Financial Services' homeworking rises to the coronavirus challenge

Adaptable Tools is enabling even frontline banking teams to leave the office and work from home through this crisis, thanks to the technology revolution of which we are a part.

As the pandemic muscles in on every facet of our lives, business continuity plans are coming of age, and the multi-scenario test runs are proving their worth.

Banks, in common with many other businesses, are sending their staff off to secondary sites and instructing them, wherever possible, to work from home.

Even 5 years ago, that would have been unthinkable. But today, thanks to a revolution in the approach to financial services technology, even frontline trading teams are mobile.

From Desktop to Web

Traditionally, all financial applications lived on desktops. That meant that in a scenario like the present one, there was very limited flexibility for staff who needed to be either in the office, or at a pre-defined location, with limits on the numbers that could work effectively away from the centre.

Architects and System Admins dreamed of a different, web-based, world, but felt in practical terms it was impossible.

Browser based applications offer two main benefits which feel highly relevant to a moment in time like the present.

  1. They are location agnostic, and ambivalent about the numbers accessing them remotely. So there’s no need to remote desktop onto a machine, or use an RAS token, or require a fixed desk, and things won’t crash when thousands of people suddenly need to access them simultaneously.
  2. Browser applications offer deployment advantages. They are easily updatable – one change on a single web server is available subsequently to every single user, in place of a needing to update thousands of desktops individually or use installation tools that are notoriously unreliable.

Until recently, however, the functionality and performance gap between desktop applications and browser-based applications was simply too great – think Excel versus early versions of Google Sheets. So it was impossible to provide the UI needed in advanced banking scenarios via the web, for example to create a single ‘WorkStation’ application containing charts, blotters, RFQs, trade capture screens, reports, and so on.

Leading Transformation

In 2020, however, the efforts of a number of different FinTech innovators mean that these limitations have vanished. In different ways, OpenFin and Glue42 have each grabbed hold of the challenges and found creative ways to enable sophisticated browser-based applications with multiple advanced widgets supporting each other in real time, which work happily with the levels of advanced security required by banks.

And other firms are delivering those supporting widgets which turn the web experience into one that draws on all the medium’s capabilities to make the application experience superior even to the desktop.

For example, ChartIQ offers brilliant real time charting tools, and ipushpull provide a powerful data sharing and workflow platform.

AdapTable’s Contribution

Meanwhile at Adaptable Tools, our core data management product, AdapTable, has just been upgraded to offer even more comprehensive support for the flexible homeworking that the current situation requires.

  • The screens people are working on remotely are often smaller and/or fewer, so we’ve introduced collapsed and floating modes for the Dashboard which can economise on screen real estate without compromising on easy access to our full range of functionality.
  • We’ve enhanced the ability for remote workers to send messages and alerts to each other, appearing instantly in their grids and blotter, replacing those timely across-the-desk interactions which can make all the difference.
  • We’ve introduced a “No Code" version, allowing users to drag and drop any data file into AdapTable flying solo. This means they no longer need to be slowed down or dependent on accessing developers to help with getting any data they need to look at into a framework which offers all the viewing and analysis tools they need. This can massively speed up processes, even despite the isolation of one team member from another and challenges of accessing support.

Risks of Leadership Re-Paid

At the moment, only the most forward-thinking banks have started to migrate the UI of critical systems to the browser. Their willingness to take that leap forward looks likely to deliver them a whole set of new (and almost certainly unexpected) benefits over the coming weeks.

Their teams will feel the disruption least, and be able to relocate with minimum inconvenience in whatever numbers are required. And that is in addition to having permanent access to the best tools on the market today to do their jobs.


Danielle Nagler is CEO at Adaptable Tools. Book in to see AdapTable's support for homeworking for yourself.

Adaptable Tools is a startup focussed on transforming the user interface in data systems.

Adaptable Tools currently works with clients in Financial Services and other sectors from its London HQ.

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