Pan-African operating models

As strive for pan-African growth, many are investing in regional operating models.

We have worked with the African financial serves industry for over 20 years, and as is the case for so many markets in Africa, it is growing rapidly. Many of the asset servicers, asset managers and wealth managers we serve in Africa are engaging pan-African expansion strategies, and have identified technology as a key enabler.

These organisations are creating a standardised operating model, applied throughout the business, which can be quickly rolled out into new markets. This is supported by a “blueprint” technology model, developed with cross-departmental input and suitable for all operational eventualities. Decisions made at this stage will impact the business for many years to come, so the centralised technology platform must offer comprehensive functionality, and be both scalable and flexible to support new markets and activities. When done properly, this centralised model ensures a firm has complete control over the cost and risk of expansion, and greatly hastens the speed to market.

The ideal solution would be remote access to a single central platform, but connectivity remains a stumbling block in a few markets in Africa, often necessitating multiple stand-alone instances of the technology model. There are still benefits of standardised operating procedures and technology, as they enable firms to quickly establish themselves in new markets using tried and tested processes. With all investment professionals using the same procedures, and the same technology, the entire organisation can contribute to and benefit from “best practice” operations, and the firm is marching to the same beat. Given the pace of change in Africa, the time will come when communication links can be relied on, at which point migration onto a single platform will be minimalized if all divisions of the firm are using a single operating model and technology platform.

In another 20 years, many African firms already will have several years of significant growth behind them, and will be bound by the decisions they make today. The time to implement a pan-African operating model is now, as it will be notably more painful later down the expansion process. Developing the right model and engaging the right technology partner will be time and money well spent. Working with a technology provider that has proven experience of working with growing African financial institutions, and creating and implementing regional operating models globally, will give firms a definite head start.

The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of SS&C.

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