July has been a busy month with client engagements and travel but I wanted to add a blog about the event I attended in New York in mid July.
Many people will be familiar with TSAM, the annual buy-side technology and operations event, which is usually attended by senior operations, marketing and IT executives. I always enjoy these industry events as they offer a great opportunity to network and catch up with people in the industry as well as finding out about the latest trends and developments.
I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on “Critical issues in data management” together with industry veterans: Regina Trach, VP Marketing Services at J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Gerard Walsh, Head of Delivery, Global Strategic Solutions at Schroder Investment Management, and David Bates, Principal at Citisoft. The discussion was moderated by Uday Singh, CEO of Osney Media. It was only supposed to go on for 30 minutes but ended up stretching into an hour as there were so many questions and such a lot to talk about.
Initially, we focused on what the key issues were in the data management area, with most of the panel agreeing that drivers for data management projects centred around managing risk, complying with regulation and also managing the data “overload” – what to push out, when, and to whom. Gerard from Schroders said that as clients became ever more demanding, they needed to get timely and accurate data as fast as possible in whatever way they wanted it whether in person, in a report, on a web page or as an app on an iPad. J.P. Morgan recently launched an iPad app for advisers and feedback has been phenomenal. But, getting information to devices is a major data and integration challenge.
In terms of regulation, one of the concerns is that asset managers know there will be demands for transparency but don’t know what they will be. They are wary of the SEC and FINRA and what they will actually be looking for. The SEC is likely to take information and fact sheets from an organization’s website and compare it – and will want to ensure it’s all accurate. They will also want to know historical information e.g.”can you show me what your website looked like on April 11th, 2009″? Asset managers still have a business to run and the wall of regulation can be a challenge – but they must be compliant.
We then went on to talk about the amount of data that is available and how accessible it needs to be… With large global asset managers averaging 4.5 million items of data each month, it’s hard to answer the question “Do you know how good the quality of your data is?” You really need to work out what to push out to your various audiences… this is where using segmentation/ audience management is very powerful. If you have a contact strategy where you test email open and click thru rates, track website visitors and monitor Twitter, you will know who is listening to you and find out what they want to hear.
We then went on to talk about what is the right material to push out? Should we be reviewing what we need to report on. What do customers need? We also need to focus on the consistency of information across the organisation e.g. surveys, web presentations. Separate areas of the business are generating data and enabling it to get out. I talked here about how marketing ops have not been well served by IT and there are lots of manual processes involved in getting data to market. If data points are managed on spreadsheets, you have to have proof readers coming in to get material out to market and you have a much higher risk of error. Setting up a data governance process and ensuring that data is corrected at source will help greatly and you won’t end up with marketing teams chasing, checking and keying data at the last minute. Also, if you automate the process, you will significantly reduce your fact sheet production time.
Then we talked about actually getting data management projects off the ground. It can be quite difficult as often times C level doesn’t realise there is anything wrong with the data. It might be easier to focus on a smaller project first and try building it out from there. For example, for Schroders, the web was a big driver and they wanted to provide their sales force with tools that can help people make investment decisions – having timely, accurate and consistent data available on the web was a key influencer.
The other key influencer will be cloud computing– not just on the entire IT area but on other areas within the organisation e.g. Salesforce.com. Asset managers are more likely to outsource if it’s not a strategic advantage to do it themselves.