Read this article and learn about:
- The benefits of automating your client communications
- The importance of structuring your data
- How a firm services its clients can be a key differentiator
Cindy Sealey, CFA, Principal – Practice Lead, Cutter Associates
Up until 2007, Nokia and Blackberry dominated the smartphone market. Then in January, Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone, launching a revolution in mobile devices. Today, Samsung and Apple are the dominate smartphone vendors. Also in 2007, research results by Cutter Associates revealed that a large majority of investment management firms belonging to its research consortia were using proprietary client reporting systems. Most were periodically delivering a generic report to clients, and just 18% were making reports available via a client web portal. Not surprisingly, 65% of the firms surveyed were looking to replace their existing client reporting systems to keep pace.
Like mobile phone technology, client reporting technology has advanced considerably in just ten years. Today, most firms use at least one and sometimes two vendor solutions for client reporting. The processes for creating and delivering client reports can be highly automated and new systems empower business users to easily build report templates, update data, and customize reports as demanded by their clients.
Automation of client reporting is getting more attention as firms are recognizing that how a firm services its clients can be a key differentiator in a world where investment returns are hard to differentiate and so many products have become commoditized. The next generation of client service personnel must have appropriate tools to meet the growing demands of their clients, while freeing up time so they can focus on value-added services. However, taking advantage of the next technology revolution and the benefits of automation will be much easier if firms have well-defined data that’s easily accessible.
[In 2007] Most were periodically delivering a generic report to clients, and just 18% were making reports available via a client web portal. At that time, 65% of firms were looking to replace their existing client reporting systems to keep pace.Cindy Sealey, CFA, Principal – Practice Lead, Cutter Associates
Further automating client materials
Investment managers have been impressed by the benefits of applying advanced technology to the processing of client reporting information. And now they are looking to expand technological efficiency to processing similar types of information used in materials such as pitch books, client account reviews, fund factsheets, consultant database content, RFP responses, and internal reports. But getting this information to these marketing materials has its complications and some firms are finding that endeavor more difficult than they had anticipated.
Rethinking what is data
The automation of less complex data may be well established, but data used in client-facing materials often contains more complex text, as well as pictures and graphs. To apply technologies that can efficiently process these graphics and complex text, firms must first abandon the way they’ve historically viewed it. For example, instead of thinking of a fund factsheet as one discrete set of data, firms need to think of a factsheet as a collection of several independent data elements, each of which is defined as either structured or unstructured data. And they must find technology tools that can support the presentation of multiple data components into a coherent report or other client communication materials.