Guest Column | July 21, 2022

3 Ways To Help Your Financial Services Clients Keep Pace With The Demands Of The Digital Economy

By Steve Schoener, ECI

Three 3 Tips

Keeping up with the demands of today’s digital economy is hard enough for financial services organizations – throw in growing staff shortages, more stringent reporting requirements, and a volatile cyber threat landscape, and you have the perfect storm capable of sinking a business.

These areas are where MSPs are becoming increasingly essential for a firm’s survival. MSPs have the tools and expertise to provide short-term support and step in as more of a strategic partner.

If your company services organizations in this sector, here are three crucial areas where they will need your expertise.

Overcoming Staff Shortages

Labor shortages impact all areas of the economy, and the financial services sector is no exception. According to American Banker, since last year, 96,000 people have dropped out of the industry. Many factors are at play, including global pandemic dislocation, the desire for a better work/life balance, and the draw of fintech and entrepreneurship.

These labor losses have compelled many companies to outsource non-core functions, particularly in support of digital transformation. For instance, it’s a common misconception that the cloud has made everything simple. But as companies stack up their cloud technology, managing that environment has become increasingly complex. Moreover, the cloud changes almost daily and staying on top of new features, capabilities, and risks is a growing challenge both from a technology and human resource perspective.

In short, it makes sense for your company to step in and provide struggling financial services organizations with the expertise they need to fill in the gaps and ensure they have flexibility and scale to achieve their digital transformation objectives.

Defending Against Cyber Threats

Despite being more cyber-resilient than other sectors, the financial services industry is facing rapidly changing attack methods and vulnerabilities as it digitally transforms. Cybercriminals pose a threat, but new warnings about looming Russian cyberattacks have firms on edge as well.

Your MSP likely has dedicated teams ready to respond to cyber incidents when they strike your clients. Still, you should ensure their cybersecurity strategies include the essential elements of cyber hygiene, particularly as they build out cloud environments. For instance, misconfigured systems are one of the major causes of data breaches but can be hard to detect. You’ll want to identify and monitor every digital asset in your client’s expanding digital ecosystem and ensure it is appropriately secured and managed.

Employees are also a significant cybersecurity risk and are easy targets for phishing attacks. Now is an opportune time to show your value and provide your clients with cybersecurity training and awareness services to help ensure employees adopt a security-first approach.

Finally, while there are certain cybersecurity tools that you should be recommending to your clients – more tools don't always mean more visibility. If these solutions aren’t well integrated or managed, security teams can get buried in a sea of alerts. Ensure your clients have complete transparency with a direct view into irregular activity, 24x7, a process to vet severity and action on issues quickly.

Meeting New Reporting Requirements

This year, security chiefs in the financial services sector must step up to meet significant cyber reforms. For example, to improve cyber resilience, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed new cybersecurity rules requiring the investment sector to report any significant cyber incidents within 48 hours.

The rules are expected to come into effect later this year, but the requirements will be a heavy lift for many firms in this sector. For instance, while your clients may collect system logs, the data often resides in disparate tools and requires significant expertise to migrate, load into data warehouses, analyze, and report on. The whole process can take weeks, even months.

Because the SEC proposal stresses speed and accountability, your clients will likely lean on you to help them cut down reporting time. To meet their needs, you should recommend that their cybersecurity framework includes the ability to collect and aggregate data from multiple sources, identify security incidents, and generate real-time and historical reports to meet various reporting compliance initiatives, including the proposed SEC rules, the Gramm-Leach-Bliley and Sarbanes-Oxley acts and more.

Is Your MSP Ready For The Opportunity?

The financial services industry is in flux, and it would be naïve to think that any of these challenges will go away when the pandemic ends, or global tensions subside. So, it’s no surprise that firms are turning to MSPs to provide expertise and technology solutions that can help them address short-staffing issues, defend against cyberattacks, and meet more stringent reporting requirements. The question is, is your organization ready to meet that need every day and at scale?

About The Author

Steve Schoener is Chief Technology Officer at ECI.