Top 5 2015 Trends for the Investment Management Industry

Business Financial OutlookCrystal-ball gazing is always a tricky sport. But from our privileged position at the hub of the investment management industry we have a good view of the key issues managers face. So here goes with my predictions for the year ahead:

1) Consumer-led technology takes hold

Slowly I’m seeing the technology we take for granted in our everyday lives creep into the retail financial services space – for example, with the launch of better mobile banking apps, peer-to-peer lending, the emergence of robo-advisors and the like.

The investment management industry has been somewhat behind the curve with this. Take the mobile revolution. As our CTO Todd Gottula pointed out in a recent blog post, so far investment managers have been cautious on adopting mobile technology. However, pressure from clients and employees is now compelling firms to figure out their mobile strategies and policies.

We also expect a further increase in demand for cloud solutions, and are starting to see clients look to us for more collaborative, social solutions that can help you share information more efficiently.

2) Regulation’s grip tightens

The regulatory agenda is really starting to take a hold on the industry. Many of our clients are now preparing for their first AIFMD reporting and filings. Then there’s the question of how to deal with MiFID II, Solvency II, FATCA and a host of local tax regulations …

Understanding what impact these will have on your business and how you can respond as efficiently as possible is vital.

3) “Hybridisation” and outsourcing pick up pace

During 2015 and beyond I expect hedge funds and traditional asset managers to continue to broaden their offerings in an effort to satisfy investors’ appetite for more non-correlated investments. But if you want to gain market share and reduce costs in this competitive landscape, it will make ever more sense to outsource non-core functions wherever possible – including technology and administration.

4) Suitability under the spotlight

The international crackdown on unsuitable advice is not going away. So we expect forward-thinking wealth managers increasingly to adopt sophisticated software tools that allow you to more proactively leverage the data you now need to gather about clients. That will help you more precisely – and efficiently – predict your clients’ needs and objectives, and tailor your offerings to them.

5) Data will be key

Gathering as much data as possible on each client’s profile, objectives and behaviour is at the heart of a future-proof compliance strategy. Many wealth managers are already working on ways to capture the right data and efficiently manipulate and use it downstream, and we expect this trend to continue through 2015.

How you respond to – and, more importantly, get ahead of – these trends will be a key differentiator in your future success.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts – is there a trend I missed?

Martin Engdal is Market Strategist and Director of Solution Marketing at Advent EMEA. In this role, he has responsibility for strategic positioning of Advent’s solutions in EMEA and for driving Business Development efforts in Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Posted in Advent Software, EMEA, Wealth Management

Mobile Trends in Financial Services

Mobile devices haven’t just changed our personal lives, they have completely reinvented how we do business too. And within the financial services industry there are no signs of adoption slowing.

Take a look at the stats below, which speak highly to how client service and firm productivity have changed thanks to this trend.

Learn more about how your firm can benefit from the mobile revolution in our latest white paper, Mobility in Investment Management: Tracking the Trends.

Mobility and Financial Services

Posted in Advent Software, Mobile, Trends

SEC Exams: Creating your own “Warning System”

WarningOver President’s Day weekend, I joined the droves of people shopping for a new car. On this venture, I stumbled across something called the Predictive Forward Collision Warning system in a number of cars.

It had me wishing there was a system like this for our industry, a system that could detect deficiencies long before they cause disruption, that could audibly alert you, tell you exactly where they originated from, and stop the workflow – a system that could even keep you on top of the latest SEC exam priorities and regulations. Well, we may not have a fancy automated system, but let’s make the best of what we do have and create our own tool.

For starters, don’t wait until the SEC examiners come knocking to have all your ducks in a row. Stress, disruption and expense of an SEC exam can be mitigated by a constant state of preparedness. But what if you don’t have an exam policy or process in place? Here’s a quick guide to get you started on your own version of a predictive forward collision warning system.

Types of Examinations—do you know what category your firm falls under? 

  1. Cause Exams: this type of exam is the result of complaints, tips, referrals, media reports. Others looking in see a problem that needs to be fixed. AKA a firm on the receiving end of this exam is about to find themselves in an episode of Law and Order.
  2. Routine Exams: this is the type of exam for which everyone should be prepared. Firms can be expected to be chosen at random for this type of examination.
  3. Sweep Exams: the SEC hit the jackpot, whistle-blower-style. A pattern of risks has tipped them off and sparked a wider investigation across a specific industry practices or products.

You can now lay a solid foundation by addressing the most basic issues likely to alarm the SEC. Here are some red flags you can easily avoid:

  • Ensure that you do not have nor are creating any misleading advertising and marketing materials. You can use a disclosure checklist to be sure of this.
  • Double check that your template policies and procedures are in line with current regulations
  • Find or create a written Code of Ethics as well as a written manual of policies and procedures to prevent violations (avoid generalizing–these should be unique to your firm)
  • Make sure you have a strong Chief Compliance Officer
  • Put a system in place for storing and future retrieval of all business-related correspondence
  • Have or create a policy for best execution of trading practices

The SEC has arrived—now what??

  1. Acknowledge notification of an impending exam
  2. Assign the CCO to lead all meetings, discussions, and interviews with examiners
  3. Communicate to all parties that key staff are needed during an examination period
  4. Follow preparation procedures you previously put in place and assign additional responsibilities to the relevant people
  5. Hold a company-wide meeting to inform the rest of your staff about the exam and what to expect
  6. Be responsive: review your request list and ask questions if something is not clear
  7. Execute a method or system for organizing necessary documents
  8. Keep track of all correspondence between your firm and the SEC’s secure mail server
  9. Provide only what the SEC requests. Here, it is not necessary to go above and beyond
  10. Prepare a background presentation for examiners of your company and policies–do not leave them guessing
  11. Request an exit interview
  12. Consider submitting a request for exclusion from the Freedom of Information Act

So how likely is it really for the SEC to actually come knocking? Note that it is very difficult to predict when your firm will be examined by the SEC. In 2013, on average, an advisor was examined every 12.5 years. With that said, don’t take this stat as sly encouragement to procrastinate—this gap has drawn criticism from the investing public, industry players, Congress, and from within the SEC itself.

You’re now on your way to your own version of predictive forward collision warning system, but a few reminders to keep top of mind: ALWAYS have a policy and procedures in place for exam preparation, create a culture of positivity around regulatory examination, and be very transparent with your own team and with examiners about requests and expectations. With this guide, you’re already a step ahead of the game.

For a breakdown of 2015 SEC exam priorities, join Advent and former SEC Branch Chief Examiner, Timothy Simons of Focus 1 Associates in a webinar on Thursday, February 26, 2015. Register here.

Kendall has leveraged her passion for writing along with her background working with enterprise cloud technologies to strengthen Advent’s external communications.

Posted in Advent Software, Compliance, Focus 1, Risk

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