According to new research released today by AutoRek, a reconciliation and finance automation fintech, the overwhelming majority (98%) of investment businesses state that CASS compliance is still a significant focus for their senior management team.
This news lands despite the regulation having first come into force over 20 years ago and remaining largely unchanged since.
In line with this, and other regulations on the horizon, such as IFPR, Operational Resilience and Customer Duty, the majority (97%) will be increasing their spend on compliance over the next two years to ensure they meet obligations.
The report, Investment management industry outlook 2023: strategic priorities, operations, technology and regulation, outlines the findings of a recent survey of UK-based investment managers, conducted by AutoRek. It seeks to understand the current issues facing investment managers today, future trends, their priorities and perceptions around regulation and back-office priorities.
While firms will be investing more into meeting compliance objectives, they are also continuing to invest in automation, with all (100%) respondents either maintaining or increasing their automation expenditure in the years ahead.
Of those surveyed, almost three-fifths (57%) are seeking to increase their automation budget. This is welcome given that greater automation allows firms to enhance their data controls, improve governance, and enhance overall efficiency.
Furthermore, continued investment in automation is promising given firms remain too reliant on manual processes, particularly when it comes to the reconciliations process.
The research reveals that 9 in 10 (91%) respondents agree that their firms are too reliant on manual tasks and spreadsheets when performing reconciliation processes. And 95% of respondents said their management teams could make better use of reconciled data, which would be simpler if manual processes were a less integral part of this activity.
That said, firms are aware of the benefits that regularly reviewing their back-office operations can bring, and the efficiencies it can create, with 80% of firms reviewing their back-office operations at least once every six months and none conducting them less frequently than every two years.
When thinking about meeting their strategic objectives in the next two years, half (47%) of investment management firms cite attracting or retaining talent, or increasing operational headcount (46%), as their top priorities to ensure they meet these.
Murray Campbell, Senior CASS Consultant at AutoRek, comments: “Although CASS regulations have been in force for some time, the fact that senior management still deems them a priority is a sign of their complex nature, and the burden this places on firms.
“However, as recent communications from the FCA have reiterated its focus on CASS regulations, it is a welcome finding that most regulated organisations still regard it as a compliance priority.
“There is a significantly growing regulatory focus on the power of data and technology in financial services, and there are many benefits to be realised in this respect. It is also clear that for investment management there remains a strong people-oriented focus required to complement the benefits of technology to help firms achieve their objectives.
“What is equally important from our perspective, however, is that firms are continuing to invest in the back office. Understandably, many investment firms prioritise the front end of the product before anything else. But the back office is really the engine that drives any organisation.”