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The Tipping Point: Financial Services and Data Governance

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The Tipping Point Financial Services and Data Governance

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending – and presenting at – the annual DG Financial Services Conference. I spoke with financial services institutions of all sizes, and it became clear through my conversations that as an industry, we’ve reached a tipping point. Data governance is no longer a “nice to have;” it’s now a top priority for every financial services organization worldwide. Now, that doesn’t mean that every institution has a mature governance program in place, but it does mean that they’re thinking about it. And thinking about it seriously.

I say this is a tipping point because in years past, many institutions were still discussing whether or not they needed a formalized data governance program. But as many institutions embark on addressing another round of CCAR MRAs and face the impending deadline for other regulations such as GDPR and  NY Department of Financial Services Superintendent’s Regulations Part 504, it’s become crystal clear that the only way to keep on top of the ever-changing world of regulatory compliance is to have a sustainable data governance program in place.  It’s also clearer than ever before that data governance isn’t going away: data governance needs to be part of ‘business-as-usual.’ Many of the institutions I spoke with are seeking solutions to make data governance sustainable and user-friendly.

Another topic that attendees wanted to learn more about was how to really make the business understand the significance of data governance. Obviously the business understands the importance of meeting regulatory deadlines. But how do you get them on-board with the idea of an ongoing governance program, one that might require their time and participation? Keynote speaker Jennifer Ippoliti from J.P. Morgan Chase made a suggestion that seemed to resonate with many attendees: talk about data governance as a way to achieve data quality. Why? Because it’s something the business understands.

Think about it. Talking about the importance of a creating a business glossary, tracking data lineage, or managing reference data is likely to make your business users’ eyes glaze over. But if you position your data governance initiative as a way to identify and fix problems with their data, you’ve now grabbed their attention. You’re talking about solving a problem they face on a regular basis by giving them the ability to find, understand, and trust their data. And who wouldn’t want that, right? So even though data quality isn’t the only reason to do data governance, it’s a way for you to position the initiative in a way that the business easily understands and supports.

I firmly believe that that data governance is the secret to staying ahead of regulatory compliance. But I also know that gaining buy-in, securing funding, and launching a data governance initiative is no easy task. My advice: if you haven’t already done so, operationalize your data governance program and embrace purpose-built technology that provides the integrated governance processes and reporting needed to stay ahead of regulatory compliance.

Did you attend last week’s event? What did you learn?

Simon is the Collibra Global Financial Services Market Lead. During his 20+ years of management consulting services experience at leading consultancies EY and PwC, Simon helped financial services institutions design and implement information and data governance processes to support internal, external, and regulatory reporting including BCBS 239 and CCAR.