When someone hears the term “reporting governance” they tend to immediately think of the FCA and the various standards and COBS (Conduct of Business Sourcebook) that shape and direct their internal reporting procedures. However, there are other forms of reporting governance that investment firms; Asset Managers, Wealth Managers, Asset Servicers etc. should consider.
Within this blog we are going to focus on two of these; Adherence to the agreed internal processes, and audit trails to record steps and actions, and agreeing and implementing reporting change requests.
Adherence to the agreed internal processes, and an audit trail to record all the steps and actions
As with most key processes in any organisation, there is documentation that describes the steps required to carry them out. Where these are in place there is a clear expectation that they are followed and another, just as important requirement, a need to demonstrate that they have been followed.
In order to be confident that these expectations can be met, the reporting system should drive the agreed workflow by ensuring that performance data is only provided by the performance team, fund / client data can only be delivered to the reporting system and updated by authorised personnel for example, every action is logged with a date and time stamp within a system generated audit trail.
Agreeing and implementing reporting change requests
Another form of reporting governance relates to the on-going management of change to the reports requested by clients, fund managers, or relationship managers, compliance and so forth.
These change requests need to be closely managed and controlled to avoid future confusion and complication whilst avoiding an unsupportable situation. In simple terms, change requests need to follow a process of review and approval, and the mechanism by which the request will be fulfilled needs to be agreed, communicated and maintained. Individuals within the reporting team making their own decisions as to how a new requirement might be accommodated should be avoided. The worst situation is a variety of solutions being delivered, that may be manual or labour intensive and not follow the agreed processes or adhere to the agreed departmental standards. Changes agreed within the team may not be documented increasing the dependency on team individuals and the potential for reports to be missed and not included in a report pack.
In order to avoid this situation, there needs to be review, approval and solution steps implemented within the department to ensure the agreed solution adheres to the standards and principles of the existing reporting processes and any changes can be delivered and maintained in the future.
Guided by the system, the reporting team should manage the entire process, ensuring that the data feeds have arrived on time, and that the data files are complete and accurate. This is easily and simply provided by Reporting as a Service (RaaS) via the exception based, intuitive user dashboards and the automated data validation checks. There is also a full audit trail produced for each completed report, which details every step and action in the entire production and distribution process – detailing when each data feed arrived, whether any issues were identified with the data, any fixes that were required, when the report was first rendered, who provided the commentary (if required), who reviewed the report and signed it off, and where and when the report was automatically dispatched.
The automated audit trail within RaaS provides clear visibility and transparency over the report production process and demonstrates adherence to the agreed workflow and processes.
With RaaS, the change requests process is further simplified as all requests are passed to the reporting experts who configure the changes, deliver them to the User Acceptance Test environment for review and sign off. Upon sign off the changes are released to the Live environment for production use. A simple and effective process. Most of the change requests that Opus Nebula are asked to provide are delivered within a few days of the initial request. Compare this to an internal prioritisation process, development and release process which typically, take weeks or months to turn around – hence reporting teams often deliver workarounds via the manual process route, only to encounter the issues noted above.
This may seem like overkill or steps that could delay delivery to the client, but in fact it delivers the opposite. These additional steps ensure that the reporting requirement CAN be reliably and regularly delivered time after time going forward.
Only with a modern and flexible reporting system such as RaaS from Opus Nebula can the levels of automation, personalisation and governance be achieved to properly support the reporting requirements of today and the future digital reporting requirements of today and tomorrow.