Scots firms at risk because of old software, warns data expert

Scottish fintech firms need to ensure confidential data is securely managed; but the increasing challenges also offer opportunities, writes David Lee

Managing data is crucial for performance, but also to comply with strict new rules

The rapid pace of technological progress and regulatory change has fuelled an explosion in data, which firms reliant on old tech and manual processes struggle to keep up with, says an industry expert.

AutoRek, a Scottish firm with over 20 years’ experience and expertise in helping businesses manage data and report it accurately, provides the tools to do the job.

It offers a software platform to manage data – and combines this data management skill with expertise in regulatory reporting and financial controls, working with a range of large and small clients across the asset management, banking and insurance sectors.

“Managing data effectively is crucial for any business,” says Gordon McHarg, who co-founded AutoRek in 1994 and has been managing director since 1998. “It is crucial for two main reasons – for optimising operational performance, but also to satisfy an increasingly stringent regulatory regime.”

McHarg says the integrity of data is all-important in an information-rich and increasingly complex age.

He explains: “We help businesses improve their data management capability guaranteeing the integrity of financial controls and data across multiple systems. We can give complete insight into the financial data of an organisation – in real time – which in turn helps them meet demanding regulatory deadlines.”

AutoRek, which employs 65 people across three offices – it’s Glasgow headquarters, Edinburgh and London - was a fintech business before we knew what fintech was. Now its expertise across the worlds of finance and technology (as well as regulation) positions it perfectly to serve clients as the fintech revolution gathers pace.

McHarg says things have changed dramatically during his time at AutoRek and that the old way of working is just not sufficient any more: “Financial services businesses are now dealing with significantly higher volume of transactional data and in terms of both day-to-day operations and mindset, it is a totally different world from where we were 10 years ago.”

When McHarg talks about “the integrity of the data,” he is recognising that trust and confidence is a huge issue for AutoRek – and for the entire fintech industry.

“Fintech has been a disruptor in financial services and in many ways the crash of 2007-08 was the catalyst to allow new businesses into the market,” says McHarg. “A lot of the trust that was placed in established organisations – including some of the larger banks - evaporated, leaving an opportunity for new entrants to come into the market. The public does not really differentiate who is providing financial services to them, as long as they are getting a good service which they feel is secure and something they can trust.”

McHarg talks about the opportunity for financial institutions to “take back control of their data” in an era of increased complexity.

“Data often exists in multiple platforms across the business of, for example, of an established retail bank” he says. “It’s about taking control of that information on a trusted platform in a much more structured, efficient and speedy way – rather than relying on manual processes.

“You need that data to checked and verified much more quickly and efficiently than it is at the moment. That’s where AutoRek makes a real difference.”

Find out more about AutoRek here.