Client reporting platforms have for some time now been viewed from a very narrow perspective: a cost center with little or no revenue-generating potential. As a consequence, the price levied by vendors for reporting systems has been driven down and the market has, to an extent, become commoditised. Yet today’s enterprise solutions are able to serve areas of the business beyond the reporting function; just one way of turning a software expense into a source of profit.
Within many investment management firms, there are teams or departments outside of client reporting that don’t have the tools that can efficiently produce the material that they require. These teams are receiving numerous requests for ‘reporting-style’ information, but they have to continually retrieve the content via slow, manual processes. In other words, the firm has the data but the workflow is not right.
The picture, however, is beginning to change. Technology exists that can provide an interface with new user groups, allowing those new users to self-create their own content, while ensuring that the data being used goes through the same validation and compliance process as the client reports.
For example, the method of creating sales and marketing presentations typically involves multiple teams, all manually copying and pasting legacy content. They then combine this content with client reporting output to produce collateral to be used during client visits and sales meetings. This cutting and pasting from Excel is both time-consuming and prone to errors.
Investment managers are looking for a more efficient approach, including the ability to collect data and create a presentation ‘on-the-fly’ without duplication of effort. Firms want to utilise all of their branded and audited content for sales enablement, instead of continually recreating it. This content can now be made available through a reporting solution to create pitchbooks and sales presentations, improving the speed, accuracy and quality of sales pitches.
One solution can therefore serve multiple departments: the data is delivered to one platform and then recycled by diverse teams. Indeed, what has been noticeable of late has been an increase in the number of business divisions in the room during the sales process. It is not uncommon to see seven different groups from across the business, each with their own unique requirements, but all looking for a central platform to provide the solution.
Better marketing is just one way asset managers can turn their client reporting application into a profit center; there are other gains to be made, such as a reduced time to market. Personalising reports in a more industrialised way demands little (if any) additional time from the client reporting team. There is no reliance on external parties and no compromise in terms of other business priorities. The business users themselves also get involved in the process, which further reduces any wasted time or effort.
Deploying the right client reporting technology can also enable the firm to win new business. Through data automation and effective workflow, asset managers can handle more aggressive Service Level Agreements and win more mandates.
It’s time to stop thinking about client reporting in such a limited capacity. With a little vision, investment managers can turn an under-utilised cost center into a revenue-generating profit center.
Ben McCormack, Senior Vice President, Client Services, Vermilion Software Inc.