CASE EVLI

Digitalisation is an operational prerequisite – a system overhaul brought all of Evli’s functions and data onto one platform

Prioritising the customer experience and developing services encourage Evli to continuously pursue digitalisation. The comprehensive system overhaul carried out in cooperation with Digia simplified the system architecture significantly and created a platform for future services and improved utilisation of data.

Today, it is clear that digital solutions are one of the most important enablers of companies’ business development and competitiveness. Digitalisation is not an option; it is a prerequisite for survival. One operator that has made digitalisation an immutable part of their organisation is Evli Bank Plc, which specialises in investments.

Evli is the fourth largest fund management company in Finland and has been ranked the country’s best institutional asset manager five times. In their business activities, Evli primarily concentrates on asset management and increasing their customers’ wealth. Evli’s customer base consists mainly of companies and associations, as well as wealthy private persons. In addition to asset management services, Evli also offers mergers and acquisitions (M&A) services and advisory services. Evli’s goal in its funding activities is to grow, not only nationally but internationally.

To manage its diverse business activities, Evli previously used a number of systems, and, instead of being able to transfer data automatically from one system to another, the same data had to be entered separately into each system.

To increase efficiency and the speed at which new services could be developed, Evli launched a major system overhaul with the goal of simplifying system architecture and concentrating functions onto a single platform.

“Prioritising the customer experience and developing services were the main reasons we decided to start updating our systems. We want to remain competitive in the future and stay on the growth track, which requires us to invest in digitalisation,” says Evli’s Chief Financial Officer Juho Mikola.

“The aim was to create one system that contained customer, instrument and transaction information under one roof,” explains Evli’s Head of Middle Office Tanja Thomas.

Additionally, the company wanted improvements to the processing and utilisation of data. In terms of reporting, the goal was to increase flexibility and have one truth, so to speak.

“One big theme was having information entered only once and in one place. This would also reduce the number of manual work stages,” Mikola says.

“Previously, when we were running several systems, there was always the danger that two people could get different impressions of the same subject. We wanted to get rid of that problem and also be able to provide customers with more dynamic, flexible and high-quality reporting.”

mita-teimme.pngWhat we did

  • Reporting and storage functionalities
  • Primary register of customer data
  • Model-portfolio-based financial management system
  • Development of a unit register
  • Value calculation
  • Comprehensive reporting to customers and authorities
  • Modern API solutions

On ollut huojentavaa huomata, että osuimme kaikissa valinnoissamme oikeaan. Saimme Digiasta kumppanin, joka on kyennyt tukemaan meitä koko matkan ajan. Käyttäjät ovat lähteneet aktiivisesti mukaan ideoimaan parannuksia, ja meillä on tiekartalla myös isompia raportointiin liittyviä kehityskohteita.

Janne Pärnänen, CIO, Suomen Yrittäjät

A big project demands careful management

The fact that almost everything at Evli was overhauled, with the exception of the bank accounts and loan management previously delivered by Digia, is indicative of the scale of the project. With the regulatory framework changing during the project, the project’s schedule and priorities also changed. This also required a firm grasp from project management in order to keep hold of the reins.

“At the beginning of the project, the objective was to utilise off-the-shelf solutions as far as possible. In some areas, we came to the conclusion that customisations were needed. However, strict evaluation of these needs was also applied in these cases,” Thomas says.

Ultimately, success depends on the effectiveness of cooperation. Evli and Digia’s shared development model based on Scale Agile Framework (SAFe) was used for the project. A shared situational picture and ability to react quickly when required was ensured through close planning cooperation.

“Management and structure stayed tight on both sides, and both parties were solidly committed to the project. Thanks to this, the project ran well throughout,” Thomas says.

“We cooperated closely and were able to divide the project into clear subsections with their own managers,” Panu Jousimies, Evli’s Head of Execution & Operations, adds.

According to him, the original goals of the project have been largely achieved. “We’ve been able to turn the lights off in quite a few systems, which means we’ve succeeded in simplifying the system architecture.”

The effect of official requirements was felt all the way down to the choice of partner

Many questions are encountered in an organisation when updating background systems. For example, how to ensure that the chosen solution stays up to date and can be adapted to new requirements? How do existing processes fit into the systems, and how much are you willing to change your own processes on one hand and tailor technical solutions on the other?

In the case of Evli, operating in the financial sector brings its own requirements to all development and business activities, as different regulatory requirements and reporting obligations go hand in hand with developing your customer experience and services. Examples of this came up before the project had even concluded when both MiFID II and GDPR came into force, requiring changes to be made to the project’s implementation. During the project, Finland’s Central Securities Depository system also changed, which significantly affected the system being delivered. Digia’s product-based solutions helped account for these changes.

“Official requirements need to be taken into account in all planning activities, and it can sometimes be difficult to reconcile these requirements and the customer experience,” Jousimies explains.

Constantly changing official regulations also limit the number of reliable business partners you can have. “When we launched this overhaul project, regulations in Finland already limited the pool of partners we could even consider working with,” Mikola says.

Digia’s knowledge of the Finnish regulatory framework and requirements tipped the scales in their favour in Evli’s search for a partner. “One of Digia’s advantages was, first of all, that customer, instrument and transaction information was all in the same system. This was something not everyone could offer. In addition, their knowledge of the Finnish book-entry system was another factor that eventually made Digia the obvious choice for us,” Thomas says.

The development of future services leans heavily on Digia’s implementation

Although the overhaul project proper was officially completed in late 2020, development work still continues. New development needs are constantly arising from the perspective of both customers and authorities, and the system is in a constant state of change.

“For example, developing reporting is its own sort of infinite project. Now, we are getting all the data uniform and in one place, but the development of how we utilise that data is constantly ongoing,” Jousimies says.

Further increasing digitalisation and automation is also on the roadmap. “Evli’s own online service development leans heavily on Digia’s implementations. We will almost certainly also need more interfaces in the future to enhance operations and give customers new opportunities and services,” Thomas says.

Close cooperation and continuous improvement with Digia using agile development models will continue in the future. “It goes without saying that Digia is currently one of the most important strategic partners Evli has, if not the most important. That’s how crucial these systems are to our business activities. In the future, we are going to need to stay in constant contact and keep our development efforts going,” Jousimies says.

“In close and strategically important collaboration like this, it’s important that your resource allocation and commitment are solid. With Digia, we have experts at our disposal who understand our business and are able to support us in it without interruptions,” Thomas concludes.