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Trends Modernizing Financial Services

As part of a preview to an upcoming Financial Services Survey Report, Chris DeBrusk of Oliver Wyman & Ben Smith of Unqork take a deep dive into the trends transforming the financial services industry.

During a recent virtual session in the inaugural Unqork Create conference, Unqork’s head of banking Ben Smith led a conversation with Chris DeBrusk, a partner with Oliver Wyman. The discussion centered on trends driving the modernization of financial services in general and the role no-code plays with these efforts in particular.

Unqork Create 2021“The banking industry is facing a wide range of challenges—most of these aren’t new,” explained Chris. “I think there are some interesting opportunities to use no-code to solve these. Broadly, one of the biggest challenges is the continually increasing work related to regulations—banks are constantly investing in programs designed to make them more compliant with global regulatory standards. And there's never enough money in the tech budget to actually do all the work that needs to be done—never mind the interesting work regarding cost-reduction or improving customer service, all the stuff they’d prefer to be working on rather than satisfying some new regulatory obligation. What you get with no-code and specifically with platforms like Unqork is an opportunity to let the operations teams and business teams innovate without relying entirely on overworked and under-capacity technology teams.”

"What you get with no-code and specifically with platforms like Unqork is an opportunity to let the operations teams and business teams innovate without relying entirely on overworked and under-capacity technology teams.”​

Digital processes are inherently more efficient than manual-based ones. There isn’t much wiggle room for debate there. However, while the financial industry has been a leader in digital transformation in many ways (think algorithmic trading), many key processes remain overly reliant on manual- and paper-based tasks. This more analog approach leads to a number of risks—many of which came to the forefront during the pandemic. As did the competitive differentiation of no-code.

“It's been fascinating to watch,” Chris said. “Pre-COVID, banks still moved a lot of paper. There were still a lot of physical processes. Then within several weeks, a lot of that—pretty much all of it—had to move online and had to move into a virtual model. This forced very rapid digitization, often using no-code tools, that helped eliminate manual and paper processes.”

Because Unqork streamlines enterprise development and allows developers to move quickly, it provided “the ability to make changes in weeks or days and not months or years, which was really, really important when you completely change the way that your teams are working almost overnight,” Chris added.

“Pre-COVID, banks still moved a lot of paper. There were still a lot of physical processes. Then within several weeks, a lot of that—pretty much all of it—had to move online and had to move into a virtual model. This forced very rapid digitization, often using no-code tools, that helped eliminate manual and paper processes.”​

In addition to rapidly addressing disruptions, no-code empowers business users to take part in the development process and apply their insights directly. This supports innovation in several ways.  “If your organization generates a lot of really good ideas on how to improve the bank—improve processes, save money, or improve customer satisfaction, any number of things—but it takes two years for those ideas to actually get reach fruition, it takes the wind out of the sails as far as bottom-up innovation,” explained Chris. “The neat thing about no-code is it lets you actually show your organization that you are listening to them. You do really appreciate their ideas and you're going to make it a reality—or even more importantly, you're going to empower them to innovate and change and experiment in the areas they work.” 

Of course, no-code still provides the ability of tech-leadership to control development in the organization. This is crucial for sectors such as financial services. When using a platform like Unqork, Chris recommends banks “think about it in the context of SDLC. Think about it in the context of formalized deployment and risk-management controls. Provide the staff with the training, with the guidance, with the guardrails, so that they can do amazing things, but within a constrained way from a risk and controls perspective.”

One of the biggest challenges, however, to adopting no-code in financial services may not be technical in nature, but cultural. Many technologists who’ve spent years honing coding skills bristle at the idea that these skills might no longer be necessary. This is actually far from the truth. No-code should not be seen as a replacement for human programmers but a tool to apply their knowledge in more valuable ways. 

“Be very, very clear with the technology organization that you're not trying to eliminate them,” Chris explained. “If anything, you're giving them the capacity to work on the really interesting, complicated problems that they are best suited to solve.”