Investment management operations is complicated, and when you get swamped, it’s easy to lose track of things. Likewise, your middle- and back-office team won’t always do what should get done.
For instance, the investment team has emailed your back-office operations staff, requesting a report ad hoc. The problem is nobody took initiative to do the job.
You may have known about the request, but you assumed someone would step up and do it.
Time passes, and the report still isn’t done. Shortly after, an investment advisor approaches you,
angry that the report isn’t ready.
By this point, you may have forgotten about the request; you were busy with other things. Either way, you look bad as an operations manager for not delivering.
It’s hard to get things done when communication and organization are missing, and by improving in these areas, you’ll hold your back-office operations team accountable.
Investment Management Operations: Ensuring Accountability
If someone outside your department has a request, should they communicate directly with your staff or should they talk to you first?
If a request is sent as a group email to your team, how is it determined who should be the one to
handle the task?
Consider holding a meeting with your operations team and establishing a protocol for these situations. If you want requests from outside your department to go through you first, meet with the other teams and let them know.
Whatever you do, have a plan.
Track and Monitor Tasks
Don’t let getting swamped be a reason for losing track of your team’s work. If something needs to get done, hold yourself accountable by recording it immediately. If you prefer tracking tasks through a shared file on Google, OneDrive or SharePoint, go with one of those.
Also consider task-tracking and monitoring software. There you can assign tasks, monitor the progress, and establish deadlines.
Assign Primary Leads
No matter how you track the work, be it routine or upon request, assign one person as primary leader for executing the task.
If you control the tracking system, you can delegate tasks, eliminating doubt for who should do what.
When there are ad hoc requests, designate one person to handle those.
If there is group work, choose one person to lead. The leader will hold team members accountable for their work, and the leader will be responsible for the final product.
Employees may be out sick, on vacation or on parental leave, and if your primary lead is out, make sure someone can fill in. Have it documented for who should step up in a primary lead’s absence.
If a primary lead has too much work, designate team members to help.
Make sure backups are held accountable for their work, too. Playing a supporting role in someone else’s work should be no excuse to give less than 100% effort.
Develop a Bench
Are there operational vulnerabilities? In other words, if your one of your leading back-office operations specialists is out, would you have trouble finding a reliable backup?
If the answer is yes, it’s time to develop your bench.
Consider these questions:
- For which tasks are there no or not enough backups?
- Do you have a training program?
- If you have one, when was the last time you updated it?
- How often should your employees go through training programs?
- What are you doing to make sure your employees are continually developing new skill sets?
After answering these questions, you can formulate a plan to beef up your depth chart.
Build a Collective Team Spirit
It’s one thing to enforce accountability through policy, but encouraging accountability is another.
Think about team-building activities. Take everyone out for happy hour on Friday afternoon. Go to a sporting event. Do something that shows you care.
In return, your team will to have better relations with you, while they develop bonds with each other.
When your staff builds relations, they develop trust and accountability to each other in a way the edicts of a manager cannot do.
The next time someone needs help, other team members will be more willing to assist because they know others would do the same for them. In addition, you will see more employees taking initiative because they know everyone is committed to the same goal (and you will reward them for their good actions!).
Increased Middle- and Back-Office Operations Accountability
Commitment to improving your communication and management skills, coupled with building a team spirit, will result in greater accountability.
The other great part about holding everyone accountable is it forces you to reassess your entire operational model. You’re better able to identify weaknesses and develop plans to convert them into strengths.
Before you know it, you have a dream team of investment management back-office operations experts.
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