As head of group IT at asset management specialists Schroders for the past eight years, matthew Oakeley ensures that everything works in perfect harmony in a world of constantly changing technology demands and financial regulation.
Schroders has been through a major period of innovation, led by Matthew Oakeley, who describes the journey,
read the full interview here:
May 2, 2014
1. Schroders CIO Matthew Oakeley is harmonising assets
“It’s a very collaborative and flat hierarchy, and people stay here a long time.
“There’s a spirit of growth and investment that permeates the organisation, which creates an atmosphere conducive to getting things done.
“Our business is split between institutional investors such as company pension schemes, charities and governments, and the intermediary retail funds business, where individuals invest in Schroders funds through an independent financial advisor (IFA) or other intermediaries, such as banks.
2. Financial services not IT
“We are not an IT company, we are an asset management company, and as a result it is important that our IT efforts are always focused on delivering for our business. Our organisation is headquartered in London, but a sizeable part of our business comes from Asia, we have a growing US business and we have funds across Europe.”
3. Business split
“I split the teams into Business Consultancy – providing cross-company analysis to support project activity; Investment Management IT - supporting the business platform for our front, middle and back offices; Distribution IT – supporting CRM, web, email, online marketing and analytics; Corporate IT – supporting Finance, Legal, Compliance, HR, Risk, and so on; IT Production – supporting the main business applications and IT Infrastructure.”
4. Schroders has been through a major period of innovation, led by Matthew Oakeley, who describes the journey
“By 2010 we came out a stronger organisation. With our back office in good shape, IT became all about supporting the growth of our investment business through scalable data systems and platforms. This focus has driven a transformation of the IT organisation and the way in which we work,” he says of how his organisation has had to reshape from a focus on operational platforms to a much more diverse, solutions- and data-driven operation.
“I’m very excited about the digital client space and the analytics possibilities. If we can better understand our clients and what they want, we can serve them better and develop activities that positively influence our business.
“The analytics teams are exploring how to track the connections between events: how does an article about one of our products in the press or a marketing campaign correlate to subsequent visits to our websites or flows across our funds? If you look at other sectors telcos, for example, they have impressive source data to work with - we are just at the start of this in our industry,”
5. Support process
“We decided a few years ago that Production Support needed to be separate from IT development teams. The support team can’t feel like they are at the ‘end of the food chain’, they are the front line. IT has just got to work,”
6. Diversity asset
“You have got to have lots of different people and approaches within the IT department,”
“We also have a business consultancy team; they play ‘sweeper’ supporting the delivery teams with analysis of business processes and problems. This is important as good solutions need to start with the business process first and the technology second. IT departments fall into a trap when they think it is all about the software.
“I believe that there are two types of project manager: the one who has the knowledge and talent to deliver an outcome, and the one who thinks it is only about methodology and process. You can know all the processes in the world, but it won’t deliver success without project managers that know how to deliver outcomes.
“What our business wants is delivery of business outcomes, not just software. They also don’t particularly care how we want to deliver – whether through traditional, formal projects or more agile team structures. It is IT teams that care about these structures; IT that chooses to use process to improve results. Finding the right blend of approaches that suits a particular challenge can be difficult for IT departments that are used to waterfall structures. You have to instil a sense that it is okay to be flexible and sometimes a little entrepreneurial,”
8. Show and tell
“The other important metric for IT is – are you efficient and how do you show it went well? The CEO has made it clear that efficiency is not about cutting, it is about showing value from what you spend; under-spending is as bad as spending foolishly.”
“The strategy document is about more than just strategy; it aims to help the organisation understand what IT does and then to explain what we hope to do next,”
“The firm is approaching it as a cultural opportunity and looking at how we work together, and how do the 20-year-olds who will run the company in the future think? I’m also using it to think about issues like data centres and ways of working; everything is up for grabs. I am taking the opportunity to look at how we organise the IT infrastructure and what we might be supporting in five years’ time.”
“Most of the run and operate is commodity stuff, so why wouldn’t you outsource it? But the difference is they run and manage it with us. So it is not an outcome-based service where you don’t care about how they do it as long as they do it; it is a managed partnership. The design, strategy and the architecture is with Schroders and we work with them on the solutions.”