s infrastructure.”

“We have depth and history in the financial services space, and have evolved with it, consistently improving our ability to provide the comprehensive tools and systems to better manage and support our clients in the sector,” Spatz continues. “In short, we’ve been optimizing technology for our financial sector clients for better than two decades.”

Contact us to learn how Cooperative Systems can help optimize your firm’s technology for your current needs and in the future.