In this article we highlight some of the current challenges facing Asset and Wealth Managers and discuss why it is so important for Asset and Wealth Managers to remove manual inefficiencies and optimise their technologies and resources for operational efficiency.
Asset and Wealth Managers are currently grappling with several challenges. First, they must navigate the volatility and uncertainty of global markets, making informed investment decisions amidst economic shifts.
Second, increased regulatory scrutiny and compliance requirements demand enhanced risk management and reporting capabilities which means embracing the rise of digital transformation and technological advancements to stay competitive and meet evolving client expectations.
In addition to the challenges facing Asset and Wealth Managers removing manual inefficiencies is beneficial for several reasons. It improves productivity by eliminating time-consuming tasks, reduces errors caused by human intervention, streamlines processes, and enhances overall operational efficiency. Automation allows employees to focus on higher-value activities, enhances customer experiences, and promotes cost savings by optimizing resources.
Ultimately, it leads to improved profitability and a competitive advantage in today’s fast-paced business landscape.
What are the most prevalent challenges you are hearing from asset managers currently?
Asset managers continue to wrestle with a number of challenges including manual processes many of which are legacy processes due to M&A activity, cost squeezes, fee pressures, and inaccurate data.
They are under pressure to find significant operational efficiencies, and fast.
Thankfully, technology is moving fast too, and can offer asset managers endless possibilities and opportunities: a strategic operational advantage in a highly competitive, increasingly demanding industry.
How does Axxsys approach those challenges and engage with managers around a transformation strategy?
We as the wider Alpha Group would engage with Asset & Wealth Managers based on their requirements, one example would be providing support with Vendor selection for a new Order Management System (OMS).
We would provide the client with a solid view on OMS solution alternatives, a thorough review of their current state, and a well-grounded recommendation (target state) which shall serve as valuable input to their decision for a future OMS strategy. Our view and recommendations will depart from an expert, solution-focused angle and are based on detailed understanding and broad experience across the global OMS space – both from a functional, operating model and vendor perspective. Solutions and recommendations will be subject to validation against peers and observables to capture the strength of our recommendations. This would serve to help the client resolve some of their operational inefficiencies manual processes, risk, and address pain points.
Here we use our broad experience on different vendor platforms which will serve to aid them with their decision. We would also like to be able to continue the relationship with the client by implementing our recommendations and proposed solution. This would form part two of the programme where we would begin to focus on key deliverables, resourcing, timescales and budget.
On the challenge of manual processes, what solutions and strategies do you discuss with asset managers?
We run several client workshops within the various business lines and key stakeholders and discuss what financial impact those manual processes can have on the P&L. We then look for solutions based on a rating score allowing us to focus on the areas that will have the largest financial impact on the business. Inevitably technological advances mean vendors can mitigate some of the risks associated with manual processes. The items with a low ratingscore can be ‘low hanging fruit’ remediation, which can therefore, be fixed using simple solutions thus negating any further risk.
We believe Asset and Wealth Management clients don’t carry out workshops periodically to review their operating model and as time goes by, processes are bolted on again and again and when issues surface or errors occur, it can take a huge amount of time, money, and effort to resolve. It’s also imperative they look at the wider business when fixing problems and not operate in a siloed way. If you fix or streamline one process it may break another process in another part of the business. It boils down to regression testing and thinking more holistically.
Technology has and can play a huge role in improving process automation. For a manager contemplating a project to review technology, what suggestions would you have?
Firstly, the business has to have a robust Operational strategy.
What is an Operational Strategy?
An operational strategy is a plan of action designed to effectively and efficiently carry out the day-to-day operations of an organization. It focuses on the methods, processes, and resources necessary to achieve the organization’s goals and objectives within its operational framework.
Once that is established they can undergo a full analysis of internal processes. Process analysis is the exercise of analysing processes to identify opportunities to improve the way they operate. Using process analysis, companies can evaluate their business processes and pinpoint what is and isn’t working within their operations.
Process analysis can also be used to identify issues across the organization, as well as to uncover opportunities for improving operational efficiency, customer service, and client experience.
Once process analysis has been completed, establishing what technology can be used can begin. It all boils down to budgets, resource availability (internal and external), and how deep into the tech stack the business wants to go and alter. Ultimately, it’s driven by the businesses underlying objective. For example, it could be internal pressure for better investment outcomes and better performance.
Along with investor and regulatory pressure to innovate, asset managers are feeling internal pressure for a data-driven, technology-backed approach to improving their investment and risk management outcomes.
Robust performance and risk analytics, delivered through a futureproofed technology stack, equips investment and risk teams with the insights to make more informed decisions, and take them faster. Better decisions translate to better investment returns. That in turn helps managers outperform their peers. In addition, it enhances individual and team performance (and the accompanying incentive rewards) and improves job satisfaction and motivation.
Creating a new operating model is likely to be one of a few solutions and with the new operating model in play will come operational efficiency. With operational efficiency in place, a business can move faster to better serve and satisfy clients needs and the ever-changing regulatory landscape.
Several strategies can be employed to improve operational efficiency, including:
- Process optimization: Analysing and redesigning processes to eliminate bottlenecks, reduce time, and improve overall operational output.
- Automation and technology: Utilizing technology and automation to streamline tasks, reduce manual effort, and improve accuracy and speed.
- Resource allocation: Allocating resources effectively based on demand, optimizing workforce utilization, and managing assets efficiently.
- Continuous improvement: Adopting a culture of ongoing improvement and innovation, encouraging employees to identify and address inefficiencies, and implementing feedback loops to refine processes over time.
- Performance measurement and analysis: Establishing key performance indicators (KPIs) to monitor operational metrics, conducting regular data analysis, and using insights to identify areas for improvement.
- Taking on a technology project can be an intimidating prospect for many. What advice would you have, for those reviewing technology solutions, through to the implementation project?
Ensure there is front-to-back harmonisation. Approaches include:
- Rationalising the technology landscape – decommissioning legacy systems, reducing the number of manual processes and overall operational risk, either through outsourcing or new system selections.
- Maximising data efficiency and a cost-effective strategy amidst the push-pull dynamic between timeliness and accuracy. The holy grail is establishing a “golden source” book of record, reducing friction and the need for reconciliations between IBOR, ABOR.
- Making effective use of service providers who increasingly offer plug-and-play services. We have seen many partnerships established with a range of front office and data management vendors, with the potential for more exciting combinations.
- Building and reviewing internal frameworks to comply with new regulatory rules such as Operational Resilience for asset managers serving UK investors, with many firms still working to meet the FCA’s requirements. We see clients use this as a bigger opportunity to review their Operating Model resilience.
Discussing manual processes and improving operational efficiency isn’t new in asset management and it’s not the most exciting topic but it remains extremely important for the business. An efficiently run organisation that is embracing the latest technology across its investment operations will certainly be stealing the march on its competitors.
If you would like to discuss how Axxsys Consulting can support your drive for optimal operational efficiency, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org