back to article Is Financial services IT in a mess?

Whether it’s insurance or banking, those working in financial services keep coming in for a lot of stick. Over the years, many organisations have spent shed loads of money on IT, yet customers still complain about bad service, broken processes and the fact that nothing seems to be joined up. This brings the state of IT into …

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Anonymous Coward

Correction

'experience in the way technology is MISused in banking...' you mean.

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Anonymous Coward

Islands

I work in investment banking, development mostly and arguably the single biggest issue is lack of collaboration between teams. For example I need access to data to be able to develop.

My team does not have data available that I can use for a task but while I know other teams do, it is seemingly impossible to get IT managers to collaborate with each other so the two teams can share.

One of two things tends to happen, one is individuals that want to do the work have to also do all the leg work with getting the things they need, as in finding who in another team has access to data and, crucially, can give you access to it. These individuals will pointedly avoid getting IT management involved as they know nothing will come of it.

The other thing that happens is people re-creating the wheel by re-processing already processed data so they can use it. Then you have developers doing what is essentially infastructure work and, unsurprisingly, not doing a very good job of it. Not to mention no one else can then use it.

This is how you get the mess of unrelated, uncoordinated systems being used in an adhoc fashion with eventually production systems being reliant on them.

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IT Angle

Under pressure... dum dum da .. da da dum dum (Queen)

Work in financial sector IT..

Businesses are more likely these days to lean on their IT to reduce costs to ensure that their fat cats can continue their 'cost of sale' spending to bring in the money. From a business point of view this does bring in the moolar.. you can't blame IT when they are under resourced and under pressure to deliver no matter what.

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Reality Check

Ever worked for a bank? It's all about ego. Whether it's bragging about your sexual prowess or blaming everybody but yourself - nobody takes real skill or understanding seriously.

The first person to suck up to his boss while shitting all over coworkers gets to stay; the others must leave.

Don't forget to perve at the young girls in their business skirts!

Seriously, banking IT is shit because the people are shit. So full of buzzwords and blame there's no room for reliability, design.

Real programmers go work in telecoms. Where you are exposed as a fraud if you have no programming skill. Where redundancy is valued. Where the employees are all male and there are no distractions.

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Anonymous Coward

Err?

Which bank did you work for then? I've worked in financial services IT at major global banks and insurance comapnies for nigh on 15 years and I don't recognise a single one of your assertions. You are talking complete rubbish.

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Silver badge

Agree with AC

I've worked in FS IT for 5 years now and most of my friends are 8-10 year veterans of that world.

None of us would recognise the world described in the OP.

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Silver badge

Really? They're shit are they? That'd be why the C programmer I worked with in a bank a few years ago was offered a job with Microsoft in one of their top teams after pointing out the errors in an test question widely used in industry to benchmark skills. Geez, he was just f*cking useless.

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Meh

Biz driven, no?

IT dept: "to do this, costs £€$ x,xxx,xxx"

Biz: "too mucking futch"

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Anonymous Coward

The question should really be "is IT in a mess"?

IT is an every expanding sprawl of knowledge and skills. NOBODY knows everything these days despite what some of them think, and even the use of a particular technology in different business sectors will be different.

The commentards on El Reg regularly demonstrate this - something goes down, and the usual useless comment come out - "haven't they got DR?" Clearly the technology is WAY beyond just having DR, yet the same people think the same IT solutions will work for manufacturing as for retail as for banking as for government. It doesn't

SO. I won't tell you how to run your Supermarket, and will you please stop trying to tell me how to run my bank!

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Anonymous Coward

Workingas a Software Developer at an investment bank...

IT management where their collective IT knowledge can just about manage a pivot table in Excel doesn't help, and egos mean people are not willing to defer decisions down to the lowly techies.

That and a lack of any budget to go towards anything resembling innovation.

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Anonymous Coward

Err...

I've worked in Financial Services IT (back end systems) for 15ish years. The main problem that I have found in that time is people who think that running a major enterprise is essentially simple and boils down to black and white decisions, without seeing bigger pictures.

