One of the biggest threats that most Portfolio Managers face is the prevalence of legacy systems.
Over the past three decades, investment advisors have been empowered by the advent of technology from simple spreadsheets to complex home-grown systems. From that time to the present, the industry has seen exponential growth and with it, enormous complexity. Challenges include round-the-clock trading in markets from New York to Sydney, varying accounting standards, shortened settlement cycles, and of course, increased regulation and security issues to name a few. As if that were not enough, technology seems to change every day leaving many legacy systems struggling to keep up with customer demands. Cheaper, faster, smarter, and more efficient norms are expected - they cannot be the exception. Failing systems can sharply undermine your company's ability to service its customers and maintain its market share, much less grow the business.
In this age of big data, business intelligence, and data analytics, legacy systems can represent a massive risk to your business. If day-to-day operations require the ability to manage process, distribute, and accurately report financial data, being behind the curve is not an option. If this sounds familiar, it is time to ask, "How did we get here?" and more importantly "How do we get out?"
Here are the seven signs that will tell you if you have a decaying system and how it must ideally operate:
1. Facing difficulties while managing data due to disparate systems?
Maintaining data in different systems or manually moving move data from one system to another will lead to inconsistency and errors. Is your data quickly identifiable, consistent across multiple systems, complete, accurate, and reconciled among different systems? If your answer is a NO to these questions, you must reevaluate your platform. Your system must be able to eliminate manual data flow, update all the data with a single change, deliver timely and accurate reporting including intra-day, and make data easily traceable.
2. Are your client communications professional?
Investors expect your reporting to be clear, concise, and highly customized to their needs. This statement holds especially true for institutional investors. Organizations that can meet these expectations will have an immense competitive advantage over those that cannot. If your current system does not deliver the level of reporting your clients expect, you will run the risk of falling behind.
Your client expectations are not limited to the form and content of reporting, but also to how you deliver information. They expect instant access to real-time information, be it through a web portal or a mobile platform to stay relevant and highly competitive, your systems must be flexible enough to send and receive communications via any channel of your client's choosing.
3. Struggling to cope with complex global investments?
Dealing with multiple regional and global investment regulations such as UCITS V and VI, Solvency II, AIFMD, and EMIR is a daunting task. All these regulations require you to maintain reliable, accurate, and transparent data. To comply with these regulations, you need Workflow Management, Data Management, and accurate reporting. Data, managing risk, and maintaining accuracy is critical to comply with regulatory reporting requirements.
With the increase in data sources and data complexities, your organizations need solution providers who can help you manage your data. Your system must not only be scalable but also provide actionable business intelligence in a format that is easily understood.
4. Finding it hard to achieve Integration of disparate systems?
Real integration is not a matter of simply connecting systems - your systems must be able to talk to each other seamlessly. Manually moving data from one system to another affects your efficiency, thereby, increasing the risk of errors. Integrating disparate systems not only reduces these risks but also improves efficiency by ensuring that back office and front office personnel can view transactions, cash positions, and holdings identically. This ensures that the entries are recorded accurately in your Investment Book of Records (IBOR).
Many organizations use multiple systems for accounting, reporting, reconciliation and managing client information. If different vendors have provided these systems, making them talk to each other could be a challenging process. If you have workarounds or portfolios that reside outside of your legacy system, it is time to rethink its usability. Your system must allow centralized and standardized portfolio management activity. In an end-to-end portfolio management solution that is built on open architecture, the work of multiple systems is consolidated into a single platform. Such a solution will allow easy access to third-party systems or any other system that is built in-house, thereby enabling you to reduce technology footprint while driving greater efficiency.
5. Escalating legal and compliance costs?
A 2013 survey of Chief Technology Officers suggests that one of the biggest operations and technology challenges that asset managers face is to comply with the current and future regulatory requirements. The complex regulations make outdated reporting systems more of a liability than an asset. The compliance costs of regulations such as AIFMD, UCITS V, and VI, or FATCA-are overtaking many budgets. Additionally, aggregating data from different systems for compliance reporting is a risky and resource-consuming process. To reduce these risks and costs simultaneously, your system must be prepared to deliver consolidated reporting, by leveraging automation, integration, and standardization of data from various sources. Your systems must also eliminate the manual compilation of data for reporting, thereby increasing efficiency and cutting associated compliance labor costs while ensuring integrity, consistency, and reducing your operating risk.
6. Being scrutinized by Investors' due diligence?
After surviving the global economic crisis of 2008, institutional investors have become extremely wary of due diligence, leading to immense scrutiny of operations. The 2008 crisis exposed operational risks - the risk of failure that not only involved market forces but also the lack of infrastructure and controls. Investors have also become increasingly tech-savvy; they are asking the right questions and know what to find. To remain competitive in this vital market, your system must stand up to the intense investor scrutiny. You must show that you have the controls in place to manage the risks efficiently and that you are already adhering to well-organized processes. If Investors sense any gaps in your workflow and find that you are dependent on manual processes and workarounds, they will take their money elsewhere.
7. Legacy systems are not supported, serviced, or enhanced in the way you expect?
A product is only as good as its provider. Is you provider paying enough attention to you after the sale with 24/7 support? Does your provider have a track record of continuous product updates? Do they provide product training? Are they attentive to your suggestions or new ideas? Your provider must provide long-term support if you want your new system to last. Your product must be scalable, flexible, and must be built on open source technologies. In addition, your provider must not only help you set up but also ensure that your systems perform optimally without any disruptions. A relationship is a two-way street; as such, providers must be able to respond to your issues quickly, and also help your business adopt new functionality as and when it is needed.
Invest in your growth
A portfolio management system is the heart of your business. With a weak system, your business can be at serious risk, and you may not have the time to address it before it fails completely. Investing in technology will give you greater efficiency, reduced risks, and help you make informed decisions. Your provider, therefore, must have a proven track record of being committed to long-standing services, continuous improvement, and support you as you grow.