Data Services and the Cloud: The Perfect Package?


Quick access. Self-service. Resource pooling. Scalability and elasticity. Cost reduction. Agility.

Sounds like the perfect package—and for many companies it is. The concept of data-as-a-service—providing on-demand access to data from a variety of sources—has spread like wildfire and made it a no brainer to leverage the cloud for improved efficiencies.

However, for investment management firms, it’s not always this simple. Data control and compliance time and again has come up as the top concern for firms considering the cloud. And since solutions delivered via the cloud, with the goals of increases efficiencies for all, isn’t going to let up anytime soon, it will become an imperative for firms to get on board.

With this in mind, I thought I’d tap into insight from our own Nilang Patel, whose expertise on the cloud make him the perfect person for this last post of the data series. He’ll provide you with some final pieces of information regarding data management, and hopefully diffuse any concerns that may have crossed your mind about its association with the cloud.

Kendall: Should investment management firms invest in a locally deployed data management system or a hosted solution? We talk a lot about the benefits of moving to the cloud, but with regard to data which is a better option?

Nilang: Cloud-based solutions are becoming increasingly popular in our industry because of the intrinsic benefits to their infrastructure – quick access, singular connectivity to multiple sources, automation of data collection and deployment, reduction of costs and deficiencies associated with locally-installed software, and more. The cloud also reduces the risk of workplace disasters and allows for greater scalability and flexibility, all of which can translate into better client service. There’s an upward trend of data integration vendors and warehouses converting their capabilities to the cloud or developing new solutions in the cloud for firms looking to dramatically improve their current in-house operations. This model greatly reduces costs and improves data access for firms. For example, if a market data provider adds new data sources or enhanced reporting tools, cloud service providers need only make one update through a shared services in contrast to multiple manual updates needed for a locally-installed solution – which becomes costly and inefficient for both service providers and clients

The cloud also allows firms to scale quickly and meet investor’s demands in a timelier manner. In the process, it eliminates the necessity for IT teams to engineer systems to handle peak loads. The cloud frees up time and money for better resource allocation across firms, cuts down on time-to-market, and offers mobile access.

Lastly, I’d say that cloud solutions offer one single connection to multiple data sources, which eliminates much complexity. Without the cloud, many firm employees find themselves navigating through a maze of connections to multiple data sources, all with their own unique interfaces. Cloud solutions can also simplify business operations by providing a two-way workflow so that investment firms can better communicate with data providers, custodians, counterparties and most importantly clients. They reduce costs associated with on-site installation of data management systems by eliminating overhead needed to maintain them.

Kendall: So how secure is the cloud for the investment community?

Nilang: I get this question a lot. As a starting point, everybody should recognize that no system can be 100% invulnerable from a breach whether locally installed or cloud deployed. That said, security standards that govern the cloud are rapidly evolving given the fact that this technology model sits at the center of almost every industry. Think about it–99% of your interaction with technology is through a web-based solution in both your personal and business life. However, given the special considerations surrounding investment information, firms should be diligent about understanding what providers are doing to ensure their data is secure.

Providers are continually working to develop and test protections. Meanwhile, cloud data centers have implemented a number of measures, including surveillance cameras, background checks, strict authentication of staff, and others, to ensure they can detect and stave off cyber security risks should they arise. When choosing a solution, firms should make sure the cloud provider obtains a security and controls assessment to oversee the movement of their data as well.

Kendall: So do you see investment management firms jumping at the opportunity to move to the cloud? What do you think is the comfort level with the cloud across the financial industry?

Nilang: Investment managers, traders, and IT departments really like the on-demand, real-time aspect of the cloud. They can work on projects and not worry about the data getting lost. Risk analytics, meeting compliance requirements, performance attribution of investment strategies, you name it, are all ongoing projects that involve robust amounts of data, and the cloud is effective for this. However, teams accustomed to legacy systems and often operationally intensive processes may not see the same advantages to the cloud right off the bat.

Data control comes up a lot in conversation. It can be a bit daunting for firms to transfer all core systems and data to the cloud. It’s completely understandable given the importance of these systems and the data they contain. So we see firms taking a phased approach to leverage cloud-based solutions. Smaller firms are more quickly adopting these technologies given the efficiency gains offered, but larger firms take a phased approach—moving some operations to the cloud, not core ones, and then evaluating their performance. However, as the decision to move to the cloud plays out, it’s important for firms to have done their research about security and compliance, and what type of cloud infrastructure is most suitable enterprise-wide.


For more information security in the cloud, check out A Clearer View: Security, compliance and the cloud.

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, Trends



We’ve talked about the reasons why you need a research management system. Now you might be wondering how to justify the added expense. What’s the return on investment?

As a Solutions Consultant, I get a lot of questions from prospects about how they can measure the impact of an RMS. I’m always honest with them: quantifying collaboration is still a challenge. But start by thinking about where your firm is today. How is your firm handling the routing of information? Are key stakeholders notified of critical information? For example, when one of your analysts completes an overview do they automatically email it to every portfolio manager in the firm, whether they want it or not? That’s not collaboration; it’s inefficient, information overload. Collaboration in research management isn’t just about getting the information out, but rather out to the right people.

