Professional collaboration within specific industry

FINANCE 6

Professional collaboration in the financial services industry

Introduction

Financial industry is changing due to changes in customer expectations. These changes include better governance, compliance and risk management, technology, globalization and solutions to climate change for sustainability. In this industry, there are companies dealing with financial services such as investment funds, insurance, banking, credit union, stock brokerages and accountancy that need collaboration and teamwork to succeed. This sector employs millions of people and is critical in the development of a nation and communities. Collaboration has become productive through video-conferencing, file-sharing, web-based programs and high speed internet. As I long to become a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) in the near future, I need to understand the current aspects of collaboration such as equal participation, sense of purpose, team work and idea brainstorming. Success in the corporate world requires involvement of people with varied skills and competencies that work as a team to achieve organizational objectives and goals. I interviewed the investment advisor of Old Mutual, a financial investment company, to obtain insights on the benefits of professional collaboration in the financial services sector. The response from the head of the financial institution shows the determination and will by corporate leadership to meet employee needs and reach out to all the stakeholders.

Interview

An interview was conducted on 23rd June 2016 at the office of the investment advisor at Old Mutual Company. The role of an investment advisor is to educate potential clients, determine risk tolerance, analyze investment options, provide investment recommendations, ethical compliance and keep detailed records of services provided (Treadwell, 2015). The interview questions were centered on importance of collaboration and teamwork, benefits, building and managing teams, building a collaborative culture in the organization and how to choose collaboration tools.

To start with, the respondent on the importance of collaboration and teamwork said;

“I think collaboration and teamwork is important due to changing nature of work, growth of professional work, changes in scope and structure of organizations and changes in work and business culture”.

This shows that as organizational environment change, there is need for greater collaboration and teamwork to achieve. Another question sought to know the business benefits of collaboration in the investment company. The respondent answered;

“Our organization has benefited from collaboration in a number of aspects such as increased productivity, high quality, greater innovation, great customer service and improved financial performance”.

Similarly, the respondent agreed that workplace collaboration and teamwork were critical alongside equal participation, strong sense of purpose and brainstorming ideas to obtain organizational solutions. The respondent recognized that brainstorming provides expertise and different perspectives to solve common problems. Working together benefits the company as a whole and all the parties involved. Moreover, the respondent was upbeat when asked about his understanding of collaboration and teamwork;

“…collaborating, treating each other as equals is one way to encourage ideas and open up communication from all organizational levels”.

The investment advisor further said that for a firm to perform better, it requires collaborative capability and technology. This involves having an open culture, decentralized structures, and use of collaborative technology. Also, vital to the organization is collaboration and teamwork established by senior management that help to inculcate a collaborative culture. The respondent suggested that some of the collaborative tools that can be used include file sharing, work grouping, screen sharing, video-conferencing and event scheduling.

Academic research

The foundation of business teams and focused collaboration is social cooperation. While businesses are organized in hierarchical structures, real work is implemented by employee teams that collaborate with each other (Kossinets & Watts, 2006). For example, a law firm can collaborate with accountants in an accounting firm to solve their tax problems. In the accounting firm, members of a team can collaborate to accomplish certain tasks that together achieve the mission of solving tax problems at the law firm. Cohen and Prusak (2001) argue that compared to individuals working on their own, diverse teams provide faster and better outputs. On the other hand, the rate and quality of innovation is increased through strong technologies and collaborative practices. While senior managers measure and observe results, more work is increasingly being done in teams and groups with the expectation that they develop own methods (Boddy, et al. 2012). In fact, to get work done, professional jobs require sharing of opinions and information as well as obtaining substantial education. Aral et al. (2007) found in an empirical study that social networks are crucial in relaying information up and down the organizational hierarchy. Collaboration positively influences company’s sales growth, profitability and standards of performance. The success of collaborative teams is pegged on the missions and teams, skills, right qualifications and competencies, and oversight. With command and control exhibited previous organizations, current firms allow employee engagement using Enterprise Social Networks (ESNs) to achieve goals (Aral, et al. 2007).

