The Importance of Data Governance in the Financial Markets

It occurred to me today that, for some organizations, the repercussions of having a poor data governance program in place could be catastrophic.  I worked in the financial industry doing data governance about 5 years ago (student loans), but for some reason the magnitude of poor data governance for large financial institutions didn’t fully occur to me until recently.

Imaging running a data warehouse (or live data feeds) for a trading floor such as the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ and the immense amount of data flowing through the organization. I’ve recently become familiar with the Online Trading Academy, a highly rated & reviewed learning center where they teach you how to day trade. Trading stocks is very data dependent, and peoples’ livelyhood depends on it, and this data is used on a daily basis in realtime. Can you imagine if bad (or no) data governance is in place and how this could seriously impact a lot of people?  This would literally jeopardize people’s lives as they know it, and one bad move by a trading floor could mean more government regulations and overhead – something that they absolutely do not want.

Consider companies like MorningStar, whose job it is to compile massive amounts of data and make stock ratings and recommendations based on that data.  Can you image the intense amount of data governance and data quality that occurs in that organization? (incidentally, I can related as I saw their Data Quality Director speak at a conference in Vegas on the topic).  If MorningStar has a corrupt set of data that impacts just one small portion of their business, it could literally mean thousands of people get bad advice on their retirement investments.  If that mistake is discovered too late, we are talking about a catastrophic loss of money and potentially the credibility of their company going completely out the door.

I wanted to share this with you, because often times we just think of the worst case scenario being an ‘out of compliance’ finding, but it really can be so much worse than that.  Job loss, income loss, bankruptcy and more all all serious possibilities if data isn’t treated like gold with an organization.

Why You Should Secure Your Company’s Data Records

You do not have to be an FBI agent to keep your records secure. As a business owner, you want to ensure that everything that comes and goes into your systems are well protected, kept and stored. Data governance these days mean more than just a room full of file cabinets and thick folders. As we continue to move to a more paperless environment, we rely less on paper and hard copies of documents to a more streamlined, computerized and technology based system.

While data governance has shifted from hard copy to software, you should realize that the automated processes will not be sustained on its own. This kind of data management still needs a point of contact to be held accountable to the accuracy and security of the records you keep.  Aside from that, you also want to be sure that all pertinent information can easily be shared with all employees when needed. This may not be a huge problem to small and medium sized businesses, but as your company starts to grow and you start to employ more staff, the records may grow to an extent that managing paper trails may not be the most efficient way to do business.

Since we have been working towards data governance for maximum efficiency, another advantage of being able to implement data management strategies would be the prevention of fraud. This is especially true for any type of company. Managing financial records and information is not limited to sales or banking organizations. Nothing can be worse than losing important financial or accounting information, and if not managed properly, you can end up losing hundreds to thousands of dollars in an instant. Being able to secure your company’s records will play a critical role to your company. The sooner you are able to implement data governance processes, the more time you can devote to other things that will make your business successful.