Imagine someone in your onboarding team wants to run a question about a new customer by your compliance department. She sends an e-mail to the compliance manager, who happens to live in a different country. It takes a few days for him to get back to her, and your new customer is left scratching their head as to why the whole process is taking so long.

This is just one example of how internal communication at banking can go wrong. Banks’ reliance on outdated email and siloed information management systems, means it often takes unnecessarily long to make even simple requests. It’s no surprise that data access and availability is one of the key resilience risks for banks, according to accountancy EY.

Improving internal communications at financial services institutions requires a multi-pronged approach – including new management styles, business culture and processes. But, underlying it all, are modern communication and collaboration tools.

Let’s look in more detail at the problem of interdepartmental communication at banks, and how financial services institutions can improve them.

Why interdepartmental communication is challenging for banks

Internal communication is complicated at most kinds of organisation, but it is especially difficult at banks, for a variety of reasons:

  • Regulations: Banks must follow strict rules about how information is shared and have an auditable paper trail of all internal comms.
  • Sensitive information: All banks process highly sensitive information, which means they take a conservative view of new methods of sharing data.
  • Size and complexity: Most financial institutions are large, complex businesses, with numerous departments working independently of one another.
  • Geography: Most banks and financial institutions have an extensive geographical spread both within countries and internationally, which makes communication between regions and across languages challenging.
  • Legacy technology: Most traditional banks continue to rely on legacy technology that makes seamlessly sharing information between departments and business units very difficult.

All of these challenges are compounded by the fact that many banks continue to rely on email as their primary method of internal communication. This dependence on email means that individual employees often have inboxes overflowing with countless messages every day. Managing all these emails, prioritising them, and replying to colleague requests takes time.

The costs of poor interdepartmental communication at banks

While it is understandable that banks are wary of changing communication methods, continuing to rely on email, phone calls or face-to-face meetings has some serious drawbacks.

Perhaps most significant is the risk of missed information. As noted above, most bank employees are swamped with emails, making it likely that some requests from colleagues go unread. As a medium, email is also inherently slow – the time it takes to compose emails, attach files, share information and so on is simply inefficient.

A different drawback of traditional communication methods at banks is that it reinforces silos and boundaries between teams. An overreliance on email means that people feel unable to speak face to face with colleagues from different departments. In the worst case, this can even lead antagonistic cultures, where people jealously guard their departmental data.

Then there’s the fact that traditional internal comms are just less effective in the modern world of work. With most bank staff working at home at least one or two days per week, depending on email for all communications with colleagues makes little sense.

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It is safe to say that all these issues impact your bottom line. Poor communication means that opportunities to innovate are missed, customers are left dissatisfied, and employees are less productive.

Solutions for interdepartmental communication at banks

In 2021, Microsoft released its new Cloud for Financial Services. The solution brings together a suite of digital tools that are designed to help banks work more efficiently. Among the various features are several tools that can transform internal comms at your bank.

For example, you can use Microsoft Teams to manage internal calls (wherever staff are physically located). Staff can schedule conference calls between department heads to catch up, get to know one another, share ideas, and work on corporate goals. Teams also comes with a chat feature, that makes it easy to reach out to colleagues in different departments to ask quick questions – rather than relying on email.

You also get access to a much more streamlined approach to process management. One of the big barriers to internal communication at banks is that it can take a long time to receive approvals for information access requests. But with Microsoft’s Power Platform, you can build automated workflows to streamline the approvals process.

Using a cloud-based environment to store all your data also helps tackle general information silos at banks. Data held by different departments can be shared much more easily if it’s stored in the cloud, with documents accessed in central databases (and even viewed by multiple people at once). Again, this is all about making it easier to communicate and collaborate.

Read more: Our introduction to Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services

A better approach to internal communication at banks

The prize for improved internal communication at banks couldn’t be greater. With more streamlined communication methods, you can expect improved performance, better customer experiences, greater innovation, and improved productivity.

At FITTS, we have extensive experience deploying Microsoft’s cloud technology, and can support you to migrate to Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services, as well as training your teams to make most use of the technology.

Case study: How FITTS helped INVESTEC adopt Microsoft Teams

Contact us today to learn more about how Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services can improve your bank’s internal communications.