Why technology and automation means operations teams need new skills

Luke Venables, Chief Operating Officer at Venn Partners explains why modern ops teams need to be technologically savvy and why identifying the right challenges is key for keeping staff engaged.

Fund Operator POSTED ON 5/1/2020 7:39:00 PM

Luke Venables, Chief Operating Officer at Venn Partners

Fund Operator: How can you ensure that you can retain the talent in your teams as new technology is being introduced?
How do you get new team members to understand and embrace the technology day-to-day?

Luke Venables: It isn’t just about understanding your technology. We all interact with other people’s platforms and invariably find fault with them. For example, we use mortgage servicing agents who generally have basic, clunky and old technology.

So, I have a member of my team looking at this in conjunction with our technology people, working out what is going wrong. You need operations people who are interested in technology.

"We all interact with other people’s platforms and invariably find fault with them."

Operations staff used to be about ticking boxes, but now they are expected to delve into data and pick out things that are wrong. This is classic operations; reconciliations are the basis of this process and so they should really enjoy this aspect of it.

Then there is the harder bit, of how to fix the problems, and what that means for the data and the risk management piece. We rely on people at the coalface to highlight issues to us and then work with technology to come up with solutions.

This has to be part of the day-to-day, which may be easier in my current situation because I am hiring a new team rather than using an incumbent one.

"Operations staff used to be about ticking boxes, but now they are expected to delve into data and pick out things that are wrong."

It’s harder when you have an old team and you are telling them that you will automate their job, but it just comes down to how well people embrace technology.

People talk about how we should have everyone coding. Whilst some people do like it and may be more suited to technology, operations people are traditionally interested in the business as well as technology.

I am not necessarily looking for coders, but they have to at least be able to understand a table structure and the logic of what is going on. This will help them to be able to fix the problems.

Talent retention is a constant battle and it is devastating when someone you train up leaves, but this is a risk that we run with everything.

It is about trying to find challenges that are right for people.

"Talent retention is a constant battle and it is devastating when someone you train up leaves"

Smaller firms can have a limited range of challenges for people, which unfortunately means that they sometimes do move on.

At least for the time they are there they have learnt something and added to the team dynamics, which are very important as well. Each person should bring their unique skill sets and need to be someone that the rest of the team can bounce off.

I hope we will develop new technologies within the industry because part of the benefit of technology is disintermediation.

And although fund managers get made redundant by robots, you will still need operations people to control and design them. There is a lot to do and the fintech industry will mean that within this we will inevitably lose some people along the way.

 

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