What do fund administrators need from their software providers? It sounds like an obvious question. But the service requirements go beyond delivering high-quality technology.
Fund administrators’ relationships with their IT vendors have become ever more central to their success. With expectations for real time, digitalised services that can support complex, multi-asset class portfolios and ease staff workloads rising all the time, the need for fast, efficient and resilient technology capabilities is only getting more important.
We believe though that a cutting-edge technology stack offering rich functionality options and end-to-end automation should be a given. Fund administrators should expect vendor systems to be built on a modern architecture with the latest security protections. And the solutions should be tried and tested in the heat of battle, with a demonstrable ability to service complex businesses.
But what about the other value-adding support elements that administrators need to compete? A vendor’s technology may be up to scratch. Yet much also depends on the professional services side of its business and the benefits it can bring.
Deep fund industry domain expertise
System vendors, in theory, occupy a privileged position in the industry. Working with multiple fund admin clients across different business areas in various jurisdictions offers scope and perspective. That experience should allow them to see what works, what end-clients want and regulators expect, and the trends that are emerging.
Does your software provider combine deep technology expertise with industry domain knowledge? And is it leveraging that to provide you with actionable industry insights and best practice guidance?
If the software is doing what it’s supposed to, much of the time it can be left to run in the background. But what happens when a problem emerges? An update is needed? A new regulation is introduced or an industry event takes place?
Robust support structures come into their own at such times. Automated support systems are part of that equation. What matters most to clients though is accessibility to people: having expert client service teams, account managers and strategic relationship directors available to resolve problems and queries.
Regular relationship management meetings, along with executive-level advisory networks that bring together senior staff from different clients and the vendor can add further value by providing firms with a safe forum to discuss industry developments and the challenges/opportunities they bring.
Technology that grows with you
Software is not a commodity, nor a one-time, set-and-forget purchase. Fund admins will rely on those systems day in and day out, often for years. And their business will change and (hopefully) grow during that time.
Given the cost and disruption involved, switching software providers to keep up with those changes is not a project any fund administration firm will undertake lightly. So wherever possible, technology platforms need to be flexible and adaptive enough to ensure they remain fit-for-purpose in a fast-moving world – not a product that serves a limited role for a particular moment in time.
A true consultative partnership with your provider matters here. All technology companies should have an active technology roadmap and be investing heavily in it. The question is whether the upgrade path is aligned with yours, that it is headed in the directions you want to support your growth. Topics like industry hybridisation, digitised investor lifecycles, private equity retailisation, tokenisation and distributed ledger technologies are all gaining ground. Is the tech provider on a similar journey to your business?
There may be functionality components you want enhanced, reports you want to build or projects you’d like to work on with the vendor. But if it doesn’t have the capacity or desire to collaborate on those product developments, capability shortfalls will become increasingly pronounced and the relationship strained. That culture of agile responsiveness should extend to all initiatives, be it honing target operating models or engaging on data migration and optimisation projects.
A trusted partner
The desired partnership approach will work best when the vendor’s employees have real fund administration experience and can constantly put themselves in clients’ shoes. What pain points would it want addressed if it was on the other side of the fence? What capabilities would it want to see?
Trust is a major part of making that relationship work long-term. Do you trust your software provider to deliver what it says it will? Is it honest, transparent and fair in what it charges for its products and services? And will it evolve with you, and continue to provide the level of customer service you seek?
If yes, it could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
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.