Outsourcing IT: A Strategic Move for Small and Mid-Sized Financial Firms

Outsourcing IT: A Strategic Move for Small and Mid-Sized Financial Firms

In today's fast-paced financial industry, the role of Information Technology (IT) has become increasingly vital. From ensuring the security of sensitive financial data to facilitating seamless transactions and providing real-time analytics, IT plays a fundamental role in driving efficiency within financial institutions.

At the forefront of IT innovation and support are Managed IT Services, a comprehensive solution that empowers financial firms to leverage cutting-edge technology while mitigating risks and optimizing efficiency. Managed IT Services encompass a wide range of offerings, including proactive monitoring, cybersecurity, cloud computing, and IT infrastructure management, tailored to meet the unique needs and challenges of the financial sector.

It’s clear there’s much to be said about the importance of IT in the financial industry so let’s break down the significance of Managed Service Providers (MSP) in enhancing security, compliance, and overall performance within financial organizations. Whether you're a small community bank or a multinational investment firm, understanding the role of IT and the benefits of managed IT services is essential for staying ahead in this competitive landscape.

What are Managed IT Services?

To understand why small and mid-sized financial firms, or SMBs, should outsource IT, it’s important to first understand what exactly a Managed Service Provider (MSP) is. In the simplest terms, an MSP is a third-party company that manages and assumes responsibility for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of a client's IT infrastructure, systems, and services. Their goal is to proactively monitor, manage, and support the client's IT environment to ensure its optimal performance, security, and reliability.

An MSP offers several types of services to do all the above. At Charles IT for example, services include:

  • External Vulnerability Scanning: To prevent data breaches and improve security.
  • Security Awareness Training: To empower employees to identify threats like phishing.
  • Endpoint Encryption: To block unauthorized users from entering your systems.
  • Security Information and Event Management: To monitor your IT infrastructure for threats around the clock.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): To block account compromise attacks.
  • Dark Web Monitoring: For notifications of credentials that are publicly available.
  • Managed Detection Response: For advanced threat intelligence, hunting, and analysis.

What are the Benefits of Fully Managed IT Services?

There are many benefits for businesses to have fully managed IT services over an in-house staff. Five reasons that stand out are:

  1. Cost-Efficiency:
  • Eliminate the need for hiring and maintaining an in-house IT team, saving on salaries, benefits, and training expenses.
  • MSPs typically offer subscription-based pricing models, allowing organizations to budget effectively and avoid unexpected expenses.
  • MSPs leverage their resources and expertise across multiple clients, spreading costs more efficiently than individual organizations.
  1. Access to Expertise
  • MSPs employ a team of skilled technicians, engineers, and IT specialists with expertise in various technologies and industries.
  • MSPs invest in ongoing training and certifications for their staff to stay updated on the latest technologies and best practices.
  • Bring specialized knowledge and experience that may not be available in-house, offering insights and solutions tailored to specific needs.
  1. Proactive Maintenance
  • MSPs proactively monitor the client's IT infrastructure, identifying and addressing potential issues before they escalate into major problems.
  • MSPs ensure that systems and software are kept up to date with the latest security patches and updates, reducing the risk of vulnerabilities and cyber threats.
  • MSPs optimize IT systems and networks for maximum performance and efficiency, improving overall productivity and user experience.
  1. Scalability
  • MSPs offer scalable solutions that can grow or shrink in line with the organization's needs and requirements.
  • MPSs can quickly deploy additional resources or services to accommodate changes in demand or business growth.
  1. Enhanced Security Measures
  • MSPs implement advanced cybersecurity solutions to detect and respond to potential threats in real-time, reducing the risk of data breaches and cyberattacks.
  • MSPs help organizations comply with industry regulations and standards by implementing security controls, conducting audits, and providing documentation and reporting.
  • MSPs offer security awareness training to educate employees about cybersecurity best practices, reducing the likelihood of human error and insider threats.


Importance of IT Support for Small Businesses

Many small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can find themselves unprepared to shield their organization or clients from cyberattacks. That may stem from the misconception that their smaller size makes them a less attractive target for hackers, compared to larger firms who often have more of what hackers usually want - money and personal data. However, the reality is quite the opposite. SMBs, including small financial firms, can be prime targets for cybercriminals due to their perceived vulnerabilities. That often includes their limited staffing and modest budgets, indicating a lack of robust cybersecurity measures. This makes SMBs particularly appealing to hackers seeking to exploit weaknesses and gain unauthorized access to sensitive financial data. Therefore, it's crucial for small financial firms to invest in IT support and cybersecurity solutions to keep their operations and client information protected from potential cyberattacks.

