The Global Financial System Is on Life Support

This is something that came over the radio today. Because the systems are breaking down as the truth flows over the world the economy is doomed. People are angry and they loathe to vote for the incumbent governments representatives who have failed to put them first ahead of the multi-national companies that are ripping everyone off. Scandals involving large corporations and individuals are proving their deceit and lies as they hide billions in wealth within tax-free havens.

Why should a company executive be paid in millions of dollars per annum while the staff barely scrape together enough to feed, house, and clothe their families? This is just one of the questions people are asking. As many now reside on the streets while investment homes remain empty as their owners hang onto them for profit it is more than anger that is causing the wave of resentment.

The situation in America right now as people are turn away from their normally preferred party to vote for an outsider who has never held a government position says it all. Trump has tapped into the anger and resentment and is promising the things people most want to here. They are making him their preference even if, as some claim, he can’t possibly deliver on most of them.

The same thing may be occurring elsewhere as other countries face people power and some governments have already been forced to quit, such as in Thailand in recent months. There is a strong tide that has started and may never cease until the world faces an enormous upheaval.

These things are predicted in the Old Testament prophecies as a signal that we are in the last days. This is the time when the ears are now unblocked and the eyes are seeing the reality for possibly the first time. It’s happening because of the Internet that was promised for this time when all people will flow to it for answers (Micah 4:1).

After my reincarnation and strong link to the Spirit of the Universe, which controls all things, it commissioned me to take down the wall of deceit that was put up and strengthened by the work of the 2 beasts of Revelation. Knowledge was then given to me to bring this about and everyone is back to hear the truth and be judged according to their deeds throughout a period called the day of the lord.

The second beast, Constantine, established the financial system (Revelation 13:17,18) and his number is 666. His time is up and now the facts are turning his systems upside down. That is why the financial world is in turmoil.

Economic Development Through the Initiatives of Banking and Financial Institutions

The vitality of sound financial systems to economic vicinity has become even more prominent in recent years. Financial systems are driven by the banking and investment institutions and they craft policies for industrial sectors for all round development. Their policies, financial products and flexible banking operations are the forces that encourage business owners to act more vibrantly. In fact, these forces act as premises for the business sectors to exhibit their capabilities and serve people. Today, banking and financial institutions are successfully bridging the gaps and vacuum developed over the last decades. They are also taking center stage due to slowing economic marathon.

Banking and financial institutions are thoroughly undertaking and advocating hyperactive initiatives that directionally aim to provide business leaders and policy-makers with a strong framework for identifying and bringing them forth the key factors in the development of industrial market. They are also encouraging business houses to focus their bottlenecks so that they can highlight them in their policies and bring sure shot resolutions for them. It will help banks to create new opportunities and reduce as much bottlenecks as possible for unmatched growth and trouble-free operations.

These fiscal bodies and investment firms are continuously measuring the performances of the industries on the benchmarks and revolutionizing their resources so that businesses with lower capitals & innovative sustainable ideas can get advantages offered by the financial institutions.

Banks are also revolutionizing banking technology for bringing more advancement in the system. Their advanced technologies are bringing fundamental shift in their overall functioning. It has strengthened their internal functioning & operation and enabled them to better serve their customers. With the adoption of empirical technologies, banks are adding worthy business propositions.

In addition to that, banks are also restructuring insurance sector and its associated technology. They are educating, luring and persuading communities to cover themselves with proper insurance programs and policies. They are even penetrating at the deeper levels to get maximum results. They are innovating new products with insurance agencies to place their insurance products in the proper segment for immense growth. They are subsequently encouraging them to develop more pliable and worth investing products.

Banking and financial agencies are also gathering support from the top economists, fiscal activists and taking their views and perspectives in global meets and conferences. They are regularly arranging banking technology conferences, insurance technology conferences, capital market meets and monetary fund meets for better business environment, better economic development and sparkling tomorrow.

