While the concept of IT process automation has been all the buzz lately, many organizations – particularly those of an enterprise level – are only just beginning to fully recognized its benefits. One noteworthy mention is the investment firm Morgan Stanley. Executives there viewed ITPA (along with analytics and mobile technology) as so important, in fact, that the company recently invested $500 million into these key business initiatives.
The brokerage firm is home to nearly 20,000 financial advisors and more than four million customers who have collectively invested over $1.7 trillion in assets. Senior technology experts employed at the firm stated that there was a glaring need to improve service levels on both sides of the coin – for employees as well as clientele. As a result, they chose to earmark a significant amount of operational budget toward the areas of analytics, mobile and IT process automation.
The investment came as a direct result of Morgan Stanley’s overall business objective to accelerate growth, particularly in the area of managed accounts. The company’s president also cited the goals of expanding capital-markets partnerships and bolstering banking/lending capabilities as reasons for the shift toward more advanced technological tools. The executive team further recognized the need to improve stability and functionality of the firm’s platform.
The change came about a few years ago, following the company’s consolidation and subsequent joint venture with Citigroup. Following this integration, there were a number of significant technical glitches, including several that impeded transaction completion and trade processing. While spokespeople for Morgan Stanley initially claimed to have these issues ironed out, there remained evidence of the need for a more enhanced, secure and cohesive system.
One of the main reasons behind the recent investment in IT process automation has to do with the sheer amount of customer data that Morgan Stanley has access to. The new tech tools allow for an enhanced data architecture, which allows the brokerage firm to take advantage of this wealth of information. Better data analysis allows financial advisers to make better recommendations to their clients. Furthermore, with tools like self-service applications, clients are now able to make better investment decisions on their own.
According to an anonymous spokesperson, the $500 million investment has been broken down into three key areas, with IT process automation receiving the biggest allotment of $250 million. Among the benefits of this enhanced technology are improved search capabilities and the ability for advisors to more quickly and accurately identify available security options based on such criteria as credit rating, yield, geography and more.
The bottom line is, in a highly saturated and intensely competitive field like investments and wealth management, finding a way to stay a step ahead of the other key players is critical. Morgan Stanley believes that by investing in advanced technology like IT process automation, the company is essentially putting the pieces in place to build a better brokerage platform for its clients as well as its advisors. This technology will provide the competitive advantage and enhanced scalability necessary to remain a front-runner in the industry.