I joined my first technology consultancy in 2000 and immediately felt like I’d found my ‘home’; the buzz and vibe of a place where people are passionate about their work and focused on problem-solving was palpable and addictive. I took a role out of the technology consulting industry in 2004 and returned once again 2006, with no intention of working in any other field. I’ve spent nearly 20 years recruiting and supporting consultants, devising and driving talent attraction and retention strategies for technology consultancies and so much more; nearly 20 years surrounded by people for whom solving complex problems in elegant, intelligent and innovative ways is part of their daily life. Working at a consultancy, for me, is to work with the very best, brightest and most driven in their fields.
Why should clients engage with a consultancy?
When building a house, you don’t go out and find your own project manager, electrician, carpenter, bricklayer, scaffold builder etc. These are highly skilled professionals and the best are always in demand, able to pick and choose their work. Many of us have had experience of trying to find and then secure the services of trusted specialists; it’s exceptionally difficult to find the right people and we somewhat cross our fingers that they are indeed, the right people and will turn up and actually do the work and do it well. Back to the house building project; when do you need the bricklayer to turn up versus when you need the electrician and how long do you need them for? Does anyone need to do just a little work now and then return when another specialist has completed their part? Do any of the specialists need to work in tandem? What about the carpenter? When do they turn up and how do you, as a layman, know that they are doing what they need to do, when they need to do it? It’s stressful, it’s complex and if, like most homeowners, you are not a specialist in the house building trade, you will become increasingly uncomfortable with the risk.
It makes sense, in most cases, to engage with a professional firm with all of these contacts/employees. By engaging a building company with a solid reputation, significant experience, appropriate references etc. you put your project in the hands of experts and effectively outsource your risk to a company for whom your project is their bread and butter. They know when each skill is needed and will coordinate the team accordingly to optimise the project. They can assess if the work is being done correctly and will keep a close eye on the entire project to make sure that it is being managed to time, to standard and to budget.
That is exactly how it works with a consultancy. By engaging with specialist companies, brimming with expert knowledge and experience and the drive to innovate, the bank/financial institution outsources and therefore mitigates its risk. And the cost of that risk is significant when you consider the IT expenditure of top-tier banks. According to a JPMC report released in January of this year, Societe Generale devotes 23% of their operating costs to IT spending, RBS devotes 30%. In fact, in most banks, technology spend exceeds 17% of total operating costs. If you then translate those percentages into dollars, the risks become a great deal more eye-opening; JPMC’s annual budget for IT spend is $11.5bn, Citigroup is $8.4bn and HSBC is $6bn.
According to a 2016 PWC report, Financial Services Technology 2020 and Beyond: Embracing Disruption, the key drivers for technology spend within finance were going to be:
- Updating IT operating models for the new normal.
- Slashing costs by simplifying legacy systems, taking SaaS beyond the cloud, and adopting robotics/AI.
- Building technology capabilities to get more intelligent about customer needs.
- Preparing architecture to connect to anything, anywhere.
- Paying attention to cyber-security.
- Ensuring access to the necessary talent and skills to execute and win.
These are not run-of-the-mill projects, these are huge, transformative programmes requiring the very best talent, the smartest and most-driven minds and the discipline and experience to focus on solving the problem and ensuring the best outcome. Many of the banks are starting to try to rebrand and reposition themselves as technology companies, given their shifting focus. These huge monoliths are slowly but surely aiming to make this shift but it is slow and the world won’t wait. Therefore the gap between current capabilities and future aspirations needs to be plugged by companies who are primed to succeed in such a complex and challenging landscape.
Adaptive is a technology-centric company focussed on finance, with a culture based on innovation and creative problem-solving. Our low hierarchy, highly collaborative environment ensures that the best ideas for solving our clients problems are put forward and explored. We are the experienced specialists with all of the right skills, knowledge and reputation, able to put the right expert-level team together to meet these challenges for our clients and to solve their problems.
Furthermore, we don’t leave clients with heaps of dust and a skip full of rubble! By working collaboratively and transparently with client IT teams, demonstrating best practice throughout the project and working without ego, we leave them in even better shape. We support them on their path to becoming technology-centric companies, able to extend and modify the solutions we build.
Putting these projects and risks in the hands of consultancies like ours is the very best option for high-risk, high-value, high-profile technology projects within the finance world; we understand the technology, we understand the business needs, we can talk to stakeholders and end users and we work in an agile way to turn all of that into a seamless, high-quality, transformative solution delivery, enabling our clients to be prepared for whatever the future may bring in these times of accelerated change.
Chief Talent Officer, Adaptive Financial Consulting Ltd