Teams impact decision making and influences systems, procedures, designs, products and policies. Some people can present their ideas in the best fashion, and through collaboration, it becomes possible to share knowledge. Working together and sharing ideas give employees a better mode of operating at a higher level based on their skills and knowledge (Kossinets & Watts, 2006). Organizations that pursue ‘divide and conquer’ are able to complete important initiatives and projects through collaboration. In a natural collaborative team model, Scarnati (2011) argues that a team of financial advisors, lawyers, and accountants naturally collaborate so as to benefit the client and each other. Moreover, employees become satisfied and can stay in the organization if they build a sense of teamwork and strong bonds. On the contrary, many advisors are not collaborating despite its clear benefits (Boddy, et al. 2012). This is because they fear losing control, seem complicated and time consuming or that collaborating in various aspects is not their normal process.

Analysis

Professional collaboration in the financial industry requires team work, equal participation, strong sense of purpose and brainstorming and thinking on ideas that provide solutions to organizational problems. From the interview with the investment advisor, it shows that the organization and individuals in it are poised to benefit. Given the to changing nature of work, growth of professional work, changes in scope and structure of organizations, organizations are able to achieve high quality and greater innovation. They also derive a lot from great customer service and improved financial performance. As Aral et al. (2007) had mentioned that social networks are crucial in relaying information up and down the organizational hierarchy; creating teams will improve on decision making. The role of a chartered financial analyst cannot be well administered if there are low levels of collaboration and team work. For example, analyzing the performance of stocks without engaging other financial advisors will make work difficult for the analyst. Similarly, Cohen and Prusak (2001) had argued that compared to individuals working on their own, diverse teams provide faster and better outputs. This means that as people work in teams and groups, they can innovate faster, solve problems quickly and develop greater employee skills. The interview noted that collaboration leads to people performing better, but they will be the best if they have collaborative capability and technology. Teamwork taken to a higher level is basically collaboration (Castells, 2009). When it uses technology, it is able to achieve higher goals and create competitive advantage for the company.

Senior managers have a significant influence on financial performance of a firm. As argued by Boddy, et al. (2012) that senior managers measure and observe results, they can only succeed if more work is increasingly being done in teams and groups. With the expectation that they develop own methods, junior employees rely on communication from top management to undertake tasks. However, organizations in which employees do their own work without engaging others often fail to meet the objectives and goals of their clients. This indicates that firm employees should work in teams and groups for them to achieve the benefits of synergy and working together. Indeed, companies that collaborate find it easier to reign of quality issues, cost reduction and managing logistics of delivery. This is in agreement with Kossinets and Watts (2006) that significant amount of work is implemented by employee teams that collaborate with each other.

The respondent mentioned that organization that collaborate and engage in teamwork inculcates a collaborative culture. This is consistent with the arguments of Aral et al. (2007) that success of collaborative teams is pegged on the missions and teams, skills, right qualifications and competencies, and oversight. This implies that firms can obtain informed decisions and solutions if it brainstorms ideas and thinks as a team. Again, with a strong sense of purpose, individuals and groups that collaborate bring their minds together and achieve more that they could have done working as individuals. Allowing people to participate as equals allows for faster and open communication even in organizations with many hierarchies. As a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), using collaboration and teamwork in future will make work easier for colleagues, increase profitability of the firm and achieve faster innovation. Using collaborative tools such as emails and video-conferencing, it will make work more enjoyable and easier for financial advisors in the financial services sector.

References

Aral, S., Brynjolfsson, E., Alstyne, M.V. (2007). Productivity Effects of Information Diffusion in Networks. MIT Center for Digital Business.

Boddy, D., Macbeth, D., & Wagner, B. (2012). Implementing Collaboration between Organizations: An Empirical Study of Supply Chain Partnering, Journal of Management Studies. 37(7): 1003 — 1018.

Castells, M. (2009). The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. The Rise of the Network Society. Oxford: Blackwell.

Cohen, D.J. & Prusak, L. (2001). In good company: how social capital makes organizations work, Communications of the ACM. 1(2): 45-56.

Kossinets, G. & Watts, D.J. (2006). Empirical Analysis of an Evolving Social Network. Science. 2(1): 45-65.

Scarnati, J.T. (2011). On becoming a team player: Team Performance Management. Canberra.

Treadwell, L. (2015). The responsibilities and duties of an investment advisor. Chron.com. http://work.chron.com/responsibilities-duties-investment-adviser-16210.html.