Financial firms have never had access to so much data. Big data promises better, more accurate feedback by which firms can pivot to meet the niche needs of their markets. Is there such a thing as too much data? The answer is- without a system and a framework through which to view it- yes. More data collected means more time required for identifying which data points need our attention and for interpreting the outputs.
Blindly looking over sheets of data, hoping to stumble on compliance violations, is an expensive, unsatisfying gambling experience. It’s like a technician doing a preflight-inspection for a commercial flight without a checklist. You can have great and accurate tools, but if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you’re flying blind. It’s anxiety inducing because you have the sneaking suspicion something might be lurking in the depths of these spreadsheets, you just don’t know how to find it. With so much data available, there is an acute need for a system to organize it.
Data aggregation is the process of synthesizing data from multiple outputs for a simplified, rationalized, interpreting experience. Aggregation eliminates information silos that can mask key findings and reduces firm risk exposure. The right data aggregation system can improve consistency in the compliance process, allows for risk spotting across multiple carriers, unlocks data accuracy, reduces stress in audits, all while providing comprehensive views of your business.
One thing that can trip up a broker dealer's compliance efforts is inconsistent review of their representative’s activity. It’s tempting to take top producers for granted and assume they’re in full compliance or skip a review of trades coming from an obscure fund carrier. Aggregating your data in one system removes the possibility of those omissions occurring by automatically reviewing every trade that flows through your business. By feeding data through the same pipeline it regularizes and imposes consistency on the lenses used in your internal auditing process. There’s too much data to hope to be able to manually review and interpret all of it, to say nothing of doing so uniformly. Regulatory risk can come from the most unexpected places and if there isn't a way to gather all that information in one place, it is all too easy for key findings to fester unnoticed until it’s too late.
What happens when the data you receive is incomplete or incorrect? Clearing firms and data providers try their best, but from time to time there are key pieces of information omitted from their files. Over time these data inconsistencies compound, accruing to leave massive gaps in your company sightline. It’s as though you’re driving a car with a rearview mirror that is unaligned. You might be changing lanes and think you’ve got plenty of space, when in reality, there’s someone there that is invisible to you. Even worse than gambling, that is taking a risk without knowing exactly the odds, is making a decision on faulty information. Misplaced confidence can make for dangerous situations. A good aggregator will provide your firm with the tools to deal with these inconsistencies.
The threats to your company's compliance can be subtle and insidious. If your firm receives transaction data from more than one source, it can be easy to miss risky activity occurring across those sources. Attempting to monitor the concentration of assets for a client with multiple accounts at your firm becomes prohibitively time consuming and expensive. As an example let's look at an employee trade violation. Generally, you are going to look for representatives who buy or sell products right before their client does. Without an aggregation system it can be almost impossible to identify the violation, especially if the representative is using another platform for their investments. When done properly, aggregating your data in one system can reveal information about your sales team and clients that could prevent a steep, and otherwise unnecessary, fine.
Audits can be stressful events. To make things worse, they’re often long and drawn-out. But they don’t have to be as painful as we’ve let them become. Regulators will often request pieces of transaction data from the past few years. This means you'll have to re-assemble reports, as quickly as possible, with data from any transaction in that time frame. The ease with which you are able to pull specific sets of data will have a direct effect on how much time you spend on the audit. Your time is valuable, and any time spent away from business critical tasks is, by its nature, expensive. Without trustworthy data aggregation you’ll be left trying to gather old data to recompile. Hemming together a patchwork quilt of data from vendor portals, clearing firm sites, and those few odd excel sheets is time consuming and often leaves one with a lingering anxiety that they might have left some piece out. In the end you might be leaving something out that forces auditors to take a closer look. A reliable aggregation plan ensures you can easily grab transactions, representative information, or customer data regardless of its source.
Aggregating data allows you to view your company with previously unimaginable clarity. It’s like transitioning to having security cameras when you’ve been used to having to check each door and window individually, looking for signs of tampering. When data is processed to work with other information sets, a new world of reporting and metric tracking is unlocked. You can better correlate causal relationships between previously unconnected data points and gather the solutions that will keep your firm moving forward and not stuck trying to analyze the past. When data is aggregated broker dealers can access actionable information that frees them to reinforce strengths and mitigate weakness.
Data is like water, too much of it with nothing to do with it, and you’re liable to drown. A customized data aggregating tool is needed to harness the power of these cumulative data streams. An aggregator will mitigate risk, allowing your firm to impose consistency across carriers, highlighting lack of compliance that might’ve lurked unnoticed, all while increasing data accuracy. It allows your team to be proactive, whether quickly responding to audit requests or offering comprehensive perspectives on your business.
Whether you’re a financial advisor or other financial institution, EAI offers fully customizable aggregation solutions for your firm’s data needs. Data should be an asset, not a liability. You deserve the right tools that put you back in control and allow you to protect what you’ve built. If you’re interested in learning more, schedule a demo at: https://www.eaiinfosys.com/schedule-a-demo