Data quality indispensable for financial sector - Experts

BY: News Desk Report
From L-R: Mr Prabhash Thakur — Director, Data Science, Centelon, India and Dr Joseph Asantey — Chief Risk and Credit Officer, ARB Apex Bank
From L-R: Mr Prabhash Thakur — Director, Data Science, Centelon, India and Dr Joseph Asantey — Chief Risk and Credit Officer, ARB Apex Bank

Financial services providers have been urged to pay particular attention to the quality of their data — internal and external — as well as the management of these data.

This is because data represent the bedrock of the financial services sector, and will define the winners and losers of the sector moving forward.

This was the consensus of a panel of data quality and management experts who agreed that to remain competitive in an ever-evolving landscape where consumer preference was changing rapidly along with the relevant regulation, financial institutions must be able to make intelligent decisions on how best to serve their customers.

The panel of experts — who were sharing their thoughts during a webinar jointly organised by CWG Ghana and Centelon on “Data Quality Management in Banking and Financial Institutions” — also agreed that quality data was at the heart of intelligent decision-making.

Human factor

According to the Chief Risk and Credit Officer of the ARB Apex Bank, Dr Joseph Asantey, the human factor, particularly at the point of the capture of data, represented the biggest source of error in the data chain.

That, he noted, was a matter of great concern as “poor data quality leads to errors in decision-making, which can be costly”.

He said noisy data could make or break an institution as incorrectly marketed products based on faulty data could result in the poor uptake of a product, or at worst, lead to customer attrition.

To remedy this, he proposed the application of the best technological tools possible.

Technology

Taking the argument further, Director, Data Science, Centelon, India, Mr Prabhash Thakur, said while technology was pivotal in data quality management, it required proper controls and integration with other business elements to yield optimal results.

“We cannot leave it to technology alone. We need to make sure businesses start with data profiling, and there are a lot of tools for that,” he said.

While there has been the rapid transition to online interactions, some customers — by choice or extreme constraints — interact with their financial services provider via analogue means of in-person meetings.

Mr Thakur noted that such customers remained the most vulnerable to having incorrect details, a development that could inadvertently lead to their exclusion from key products and services.

Data professional and consultant, Ms Sarah Oppan, stressed the need for processes to be put in place to reduce discrepancies in data, from point of capture to storage and analysis.

That, she said, was crucial in ensuring that the data was correctly interpreted, especially, as it had decision-making implications.

Addressing concerns over the reluctance of some higher-ups to sanction spending for data quality management, she said those responsible for data control must ensure that they communicated properly, showing in monetary terms, among other variables, the cost and benefit per unit.

The Head of Information Technology at FBN Bank, Mr Kwadwo Asare Asante, urged financial institutions to spare no expense in ensuring that data were updated frequently, stressing that the change of a small detail such as a telephone number, email address or residential address could have dire effect on service delivery and wider financial inclusion.