While there isn’t a magic answer in measuring the ROI of RMS, we see clients approaching this challenge by monitoring a number of factors.

  • The basic contribution of content, pure numbers.
  • The speed of a research submission.
  • How engaging the content is – are your colleagues commenting on content?
  • How frequently colleagues are accessing the content?
  • “Findability,” or how quickly research can be accessed. This is a metric that can be more easily quantified.

All these elements are certainly good indicators of collaboration. You can see the key benefits of research management are not only how the system helps firms collaborate, but also how it cuts down on the “time-to-information.” The ROI is in being able to quickly discover information that they wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. And we’re seeing more firms hop on the RMS bandwagon because of this.

For more information on implementing a research management system in your firm, contact Andy Phillips, Director of Solutions Consulting at

Andy Phillips is a Director of Solutions Consultant focusing on Research Management solutions globally. Mr. Phillips joined Advent in 2007 and  has worked with investment firms’ front office groups in both pre-sales and implementations of the Tamale research management product.

Posted in Advent Software, Asset Managers

Data Management & Compliance:
4 Best Practices

4In Part 1 of this Data Management series, I talked with Advent’s data expert, Michael Lobosco, about data trends and the importance of data automation in the financial industry. This next Q&A with Michael on regulatory requirements and data management seemed like a logical next step towards tackling the data beast. Because realistically, compliance is a spinoff of data management—without fast and easy access to accurate datasets, firms will simply not stand up to the increasing regulatory environment.

So let’s take a look at some of the leading regulatory requirements and how firms can get out in front of them. While we realize that regulations pertaining to data stretch globally, many have regional focuses as well.

Kendall: What are the latest regulatory requirements investment management firms should be particularly cognizant of?


  • AIFMD-An EU directive put into place to oversee regulation of alternative investment fund managers. This was put into place to fill a perceived regulatory gap as many believed that hedge funds, private equity firms, and their managers, were not receiving an equal amount of oversight as asset and mutual fund managers under UCITS.  For hedge funds and private equity firms, AIFMD affects the areas of depositary, risk management, remuneration, and transparency and reporting.
  • FATCA- When FATCA came into effect in the US in 2013, it changed tax withholding obligations and introduced additional reporting requirements, which far surpassed the capabilities of widely used Client Identification Program and Know Your Customer processes. Since identifying systemic risk as well as measuring the impact of the financial system on the economy are two core pillars of FATCA, firms have been tasked with finding more effective tools to source data.
  • CRM2- Specifically in Canada, this regulation is a move toward stronger client communications. CRM2 outlines obligations of firms to deal with clients honestly and fairly, and recognize and appropriately handle any conflicts of interest. Speaking about data, CRM2 requires firms to maintain books that accurately reflect their business activities, financial affairs, and client transactions. Amongst other requirements laid out, firms must produce reports on excess working capital and audited annual financial statements within 90 days of the end of their financial year.

Kendall: What types of challenges, if any, can they anticipate due to these regulations?

Michael: You know, a lot of firms take the first step of developing a data management strategy to ensure compliance long-term. This is great, but many firms don’t take the next step of fully implementing and institutionalizing that strategy. And it’s quite a large chunk of firms that do this—close to 65% have a defined, but not mature strategy. It’s just sitting on the shelf.   Once a firm defines a strategy, they really need to commit to it to realize all the benefits.

And so they can run into obstacles when they go to implement it. At times, firms can feel like regulations are the antithesis of efficiency, but it’s important to remember that they are ultimately there for protection and long-term success, a step toward more transparency for public investors. It’s just a reality that firms may have to go back to the drawing board to re-allocate budget, resources, and ownership of various projects.  While it can mean creating new teams, the need to train more employees, implementing additional process controls, the idea is to create more room for opportunity, flexibility, and innovation down the road.

I’ve found that finding a good balance between efficiency and cost containment can also be tough for firms. Some firms often do not want to expend the energy, time, and manpower to strategize for meeting regulatory requirements so they leave the legacy systems in place, and stick with risky manual or custom processes for data gathering. They tend to just throw a lot of money at implementing various controls and don’t check on their ROI over time. That’s an extreme example, though. Some firms avoid implementing a lot of process controls to save money and try and be efficient, but things fall through the cracks this way as well. Without a good balance, one or the other or both will be compromised.

Specifically, FATCA requirements have forced firms to not only collect and maintain client data, but also report client-related data in the event of inconsistent financial transactions. For firms that are gathering information for multiple sources, they’re required to find new ways to manage and maintain data gathered from multiple sources—integrated and nonintegrated systems, desktops, contextual content, and from embodied knowledge. This can be costly and time-consuming for firms.

Kendall: With these challenges in mind, can you offer any best practices for data management compliance?

