Data Governance in Banking: Benefits, Implementation, Challenges, and Best Practices

Last updated on: June 28th, 2023, Published on: June 28th, 2023
Data governance in banking

Share this article

Data governance in banking is essential for regulatory compliance, effective risk management, and delivering exceptional financial services to customers.

In this article, we will explore the key components of a banking-specific data governance program and its impact on business outcomes. We will also discuss common challenges faced in implementing data governance in banking and provide best practices to overcome them.

Table of contents #

  1. What is data governance in banking?
  2. How data governance supports business outcomes in the banking industry
  3. Implementing a data governance strategy in banking: A step-by-step guide
  4. Common challenges in implementing data governance in the banking industry
  5. Data governance best practices to overcome common implementing challenges
  6. Summary
  7. Data governance in banking: Related reads

What is data governance in banking? #

Data governance in banking is the management, control, and access of financial data.

It involves establishing processes, policies, and controls to ensure the accuracy, integrity, and security of banking data throughout its lifecycle.

The Chief Data Officer of the National Bank of Canada defines data governance in banking as:

A strategic approach and set of processes aimed at ensuring the availability, accuracy, cleanliness, and high quality of data to support the bank’s clear and easily understandable offerings.”

According to TechRepublic, data governance in banking means delivering tools for the banking sector to optimize its effectiveness and innovation and also support risk management and regulatory reporting.

Austin Capital Bank Modernizes its Data Stack in just 16 Months to Support First-in-market Products and Services.

Read more

How data governance supports business outcomes in the banking industry #

Data governance in banking brings a series of benefits in terms of:

  1. Regulatory compliance and risk management
  2. Operational efficiency
  3. Customer experience and satisfaction
  4. Innovation and competitive advantage
  5. Revenue growth and profitability

Let’s dive deeper into each of these values in detail.

Regulatory compliance and risk management #

Banks, being tightly regulated entities, are exposed to considerable regulatory and financial risks. Implementing a comprehensive data governance framework aids in adhering to regulatory mandates and reduces the risk of non-compliance.

Data governance also enables lineage mapping, which traces the origin, transformations, and movement of data throughout its lifecycle. This ensures that you maintain a clear audit trail of your data assets.

Furthermore, it helps in accurate risk assessment and thus bolsters risk management.

Operational efficiency #

The landscape of traditional banking has been dramatically reshaped by the rapid rise of FinTech entities. As Financial Technology Partners reported in Q1 of 2021, FinTech marked its most lucrative quarter to date, with a financial volume of $29.1 billion, reflecting a 153% year-over-year increase.

This success is largely attributed to FinTech firms’ ability to harness structured and unstructured data from a wide range of internal and external sources, accelerating the delivery of diverse financial services, such as savings, loans, and trading.

Faced with this disruptive force, traditional brick-and-mortar banks turned to data governance programs to maintain pace with the agile FinTech competitors.

For data practitioners in the banking industry, it offers a clear strategy to boost operational efficiency by eliminating data redundancies, reducing errors, ensuring data consistency, and orchestrating efficient data processing. This practice ensures that banks can quickly access accurate and well-structured data, a critical component for efficient operations.

Customer experience and satisfaction #

A robust data governance policy ensures high-quality and accurate data, leading to a better understanding of customer behavior and preferences. This allows banks to provide personalized services and enhance the customer experience, which, in turn, improves customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Data governance also helps banks manage customer consent and preferences in compliance with regulations, such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) by offering mechanisms to capture, store, and update customer consent preferences.

Data governance is also essential for maintaining data quality, accuracy, and timeliness. So, your customer data is always updated and reliable, enabling better customer profiling, personalized recommendations, and efficient customer service, leading to improved customer satisfaction.

Innovation and competitive advantage #

Data governance provides a solid foundation for advanced analytics, which plays a crucial role in driving innovation.

Banks with a strong data governance framework can use their data to identify new opportunities, analyze trends, develop innovative solutions, and gain a competitive edge.

Revenue growth and profitability #

Effective data governance can contribute significantly to a bank’s revenue growth and profitability. For instance, a holistic view of all customer data helps you identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities. This enables you to suggest customized product and service recommendations.

Implementing a data governance strategy in banking: A step-by-step guide #

Implementing a data governance strategy requires a systematic approach. Here’s a step-by-step guide outlining the key actions to take when implementing a data governance strategy in a banking organization:

