Financial services organizations are built on data, so data governance is a critical concern. But many firms have their own definition of data governance which may be completely different from competitors. For some financial institutions, data governance means establishing governance bodies and councils, while others consider data governance the process of defining data stewardship and workflow. But realistically, businesses prioritize and sponsor only those initiatives that are mandated by regulations or provide a clear return on investment. The financial services industry has been moving towards enforceable data governance which turns static policies and standards in Word documents into governance processes that can be realized in IT and the business with tangible benefits. Within financial services firms, the most prominent governance goal is the availability of reliable and accurate data for risk aggregation and reporting including data accountability and traceability.

Although IT enables and implements tools for data governance, it is not an IT initiative and should not be driven by IT. For a data governance program to be successful and sustainable, the mandate must come from the business. While a data governance program may result in a tool-based implementation, that is not the core of data governance. In essence, the business drivers provide direction and steer the initiative; IT objectives drive the plan for execution; and IT technical implementations are the final deliverables.