Is Excel the Swiss Army Knife of Financial Services?
In fact it works so well that firms often miss the opportunity when they could easily switch to a purpose-built application. Once that window has passed, the changeover from Excel to an enterprise application is complex because so much has been developed and stored on disparate Excel spreadsheets.
“In the past, the decision to move off Excel has been difficult because you had to make the jump to very expensive enterprise software,” said Sulistyo, who was a risk & compliance consultant at two leading firms as well as Head of IT Security, Risk and Compliance at Sky Germany before he and colleagues started Alyne.
“We saw accounting departments where they used massive Excel spreadsheets to work an data extracted from an ERP system like SAP.” Users were comfortable and the alternatives required massive on-premise installations with expensive integration projects.
Excel becomes difficult when more than one person is working on a function, he added.
“And in risk and compliance that usually happens fast. If you have a single risk manager, they might be able to handle it, but when you get into versioning and sending spreadsheets back and forth between risk managers, you get into file hell, even in SharePoint.” Spreadsheets also raise the issue of data integrity and access control and change management, he added.
Regulators in the UK and Germany are not going to accept spreadsheets as proof of compliance in the future, he said.
“The integrity of risk data should be the same as the integrity of financial data, and you can’t guarantee it in Excel on a PC because you don’t have proper access and change controls,” he added.
“That is changing, and that is where RegTech shines,” said Sulistyo. “With new methodologies, firms can build a complex app with far fewer resources.” Alyne was built by its four founders and two working students in just eight months, he said.
“Five years ago it would have been a massive project and enormous capital investments, but if you go to the cloud and use Platform as a Service (PaaS) you don’t have to worry about your infrastructure. We are able to push out new releases every two weeks.”
Now Alyne offers a cost-effective platform that even a startup can use instead of relying on Excel. One client is a software company that is acting as an outsourcer to a big Germany bank. The vendor uses Alyne to significantly save on effort to manage their client’s compliance requirements and, easily more than paying for the platform.
“If you are in Excel, you have a lot of manual effort. We digitize compliance and risk management work, especially the busy work where right now you have people moving around tables and sending around these files which is not value-added work. What you really want are the end results where a smart person looks at the figures and makes risk decisions. We facilitate that.”
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