An outdated investment management solution can cost you time, money and inevitably make your services less attractive than those of your competitors who are prepared to adapt quickly to changing customer expectations by adopting the latest technology.
Once you have decided to change your solution, the challenge is to find the perfect solution for your business. It is important to take the time to weigh up your options by using a methodical approach and asking the right questions of the potential solution provider. But what are the right questions?
Find out about the investment management tool’s references and current client base, as well as the type of businesses the provider primarily serves. Needless to say, it's best if they already serve similar clients to yourselves, as they will have a better understanding of how your business operates, as well as its needs.
You can simply go to vendor websites and look at case studies, relevant press articles, blog posts, and industry awards, but few things are more revealing and objective than feedback from other customers that use the solution in question. By all means, ask for several references you can contact.
Investment management solutions that implement cloud usage, microservices architecture, and API technology can help integrate easily and securely with your existing systems, without costing a fortune or disrupting your workflow. Native and advanced connectivity with your business ecosystem (asset servicers, market data feeds, brokers, trading tables, etc.) is also critical: ask vendors about their connectors' functional and technical coverage with your key counterparties, and the extent of their API catalog.
In addition to your existing systems, a cloud-based platform will allow you to easily integrate with any external services you may decide to integrate in the future.
Choose an investment management solution that makes cybersecurity a priority and protects your company's data adequately. Regular monitoring and continuous improvement to keep up with changing security challenges should be a key demand.
You should also ask whether the system provider meets your regulatory requirements, has been audited for compliance, and follows industry standards. The International Standardisation Organisation issues and publishes international standards to ensure sounder operations, better regulation, and more efficient products and services.
Whether or not you need business and IT backup services now, it is important to know from the outset whether your provider can offer these services, in case your company needs additional support in the future.
Business and IT backup services can help your company to successfully tackle unexpected challenges or projects (e.g. a transformation of your target operating model or a process digitalization project) without having to bear excessive additional costs. In general, it is better to have a provider with too many services and functionalities than not enough, even if it means taking a ‘lite’ version at first and expanding it later.
It is important to choose a supplier that anticipates future challenges and is committed to keeping its solution at the cutting edge, both functionally and technologically. Ask the vendor in question how often they update their solution, and how much time and money they invest in research and development.
The more frequently they make significant improvements, the more likely they are to become your trusted partner for years to come.
Before approaching suppliers, you should first ask yourself whether you want to adopt the solution wholesale (use the solution's standard processes and forget about your own) or adapt it (set up the solution to meet your own needs). This will determine the type of solution and implementation. Then see how quickly they can implement their solution and make it operational. A solution with an extensive library of standard settings (ratios, controls, reporting, imports, etc.) will require less manual configuration and waiting time.
If you are moving from a legacy system to a new solution, you will also want to ask how complex the changeover process is, how it works with your current infrastructure, and how your daily workflows will change.
Hidden costs such as maintenance, updates (version upgrade prices), user training, and integration fees can add up over the system’s lifetime, and it is important to understand these before choosing a solution.
Devote funds to an investment management software that can grow and evolve with you while saving you money and frustration rather than the contrary. While the up-front costs of a system may seem attractive or more competitive than another solution, you need to understand what the overall costs are going to be so that there are no unpleasant surprises.
Instead of just comparing the price tags of potential investment management solutions, you want to choose a provider that will help you achieve your long-term goals.
For example, if you are considering perhaps implementing new asset classes, new functionalities, or working in new countries or with new counterparties (asset servicers, brokers, management companies, ESG data feeds, etc.), you want to make sure that the new system can accommodate these upcoming strategies with the necessary technology and regulatory compliance features for the investment manager of today and tomorrow.
This is a question that will be answered indirectly. It is up to you to test and see how their service team is structured and how well they answer your initial questions about their investment management software.
Ultimately, you want an investment management solution with a team of people behind it who treat you as a partner and make your goals their goals.
Since 2006, JUMP has been developing and marketing innovative business software for investment management professionals. We aim to meet the current and future needs of our customers.