Michael: I had the opportunity to attend CEB TowerGroup’s annual tech summit. I attended a session about data management and analytics, and it really captured my thoughts on this question. They called the imperatives (or best practices) to data management. While it was an aspirational model, albeit a bit ideal in ways, I’ll share a few I found to be most valuable, many of which can be accomplished with a defined AND mature strategy.

  1. Standardize reference and internal data- firms need to rationalize their data supply, looking at the requirements for fixed income, derivatives, exchange data, etc.
  2. Define capital and liquidity data- firms should review their asset classification process, implement all-venue capital and collateral monitoring, develop or adopt an infrastructure for dissemination of information and materials across venues.
  3. Aggregate risk data, share internal operational data, and align enterprise data—firms need to implement risk and data governance by adopting a whole enterprise risk model, integrate with IT for extracting and transforming data, and develop or adopt a shared architecture so that PMs, traders, IT, finance, compliance , and sales and marketing teams are not using all different tools.
  4. Unify, mine, and analyze client data—draw on unstructured data (contextual content and embodied knowledge) when keeping track of data sources and usage, and integrate regulatory and client reporting.

Using these and other industry best practices, firms can accomplish what CEB termed a “one data” approach. They can unlock much more visibility into the data they’re gathering, and the ways in which it is being used to meet regulatory requirements as well as investors’ demands for transparency and accountability.

I would be keen on hearing how your firm has navigated the regulatory requirements regarding data and data management. What best practices have you used?

Check back in two weeks for a discussion on data management and security in the cloud.

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, Asset Managers, Compliance

Time is Money – is your firm wasting both?

TimeMoneyToday, it’s an imperative for investment managers to have a research management system (RMS) in place. Why you ask? It’s as simple as this: everyone in the investment community is tasked with accomplishing much more in a given day, week, month, and year than in the past. Portfolio managers have historically been focused on researching investment ideas and executing them, but their roles now require a greater attention to due diligence and detailing the why on decisions for both regulators and clients, leaving their plates fuller than ever before.

Think for a second about just how hard it is to get everyone on your team in a room. Thanks to technology enabling seamless remote access, asset managers have gone global. We see a lot of portfolio managers, alike, work in various offices internationally. Not everyone on an investment team is geographically co-located, and with everyone scattered across the globe, individuals need to be more efficient in terms of research, streamlining processes, and dissemination of information to a larger group.

Enter an RMS. This system can foster collaboration amongst teams and alleviate mindless, yet time consuming, tasks like searching your firm’s network for the latest investment thesis, call notes, research, internal findings, or models.

While creating a collaborative environment for your team is instrumental for efficiency and growth of your team, this RMS outcome is still only one piece of the puzzle. Research management systems should also speed up a lot of your processes. At the drop of a hat, asset managers should be able to get up to date or look back at research highlights. Additionally, implementing an RMS will complement many firms’ already mobile culture by eliminating the tether to a firms’ network and allowing them to access research outside the four walls of an office.

The third and increasingly important need for an RMS shouldn’t come as a surprise. Clients and compliance staff are looking for better documentation of the lifecycle of an investment idea – they want to see an investment process that is repeatable. Being able to easily implement and formalize a dialogue between managers and analysts to satisfy due diligence is a great return on implementing an RMS.

Convinced you need an RMS? If so, chances are you fall into one of two buckets:

  1. You have a homegrown system. Great! Collaboration is already a part of your culture. Since you post or save information in a public way, a research management solution will fit nicely into your organization. You don’t want to undo all of the work you’ve done internally by transitioning folks to a new system that’s tedious to learn. Focus on finding a solution that’s easy to use and fast to integrate.
  1. You’re still living in the age of shared drives. I’d be lying if I said that firms using neither an RMS nor a home grown system will have as easy of a transition. If your firm has never asked research teams to save their work in a public place where everyone can access, there may be resistance to culture change. Look for solutions providers that work with the individual analysts to make sure the implementation is smooth and easy. If it takes a long time, people will be hesitant to jump on board.

Check back next week for some thoughts on how to consider the ROI of your RMS. If you need more information between now and then, you can contact me, Andy Phillips, Director of Solutions Consulting at

Andy Phillips is a Director of Solutions Consultant focusing on Research Management solutions globally. Mr. Phillips joined Advent in 2007 and  has worked with investment firms’ front office groups in both pre-sales and implementations of the Tamale research management product.

Posted in Advent Software, Asset Managers

Infographic: Evaluate Your Firm’s Data Management Strategy

Data can make or break a firm’s reputation. It can bring unwanted attention from the SEC, and stave off clients. OR, it can do just the opposite—drive growth, keep regulators at bay, and increase profitability enterprise-wide.

And the key to this success? Data management and automation.

Data services_fullimage

For more information on the importance of data and developing a data management strategy for your firm, check out Data Services: How to Keep the Lifeblood Flowing.

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, Asset Managers, Compliance, Risk

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