However, with the patchwork of proprietary software applications linked by manual processes that ASB Group Investments inherited, these benefits would have been difficult to realise. In order to support its unified investment operations, ASB Group Investments needed to replace its existing systems with one system covering all investment management functions.
Modern and highly configurable
"We chose SimCorp Dimension because we could see it was flexible, modular and above all, a modern system, with up-to-date functionality and open architecture."
ASB Group Investments migrated its portfolio records, including more than 400 different funds across the full spectrum of asset classes, to SimCorp Dimension after a trouble-free implementation. The system went live on March 1, 2004. A fully integrated system, SimCorp Dimension handles the company's unit pricing, trading, settlements, performance, compliance, asset management, financial reporting and accounting functions. It is used by the front office portfolio management staff, pricing team, reporting and accounting specialists, systems technicians and business analysts.
SimCorp Dimension has provided dramatic efficiencies for ASB Group Investments. Cycle times for the 400 funds the group prices on a daily basis have been slashed, to the extent that Lisa Brock, Financial Controller, ASB Group Investments, estimates speedier processing alone will save more than 1,000 hours annually.
More efficient pricing has also translated into direct improvements in customer service. "Once we've loaded prices into the registry system we can process our customer transactions the same day," says Mrs Brock.
Streamlined, consistent workflow
ASB Group Investments has streamlined its business processes and operating procedures using SimCorp Dimension's workflow support. "Implementing SimCorp Dimension has allowed us to centralise our investment management operations," says Mr Ryland. "All our investment processes and data are handled by a seamless platform, so staff responsibility has shifted from managing individual applications to managing workflow as a whole."
This has also made it easier to assign staff responsibility for processes. As SimCorp Dimension user accounts can be configured for the requirements of different job specifications, it has allowed staff to take on specialist functions. "We're creating specialist roles based on user functions, including a performance management team," says Mr Ryland. As a highly configurable and modern platform, SimCorp Dimension provides ASB Group Investments with greater flexibility and scalability in managing its investment operations. "SimCorp Dimension has simplified management of our complex investment structures, particularly those designed to provide product efficiency," Mrs Brock says. "For example, SimCorp Dimension's registry function makes it far easier to deal with products that use nominee pools. We can now design additional funds that provide these product benefits."
The system provides full support for complex asset classes such as derivatives, which were previously not feasible for ASB Group Investments to implement. Now, the company can implement SimCorp Dimension derivative models and so enrich its product range.
Unlocking growth potential
With SimCorp Dimension, ASB Group Investments has ensured that investment operations can scale to match growth. "Operational set-up of new products with SimCorp Dimension is more straight-forward," says Mrs Brock. "We recently developed a range of 10 unit trusts that took three months to set up and test – previously it would have taken up to six months and required additional resources. And when we launch new products we don't need necessarily to hire new staff to support them."
The company can now link its systems to those of external managers. This has allowed the development of manager investment platforms and the maintenance of full records for portfolio mandates. It has also allowed the company to bring foreign exchange trading in house, a function previously handled by external fund managers.
By automating workflows, reducing manual intervention and introducing new business processes, the system has slashed the risk of errors. "It was apparent from the outset that SimCorp Dimension would reduce our level of operational risk considerably," says Mr Ryland.
More advanced and automated reporting has reduced risks and improved the regulatory compliance monitoring of investment operations staff. Mandate compliance reports are now produced daily instead of monthly, and bankreconciliations now calculated daily instead of monthly.
"We're confident that we have a solution in SimCorp Dimension that will support the company's growth requirements for many years to come."
ASB Group Investments is required to produce more than 75 sets of statutory accounts every year, a process which formerly took four to five months but is now largely completed within two months. "With SimCorp Dimension, reporting is no longer a massive, time consuming project – we turn accounts around quickly with detailed supporting records," says Mrs Brock.
ASB Group Investments is set to meet the rigorous compliance standards of modern regulation and has greater ability to respond to regulatory changes with SimCorp Dimension. The platform's modules comply with International Financial Reporting Standards, enabling ASB Group Investments to implement the new standards without the need to reprogram application code.