Go Green with Document Management

A Lesson from Wall Street About Back Office Paper Work

Posted by Mike Paperalt on Jun 28, 2017 4:21:26 PM

A Lesson from Wall Street About Back Office Paper Work

In the late nineteen-sixties, much like today, the stock market was booming.   By 1969, daily trading volume had hit 12,000,000 shares a day.  While that’s a drop in the bucket compared to the 1,786,805,986 shares that the NYSE traded on the last day of May, this year, there is one big difference.

Today trades are done via computer.  But, back in 1968, the NYSE was all about paper.  And the late sixties boom lead to a lot of unfinished paperwork.  In the period between 1960 and 1968, trade volume quadrupled, but work processes didn’t change.

So, what should have been great news for brokerage houses, ended up wrecking many of them because they just couldn’t keep up with the paperwork.  They literally died from being buried under paperwork.  In the words of the New Yorker Magazine “—offices were full of stock certificates, and trade documents were stacked halfway to the ceiling. Amid the chaos, dividend checks went unsent, trades were credited to the wrong accounts, and fraud spread; hundreds of millions of dollars in securities were stolen. And since the firms often didn’t process trades quickly enough, billions of dollars’ worth of transactions a month were simply cancelled. In 1968, the stock market started closing one day a week to let firms catch up on their work, but the brokerages’ bookkeeping woes caught up to them first, and more than a hundred firms went under. It took years—and the passage of an investor-protection bill—for the crisis to abate.”


The automation of trades through computers, and the automation of brokerage houses back-office processes provided much-needed relief from the paperwork log-jam.

Back then, automation didn't come cheap and smaller firms couldn't always afford it.  Today, however,  if you’re a small business on the verge of growth, back office automation can be a cost-effective solution that provides ROI fast.  Here’s why:

  • Paper takes up prime office space, or unnecessary storage costs.  Whether you need more office space to add new staff or want to lower costs, getting rid of paper by transforming your business into a paperless office provides great value.
  •  According to research, in paper-based offices, employees spend approximately 30 percent of their time looking for information. That’s time much better spent actually “doing business.”
  • “Big Data” is here to stay. Gathering and holding as much information as possible about your customers, your business your inventory, and your seasonal cycles is essential to success.  Finding that information in an office that relies on paper records is difficult at best, impossible at worst.
  •  For small businesses, adapting to the world of big data can mean the difference between a good year and a great one, or a small crisis and a devastating one.

Don’t be one of the small businesses that loses out on growth because you lose valuable time physically searching for paper-based information.  It’s not as difficult as you may imagine to make the transition from paper to digital.  There are many reliable information management companies that help businesses make the transition.  The right vendor can help you identify what records must be kept, what can be discarded.  They can scan and index the documents, upload them to a cloud solution, like ImageSilo®, and set up automated workflows to keep your back office work flowing at top speed.

Instead of staff being forced to rely on the last person who touched the information, hoping it was put back in the correct spot, they can simply log in and find the data they need.  Documents can be found by keywords and linked to other relevant documents.  Workflows can ensure that all steps in a process have been completed, making it easy to ensure that work gets done in a timely manner, and error free.

If you’re still working like it’s 1968 (or even 1998 or 2008) don’t wait until you’ve hit your own “Paperwork Crisis.”  Start looking into going paperless and becoming automated today. 

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Topics: Paperless Office, Paperless Cloud

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