Contributed by George Ralph of RFA
RFA is an IT, financial cloud and cyber-security provider to the financial services and alternative investment sectors.
In the last 12 months the alternative investment sector has learnt to expect the unexpected and to embrace change to the best of our ability. In business terms more than any other, making decisions where the outcome might still need to be fluid has been challenging and we, as a community, have tried to seek out solutions that allow for flexibility and finesse. Security, resilience and governance are all questions that require an answer. A challenge indeed. It is also fair to say that while upgrading IT processes might have been on an alternative investment firm’s horizon in the short to medium term, technology decisions are now having to be made quickly and crisply in order for firms to not only thrive but also survive.
With workforces dispersed, trade flow and process flow have changed. The way data is stored, managed, accessed and analysed is changing too. Gone are the days of multiple spreadsheets for compliance or client reporting. If data is managed correctly, the result is a more succinct and easier to use data set that benefits everyone. As public cloud providers develop their products exponentially, the alternative investments technology options available to firms have in turn increased. Adopting Office 365 and developing a tailored app-based solution is now entirely possible, creating a fully collaborative, available-anywhere business flow platform. Using Microsoft’s ready made solutions like SharePoint and Teams make the transition to a 100% cloud based set up even easier. RFA work with clients to build a layered cloud solution, where static people and hardware have become a thing of the past.
With remote systems comes the question of security and as the move back to fully integrated face to face working seems some way off, cybersecurity is also key to a successfully managed organisation within alternative investments technology. A satellite office set up, usually based at home, comes with it’s own issues and securing Wi-Fi and hardware can be complicated. RFA uses AI and machine learning to build client specific solutions that allows firms to identify threats, track trends and learn patterns of behaviour in a remote working environment. With the correct training, moving from a centralised to decentralised cybersecurity framework is attainable, and the days of onerous reports and cumbersome equipment are a thing of the past.
There isn’t an expectation for funds to have the knowledge to achieve all of this in house of course. Outsourcing to subject matter experts is on the rise and reducing overheads while retaining pace with competitors using the ‘as a Service’ model works really well. That could take the form of a human resource like a CTO, or technology resource like Infrastructure or Software.
What is equal, if not more valuable, to an investment firm using improved technology for better business and deal flow is the support that sits behind each new business model. RFA have set a new standard of enhanced service support for our clients both for now and in the future. Putting satellite working at the forefront, we have tested the user experience for our clients and already navigated potential issues, therefore assuring our clients that our 24/7/365 service measures up to the new way of working.
In order to maintain performance in an environment where it feels like the goal posts are constantly being moved, utilising alternative investments technology is no longer a choice, it has become a necessity. Investment firms must understand this. As operating systems and data and technology architecture evolve to fit the new working model, the right individually curated solution is out there, right now.
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