Delivering quality client service in investment management is no longer just about richness and responsiveness. Consistency is imperative too, especially in an increasingly multi-asset class world.
But providing that service consistency is a big problem, one we hear a lot about from fund administration clients and prospects.
Take a common scenario. A fund manager works with a fund administrator to provide support for the manager’s various funds. But since the administrator has no one transfer agency solution able to accommodate all the different fund structures and asset classes, those funds have to be spread across multiple platforms.
Any reporting and other services the administrator provides to the manager will therefore come from several systems – each of which will have different data handling protocols, report formats, customisation flexibility, language capabilities, report scheduling approaches, etc. Plus the fund manager won’t have a single portal where it can go to access all the information on its funds and investors.
Such inconsistent reporting complicates life for the fund manager. It may also result in inconsistent reports being sent to those end investors with money in more than one of the manager’s funds.
And if a fund manager works with multiple administrators, as many do, the consistency issues will be exacerbated still further.
Service consistency solution
One solution is to surface all the data from the disparate transfer agency systems into a separate data warehouse or data lake. The fund administrator can then normalise the data and use it as a single source of the truth to deliver more consistent outputs to clients.
Creating a reliable data warehouse layer is no easy undertaking though. The cost, work and expertise required to build it can be substantial. And keeping the data warehouse and underlying systems up to date and in sync will consume significant resources on an ongoing basis.
The alternative is to consolidate transfer agency systems on a single software platform.
Will your transfer agency system work?
It’s a logical move – in theory. Using one TA system enables fund administrators to adopt a single operating model and provide that unified client experience, with consistent reporting to both the manager and the investors in those funds.
Plus consolidating systems removes much of the cost duplication and risk administrators otherwise face. And it frees up the human resources previously dedicated to supporting multiple platforms, bolstering firms’ ability to scale and the attention they can devote to servicing clients.
Of course, consolidation only works if the transfer agency solution has broad and deep enough capabilities to cover the fund administrator’s complete needs.
So the functionality has to be truly multi-asset class and multi-jurisdictional. It must support all types of fund complexes, including limited partnerships, master/feeders, fund of funds, money market, private equity and mutual funds. The surge in investment flows to alternative assets, especially private capital, brings particular processing challenges, with numerous P&L allocation, fee calculation and investor reporting idiosyncrasies that need to be met.
Scalability matters too. Consolidating transfer agency activities in one platform will increase the volumes to be processed in that system by an order of magnitude, especially if the business includes retail fund administration. Can the architecture cope?
The TA system must also integrate seamlessly with various other third-party platforms and data feeds. Sophisticated APIs are essential to allow the relevant data to flow in and out of the system with a minimum of manual intervention. By automating the connectivity, errors can be eliminated, and speed and stability enhanced.
System flexibility, and the software provider’s R&D commitment, are an additional consideration. Fund product innovations, regulatory requirements and client support expectations are changing all the time. A single transfer agency solution may be better able to deliver a consistent service, but that counts for little if the services provided are not up to scratch.
Is the vendor devoting sufficient resources to ensure the software keeps up? What is the roadmap for its future development? The system may serve an administrator’s purposes now, but will it in three years’ time?
Service consistency is a tough ask. But clients increasingly expect it. And administrators need to find a way to deliver.
ABOUT DEEP POOL
Deep Pool is the #1 investor servicing and compliance solutions supplier, providing cutting-edge software and consulting services to the world’s leading fund administrators and asset managers. Our flexible solution suite, developed by an experienced team of accountants, business analysts and software engineers, supports offshore and onshore hedge funds, partnerships, private equity vehicles, retail funds and regulated financial firms. Deep Pool is a global organisation with offices in Dublin, Ireland, the United States, the Cayman Islands and Slovakia. For more information, visit: www.deep-pool.com.