Selecting the Right Time Reporting System

How hard can it be?
Just pick one of the systems on the market, that should be fairly easy.. Or?
Selecting a suitable time reporting systems can be harder than you think. Just picking a system without investigating the needs and functions results in a possible situation where the users get a system that is over complicated. This would lead to that the efforts to chase in the timesheets increases, which is probably contrary to what you were aiming for in the first place!

Integration with Financial / Economic / ERP system?
One of the first decisions that you will face is whether the time reporting system should be an integrated part in the financial / economic systems that already exist. Based on the financial departments perspective, this is probably the best option in order to reduce the management of projects in multiple systems and avoid importing time reports into the financial system. However, if we look at users and project managers, the usability of the integrated systems often have much to be desired. Since the integrated modules are based on a financial / economic systems they are not specialized in time reporting and therefore includes structures and functions that make it complex and in some cases slow down the productivity.

Usability – Choosing the right degree of complexity
One of the major problems with time reporting is to actually get users to register their time. The more complex and difficult a time reporting system is perceived by the users, the more work is needed to hunt time reports from users who miss the registration period.

Simplified you can say that a time reporting system has three different types of users: Project Manager, Users reporting time and Administrator needing reports. Everyone wants the system to be easy to use and have the right functionality for their particular role. The project manager would like it to be easy to create and manage projects and activities, the users reporting time want it to use as little time as possible registering their time. The administrators needing reports (like project manager, finance department and others) will want specific reports showing for them interesting information in an attractive format.

If you select a time reporting system that does not live up to the expectations from all of these roles you will have a system that users will object to use alternatively not used for the full potential.

Do not forget the reports!
A very important aspect that is easily overlooked when selecting a system is WHAT the system should deliver in the form of reports. Is the absence reports that is important or / and should the system provide a basis for billing? Take in regard what information that project managers want to get but also what other roles that are interested in reports from the system. A good recommendation is to choose a time reporting system that can export the reports to Excel (or similar) so that it is possible to externally process the information if the reports is not enough.

To live in the cloud
Earlier, all systems purchased were to be installed on its own servers and client computers, requiring a number of hardware and software requirements to operate. Of course there are still time reporting system that is hosted the same way but it has grown more popular in recent years is to rent system/software as SAAS, Software as a Service.

This means that you as a customer do not install any software on your own servers. You will use a solution that is hosted at the system provider and accessed via a browser. No installations needed or heavy license fees for databases etc needed. Usually you pay per month and for the number of users that will use the system. The major benefits of SAAS are to avoid cost and handling of the infrastructure, operation, backup management, updates etc.

To develop in-house
Many companies, especially in the IT consulting world, still chose to build his own time reporting tools in order to specialize it for their own business. Today there are so many different time reporting systems on the market that you probably can find a system that fits your business, but the option to develop it yourself may still be relevant if you have special needs.

WikiLeaks and Charges of Financial Terrorism Considered

We know that Al Qaeda wants to hit America where it hurts, and they claim this to be in our pocket book, namely our financial sector. And yes, they’ve attempted many times and unfortunately succeeded once in a big way. Financial Terrorism is what they plan on doing, because they think that will get America to acquiesce to their will of a perverted radical view of Islam.

Well, since we already know all this and since I haven’t told you anything you don’t already know, permit me if you will to take this a step further in a recent observation an acquaintance and I had made. Why you ask? Well, because Al Qaeda is not the only group that wishes or seeks to hurt the United States financially.

For instance, Julian Assange founder of the infamous WikiLeakers now admits that the leaked emails and memos from Bank of America are not really all that worthwhile. In fact, there was an interesting article about an interview the publicity seeking Assange gave in Reuters recently titled “Exclusive: Assange suggests bank documents are a snore” by Mark Hosenball published on February 10, 2011. The article states:

The bombshell that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has said could “take down a bank or two” may in fact be something of a dud. Assange has said privately he does not know if his cache of internal Bank of America data, whose public release he has suggested might be imminent, contains any big news or scandal, according to three people familiar with the WikiLeaks leader’s private discussions about the material.

