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Deutsche Bank: IT becomes a job for finance

Rolf Roewekamp | March 3, 2015
In one of the Bank's most major projects, finance and IT have joined forces to create a central data warehouse for all risk and finance data. The giant project was on the verge of failure in 2013. CFO Joachim Müller redefined his role.

In one of the Bank's most major projects, finance and IT have joined forces to create a central data warehouse for all risk and finance data. The giant project was on the verge of failure in 2013. CFO Joachim Müller redefined his role.

No, that's not what a good process looks like. Bond traders sat in front of their screens, followed the markets, bought and sold. IT staff stood by their side, adapting the IT systems as quickly as possible. The trading data was transmitted to the back office, where it was reviewed to determine whether it met financial accounting and regulatory requirements. Time and again, data was also edited manually.

While all of this was indeed a process, it certainly wasn't a good one. Back-office data processing is expensive and ties up resources. It would be better for all employees to work with a single system with the same data standard, eliminating the need to establish data consistency later on.

"Data production mustn't be too complex and elaborate. Employees in the finance department should have more time for the analysis of data rather than for its production," says Deutsche Bank EMEA CFO Joachim Müller.

Between 2010 and 2012, it became increasingly apparent that the architecture and processes in the Bank's finance department would no longer meet the future market requirements. Since the beginning of the new millennium, investment banking was primarily about gaining market share and increasing turnover. With the aim of becoming a global player in mind, this was seen as being strategically desirable. The role played by processes, infrastructure and automation as well as standardisation ranked second. So it is little wonder that IT was unable to keep up with the rapid growth of investment banking, and that a complex IT structure with fragmented processes developed. The goal was to transform this into a competitive advantage by having IT and finance seize the potential in the infrastructure. "We wanted to improve efficiency by about 20 per cent," according to Müller. "There was a lot of pressure on the back office."

 "Largest change project"
So now the question was how to better organise the finance figures, producing data more effectively and free of errors. "It was all about flexibility, the timing of availability, granularity and the scope of data. The quality no longer met the expectations of a world-class finance department," Müller explains. However, this also meant dealing with tremendous complexity. All data from millions of transactions such as trading shares and currencies, selling structured products or issuing loans has to be stored in a central system in such a way as to meet all financial accounting and regulatory requirements.

 

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