Asset managers must continuously adapt to changes in their operating environment. Whether it be market or regulatory driven changes, cost pressure, changing dynamics within their investment strategies, and the added complexity of new asset types, the common denominator that underlines everything an asset manager needs for success is their investment data.
The ability to quickly consume, aggregate, and normalize multiple internal and external sourced data is deemed critical to supporting an asset manager’s operations, product strategy, and the needs of their clients. Additionally, technologies such as data messaging via APIs, machine learning tools, and the recent surge in Fintech provided applications have further complicated asset managers’ data strategy decisions. This can lead many firms into a jungle of balancing their approach between tactical versus strategic driven choices which will have long term impacts. Most importantly, the ability to quickly execute the onboarding of data and tech applications has dynamically shifted asset managers’ approach. They need to decide whether to develop their data models in-house or look to outsource their data needs to a service provider.
When asset managers look to outsource operations, whether it be front, middle, or back-office services, it’s important their provider can seamlessly interact and communicate with the data to guide it where it needs to go. But in a world with multitudes of data languages, formats and mediums, what is required to ensure your data is in the best hands? The short answer, work with a technology forward service provider that understands these challenges and has a tailored strategy to keep your data moving seamlessly across all stages of its life cycle. Think of it as the three T’s of data – Translation, Transformation and Transmission.
Data can be stored and delivered using many different languages and formats –
- Extensible Markup Language (XML)
- American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII)
- and many more
To systematically read this data, a translator (or converter) is required. To ensure the data delivered can be properly converted throughout its lifecycle with little to no manual work, it is best to use an experienced and technologically advanced data administrator that has the ability to connect and translate multiple data types as well as work with an experienced and knowledgeable team of data focused experts. Translating data is essential to ensuring accuracy and efficiency prior to transformation.
Once data has been translated it is ready to be transformed into a new format or language, depending on its destination. For example, Trade Data will get transformed to SWIFT or FIX formats for delivery to designated Custodians. Trade Data will also be transformed to Structured Query Language (SQL) so it can be imported into an Investment Book of Record (IBOR) platform for recordkeeping and performance. The ability to translate and transform data makes for a clear path to accurate and timely data delivery. It also provides the foundation for ultimate flexibility when converting data into custom reporting or data feeds.
Asset managers should look for a middle office administrator that can transform data from its own platform and deliver it in the manager’s desired format. The data delivered to the asset manager should seamlessly feed databases, order management systems, provide performance analysis, and other applicable applications supporting their investment process and clients. The ability to transform data not only allows for integration with intermediaries such as SWIFT, but it also enables delivery of customized data to you and your stakeholders, when and where it’s needed – which brings us to Transmission.
Data can be transmitted in many ways – including APIs, FTP, and email. It is important that your technology is able to establish proper APIs with key intermediaries and vendors, as well as systematically transmit data back and forth between systems. Data should be encrypted when transmitted, ensuring it is secure and safe when moving between parties. The ability to securely transmit data across multiple mediums ensures that the data will be delivered to its destination in the preferred, most efficient, and safest manner possible. A technologically advanced middle office service provider will have several tools to systematically transmit data and files over channels such as email, FTP, or via a direct-to-client web portal.
The ability to systematically retrieve, interpret, and communicate data is essential in today’s data driven world. It allows for more efficient processing, decreased risk, and additional flexibility for analysis and reporting.
Middle office servicing is heavily reliant on data being passed back and forth between clients, intermediaries, vendors, and other parties as it makes its way through the required channels for processing. Therefore, a service provider that has invested in data driven technologies helps to ensure that your data needs are handled securely.
Outsourcing data operations can help asset managers ensure that data is securely, accurately, and efficiently delivered for each specific portfolio. When looking for a service provider with enhanced data technology, make sure they can easily translate data from its original form, eliminating the need for you to translate it into another format before delivering it. The service provider should also provide the ability to systematically transform and enrich your data into formats required by intermediaries and vendors, further streamlining the workflow. Last, but not least, ensure they can transmit your data across numerous channels.
Your data should flow seamlessly throughout its lifecycle. In the end, outsourcing to a middle office service provider like Ultimus, whose data driven technologies are flexible for both enhanced and unique data requirements, and are systematically driven, makes it easy to increase efficiencies while helping to reduce risk.
Contact us to learn more about our middle office and data service solutions.