Well then, here we have someone claiming their goal is to take down the US financial system, or one of our major banks? Well, that seems to be his plan, and that is financial terrorism. In fact, his PR stunt, purposely took down the Bank of America stock based on his rumors, which he knew to be false. He admits this all now. So in essence he is admitting to using financial terrorist tactics.

Okay so, we know how we deal with terrorists, and yet, this gentleman claims to be one with the media. But Al Qaeda also manipulates the media, generally Al Jazeera to recruit, cause alarm bells in the US, or create fear that they are planning an attack, or perhaps claiming credit for some failed attack. With the intent on hurting the US financially, financial terrorism that is.

Considerations For Implementing Systems in Financial Service Organizations

INTRODUCTION

The confluence of SOA and SOX has had unexpected consequences, making software development more efficient and system failures rarer.

There are a number of reasons why new systems fail. But thanks to developments in service-oriented architecture (SOA)-which reduces interdependencies between applications-and the implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), which has led to more firms outsourcing development to independent software vendors, the likelihood of all-out failure has been reduced.

There are two types of major systems in financial services firms, with vastly different success rates and implementation challenges. The first type-client-facing systems-are outwardly focused. They connect bankers, financial planners, hedge fund managers, stockbrokers, and their ilk with customers. Examples include banking and bill payment, 401(k) management, remote deposits, derivatives trading, and position monitoring. While these systems have many different objectives, they have two overriding commonalities-they link customers and investors with their financial institutions and generate revenue in the process.

Not all systems in a financial firm are client-facing. Organizations’ back-office systems are inwardly focused on internal employees and daily operations. Customers never use or even see these applications. Examples include supply chain management, accounting, human resources, and payroll. Back-office applications-typically called enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems-record sales and purchase transactions, update inventory, and cut employee and vendor paychecks. Invoices, receipts, and reports can also be produced by back-office systems. Unlike their client-facing brethren, back-office systems generate no revenue; they support cost centers.

The different scopes and audiences of these applications result in different rates of success. Client-facing systems fail much less often than back-office applications. By and large, the challenges faced by financial firms with respect to enterprise systems are not materially different than those faced by retail, health care, or government organizations.

Back-office systems support the entire enterprise, not simply one function. ERPs have to handle a number of disparate tasks, the vast majority of which tie back to the general ledger (GL). ERP systems are tightly coupled with one another. A problem in one area will almost always affect another.

On the other hand, client-facing applications can be considered “best of breed” and often do not need to integrate with other applications. They typically are designed to accomplish one or a limited number of specific objectives: transferring funds, buying and selling stocks, and the like. Handling stock trades or dividends, for example, is much less exhaustive than managing an entire supply chain or paying employees in 48 states and seven countries. As a result of this limited integration, their development cycles are much shorter and their failure rates much lower.

SOA AND SOX

Two recent and seemingly unrelated events have coalesced, resulting in more efficient software development and fewer system failures. The first is the advent of SOA, which provides methods for systems development and integration in which systems group functionality around business processes and package these as interoperable services. SOA also describes IT infrastructure that allows different applications to exchange data with one another as they participate in business processes. Service-orientation aims at a loose coupling of services with operating systems, programming languages, and other technologies which underlie applications.

On the regulatory front, due to SOX requirements, many financial firms no longer attempt to create their own internal systems. SOX’s increased audit requirements have resulted in many financial services firms using independent software vendors (ISVs) to build proprietary systems. Firms such as Infosys specialize in making or selling software, designed for mass marketing or for niche markets.

Due to the arrival of both SOA and SOX, many financial firms have abandoned internal application development and now deal almost exclusively with ISVs, who observe the following cardinal rules with regard to software development: Issues found later in an application’s development cycle are exponentially more time-consuming and expensive to fix than issues found at the beginning of the cycle. Unlike off-the-shelf applications, software developers can essentially build anything. Software engineers and coders do best with pristine development specifications, allowing them to accurately build the applications and functionality desired.

