For investment managers to consistently produce alpha and have streamlined investment decision processes, data and systems need to be seamlessly integrated and standardized. According to the 2016 Asset Management Industry Trends Survey by Confluence, nearly three-quarters (74%) of respondents say their firm still depends on multiple, disparate systems.1 Data management continues to be one factor that increases operational costs and a reason why technology budgets continue to rise. 2
What Are The Data Challenges?
There are several data challenges facing investment managers. Depending on the type of investment strategy, this list could include any or all of the below:
- Standardization and normalization of data
- Managing multiple data interfaces
- Cross Asset flexibility
- Minimizing manual processes
- Automating reconciliation between multiple data sources
- Deriving intelligence from data sets
How Do Firms Respond To These Challenges?
“Firms must no longer confine technology to the back office merely for cost-saving purposes; by aggressively leveraging technology in the front office as well, winning firms can grow distribution through big data techniques using client analytics,” according to an EY thought leadership piece.3
In response to these challenges, a proactive approach is usually best with any time invested up front paying dividends later on in the process as there is a better understanding of needs and a more complete picture of all involved workflows. Some features that should be considered when analyzing these challenges and potential solutions include:
- Systems that can handle cross-asset products
- Interfaces with APIs and web services as well as more traditional file transfer technologies
- Ability to extend data sets to include customized data points, including pulling data from multiple third parties
- Automatic tools to ensure data remains clean and up to date
- Intuitive tools to get data out of the system that is easily understood and reportable
What are potential solutions to these challenges? Undoubtedly, the choice of utilizing multiple systems to handle different asset classes, while covering front-, middle-, and back-office operational needs is one option. Deciding to adopt several systems might solve very specific issues, but can include challenges previously mentioned above. All encompassing solutions are quickly becoming as comprehensive, if not more comprehensive, than specialized solutions. Investment firms can now find solutions with flexible dashboards that properly manage cross-asset products and support the complete operational investment cycle. Additionally, systems access to real-time-data helps managers make quicker and more sound investment decisions while empowering users to take more control of the data to ‘slice-and-dice’ it how they see fit for analytical and reporting purposes. Ultimately, superior systems and data management processes will produce better investment decisions.