Financial services organisation, Merrill Lynch is transforming its IT management and providing tangible benefit to the business with a service oriented architecture (SOA) strategy.

Merill Lynch head of global infrastructure solutions, Diane Schueneman said the rapidly changing industry complexity, driven by increased regulation and competition, as well as higher client expectations, had led the company to re-think its business and operational infrastructure.

“A couple of years ago we opened accounts for customers and used those accounts as wrappers for products that our advisors would sell to broad customer segments that we thought were all broadly the same,” Schueneman told delegates at the user conference of SOA vendor, Tibco.

“The focus was on product,” she added. “But we have gotten rid of complexity by focusing more on the clients’ needs throughout the client lifecycle. The key is consistency of process, to provide ‘solutions’ to customers that meet their ongoing needs, as opposed to products.”

The company has removed operational and technology silos between business lines using SOA and business process management (BPM) products from Tibco and improved the flexibility and agility of its infrastructure to bring new products to market or respond to regulation quicker.

Schueneman said moving to a global sourcing model would see 60% of Merrill’s 15,000-plus operations staff move into two lower cost, centralised operational hubs, while the use of Tibco technology has helped rationalise and integrate core processing activities that are more scalable and lower in cost to maintain.

“Customers want more self-service, competitors like hedge funds can be customers too so innovation and speed to market becomes more important and regulation are really challenging what we do every day,” she said, citing the 12 million emails a day the organisation produces as an example of the increased reliance on technology for key business enablers. “I have to be able to recall [these emails] within 30 days for the regulators.”