This second point is critical. Management at financial firms typically realizes that ISVs require comprehensive development specifications. Equipped with them, ISVs are able more rapidly to build-and modify-applications to better meet the needs of firms and their clients. This minimizes the traditional back-and-forth and decreases the amount of time required for financial firms to realize a return-on-investment (ROI) on their new applications. These successes build upon each other. The bank that successfully rolls out an ISV-created application is encouraged to develop more applications.

From a systems’ development perspective, the cumulative effects of SOA and SOX have been largely positive. Many financial firms that had historically created their own systems often failed for one simple reason. The best programmers and developers tend to work for software companies, not financial firms.

Financial firms that contract ISVs to create specific, client-facing applications typically realize a number of significant benefits.

LESS RISK WITH ISVs

Weinrib Partners, a fictitious hedge fund, wants to create an application allowing its investors to wire money from banks directly to the fund. Weinrib’s managers decide to outsource development to an ISV. The application has one very specific purpose and the managers can very clearly articulate the application’s requirements to an ISV which, in turn, expedites development. Testing should manifest any and all issues because of the application’s singular purpose.

Weinrib launches its application to clients who no longer have to write and mail checks to deposit funds. It is important to note that Weinrib owns the application created by the ISV. As a result, Weinrib can control the application’s customizations and enhancements. If Weinrib’s customers request that the application integrates with QuickBooks and Microsoft Money, for example, then Weinrib can approach its ISV immediately about making this change.

Contrast the system ownership model with traditional ERP purchase and support model. Organizations that utilize SAP or Oracle as an enterprise system have no control over its delivered functionality. End-users can always submit vendor “enhancement requests,” but there is no guarantee that they will be adopted in future releases of the application. What’s more, IT departments that customize ERPs face a number of significant obstacles. For one, customizations typically invalidate vendor support agreements. Second, making a tweak to a general ledger program, for example, may break something else. Enterprise systems are very involved and contain many interdependencies. Finally, even a successfully implemented customization may go by the wayside after an upgrade or service patch.

In April of 2008, PNC completed its acquisition of Sterling Financial Corp. While there were many reasons for the merger, one of the more overlooked ones involved technology. Specifically, Sterling’s internal systems had become antiquated. Its senior management realized that the necessary investment to upgrade them would be cost-prohibitive.

Sterling is not alone in this regard. Many financial institutions have realized that the old maxim applies: “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” Organizations with antiquated client-facing systems cannot re-tool by simply making a few, relatively inexpensive enhancements. More often than not, a complete overhaul is necessary. At a minimum, most financial systems today must comply with SOX requirements, integrate with external banks, offer customers a powerful and user-friendly experience, and ward off increasing security threats. Beyond these requirements, applications often need to do more. Rather than merely transfer funds, many applications offer data mining and business intelligence (BI) capability and allow agents, bankers, and other personnel the ability to customize offerings based on the individual customer’s financial situation. Added to this, organizations’ IT budgets are under a microscope.

CONCLUSION

While there is no secret sauce to building and implementing client-facing systems, financial firms tend to minimize failure rates by utilizing ISVs and extensively documenting business requirements. Seasoned ISVs allow firms to quickly create and roll out custom applications that can increase firm revenue, profitability, and ROI. With respect to enterprise and back office systems, however, financial firms should not try to build from scratch. They realize no competitive advantage from payroll vendors or employees. In this sense, financial firms tend to have many of the same issues as the rest of the corporate world.

With more than a decade of experience, Phil Simon assists organizations in all phases of systems consulting including vendor selection, project management, business needs analysis, gap analysis, system testing and design, end-user training, interface and custom report development, and documentation. The result: providing his clients with superior systems, increased ROI, and a healthier bottom line.