  1. Establish clear goals and objectives: This might include ensuring regulatory compliance, enhancing customer service, or driving operational efficiency. For example, a mid-sized bank might set an objective to reduce data processing errors by 20% in the next financial quarter as a means to increase operational efficiency.
  2. Conduct a data inventory assessment: Before establishing a data governance strategy, it’s crucial to know what data you have, where it’s stored, who uses it, and how it’s used. For example, in a regional bank, the data team might carry out an inventory of all databases and data sets used in its operations, noting down specifics of data usage, storage, and management.
  3. Identify data domains, domain owners, and consumers: A crucial step in data governance involves categorizing your data into domains (e.g., customer data, transaction data), appointing domain owners, and identifying consumers for each domain. For example, in a bank, the domain owner for customer data could be the Head of Customer Services, and the consumers might be the marketing, sales, and customer service teams.
  4. Define data governance roles and responsibilities: This includes identifying data owners, stewards, custodians, and users. For example, the Chief Data Officer (CDO) might be responsible for overseeing the overall data governance initiative, while data stewards ensure data quality, accuracy, and compliance within their respective domains.
  5. Develop a data governance framework: This involves creating a structure that dictates how data will be handled, who is responsible for different data domains, and the processes involved in maintaining and protecting data.Read more → How to simplify data governance
  6. Implement data governance tools and technologies: Adopting the right tools and technologies, such as data catalogs, data lineage tools, data quality tools, and data protection tools, is vital for the success of your data governance strategy. These tools aid in data discovery, data quality management, data protection, and overall governance.
  7. Define metrics to measure data governance framework adoption and effectiveness: Defining clear metrics will help you measure the effectiveness of your data governance strategy and framework. These metrics could include data quality scores, data usage, compliance metrics, and business outcomes tied to data initiatives.
  8. Develop a training and continuous education program: Data governance is not a one-off project, but a long-term program that requires continuous learning and adaptation for its success.
  9. Monitor and measure progress: Regularly monitor your data governance metrics to track progress and make necessary adjustments. This could involve regular audits of data quality, compliance checks, and monitoring of data usage and impact. For example, the bank’s data governance team could conduct periodic assessments to identify areas for improvement, such as enhancing data quality controls or updating data security measures, and implement necessary changes to drive continuous improvement.
  10. Foster a data-driven culture: This involves ensuring that employees across the organization understand the value of data, have access to data-driven insights, and are encouraged to make decisions based on data. It requires effective communication, training, and support from top leadership to embed a data-driven mindset within the organization.

Common challenges in implementing data governance in the banking industry #

While implementing a data governance program in the banking industry, you can come across several challenges, such as:

  1. Insufficient high-level support: Achieving executive endorsement and backing can be challenging to secure, impeding resource allocation and the incorporation of data governance principles. It can lead to delays in launching essential data governance procedures and limit the initiative’s overall efficiency.
  2. Internal resistance: The introduction of data governance often demands a cultural shift within the organization, which could be met with resistance from employees used to conventional processes and workflows. This resistance stems from fears of heightened scrutiny, alterations to existing roles and duties, or a lack of understanding of the advantages of data governance.
  3. Segmented data and disparate systems: Many banks grapple with data silos because of various legacy systems and disparate databases. This scattered data environment obstructs data integration and interoperability.
  4. A hierarchical, top-down approach to data governance: Employing a strictly top-down approach to data governance can make fostering collaboration and engagement from different stakeholders within the organization difficult. Rigid, centralized data governance models don’t engage all business units, leading to resistance from teams who feel that their needs and requirements aren’t being met.
  5. Compliance with regulatory standards: Operating in a heavily regulated environment, banks face significant challenges in ensuring compliance with various data protection and privacy regulations. The intricacy of regulatory demands and the necessity to adapt to changing regulations pose continuous challenges for data governance initiatives.
  6. Technological integration challenges: Incompatible systems, outdated infrastructure, and lack of interoperability can obstruct the seamless implementation and functioning of data governance practices.
  7. Scalability: As banks expand their operations, scalability becomes a data governance challenge. Ensuring that data governance practices can handle increasing data volumes, diverse data sources, and changing business requirements requires careful planning and flexibility.
  8. Lack of skilled personnel: Data governance requires professionals with specific skills in data management, regulatory compliance, and communication, such as data stewards and data product owners. A shortage of such skilled personnel can hinder the implementation and ongoing management of data governance initiatives.
  9. Costs and budgeting: Implementing data governance can require substantial financial investment, including the cost of technology, personnel, training, and ongoing management. Securing adequate funding and budgeting for these costs can be a challenge.

Data governance best practices to overcome common implementing challenges #

Here, we explore best practices that could serve as an action plan to navigate these complexities:

  1. Get executive buy-in by demonstrating the tangible benefits of data governance and its impact on business outcomes
  2. Start with high-impact, low-effort initiatives, i.e., quick wins, which yield immediate value and enhance trust in the data governance process
  3. Map all data domains and sources by consulting with all data producers
  4. Construct a bottom-up data governance framework that fosters a sense of ownership among end-users by involving them in the process
  5. Create adequate documentation and training to educate employees about their data governance roles and responsibilities
  6. Stay updated with evolving data privacy regulations to adapt your data governance practices to changes in regulations
  7. Choose a tool that supports active data governance for real-time monitoring and management of your assets; additionally, look for an open API architecture for easy integration with your existing systems
  8. Plan for scalability from the beginning, considering factors like increasing data volumes, diverse data sources, and evolving business needs

Summary #

In summary, data governance in banking plays a pivotal role in everything from regulatory compliance to enhanced value from data. The article highlighted common challenges in scaling data governance programs and presented practical solutions to overcome them.

The implementation of data governance requires clear goals, a solid framework, a data-driven culture, and continuous learning and adaptability.

Share this article

[Website env: production]