On May 12, Dominic Dowd participated in an insightful panel discussion called “The Investor Mandate: Multi-Asset Class Reporting” which highlighted the continued growth of private asset investments and the need for asset owners and managers to continue maturing their operating models to support this growth. The panel was hosted by Alexandra Wang from FIS.
With the democratization of private markets, demand from investors for multi-asset coverage is on the rise. This mandate from investors is impacting the industry, highlighting the need for an end-to-end value chain on products and services, and the right solutions alongside the right data management strategy.
Five key themes were raised across private market investments:
- Continued growth in all private market asset types (real assets, infrastructure, private equity and private credit) for most asset owners/managers globally as investors seek improved returns with less volatility relative to public markets.
- There is less operating model maturity in private investments, in both the investment departments (where business units often operate on a siloed basis) and in the operational support functions (where holdings are often fragmented across multiple operating ledgers and there is a lack of data standards).
- There are opportunities for all stakeholders throughout the investment lifecycle to add value by enabling new investment theses through technology, data and reporting improvements, by enabling operating efficiencies such as such as capex and opex through operating model maturity, and by improving platform inter-operability through easier integration with related platforms.
- COVID has impacted private investments, by raising questions about some private asset types such as real estate and infrastructure investments, and by increasing demand for some private assets such as private equity. The unwinding or decoupling of the traditional risk/reward asset trade-off between equity and debt has increased demand for private equity as large investors look for safe equity based yield relative to fixed income.
- The correlation between the rise of private assets along with the rise of ESG factors and alternative data. Asset owners and managers are enhancing their capabilities across a range of areas here.
Given private investments are an important growth area for many asset owners and managers, and operating models are generally less mature than public markets investments, many firms are investing in capability uplift in support of private asset operations. Four areas were highlighted:
- First, creating consolidated views of fund wide holdings and other operational and research data is a focus area for many asset owners and managers. There are many investment and operational benefits to connecting the disparate data sets and new data sets across an investment company.
- Second, operating model optimization. Rather taking a one size fits all approach, many firms are evaluating where the specialist technology and data roles should reside within their organizations; whether that be within centralized “enterprise” teams, specialized/decentralized analytics teams or within the investment departments themselves. A hybrid approach can help achieve a balance between the important outcomes of operating leverage, scale and efficiencies, along with the agility required to achieve rapid investment department outcomes.
- Third, many asset owners are now creating cloud based integrated ecosystems to acquire, validate, manage and distribute a broader set of operational and research data to their consumers. The ecosystems combine traditional structured data sets with new and alternative data, and unstructured data. Firms are connecting this data through innovative meta data tagging processes and use of data search and discovery engines (including natural language search) to enable user driven data discovery and consumption, and systematic data as well.
- Finally, asset owners and managers will benefit from focusing their tech & data investments on in-house capabilities, and thoughtfully leveraging market available capabilities from providers.