In a recent post, we explored how Asset Servicing (AS) firms are grappling to meet their clients’ and investors’ fast-evolving digital service and real-time reporting expectations.
The underlying reason that so many Transfer Agents (TA) and Fund Administrators (FA) are not in a position to offer appropriate digital services is as much cultural as it is structural.
AS providers are often stuck in a mindset of manual processes and are constrained by operational silos and legacy systems. Yet, creating service differentiation and sustainable competitive advantage is critical in a highly competitive market.
From Fenergo’s perspective, there are four key digital transformation blockers that Asset Servicing firms must address urgently if they want to digitalize investor lifecycle management for greater cost efficiencies:
1. Siloed Client and Investor Data
Research from EY finds that 57% of AS firms struggle with data integration, accuracy and consistency. AS firms must maintain investor data, keep it secure and up-to-date, and be able to share it with relevant shareholders throughout the investor lifecycle.
In organizations where departments exist in ‘data siloes’, the risk of duplication and missing or inaccurate data increases.
Without a single view, Transfer Agents and Fund Administrators are conducting customer due diligence and investor outreach in a very manual, ad-hoc and inefficient manner, with repeated outreaches for data and documentation.
2. Multi-Jurisdictional Regulatory Obligations
While Asset Managers attach greater importance to high standards of anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) processing, for many AS firms, it is still an intensive, people-driven process. In an evolving regulatory landscape, TAs and FAs
must ensure high standards of resilience and asset compliance but meeting regulatory obligations comes at a high cost, especially when servicing across multiple jurisdictions.
3. Lack of Real-Time Reporting and Transparency
AS firms are currently completing the investor onboarding process in operational silos without clear visibility of the case progress across the organization, resulting in delayed time to revenue. Moreover, Asset Managers and Investors expect Transfer Agents
to support new ways of managing and delivering data on client and investor activity, through real-time reporting and analytics. They also want their AS suppliers to be able to easily engage with all stakeholders in the fund distribution value chain, so providing
transparency is key.
4. Cost Pressures
Transfer Agency and Fund Administration as standalone services can be low-margin businesses. They must remain competitive on price while servicing the increasing demands from clients and investors for the reasons I outlined earlier (efficiency, accuracy,
cost, etc.). More than ever, technology is key to driving cost efficiencies to ensure than AS firms can provide a satisfactory service that meets evolving demand while remaining profitable.
Where do Asset Servicing firms go from here?
Currently, Asset Servicing companies are not at the level of digital maturity expected by their clients or investors. AS firms must move towards a digitally-enabled omnichannel model for every stage of the investor lifecycle.
Asset Servicing providers have a huge opportunity here to work with expert technology providers to break down silos and achieve the levels of service and compliance that their clients expect and demand.