Read this article and learn about:
- Why common processes, shared knowledge, and a mutual understanding of a firm’s global operating model are key to a successful globalization strategy
- How an IBOR ensures accessible and updated data across a global organization
- How automation provides scalabililty and consistent data quality
- Why globalization takes adaptability by the firm and its employees alike
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWEE:
Age Bakker is COO at Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM)
Age Bakker was named Chief Operating Officer in October 2009. Bakker joined Norges Bank Investment Management earlier that year as Global Head of IT. He has previously held positions within teaching and the investment management industry. Bakker spent 14 years with Storebrand Kapitalforvaltning, most recently as Chief Operating Officer. Age Bakker has a master’s degree in economics from Vrije University in Amsterdam.
About Norges Bank Investment Management
Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) is the asset management unit of the Norwegian central bank (Norges Bank). NBIM manages the Government Pension Fund Global, often referred to as the Norwegian oil fund, on behalf of the Ministry of Finance, which owns the fund on behalf of the Norwegian people. NBIM aims to get the highest possible return on the fund within its investment mandate and seeks to safeguard the long-term financial interests of Norway's future generations through active management and active ownership.
The global investment management industry faces much complexity and many challenges. In this recurrent CXO Corner relay column, we ask top executives to point the way ahead, sharing their views and best practices for meeting the challenges.
Journal: Thank you for taking over the CXO Corner relay from Klaus Holse, CEO at SimCorp. To begin, could you tell us a little about your background before being appointed Chief Operating Officer at NBIM in October 2009, coming from a position as Global Head of IT.
Age Bakker: Thank you for inviting me to take part in the CXO Corner article series. I will try to contribute the best I can to this column.
I was hired as Global Head of IT at NBIM in May 2009, but was promoted to Chief Operating Officer (COO) quickly after this. Before I joined NBIM, I spent 15 years in Storebrand’s investment management division, the last four years as COO and before that as Head of IS/IT.
The COO role at NBIM has a much broader scope than IT, as it includes System and Data Management and the traditional back-office/middle-office functions such as Asset Servicing, Transaction Management, and Fund Accounting. I have about 90 people in my team, across all our offices, and we work hard to deliver stable and consistent services to our business users across the globe on a 24/7 basis. When one of our portfolio managers or traders comes into the office to start the day in the morning, the full operations team has taken care of the preparations: technology services are running, systems are up and populated with the most recent security master and price data, and trades and corporate actions reflect the most recent status received from the custodian. This is very much a joint effort from the entire operations team, and I am proud and grateful to have a team of very skilled and professional people.
Journal: NBIM manages the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global, also known as the Norwegian oil fund, which has an overwhelming market value of over 7,000 billion NOK (over USD 830 billion). In addition to your headquarters in Oslo, you have offices in London, New York, Shanghai, and Singapore. As the COO, what do you see as the main challenges of running a global organization, for instance when it comes to data management?
Age Bakker: The main challenge is for everybody to have common processes, shared knowledge, and a mutual understanding of our operating model to be able to operate 24/7 in a follow-the-sun fashion. The day starts in Asia, where our Singapore team ensures that all overnight data loads, like security master changes and prices, are performed and checked. This gives us a common and correct start-of-day status that is used by our users in Asia, but also in Europe and the US. Fortunately, we have a very competent team in Singapore, which is dedicated to this, and, in addition, we have a great partner in India to assist us with the technical aspects of our data management processes.
Since we operate 24/7, we do not have much time to run batch-jobs overnight. Instead, we need to ensure intraday data quality, which is enabled by our investment management system, SimCorp Dimension. The system’s IBOR concept makes all data accessible and updated throughout the day – something that is necessary for a global organization like ours.
The system’s IBOR concept makes all data accessible and updated throughout the day – something that is necessary for a global organization like ours.Age Bakker, COO at Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM)
Journal: What additional measures would you recommend to have in place to tackle these challenges – measures aimed, for example, at achieving reliable data and transparency across the global organization?
Age Bakker: We focus on using common processes and ensuring that knowledge is shared across our different locations. We utilize a common, global system platform and a common enterprise data warehouse across all locations. The investment management system is our core platform for collecting all data, all transactions, and all corporate actions – you could say it is a “one-stop shop” for us.