As an asset manager, you probably have spent countless hours researching and testing the tools needed to find the ideal sales reporting and data management solution for your business. Whether it be a formal product offering or home-grown process, the act of finding the right solution does not need to be as daunting as it may first appear. Although such solutions can be inherently complex, establishing a framework for evaluating their various aspects can simplify the process and ultimately provide assurance that decision makers select the proper solution for the right reasons.
Ultimus’ Director of Distribution, Kevin Guerette, spoke with Celera Systems’ Director of Business Development, Matt Franey, to discuss the top tips managers should consider when searching for a sales reporting solution. Based on experience with asset management clients at both Ultimus and Celera, we identified the following five items as the most critical points in the decision-making process:
#1 Accuracy and Timeliness of Flow and Asset Data
Data is only valuable to decision makers if they can draw the correct conclusions and react to it in a timely fashion. The process through which data is obtained and cleansed warrants close attention, as today’s omnibus accounting environment introduces a multitude of complexities to managing fund sales data that are not common to other industries. Significant reconciliation requirements can be prevalent in a complex trading environment, so be sure that a current or prospective vendor understands industry standards and has a process to deal with them. Additionally, reporting mechanisms and standards frequently change, so every provider needs to be aware of potential hurdles these changes represent and have a plan in place to react accordingly.
#2 Efficiency and Scalability
In most cases, the primary goal of obtaining a sales reporting solution is to systematize manual processes and, when successfully adopted, organizations should expect a number of tangible benefits, including:
- Free up valuable human capital to perform more value-added tasks
- Significantly reduce, or eliminate, human error
- Realize economies of scale as a firm expands its distribution footprint
As expanded distribution and/or external market forces can result in a significant uptick in trading volume with little notice, home-grown processes or less sophisticated solutions will not keep pace with the sheer number of producer records and could prove costly in efforts to track these new flows.
#3 Robust Data Mart and Reporting Options
Even with the most state-of-the-art data warehouse and highest quality data stewardship processes, sales and asset data will be useless unless it can be easily accessed and consumed. A firm will realize the most value from a system that encompasses an intuitive interface, dashboards customized for unique views of the distribution landscape, and a reporting mechanism that is functional out of the box. Systems should have the flexibility to export data into spreadsheets or other customized reports as well as deliver this type of information on a scheduled and automatic basis.
#4 Integration to CRM
The power of integrating sales and asset data into your CRM system cannot be overstated. Such a tool empowers wholesalers and other marketers to correlate sales activities to results and nimbly react to new trades as actionable data automatically shows up in client account and contact records. Native integration with leading CRM platforms, for example Salesforce.com, permits sales, asset, and contact data to be further leveraged with other applications in their ecosystem, multiplying the potential use cases.
#5 An Expert and Supportive Partner
There are numerous ways to price solutions and every firm has different variables that can result in extreme pricing scenarios. A good partner will understand this and create a solution that allows for reasonable pricing based on the specific dynamics of asset data flow. In addition, data and reporting needs can change quickly for asset managers, so be sure to determine if the vendor can support changing needs as they evolve. Also, consider the level of investment the vendor has in their solution now and for the future:
- What does the product roadmap look like for future enhancements and functionalities?
- What other solutions are offered and how will that impact support for the data management solution specifically?
- Does the vendor offer ancillary services such as consulting to facilitate adoption and customization?
- What forums exist for knowledge sharing amongst the client base?
In summary, opportunity costs for asset managers who fail to consider how their firms produce and consume sales data will continue to rise as the industry becomes increasingly data driven and more dependent upon omnibus accounting. Make sure your firm is equipped to handle this new distribution necessity by finding and investing in the right data management and sales reporting solution to suit your needs now and into the future.
Matt Franey is Director of Business Development at Celera, a firm recognized as an innovator in information technology solutions for financial services companies such as mutual fund and institutional managers, insurance companies, retirement plan providers, banks and broker dealers.