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Significant productivity improvements

Ruffer: IT strategy for wealth management

As a small business dependent on technology, Ruffer needed support to deal with business demand for product and service improvements. With the expert support and mentoring of our senior consultant, Ruffer established a new IT demand management process with governance and reporting, and shaped a clear IT strategy and implementation roadmap aligned to business objectives.

COMPANY BACKGROUND

Ruffer is an independent and privately owned investment management firm which manages investments on a discretionary basis for private clients, trusts, charities and pension funds. It manages funds in excess of £10 billion and employs over 130 staff with offices in London, Edinburgh and Hong Kong.

The wealth management industry is experiencing significant growth, and it must undergo major changes in its use of IT to meet the challenges in control and risk management. It is a sector that often has legacy IT systems and processes that require significant effort and cost to sustain a steady state. The development of IT is one of the keys to future success for wealth management organisations, initially through efficiency improvements and then, developing and delivering IT to provide strategic services that yield competitive advantage and efficiency.

The challenge

Many organisations of similar size to Ruffer face challenges in the management of technology solutions and business information. Although technology is critical to day-to-day operations, managed growth, and product and service development, these organisations are too small to entice an appropriately experienced IT director on a full-time basis.

In common with similar organisations, Ruffer utilises many IT-enabled processes which are enhanced by a number of bespoke amendments, third-party systems and feeds. At Ruffer, application support and bespoke development is managed by the head of IT, supported by a team of four developers. The team is often challenged by the level of demand from the business, which often exceeds their capacity to deliver and results in the familiar ‘shout loudest come first’ scenario.

Our approach

IndigoBlue provided a senior consultant to work with Ruffer on a part-time basis at executive level, providing mentoring and support to the head of IT. This collaborative approach enabled a thorough exploration and examination of the technology and operation issues being experienced by Ruffer’s staff. IndigoBlue adapted a two-fold approach as outlined in the following sections:

Demand management and governance

With the head of IT, we established a new demand management process with governance and reporting which provided better visibility and control of work undertaken within the application development team, and created a basis for prioritisation within the business.

This approach had a number of immediate benefits. By focusing on the cross-divisional business objectives it ensured high-priority work was completed as required and it provided clear metrics for the capacity of the team, thereby supporting better future planning. This approach highlighted where work was being undertaken and identified key issues in the maintenance of legacy systems which fed directly into the IT strategy.

Strategy

We conducted interviews with key staff to understand the business strategy, core processes, frustrations with existing systems, and opportunities. Our consultant shadowed Ruffer staff to experience the process workflows. Using this knowledge and information from the new governance process, IndigoBlue produced an IT strategy and implementation roadmap which was accepted by the executive team. The strategy included proposed organisational changes to enable better management and control of the portfolio.

The outcomes

We continue to provide strategic technology guidance to the executive team, and coaching and mentoring to the head of IT with a focus on delivering a value-adding IT service.

The adoption of a demand management process led to significant improvements in productivity within the application development team and enabled the head of IT to focus on strategic initiatives.

The business now perceives the development team as adding substantial business value.

The IT strategy provides a roadmap which has been adopted by the newly formed projects office and Ruffer has a clear strategic technology direction for the future.

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