Research published by Ricoh UK reveals that, faced with an increasingly regulated and digital business environment, the majority of UK and European financial services organisations are concerned about the security of their documents. Less than half (47 per cent) of those surveyed  within the financial services sector think their document security is better than it was in 2009 and more than a quarter (26 per cent) think it is actually worse. In addition, only a third are able to fully audit access to documents, with the majority therefore lacking control over who might be accessing potentially sensitive information. This is despite 63 per cent having document risk management targets in place.

These findings come at a time when the industry, which has traditionally relied on manual and paper based approaches to processing information, is under increasing pressure to manage growing amounts of information, with customers demanding interaction through digital channels and the sector needing to keep pace with new technologies. Document processes in the financial services sector also need to comply with complex national and international regulations which are requiring document processes to be more transparent, enable stricter reporting, and allow for comprehensive audit trails.

In the financial services sector – perhaps more than any other industry – the  two worlds of digital and paper-based documents are colliding as regulatory change and evolving customer habits force organisations in the UK to rethink the way they manage critical information, fast,” says Rick Hewitt, Finance Director at Ricoh UK. “This is one of the most heavily regulated of all industries, yet this struggle to overcome document security challenges highlights just how complex the effective management of document processes has become.”

The study also reveals that, despite being an industry where customer service is a key competitive differentiator, only a small proportion of financial services organisations have overcome the challenges of ensuring their document processes enable customer responsiveness (26%), customer retention (35%) and obtaining new customers (36%).

Customer-facing activities – including sales and marketing, billing, service and support – all rely on document processes for smooth operation and to free up time for customer interaction. If these processes are not working properly, customers may switch allegiance, and worse: they will tell others about their dissatisfaction. Businesses in the financial services sector need to do a thorough review of these processes, both paper and digital, to make sure they are effective, agile, and secure. Doing so will enable quick access to accurate information, meaning businesses can attract customers and keep them loyal, today and in the future,” says Hewitt.

The research, the Ricoh Document Governance Index 2012, was conducted on behalf of Ricoh by Coleman Parkes Research. It reveals the extent to which new technologies are impacting the way businesses in Europe – including financial institutions – are managing information, including the business critical document processes that underpin everything from operations such as finance, HR and procurement to student records and admissions applications.

Find out how connected your business processes are by taking this survey, or download the research series here.

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