PART OF OUR WITHOUT BOUNDARIES SERIES | 1 NOVEMBER 2022
The Importance Of Partnerships In Effective Business Operations
In this article, Anthea Coulter examines the key role that partnerships play in creating the optimal operational model for your business. Whether this is taking inspiration from peers, calling in the experts, or developing a trusted network of colleagues and partners, ideas for improvements can come from any direction. The trick is being flexible and adaptable enough to welcome them into your business.
You don’t have to go it alone
So what’s the first step for businesses planning any kind of operational change, or resolving any kind of compliance problems such as remediation exercises? To decide whether to outsource or to do it yourself.
The range of support options for financial services firms has never been greater, with software as a service (Saas) products being a major game changer for a wide range of compliance and control services. But these are only as effective as the ‘embedding’, ongoing training and cultural support in the business for using the tools. So, what should businesses look for in a good operational partner? Some common key priorities are to have confidence and trust them, their processes, technology systems, expertise, and people. This is vital if the project is going to be successful.
As an extension of your business, any partner also has responsibilities to your end customers and supports you in your accountability to the regulators. It is this accountability that means any partnering decisions needs to scrutinise both the services on offer and the wider company culture. Any partner should share your core values and uphold the culture that your business reflects, an attitude that should be apparent regardless of the capabilities, resilience, quality, and safeguards they can otherwise provide.
Most financial services firms provide a range of products and services. In many ways it makes sense to find a partner with that same variety of capability and ongoing flexibility of solutions. When delivering a project, be it a large-scale customer contact and remediation programme, or a pensions administration exercise such as GMP equalisation, it is not just about doing the bare minimum for the regulator. It is about providing the quick and effective service that customers demand.
Getting the mix right for your business
This brings us to the technology or people debate that has been ongoing for many years now. At EQ, we think the right combination of technology and people is the key to success.
Of course, the right technology creates efficient and effective processes. In enforcing compliance as a standard, it can be invaluable, as we’ve experienced in supporting the largest scale mis-selling remediations. However, even with the best tools, there is really no match for specialist knowledge and people skills when working on more complex products such as pensions or investment options.
Given the wide variety of products, with a range of history and applicable regulation, as well as the history of each customer you always benefit from an expert knowledge of the options plus the personal touch of good customer care. We have thousands of examples of direct feedback from the end customers of our clients.
Customers thank our staff for taking the time to listen and helping them understand these more complex products that are so vital to financial wealth later in life. This can’t be done by machines or automated one-size-fits-all work. What makes the difference, is the specialist knowledge, attitude and time that people give.
Keeping an open mind – top tips for business accountability
Any kind of operational change programme can be nerve wracking, whether you are looking to improve your operational accountability, increase your efficiency, or deliver excellent customer service and outcomes. As part of our Without Boundaries series, we look the key considerations for delivering change with control to help you improve your business.
Don’t get precious about your processes
Be brave, review with fresh eyes, get external input from all stakeholders and compare notes with peers. Change can be a risk but doing nothing will in time always be a far greater one.
Keep good company
Be open to partnerships and sharing the burden with trusted suppliers. Develop the flexibility to adapt quickly when disaster strikes by increasing operational resilience through external partners.
Learn from other organisations
Not just within the financial services sector. Whether it’s big companies in other regulated sectors, small businesses, or start-ups on their way to being unicorns, all have experience to share.
In the age of the empowered consumer, you need to look after all your customers. From the vocal to the vulnerable, each customer has unique needs. EQ are well placed to help you care at scale; we deliver critical financial services to over 36m consumers around the world.
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