According to Fredrik Ulfhielm, CFO at Swedbank Robur, it takes full commitment to one core system and to its vendor if you want to maximize the value for your firm.
Swedbank Robur, a SimCorp client since 2001, utilizes SimCorp Dimension to seamlessly integrate its investment management processes across the front, middle, and back office and to support the management of more than 80 investment funds.
“For the first ten years, we took a very cost-focused approach to the system and did nothing except the regular upgrades and maintenance,” explains Fredrik Ulfhielm, CFO. After ten years of ‘business as usual’ and without a long-term strategic decision to use SimCorp Dimension as their single platform, Swedbank Robur had ended up running 80+ applications – a mix of in-house developed systems, external systems, and Excel spreadsheets. The patchwork of systems entailed a lot of time-consuming manual process, duplication of processes, data reconciliation, etc., and it was becoming increasingly clear that the company would not be able to stay competitive with this kind of inefficient setup.
The first steps taken to change the unsustainable situation were taken when Swedbank Robur decided to revisit its operating model and update its vendor agreement.
System consolidation and automation
In 2012, Swedbank Robur entered a four-year framework agreement with SimCorp, which allowed the firm to significantly expand its usage of new SimCorp Dimension functionality. At the same time, the Swedish fund manager initiated a step-by-step system renovation. To increase fund STP rates, the fund manager looked at all its basic fund management processes and replaced numerous manual process with more seamless and automated processing. SimCorp Dimension’s integrated data management solution from SimCorp partner AIM Software was also implemented to achieve a golden record, and hereby increase efficiency, improve proactivity, and reduce risk.
After four years of system renovation, process and automation optimization, and a better utilization of the services offered in SimCorp Dimension, Swedbank Robur had reduced its number applications from 80 to 15 and increased fund STP rates significantly. Because of this system consolidation and increased operational efficiency, Swedbank Robur now had the scalability it takes to grow your client offerings without adding extra resources. Due to this accomplishment, the company was named one of the most cost-efficient asset managers in Boston Consulting Group’s yearly survey of Global Asset Managers in 2015, 2016, and 2017.
Boosting technology to increase competitive edge
While having achieved a modern, well-functioning system by the end of 2015, it was also obvious to the Swedish fund manager that the world is changing so rapidly and technology is advancing so quickly that the firm would lose competitive edge without a more strategic approach. “Today, the end-client does not want to pay extra for services that can be regarded as commodities. So, we realized that to be able to still create a unique selling point in the future, for instance by applying artificial intelligence or offering social responsible investments, it would take a different technology strategy,” explains Fredrik Ulfhielm.
Full commitment to one system and one vendor
To future-proof the firm’s ability to keep up with the ongoing technological development and changes in end-user preferences, Swedbank Robur entered a strategic agreement with SimCorp in late 2017. The agreement provides the Swedish fund manager access to all new standard functionality and solutions as soon as available, enabling the firm to stay at the technological forefront at all times. “It is our firm belief that you will get much more value from a system like SimCorp Dimension if you buy into using it as your sole platform,” states Fredrik Ulfhielm and continues: “And that you can boost this value further, if you enter a strategic partnership with your vendor where you get access to all new functionality as soon as it’s available.”
Swedbank Robur does not want to put an end-date to its strategic vendor agreement. “With this agreement, we will never again need to spend time considering whether or not to buy a module. We’ll get it automatically and SimCorp’s experts will help us implement it,” explains Fredrik Ulfhielm and elaborates: “This setup means we can focus our internal development resources on more value-added projects and where we can propose a unique offering to our clients.”