September 15, 2020 | Matthew M. Caulfield, Executive Vice President, Client Experience
The wealth and investment management sector has been heavily tested by the coronavirus. Markets have - thanks to large infusions of central bank money - recovered sharply from their sell-off, but the dislocations and changes to working practices have been dramatic, and not merely a passing phase. This article examines opportunities.
The following article explores how investment businesses that want to grow can use the changed environment to their advantage. The accelerated move toward digital workflows and communications is just one part of the jigsaw puzzle. To explore these and other ideas is Matt Caulfield, executive vice president of Archer, the US firm providing an investment management platform and outsourcing solutions. This is a valuable addition to the conversation on how the sector is evolving. The usual disclaimers apply to comments from outside contributors. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
The first half of 2020 brought no shortage of challenges to the investment community. The stock market experienced incredible volatility, workforces decentralized, and countless business meetings were delayed or canceled.
But now that many are adapting to a new normal, investment managers are eager to come out energized and ready for growth.
As we look across the industry we see some investment management firms focused on reducing costs by defining a new target operating model by looking at their operating and service models while evaluating their infrastructure. Others are revving up new product development with new strategies to meet distributor demand and grow revenue.
A successful growth strategy will likely take a combination of both tactics. Doing so effectively will require investment managers to take a hard look at their middle- and back-office capabilities as well as adopt new mindsets and approaches. Here’s a closer look at three areas of focus for managers seeking growth:
Remain nimble to meet distributor and investor preferences
Distributors’ appetite for new investment strategies remains strong. But gone are the days where investment managers built products and delivered them to distributors in the vehicle of the manager’s choosing. Now more than ever, distributors are asking investment managers to package these strategies in the vehicles desired by advisors and end investors. However, many investment managers today are often met with operational constraints when attempting to do so. Keeping the integrity of a strategy intact while repackaging it in a vehicle chosen by distributors can create new layers of operational complexity.
Without the proper technology and service infrastructure, meeting these distributor and investor needs in a scalable, cost-effective way is a challenge for investment managers. New technologies exist that can ease the heavy manual lifting required to meet these distributor needs and can lower overall costs in the process.
Incorporate operational lessons from the pandemic
The pandemic forced investment managers to adapt operationally in ways never before imagined. Thankfully, the industry showed great resilience and even learned a thing or two in the process. As opposed to returning to fully “normal” operations, investment managers have an opportunity to adapt in ways that can reduce costs, optimize resource allocation, and increase efficiency.
For example, always-open virtual staff rooms, high-frequency electronic communication, and increased collaboration among a decentralized audience that was adopted during the migration to the home office should remain in place. As managers navigate a new transition of returning to the office, some will work from work while others work from home. Keeping electronic communication channels open will help keep a level playing field for all and will help ease the transition as everyone navigates the new landscape.
Now is also a good time to scrutinize old “to-do” lists and assess where staffers’ time is being allocated. Eliminating some tasks and automating others through robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning can free the team to focus on client-facing activities and create greater capacity for growth efforts.
Leverage advanced technologies
Updating the technology stack and modernizing the approach to daily functions can save costs, boost manager efficiency, and lead to the creation of a broader product set. All of these can help investment managers to remain competitive and fuel their next growth phase.
Which programs can be integrated to save time? How can we reduce the time spent running performance reports, reconciling accounts to decrease trade errors, and accessing organized client and investment data? How can data access and distribution be streamlined? Advanced technologies provide a foundation for growth by adding speed, accuracy, and flexibility to essential daily functions.
Adapting to a new era
Investment management operations are entering a new era of efficiency, cost effectiveness and speed. As the industry enters into a new reality brought about by a global pandemic, investment managers seeking growth should consider taking advantage of new offerings that facilitate operational flexibility and employee connectedness.
In doing so, they can increase efficiency and generate more revenue on their paths to higher levels of growth.
Matthew M. Caulfield
Executive Vice President, Client Experience
Matthew M. Caulfield, Executive Vice President, has over 30 years’ experience in the asset servicing industry. His consultative approach has resulted in clients’ ability to realize revenue streams by enabling new products and entry into new distribution opportunities, while reducing risks and costs. At Archer, Matt is focused on helping asset managers achieve their business goals through benefit-centered solutions, and is accountable for client experience from sales to onboarding and ongoing client services.
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