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Adaptation and Resilience: Asset Managers in 2020

Catching Up with Linedata's Global Head of Asset Management,
Gary Brackenridge: Mid-Year in the Asset Management Industry

Gary Brackenridge

Adaptation and Resilience: Asset Managers in 2020

Q&A with Gary Brackenridge, Global Head of Asset Management

 

Asset managers have been faced with a slew of challenges as the industry has shifted and adapted, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to an entirely different need for change. As solution finders, Linedata has been navigating the most unique situations and providing necessary answers for its clients throughout its twenty-plus-year history.

 

As we kick-off the second half of 2020 and reflect on all that has unfolded, Gary Brackenridge, Global Head of Asset Management at Linedata, shares his thoughts on the industry trends he expects to be at the forefront for the remainder of the year.

 

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic shifted business operations across the asset management industry?

A: It’s safe to say that the pandemic has shifted our lives and the way we work in more ways than one. I would categorize the major shifts into three buckets:

 

  • Operating Costs – From an industry perspective, we can agree that revenues are down in many industries, consequently leading to budget slimming. Asset managers are forecasting anywhere from a 15 to 30 percent reduction in operating expenses for 2021 budget planning. There’s an understood fear of the unknown, which is in part due to government policy impacting the marketplace by moving capital and cash across the world. Understanding that this must come to a halt eventually, most of our clients are planning for their budgets to be quite strict in 2021

 

  • Workplace Flexibility – We’re seeing a newfound requirement and desire for (1) remote working, (2) smaller offices, and (3) more overall flexibility. These workplace changes create an innate need to operate remotely and securely. At Linedata, we’re specifically looking at digitization and automation that we’re incorporating into our own day-to-day operations and delivering for clients. Cloud has certainly come of age with the pandemic as a way for firms to manage new BCP work requirements. Many firms, including Linedata, are looking to artificial intelligence as a means to guide a cloud-based way of working.

 

  • Client Relations – Finally, the COVID-19 pandemic has shed light onto the need for a more adaptable client experience, putting technology at the forefront of customer success. By integrating technology and more advanced protocols ahead of another economic shift occurring, Linedata can amplify client support and provide the asset management industry with unique and flexible offerings. One example is our Data Management Service which offers an alternative to complex vendor data integration projects by delivering pricing and reference data directly through our software applications. We are also seeing tremendous client interest in our machine learning capabilities to gain new insights into existing problems, like trade amendments and operational loss, looking at a client’s own data sets.

With uncertain phases of coronavirus still ahead, many businesses like ours – and even outside of our industry – will prioritize digitization and remote operations. I anticipate that we’ll see this shift through online only activities at large banking institutions, remote talent sourcing, and, in general, further outsourcing of other than core, high value capabilities. Together, these changes will reflect a new blanket “remote-first” policy.

Q: What are some of the risks that you see the asset management industry facing due to COVID-19? How is Linedata providing solutions?

A: I think I’ll answer this question backwards and begin with this: Among many players in asset management, our team at Linedata has been well-equipped to handle the “new normal” for some time now. We are structured in a way that allows us to be nimble and switch gears relatively fast and seamlessly, which has been – and likely will continue to be – a product of digitization. We’ve known for some time that a shift to a more digitized world and workplace would become a necessity, so we began fine-tuning our cloud-based capabilities before COVID-19 was the problem at hand.

As many leaders are thinking ahead to the unknown – navigating the new normal while simultaneously forecasting what’s to come – we are left trying to evaluate the risks we face, whether in asset management or another industry. At its core, the lack of a secure, cloud-based, digital platform is our biggest risk.

For example, at Linedata, we already had about 10% of global employees successfully working remotely. Having these standards in place prepared us for COVID-19 well before we knew it what it would become. Many in the industry were lacking digitization, which led to a rocky transition into the pandemic.

Q: How do you see digitization shaping the future for asset managers?

A: With uncertain phases of coronavirus still ahead, many businesses like ours – and even outside of our industry – will prioritize digitization and remote operations. I anticipate that we’ll see this shift through online only activities at large banking institutions, remote talent sourcing, and, in general, further outsourcing of other than core, high value capabilities. Together, these changes will reflect a new blanket “remote-first” policy. 

From my perspective, analytics should be viewed as a service, not a product. For example, at Linedata, rather than working on a project for a client, we work on a long-term basis to develop the initial solution and then to maintain it. I hope that post-COVID-19, this is the direction asset managers start heading as they’re determining how to best mitigate time critical and costly issues in the future.

Q: As we look ahead to post-COVID-19, what key learnings should companies consider in order to optimize their business operations?

A: I believe this question is circular in nature, because in order to garner insights and key learnings, we’ve learned that our clients need better tools to access and make use of their data. Moving forward, companies must look to minimize their risks and, in doing so, put a process in place that will help predict operational failures that incur unnecessary expenses, disrupt systems, cause breaches and much more. This trend toward better use of data and analytics is all a part of the industry’s overall digitization.

From my perspective, analytics should be viewed as a service, not a product. For example, at Linedata, rather than working on a project for a client, we work on a long-term basis to develop the initial solution and then to maintain it. I hope that post-COVID-19, this is the direction asset managers start heading as they’re determining how to best mitigate time critical and costly issues in the future.

Q: And on a more light-hearted note, where do you see yourself in the next six months? Any key trends or predictions in your personal life?

A: Well, if the present is any guide, you’ll probably find me in the garden or otherwise outdoors and reconnecting with all things local.

 

 

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