Challenges Faced by Small Businesses in Managing IT

While it’s clear that small businesses may lack the resources needed to protect against data breaches and cyberattacks, they can face several other challenges when it comes to managing IT. Some examples of those challenges include:

  • Limited Budget: Small businesses often have restricted budgets, making investing in the necessary IT infrastructure, software, and services more challenging.
  • Lack of In-House Expertise: Small businesses may not have dedicated IT staff or specialists, leading to a lack of expertise in managing complex IT systems and technologies.
  • Scalability Issues: As small businesses grow, they may struggle to scale their IT infrastructure and systems to accommodate increasing demands and user requirements.
  • Technology Integration: It can be challenging integrating new technologies and systems with existing IT infrastructure, especially if they lack the necessary expertise and resources.
  • Compliance Requirements: Complying with industry regulations and standards related to data privacy and security can be difficult without proper guidance and support.
  • System Downtime: System downtime can lead to lost productivity, revenue, and customer satisfaction, yet small businesses may lack backup and disaster recovery solutions to minimize that.
  • Software Licensing and Updates: Juggling multiple licenses to ensure that all software is kept up-to-date to maintain security and performance can be difficult.
  • Cloud Migration: Transitioning to cloud-based solutions can be complex and daunting because it requires planning, implementation, and ongoing management to ensure a smooth transition.

What are Some Cybersecurity Solutions for SMBs?

The good news is that SMBs don’t need to deal with all these challenges alone. They instead can work with a managed service provider, or MSP, like Charles IT, who can take care of all their IT and cybersecurity needs. So, what are the specific cybersecurity solutions MSPs can provide. We’ve listed some below:

  • Access Controls: MSPs can help SMBs control who has access to their systems through utilizing Multi-Factor Authentication, the least privilege principle, role-based access control, or user activity monitoring.
  • Backup Services: MSPs can protect SMBs from losing data in a cybersecurity breach by ensuring there’s a Backup and Disaster Recovery Plan in place.
  • Antivirus Software: MSPs can keep SMBs updated on the latest antivirus software that will protect their network from cyber threats.
  • Security Awareness Training: MSPs can teach employees best practices for protecting sensitive information through training that can include phishing simulations and assessments.
  • MDR (Managed Detection and Response): MSPs can provide continuous monitoring, detection, investigation, and response to security threats.
  • Endpoint Encryption: MSP can ensure that all data stored on individual devices like laptops and smartphones are encrypted, rendering it unreadable without the decryption key.
  • Cloud Security: MSPs can assess, monitor, protect, and respond to threats and vulnerabilities in an SMB's cloud environment.

Cybersecurity Solutions for Small Financial Firms

The cybersecurity landscape for finance firms is complex in that it requires continuous monitoring to protect against evolving cyber threats. Maintaining the trust and confidence of customers and upholding the firm’s reputation is of utmost importance, but financial organizations can be susceptible to:

  • Data Breaches
  • Ransomware Attacks
  • Phishing and Social Engineering
  • Compliance Requirements
  • Third-Party Risks
  • Insider Threats:
  • Advanced Persistent Threats

With that said, it’s clear how crucial it is for small financial firms to implement strong security measures, especially with the finance industry reportedly being one of the most targeted sectors for cyberattacks. They are unsurprisingly often targeted for financial gain, considering that they handle money, sensitive financial data, and valuable assets. Financial firms also store tons of sensitive data like customer account details, social security numbers and credit card numbers.

How Can MSPs Address Cybersecurity Concerns?

MSPs can help small financial firms strengthen their cybersecurity defenses, mitigate risks, and protect against evolving cyber threats through:

  1. Threat Monitoring and Detection: Advanced threat detection tools and technologies can continuously monitor a financial firm’s IT infrastructure for signs of suspicious activity, unauthorized access attempts, malware infections, and other cyber threats. MSPs will then employ Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) systems, enabling them to detect and respond to security incidents in real-time.
  2. Data Encryption: Encryption mechanisms can protect sensitive data stored on servers, databases, endpoints, and in transit across networks. That way data stored on individual devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets, remain secure even if a device is lost or stolen.
  3. Regular Security Updates and Patch Management: MSPs ensure that all software applications, operating systems, and firmware are kept up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates to address known vulnerabilities and weaknesses. They also conduct regular vulnerability assessments and penetration testing to identify and remediate security gaps before they can be exploited by cybercriminals.

What is IT Outsourcing?

