When seeking actionable insights to get ahead of your competitors, siloed platforms with select data sets can only get you so far
It seems like a simple equation: more data equals better insights. When asset managers have more information at their fingertips, they can draw more meaningful conclusions and produce more actionable advice to clients.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple, according to Goran Skoko, Global Head of Wealth and Managing Director, EMEA and APAC at FactSet, a global provider of integrated financial information, analytical applications, and flexible software solutions for investment professionals. “Investment research too often lives in siloed platforms,” he says. “That means wealth managers and advisers end up being forced to jump between multiple tools, platforms and systems, and the workflow gets very confusing, very fast.” Nonetheless, the asset-management landscape remains rife with closed legacy systems that make it difficult or impossible to integrate diverse data sets—let alone extract meaningful insight from them. For asset managers, that means a huge amount of potentially important data is effectively useless.
“Something we see all the time with our clients is that they have processes and model portfolios in place to define what their clients should be invested in,” says Mr. Skoko. “But because they lack integration, there’s no connection—or a very clumsy connection—between the model portfolios and what advisers invest clients in.”
Not only does that leave a lot of data on the table, it also introduces more possibility for error as advisers and wealth managers navigate between multiple systems with inconsistent data sets.
The solution, Mr. Skoko explains, is more open and flexible technology that integrates multiple data sets, and combines public and private market data for better investment outcomes. There’s even a name for it: next-generation workflow.
FactSet has become a leader in the space. “Our key philosophy is to bring functionality, content and analytics where the client needs it,” Mr. Skoko says. “We start by looking at the structure of a wealth-management organization. Then we map out workflows between different functions. And the most important thing is that whatever we do fits into the client’s needs.”
Central to this open and flexible approach is the use of APIs to incorporate third-party data with FactSet’s own data sets. Rather than push clients to use a brand-new, full-stack solution, FactSet allows clients to integrate a rich library of data-feeds into their own workflows, CRMs and client-facing portals.
The result is a holistic look at a book of business, in which any event that affects client holdings, or indicates an action an adviser might need to take, is pushed straight to them—no hunting required.
“A lot of concordance happens between the client’s own data and off-the-shelf commodity data, and that’s where FactSet really shines,” says Mr. Skoko.
That also makes it simpler to draw correlations between data that would otherwise be missed, thanks to FactSet’s especially rich data set. As just one example, Mr. Skoko points to the way FactSet breaks down company revenue by the geography where it’s realized. “So you might think of a particular company as being a UK company,” he says, “but if it generates most of its revenue in Germany, then a macro event there—let’s say a virus or something crazy like that—may end up being very relevant. Which you’d never guess if you only looked at where they were domiciled.”
The consensus view in the financial-services world today is that the need for this sort of open, flexible approach is only going to grow. A 2016 report from PWC contained stern words for financial professionals who stick to siloed and closed data platforms, stating that “wealth management firms that cling on to business as usual, focusing on manual operations, pure investment management and siloed client data, should get ready to see market share diminish at an increasing pace over the next 5 to 10 years.”
In other words, asset managers who build bridges between those siloes will thrive. And those that don’t?
“Their future,” says Mr. Skoko, “won’t look as bright.”
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