The complexity that independent asset managers (IAMs) face in their business is staggering. Not only are the horrendous regulatory requirements constantly increasing, but so too are the demands of clients. Clients are becoming more technically savvy, not least the next generation – the so-called millennials – who IAMs want on their books at all costs. The current economic challenges in terms of margins and interest rates, as well as the competitive market in client acquisition, aren’t making things any easier for IAMs. This is exactly where providers of integrated portfolio management systems (PMS) come in with solutions to these challenges. Because of the massive changes that have occurred in the financial world over the last decade, the question for most IAMs is not whether they need a professional and integrated PMS for their future business, but simply which granularity it should have.
Asset management is more efficient if it’s digital
Independent asset managers are experiencing a renaissance, with banks trying everything under the sun to entice them on board. Aside from the expected multiplication effects, the other key improvement is confidence in independent asset management. Business is becoming more and more regulated, so processes and controls have to be demonstrated to the supervisory authorities. But technology is so advanced that it’s now simpler to understand and control the tasks and actions of IAMs. Thanks to technical support, for example, IAMs can assess potential new clients quickly and easily.
Other advantages offered to IAMs by a technology-based platform come in areas such as mandatory documentation, tailoring portfolio construction to clients efficiently and consolidating these portfolios. An integrated portfolio management system fosters stringent and therefore efficient work practices in many areas of the asset management business.
Finding the ‘right’ prospect
Mirroring the value creation chain of an asset manager, the system supports end clients throughout their journey. When an IAM establishes contact with a prospect, a corresponding entry is made in the CRM system. In addition to preferences, investment objectives and personal details, the entries also include regulatory facts, risk parameters, KYC information and much more. PEP checks can be triggered straightaway in the start-up phase, which avoids investing an unnecessary amount of time in acquiring potential high-risk clients.
If things go well and the prospect becomes a client, the information previously collected is already in the system. This creates the option to provide the new client with a compliant investment proposal at any time and at the press of a button. This underscores the asset manager’s professionalism, and the client feels in safe hands.
Always in control, vis-a-vis clients and the supervisory authorities
Thanks to the data already entered by the IAM, onboarding a client at a new custodian bank is also infinitely easier and can be completed much more efficiently. Throughout the life of a client relationship, compliance with supervisory regulations relating to portfolio and service performance is guaranteed and can be proven at all times. Trading can be simplified by using electronic interfaces to the various custodian banks and placing system-supported bulk orders (e.g. for tactical switches). Last but not least, an integrated portfolio management system means that IAMs are in a position to provide clients with state-of-the-art reporting at a consolidated level. Aside from personal contact, reporting is undoubtedly another valuable way of making the best possible impression on the end customer.
Laborious administrative tasks are a thing of the past
Implementing such a system does, of course, have its costs, but an investment like this pays for itself in the medium term (3-5 years) due to its comprehensive benefits. Firstly, digital asset management enables certain manual work processes to be eradicated – which can save on jobs as a consequence. And secondly, there are various laborious, administratively driven communications with clients and custodian banks that can be processed automatically via the PMS and no longer need to be performed manually. This makes an asset manager’s daily business more efficient and effective, freeing up time to focus on issues that can increase profits, such as raising client satisfaction through extra services, acquiring new assets or growing existing managed funds.
Without PMS, the future is uncertain
If a portfolio management system can handle the above points, it follows that margins will grow and fixed costs will fall over time. But the security of being equipped for the future – so that the business can be maintained for future generations (of clients) – is more important. Switzerland, with over CHF 400 billion in assets under management (source: SAAM – Swiss Association of Asset Managers), is one of the top countries for independent asset management. Not every asset manager will survive the new market conditions. The first few vital steps in the battle for survival are a thorough analysis and implementation of an integrated PMS. In summary:
Anyone who thinks they are too small or have no money or need to implement an integrated PMS runs the danger of being driven from the market – at best, managing to maintain the status quo.