Author: FINBOURNE– finbourne.com
Welcome back to FINBOURNE Five, a series that succinctly covers core data management methods or concepts in five minutes or less. In this second piece, FINBOURNE will look at SaaS data management platforms and what financial services firms should look for, when evaluating SaaS data management platforms as part of their cloud journey.
What is a SaaS data management platform?
You’ve probably heard the term being bandied about since the cloud evolution in financial services. One straightforward definition tells us that a SaaS data platform is “a data platform which is delivered over the internet”. The SaaS approach can be a powerful proposition. With SaaS, you can now focus your IT teams on solving business problems and leave the hardware and software maintenance challenges to someone else. SaaS alone, however, is not a silver bullet for all data management problems. Taking a legacy data platform and delivering it over the cloud is not always the right answer. To get the most from your data, you will want to make sure your SaaS platform has been built for the cloud, what we call ‘cloud-native’, with an awareness of your business domain.
What should you look for in a modern SaaS data management platform?
1. A modular platform that allows incremental implementation
When making any technology investment, you will want to ensure that you are able to start getting value from the platform almost immediately. Ideally, the platform will have modular components. You might want to select one or two use-cases that can be solved quickly, before moving on to some of the more difficult projects. For example, you might transition report generation for a small set of client or regulatory reports before migrating a full multi-asset PMS onto the platform. Proving value off the bat helps get organisation-wide buy-in for the new technology and builds the business case for further change.
2. Open architecture to facilitate interoperability
In any given day, a typical financial services organisation will interact with many parties (clients, counterparties, custodians, regulators, etc.) who use many different systems with data in many different formats. You will want communication between these parties and your data platform to be seamless and in real-time. For many organisations, this means open APIs. You will also want a set of Software Development Kits (SDKs) sitting on top of these APIs, so your software engineering teams can build integrations quickly.
3. A sandboxed testing area
Testing is a key stage of any transformation project. Before releasing your new workflow or software to production, you will want to test, test and test again. Usually, this means automated tests run by a system (such as System Integration Tests) but also human tests (User Acceptance Tests). The closer testing data can resemble production data, the better. You ideally want a platform that can quickly copy production-like data into a safe “sandboxed” area for testing.
4. Granular entitlements
Most financial services organisations have strict segregation of duties. This means that you will want a data platform with a powerful set of secure entitlements capabilities to reflect the different roles and responsibilities. We like the Principle of Least Privilege – users should have entitlements to all the functionality they need to do their job effectively, but no more. A modern entitlements system would also allow external parties to access their data directly on your data platform (without needing to send files back and forth).
5. Awareness of financial concepts
You will want your platform to have an “awareness” of financial data entities. It’s great if your platform can store bonds for processing by other systems, although, a next-generation data platform would also innately understand the bond. The platform would be able to generate cash flows and produce valuations using discount curves. In other words, the bond is much more than a row in a database.
6. Full telemetry to investigate and track requests
Finally, you will want audit and telemetry across all these features. API requests and responses should be tracked. This is helpful for users all across the business. Audit teams can run KPIs to see who is accessing what data and when, and software engineering teams can have full visibility into request failures to investigate issues. Ultimately, this enables your business to understand user needs and optimise usage accordingly.
Finding the right SaaS data management platform for your organisation
At FINBOURNE, we offer an interoperable, cloud-native approach to data management, achieving value within a faster time to market. Our Modern Financial Data Stack empowers investment data processes and drives future operational growth for global financial institutions through to emerging hedge funds. Leveraging SaaS technology and a secure cloud infrastructure, we liberate, simplify and connect data, making it accessible and usable across the investment chain.
For further details on FINBOURNE’s Modern Financial Data Stack, please get in touch below: