September 17, 2012 - JERSEY CITY, N.J. Albridge Solutions, Inc. (Albridge), an affiliate of Pershing LLC, a BNY Mellon company, today released an update to its 2010 white paper, "Broker Dealer Sales Practices Oversight: Secrets of Their Success." The new findings for 2012, which come from in-depth surveys with 53 broker dealer firms, show that compliance continues to be a major challenge for broker dealers.
One of the most notable changes from the past two years is the increased number of broker dealers using fully automated compliance surveillance systems, as opposed to combination systems that blend automation with manual "eyes-on" reviews. Forty-two percent of firms now use fully automated systems, as opposed to 30% in 2010. The number of firms using combination systems has fallen from 33% to 18%. However, despite the increased use of automation, and the resulting efficiencies and cost savings they can deliver, 40% of firms still use purely manual surveillance systems, in which all transactions require "eyes-on" reviews.
"In general, broker dealers that were in the process of moving to automated systems in 2010 have continued to advance, while many of those that relied on manual processes have not," said Gregory Pacholski, chief executive officer of Albridge. "We think a major difference between them is the commitment of senior management to upgrading systems and putting more business through brokerage platforms, rather than placing it directly."
The white paper also reveals that the vast majority of firms (86%) spend up to 10% of their overall revenue on compliance-related expenses, with 14% of firms spending up to 20%. Albridge estimates that a well-automated compliance department should be capable of bringing compliance costs below approximately 7% of overall firm revenue. The 2012 update indicates that the industry as a whole has significant potential to increase cost savings in fines, settlements, staff productivity and additional staffing needs by automating compliance processes.
The research shows the year-on-year increase in compliance staffing that was identified in 2010 has continued over the past two years. Almost half of firms (45%) reported a growth rate of 0-10%; a range that can be attributed to growing business volumes or the response to increased regulatory scrutiny. The majority (55%) of firms reported that compliance staffing had increased by more than 11%. Of this majority, some reported that compliance staffing has increased by 30% or more.
Other key insights include the following:
When broker dealers focus on measuring the productivity and cost efficiency of their compliance departments, we have found that other best practices generally follow. Conversely, reliance on outdated processes and legacy systems creates extra costs and often results in lower service levels, longer processing times, higher error rates and increased risks," Pacholski continued. "By nature of business cycles and investors’ changing needs, brokerage firms have limited ability to control fluctuations in top-line revenues. But all broker dealers have the ability to control costs, thereby exerting positive influences on their bottom lines.
Beacon Strategies, LLC, a strategy and tactical consulting firm that focuses on the broker dealer market, was commissioned by Albridge Solutions to produce the white paper, Broker Dealer Sales Practices Oversight: Secrets of Their Success.