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In what has been described by industry experts as a new era for automated trading, smart investors and traders are increasingly embracing automated workflows and thereby revolutionizing their financial workplaces. Initially, larger firms were the first to realize the benefits of a streamlined automated workflow or document management system, however, middle scale and smaller companies are now catching up and learning about the improved efficiency and profitability that an automated system can bring to their business.

Document management is sometimes known as content or information management. Essentially, the system is a structured framework designed to encompass the kind of procedures and processes that organizations use for information gathering, information storage and information retrieval from day to day.

Automated workflows can be used in a number of different ways, including, for example, in a bid to create a consistent and positive client service experience. The operational efficiencies that can be achieved permit traders and investors to focus on growing their client base, which makes their business more sustainable and more profitable. As baby boomer retirement is creating a growth curve in personal finances, now is the time to act to avoid capacity constraints in future.

How document management systems work

Systemized workflows provide a high-quality service that makes it easier for firms to prepare their businesses for change and growth. Sometimes the concept of introducing automated workflows can seem daunting, especially for smaller companies, however, the nature of document management systems is that they can be introduced as a series of smaller steps until a framework is created that is scalable, sustainable and profitable.

There are five key aspects to an automated workflow system, the first of which is that the system has the capability to gather information that is relevant to the business, for example capturing market intelligence, details of the best prices and deepest liquidity pre-trade. As this is done automatically, it ensures that investors and traders are always able to act upon the latest available information, and they get an accurate holistic picture of the market in which they have an interest.

The second aspect of the document management system is the storage of the data so that it can be retrieved at any time and from a variety of different sources; it can be updated, shared and modified. As security of information is vital, the third important feature is that the system allows users to control who has access to their content and there are multi-level safeguards in place to ensure unauthorized parties cannot obtain or retrieve vital data, unless permission to do so is granted.

Integration is the core of the system

Perhaps the cleverest part of the document management system is its ability to integrate all the functions of a business in one single framework. This might mean, for example, linking the processes involved in how a prospective client is handled with the procedures for opening new accounts, financial planning, investment management and the organization of office inventories. Accounting software can be integrated into the system alongside other functions, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) and human resources (HR) procedures.

Finally, the ease of access to all of the business information on which a trader or investor depends for decision-making is what makes automated workflows so attractive – everything is in one place and can be retrieved, according to permissions granted by managers and clients, and also, if desired, by remote workers. In addition, content or data can be linked so that related documents can be called up if required: highlighting a recent payment invoice number automatically links the user to the associated check, the agreement or contract if appropriate and all other relative information.

Post-trade advantages

The accessibility of the automated workflow allows for useful post-trade analyses offering transparency and the potential to accurately assess risk management. There are going to be major changes in the financial sector, including regulatory changes, demographic changes as baby boomers move into retirement and technological changes, such as the impressive speed with which new document management systems are advancing. How traders and investors respond, whether they are small or large companies, will determine their level of success during the upcoming decade or so.

Industry experts are convinced that it is imperative for firms to develop a flexible, efficient and eminently scalable infrastructure in order to ensure that operating systems can respond to change and therefore capitalize on any opportunities that arise. Investors and traders who ignore these trends or find themselves unable to adapt to the changes in the financial environment are likely to lose out.

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