In a recent panel at InvestOps USA, Taskize’s interim CEO, James Pike, enjoyed a dynamic, on-stage discussion with Laura Jacques, VP of Trade Operations at Fidelity Investments.

In a recent panel at InvestOps USA, Taskize’s interim CEO, James Pike, enjoyed a dynamic, on-stage discussion with Laura Jacques, VP of Trade Operations at Fidelity Investments. They talked through challenges and opportunities in collaboration and workflow, through the lens of one of the sector’s largest asset management firms.  

The Q&A highlights the need for improved communication, digitisation of legacy systems, and industry-wide collaboration to address the challenges faced by large financial firms such as Fidelity Investments.  

The conversation underscored the importance of agility and efficiency in onboarding new technologies and integrating them seamlessly into existing workflows as well as collaboration and standardisation being key drivers in shaping the future of the industry. 

James Pike: Hi Laura, what are the current themes and concerns you and your team at Fidelity Investments see in your space? 

Laura Jacques: A couple of things stand out for me. One is communication – integrating this into our workflow is something we don’t do enough. We’ve got vendors trying to address this, but we still rely heavily on email, which is not efficient. 

Another concern is the onboarding process for new hires, especially younger employees who are accustomed to digital environments and instant communication, which contrasts with our current reliance on email. I feel this generational shift will impact how they perceive the financial industry and adapt to its demands. 

James: What specific problems can you pinpoint for us? 

Laura: One of our challenges is making room for scalability. We have many operational tasks and often face situations where new investment products don’t fit into our existing infrastructure.  

This requires us to be agile, yet sometimes the products don’t even reach the market. We need to ensure we have the capacity and efficiency to support new initiatives, especially as we’re growing.   

Another challenge is onboarding, which we’re constantly looking for solutions to streamline and automate. Communication and collaboration across all parties involved are crucial when it comes to onboarding.  

“Email doesn’t cut it anymore and poses major risksWe need to think about workflow and collaboration tools that provide real-time communication and information sharing to address these issues.” 

James: What is your experience with vendor management so far?  

Laura: It’s crucial to have a good understanding of vendor roadmaps and collaborate more closely with them. 

“I’m pleased to see more collaboration in the industry, with buy-side and sell-side participants being involved in product development from the start – this collective approach can lead to better solutions tailored to our needs.”

James: Real-time assessment and standardisation seem to be recurring themes. How do you see the industry evolving in these areas? 

Laura: We’re seeing more collaboration, but there’s still a long way to go. Standardisation and best practices need to be more widely adopted across the industry. We often ask ourselves what the industry standard is, but the answers aren’t always clear. More synergy with our counterparts would help in creating unified solutions. 

Internally, we’re focusing on digitising our legacy infrastructure so our analysts can have a seamless digital experience in their day-to-day jobs. They shouldn’t feel like they are stepping back in time when they come to the office. Whether a firm builds or buys solutions, we need to ensure they are compatible with our peers and counterparts.  

“The mindset is shifting towards adopting more fintech solutions and improving collaboration across the industry.” 

James: What role does technology play in operational processes? 

Laura: Predictive analytics and AI have immense potential – they can help us prevent exceptions before they occur. While we’ve talked about predictive analysis for years, its impact is still minimal from my perspective. However, I believe we need to lean into these technologies to stay ahead. Generative AI, for instance, can transform how we handle operations, making processes more efficient and reducing reliance on manual tasks. 

James: With the rapid technological changes, how do you foresee the future workforce adapting? 

Laura: The future workforce will be more technically inclined. We’re already seeing talent that’s proficient with technology from the start. This shift means we’ll rely less on traditional IT teams and more on individuals who can integrate technology directly into their roles.  

“It’s crucial for firms to foster an environment that supports technological innovation from the ground up.”