"Just replace the mainframe with UNIX"

"Why do we need X Y Z backup products, just standardise on one"

"Why don't you just replace all your desktops with linux"

"Just rewrite the backend systems to do what we need"

etc

etc

Financial services IT is by necessity extremely complex, it never boils down to black and white decisions and even if it did, these are often complicated by regulatory compliance requirements.

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Anonymous Coward

Banking IT is a complete mess

Okay this is a bit of a rant but hey. I too have worked in investment banking for 15ish years. First as a developer then manager. I see the following cycle:

1) Small team of talented people build a really good system for the business.

2) System becomes successful. IT gets kudos and more funding.

3) IT management then build their empire and introduce layers of management.

4) IT management then introduce lots of control processes to avoid breaking things.

5) Productivity slows down to a crawl. Business get angry that nothing gets delivered.

6) Business fires a load of IT people and hires a new team to build a system.

There seems to be a lot of “dead wood” in finance IT. There is a major blame culture so that the person who doesn’t deliver anything gets rewarded and the people who try to make things better are punished. There seem to be a lot of managers in IT who are more concerned with how much head count they can get than actually solving problems. There is also a lot of political infighting. Department heads fight very hard to protect their interests. If a system is proposed that actually means that less IT people will be required to look after it then more often than not it is not approved.

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Silver badge

I tend to agree

In my Finance IT dept there was probably 40-50% of the dept that were effectively non-IT bodies - primarily in COO and business management type functions. They spent most of their time forcing meaningless reinventions/rebrandings of development methodologies and frameworks, utter wank like CMMI, and spend years inventing service catalogues that mean nothing to the business.

Add to that lots of rounds of offshoring just as the previous offshore teams have gelled, and that's what's wrong with FS IT.

Oh and shoot any coo functionary whose not involved in statutory stuff like SOX.

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Silver badge

Yep, that's about the size of it. Just can't bit the introduction of controls to prevent changes to a process or system thats success was primarily due to its fluid state under a team of capable devs. Business is fluid and systems need to be too.

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Silver badge

Almost forgot - foisting consecutive 10% pay cuts on your contractors works wonders as you inevitably lose the most capable people and keep the ones that feel they have little chance of finding another role.

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Bronze badge

That's my contractor job:

>There is a major blame culture so that the person who

> doesn’t deliver anything gets rewarded and the people

> who try to make things better are punished.

The person who doesn't deliver anything gets praise for

starting the new project, then hires contractors and moves

out before the project turns to mud, due to bad design and

managment.

I come in as a highly paid contractor so that I can take the

blame when the project fails. My contract is terminated, the

project is shelved, I get more experience on my CV, nobody

is fired, everybody is happy, nobody is hurt except the shareholders.

Some of these contracts, I know from start they don't expect

the project to succeed: if they expected it to succeed, there

wouldn't be any shortage of internal staff jumping aboard.

We just have to keep the pretence going long enough so that

the original staff don't get blamed for the failure.

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Recipe for Disaster

First, create a large number of highly customized systems to run your business.

Second, replace your own staff (and business knowledge) with a large outsourcing contract and boil off huge profits.

When profits run dry, remove outsourcing company and off shore work.

Cancel replacement of aging systems to give balance sheet fresh gloss

Reduce headcount by half for that extra special finish to the year

Sit back and enjoy your hard earned bonus

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Anonymous Coward

Long term products, having to deal with old and new regulation, having to be ultra risk averse and stable make FS IT slow, difficult and expensive. Even in the good old days it was nigh on impossible to get real investment in the IT estate. We've seen major migration, large scale offshoring, large scale ESB/integration type projects come, fail and go but we never get rid of the old sh1te.

There are some great people in FS IT - I've worked with many of them for over 15 years, on and offshore - I don't think it's failing just getting ever more complex and returns on back book business get ever lower. With people staying for years the effective cost of retaining FS IT expertise goes up year on year. The glimmer of hope for me is that our friends in Finance, Customer Services and Marketing are finally beginning to see that while we have all of this complexity we'll never be agile, responsive or get cheaper - if we can build good business habits in the rough times ahead FS IT can emerge leaner and ready for growth/innovation in few years time.

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