A bank’s policy portal can serve as a single source of truth

Financial services firms today need to implement new regulatory guidance into their policies, processes and business continuity plans on a regular basis. They also need to constantly communicate changes to employees – with regulators, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, having little tolerance for compliance breaches, it’s crucial that employees are aware of the new rules of engagement.

Currently, with so many financial services employees working remotely, communicating new regulatory changes to staff is easier said than done. In this new world of hybrid work, ensuring that staff are fully up-to-date on regulatory changes has become far more challenging. New regulatory technology tools, such as policy portals, can help financial institutions quickly disseminate the latest updates across the organization, train staff more effectively and easily track compliance.

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Storing all of the organization’s policies and procedures on a centralized portal can be a game-changer, but it’s not likely to be a silver bullet. A firm can only reap the benefits if everyone in the organization fully commits to the platform. So, where can things go wrong, and what are some strategies that firms can employ to ensure that they get the most out of their policy portals?

Why digital transformation in financial services fails

Digital transformation projects at financial institutions typically fail to deliver the expected results for one of two reasons: usability issues or legacy behaviors. These are two sides of the same coin. If a policy portal’s interface is clunky, for example, it will discourage staff from using it. This, in turn, will encourage them to stick to what’s familiar.

Staff may explain these behaviors as necessary workarounds, and they may well be right. The problem is these behaviors defeat the purpose of having a portal for policies in the first place. Legacy behaviors can also hamper adoption and encourage poor practices. Switching to a single source of truth may require staff to break long-standing habits.

Usability issues, bad practice and undesirable legacy behavior tend to be symptoms of deeper issues. More often than not, new systems fail to catch on because there’s a disconnect between the priorities of the organization’s leaders and those of the front-line staff who need to make the system work. While these issues can derail a bank’s success, they’re also preventable – by following some simple steps, it can be much easier to achieve good results when implementing a new policy portal.

Get everyone on board as soon as possible

A policy portal is all about making life easier for everyone, including the bank’s C-suite leaders, its compliance team, and its front- and back-office staff.

Yet a policy portal is for financial services employees further down the chain, too. It can help them more easily understand what’s expected of them so they can conduct themselves appropriately and be more effective in their day-to-day work. Best practice is to get your staff invested in the process as soon as possible. If they’re excited about the new system early on, they’ll be more likely to put in the effort needed to make it succeed.

Transitioning from siloed and, perhaps, manual systems to a connected and centralized repository of information requires a change in mindset. Regardless of how intuitive and user-friendly the new environment is, you should make sure your staff have a good grasp of the basic functionalities. More importantly, your staff should know who to talk to if they need help or support so issues can be resolved quickly.

Communicate clearly and consistently

For a policy portal to be effective, it needs to be used consistently. This means everyone has to understand that it’s going to be the only system you’ll be using moving forward. Firms may consider rejecting documentation that isn’t submitted through the new portal, or disabling certain functionalities. These strategies can help staff build new habits.

At the same time, it’s also worth having a policy about the policy portal itself. Having rules around document-naming conventions and what should happen to outdated documents helps ensure consistency and avoid issues that could lead to people sliding back into old habits.

It’s an often-repeated statistic that 80 percent of digital transformation projects either fail or fall short. It doesn’t have to be this way. By drumming up enthusiasm for the new system early on, setting clear expectations and empowering your staff to use it well, you can overcome implementation challenges and set your policy portal up for success.

Anastasia Dokuchaeva is head of product at ClauseMatch.