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Need Data? Serve It Up At Your Desktop Yourself

Used to be that fund managers and investment advisers had to go find, grab and pull back what information they could glean from company systems to determine what assets they or their customers held, how they got there and what was happening with them.

Not any longer. Now, there's so much data being collected and pushed at fund managers and investment advisers that they can-and almost must-become their own chief information officers.

In fact, says Robert Roley, director of solutions consulting for Advent Software, getting the right data delivered to the desktop-or mobile-screen is largely a matter of self-service. The user decides what he or she needs to see, what format to see it in and whether it gets delivered at a discrete time or all the time.

Welcome to the world of always-on automated and customized data on fund and account performance. Enter your username and password just once-and you have access to a constantly growing set of applications to help figure out how to manage money. Create a search for the accounts that represent your best customers and it'll get saved, automatically, for future use. Have benchmarks you like for judging how an investment should be performing and you can get a constant display of underperformers and overperformers.

You can even figure out, ahead of time, if you're an adviser, which customer does not have enough cash on hand to pay your fees, before the bill goes out, says Kris Pettit, senior internal sales consultant at Cetera Financial Group. By identifying the shortage, the adviser can turn a potential surprise into a simple matter of liquidating a security in time. Or even take the opportunity to recommend other changes that might even earn the fees back, for the customer.

In fact, as new generations of fund and account management software arrive, it almost doesn't matter where the information lies or how it arrives. The distinction between "pulling" data from a central server or data center and getting it "pushed" at you is vanishing.

"For the vast majority of content, it can work in either mode,'' Roley said. "When you define a dashbaord, that can be consumed in a number of fashions. Maybe I just want one e-mail at the end of the day, that zips this to me in an Excel file or a PDF report that kicks off either on a schedule. Let's say 6 p.m. every day, or based on triggers, so once certain processes have occurred, go ahead and shoot this out to the rest of the firm.

"So it can be done on a push basis like that or on a pull basis where I log in and say pull up the P&L dashboard,'' Let it be calculated and thrown up on screen, he says.




Fund managers will want to see key metrics on how their investments are performing and what their exposures are to different counter parties where the money they have invested on behalf of a large clientele have been placed.

They also have to deal with overarching (and constantly expanding) regulatory requirements. Example: In Europe, no more than 10% of the net asset value of a fund can be invested in a derivative security with a single counterparty.

The key, Roley says, is to make sure now that a fund manager can "subscribe" to reports that they define, that they determine when to deliver and in the format they choose to get them delivered in, whether email, PDF document or spreadsheet.

What the self-service approach now allows, however, is a greater ability to define not just what data to collect, but when to collect it. For instance, it used to be that you could only calculate your fund's exposures to different counterparties of risks after a trade was both booked and the proceeds allocated to all accounts.

Now, the firmwide exposure, Roley said, can be calculated once the trade is booked.

The firm's product, Geneva, used to assume "because it was more of a back office system, was that data was sort of complete, you were done for the day and all the data the system was getting was assumed to be complete," he said. But that is no longer the case.

"But what we did with Geneva 8 is we no longer are making the assumption that the data we are getting has gone through step one through 5 of its life."

Analysis can be "more up to the minute" because now fund managers can choose to include data on exposures or performance "based on where it is" in the trade lifecycle.