The eventual speed at which the Covid-19 pandemic spread throughout the world ultimately caught many businesses by surprise. As economies across the developed world began to shut down throughout February and March, even the most nimble-footed of organisations faced unprecedented operational problems in setting up their employees with the ability to work from home for an extended period.
Unfortunately, the pandemic has shown that within many sectors of the financial services industry, the problems many businesses faced were not just a question of logistics, but one of attitudes as well. Systems and processes which had evolved at glacial pace – and had been allowed to do so – came to the forefront as being untenable in the space of weeks. As an example, while much of the world turned to Zoom and Microsoft teams, FinTech expert Virginie O'Shea, writing in Global Custodian, pointed out the unfortunately large number of operations professionals who were forced to continue their office-based roles to oversee processes which had not yet been automated, or made accessible in a virtual environment. Not ideal in a global pandemic.
The global funds industry
The asset management and funds industry is sadly often one of the last to catch up when it comes to fostering innovation. At the start of the crisis, reporter Dawn Cowie in FT Ignites revealed that for some groups even updating their website to inform their clients of their arrangements during the pandemic had proven difficult. Labelling some websites ‘pre-historic’, several experts pointed out the missed opportunities that certain groups were facing to present themselves in a more client-friendly light.
In addition, there is a general perception that many data management processes within the industry are ripe for automation and updating. This is particularly the case where funds are run across different jurisdictions, where managing fund registrations and transferring data and content between departments and externally between groups and distributors is often carried out using dated systems such as spreadsheets being used instead of through intuitive application programming interfaces (APIs).
What hope then that the funds industry will use the opportunity presented by Covid-19 to change their systems?
Changes within the industry
The short answer is that things do look to be changing. For many the Covid-19 crisis is as much about removing obstacles as it is changing attitudes towards the digital transformation of the industry. As such, many fund groups recognise that they have no choice but to innovate. Speaking to FT Ignites the CEO of Amundi, Yves Perrier said: “To survive and thrive in the long term, it is important to think carefully about the operational efficiency of your model…the current crisis shows that asset managers need to invest further to have an operational and powerful IT platform that can guarantee the operational efficiency and the risk control.”
This is but one example of fund groups acknowledging that the old ways of doing business will no longer be the right way of doing business.
How data management and automated workflows can help
The industry is facing a fundamental shift to re-evaluate their processes in order to improve overall data management and data flow between market participants.
Good data management extends far beyond the submission and recording of fund data and daily prices, extending into areas relating to reporting processes, compliance and even facilitating better customer service. It reduces operational risk by ensuring data integrity and providing audit trails, as well as automating and centralising the ingestion of data in and template and document production out. Our publiFund platform is a good example of how effective data management can help funds manage their data. Created to offer a central hub of data and documents, publiFund centralises data and processes from a range of sources and creates a single source of data to be shared with clients and distributors.
Contact us to find out why some of the leading fund managers are turning to publiFund.