IT outsourcing refers to the practice of contracting out IT functions and services to external service providers, rather than handling them with an in-house staff. These services can range from basic IT support to more specialized tasks such as cybersecurity management, software development, and cloud computing. The scope of IT outsourcing can vary widely depending on the needs and requirements of the organization. It may include outsourcing entire IT departments, specific IT functions or tasks, or hiring managed service providers (MSPs) to beef up existing IT capabilities.

In terms of the types of IT outsourcing services available, there are:

Managed IT Services: Comprehensive IT support and management provided by MSPs, including network monitoring, helpdesk support, cybersecurity management, and IT infrastructure management.

Software Development Outsourcing: Engaging external software development firms or freelance developers to build custom software applications or solutions.

Cybersecurity Outsourcing: Outsourcing cybersecurity functions such as threat monitoring, incident response, vulnerability assessments, and compliance management to specialized cybersecurity firms or MSPs.

Cloud Computing Services: Outsourcing IT infrastructure and services to cloud service providers.

Data Management and Analytics: Outsourcing data management, storage, and analytics tasks to external vendors or service providers.

What are some advantages of IT outsourcing for financial firms?

  1. Focus on Core Business Functions: Financial firms can redirect their focus towards core business functions, such as client acquisition and financial analysis. This allows for greater strategic alignment with organizational goals and priorities.
  2. Cost Savings: IT outsourcing enables significant cost savings by eliminating the need for extensive in-house IT infrastructure and personnel.
  3. Access to Specialized Talent: Financial firms gain access to a vast pool of specialized talent and expertise in areas such as cybersecurity, cloud computing, and software development.
  4. Risk Mitigation: IT outsourcing facilitates effective risk mitigation strategies by leveraging the knowledge and resources of experienced service providers to address cybersecurity threats, regulatory compliance challenges, and other IT-related risks.

What are some IT Services Tailored for the Financial Industry?

Financial firms have unique IT needs due to the nature of their operations and regulatory requirements. Some of these unique IT needs include:

  • Security and Compliance: Financial firms handle sensitive financial data and must comply with strict regulatory requirements, such as SEC or FINRA regulations.
  • High Availability and Reliability: Financial firms rely heavily on IT systems to execute trades, process transactions, and provide customer service.
  • Data Management and Analytics: Financial firms generate and manage vast amounts of data, including transaction records, market data, and customer information.
  • Trading and Risk Management Systems: Financial firms involved in trading and investment management require specialized trading platforms and risk management systems to execute trades, manage portfolios, and monitor market conditions in real-time.
  • Regulatory Reporting and Compliance: Financial firms are subject to complex regulatory reporting requirements, which often involve collecting, analyzing, and submitting large volumes of data to regulatory authorities.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Financial firms rely on CRM systems to manage customer relationships, track interactions, and provide personalized services to clients.
  • Mobile and Online Banking: Financial firms require mobile and online banking platforms to offer customers convenient access to their accounts, perform transactions, and access financial information securely from any device.


Compliance and Regulatory Requirements

FINRA stands for the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which is a regulatory organization that oversees securities firms operating in the United States. It's responsible for enforcing regulations to ensure fair and ethical practices within the financial industry.

While it’s essential to play by FINRA’s rules to promote trust and integrity in the financial market, it’s also important to be FINRA compliant because cybercriminals are on the hunt for weaknesses in a finance firm’s security infrastructure to access valuable financial data. Additionally, firms or individuals who don’t meet FINRA’s requirements can face penalties, fines, and lawsuits, as well as suspension of loss of license, which can prevent a person from continuing to work in the finance industry. FINRA may also take regulatory action that can put restrictions on activities and lead to loss of credibility.


Outsourcing IT services offers numerous benefits tailored specifically to the needs of financial firms. By entrusting IT functions to external service providers, financial firms can realize cost savings, access specialized expertise, enhance security and compliance, and improve operational efficiency. However, it's crucial for financial firms to partner with the right Managed Service Provider (MSP) to maximize these benefits. The right MSP should have expertise in the financial industry, a proven track record of delivering quality IT services, and a commitment to compliance and security. Looking ahead, the outlook for IT outsourcing in the financial sector is promising, with advancements in technology, such as artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and cybersecurity, driving further adoption of outsourcing models. By embracing IT outsourcing and partnering with the right MSP, financial firms can position themselves for success!

If you are questioning the security of your financial firm, we recommend taking our free, 2-minute Cybersecurity Health Score Evaluation for an immediate score and personalized solutions from our experts.

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