Sovereign Wealth Funds: Coping with Increased Complexity and Asset Growth

Eagle’s Amit Bharakda examines the reasons why SWFs are putting a greater emphasis on control and transparency when it comes to managing and measuring the performance of their investments.

Amit Bharakda, Regional Head of Business Development, EMEA


The investment landscape for the world’s sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) has changed dramatically in recent years, as assets under management (AUM) have continued to grow steadily. As assets have grown, many have looked to diversify into new asset classes and build their own investment capabilities in-house. At the same time, stakeholder demands have changed, with greater scrutiny on the performance of these funds by governments and civil servants.

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ENGAGE18: Data Governance as a First Step to Transformation

Paul McInnis recaps his ENGAGE18 panel discussion on data management as an agent of change

Paul McInnis, Eagle Business Manager


“If an employee took a sledgehammer to their desk, you wouldn’t sit around and watch, would you?” This was a question posed by one of the ENGAGE18 panelists participating in the panel, “How Data Can Help Transform the Business”. The answer, quite obviously, is that no company would ever treat an asset like that. The point—as the panelist articulated—is that this is effectively how organizations are treating their data when they don’t promote governance or controls that instill data quality.

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Why Forward-Thinking Companies are Focusing on Data and Agility

Technological innovation is having a transformational effect on the economy, with businesses in every sector realising the importance of quality data and being agile to respond quickly to changes. The disruptive power of technology on incumbent businesses and business models varies across industries, with consumer firms hit first and, so far, hit hardest. However, this fourth industrial revolution is still in its infancy and promises to deliver even more profound shifts in ways that can’t yet be seen in the coming years.

Marc Rubenfeld, Head of Sales for EMEA


Technological disruption was initially slow to impact the financial services industry, particularly when compared with the likes of the retail sector. It’s now clear, with much discussion around blockchainbig datamachine learning and artificial intelligence, that there are many opportunities to disrupt financial services.

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ENGAGE18: The Momentum Behind Eagle’s Alliance Program

Joel Kornblum, after speaking at the ENGAGE18 client conference, highlights how the strategic alliance program extends upon Eagle’s core offering

Joel KornblumGlobal Head of Strategic Alliances & Consultant Relations


As part of his keynote address at ENGAGE18, Eagle’s CEO, Mal Cullen, touched upon the many benefits of Eagle’s platform strategy. One of the biggest advantages for clients is that while Eagle’s focus remains true to its core offerings of data management, investment accounting and performance measurement, our open ecosystem allows us to offer best-in-class solutions that extend far beyond our core capabilities.

In line with the philosophy of collaboration inherent to our platform model, Eagle has put considerable effort into building out our strategic alliance program, which now counts over 20 firms whose solutions and technology are readily available to Eagle clients.

In many ways, the goal of the program is not unlike the Star Alliance that frequent travelers are quite familiar with. Just as the Star Alliance facilitates a smooth transition for travelers navigating across geographies, Eagle’s alliance program was conceived to simplify the integration of third-party technologies and create joint solutions.

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Investment Performance on the Move: Five Steps to Manage Migration Complexity

As the performance measurement function grows in complexity, organizations are migrating to new platforms that can provide the requisite agility. Eagle’s Ian Patient highlights the new demands facing performance teams, while identifying five key principles that can simplify a new system implementation.

Ian Patient, Principal Consultant


It’s generally understood that the investment landscape has become exponentially more complex. At the front lines absorbing the increased complexity is the performance measurement and attribution team, a function that itself has undergone significant change in recent years.

From an operational perspective, the performance function is facing multiple challenges. The financial instruments, themselves, have become more complex and as active managers fight both the low-rate environment and the rotation into passive products, demands for reports and dashboards with more details and analytical capabilities have increased considerably. Another threat is that the existing function, as it endures in most organizations, tends to be fragmented, with a model that leaves team members overstretched and internal and external stakeholders unfulfilled.

Making matters more difficult, performance teams are left trying to solve for these issues on legacy systems that either can’t accommodate the required functionality or don’t have the data foundation in place to deliver information as needed and across digital mediums. And without certain capabilities today – ranging from exception-based workflows to true “look-through” transparency – it can be impossible to adequately meet the needs of a modern investment organization.

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ENGAGE18: The Engagement Only Continues

With ENGAGE18 complete, Eagle’s Head of Americas and Chief Client Officer Diane McLoughlin shares the highlights from this year’s client conference

Diane McLoughlin, Head of Americas and Chief Client Officer


Many of our competitors define themselves as a “single solution.” This used to be a point of pride or at least a pithy marketing pitch. In practice, though, it has become clear today that no one single vendor is going to solve all of the challenges facing our industry.

According to research conducted by WatersTechnology and highlighted in the white paper, “The Age of Agile Solutions”, more than 40% of asset managers use ten or more systems, and the majority require at least seven systems to support their front-, middle- and back-offices. Given the pace of change and specialized capabilities required in today’s dynamic landscape, the thought of a closed, monolithic system probably conjures integration headaches.

In contrast to a single-vendor approach, ENGAGE18 represented a celebration of Eagle’s collaborative, client-driven approach. On full display was Eagle’s next-generation open platform as well as our expansive—and rapidly growing—ecosystem of vendor alliances. During our second day keynote presentation, we even announced a new collaboration with Microsoft to deliver a next-generation multi-tenant data management platform on the Azure public cloud. Our event attracted over 575 attendees, including nearly 400 client attendees, representing more than 100 unique organizations that traveled to Boca Raton from five different continents.

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ENGAGE18: Managed Services and the Evolving Operating Model

Liz Blake, presenting at Eagle’s ENGAGE18 client conference, discusses the impact managed services can have on an organization’s culture

Liz Blake, Global Head of Eagle Managed ServicesSM


According to a recent Experian white paper, “Building a Business Case for Data Quality,” 83% of organizations have seen bad data stand in the way of reaching key business objectives. In particular, the research identified lost sales opportunities, inefficient processes, and client relationships as among the more prominent areas affected, but also underscored that the internal impact can extend all the way to the culture of the organization.

Nearly everyone today recognizes the challenges created by the exponential growth in the volume, velocity and variety of data. How asset managers deal with this information glut, however, can dictate whether it presents an opportunity or a threat.

As part of my presentation at ENGAGE18, I discussed what it takes to become a true data visionary, one that is willing to rethink their data function altogether to leverage the right technology and services to instill newfound agility and ensure data is working for the business, not against it. This is in stark contrast to an “incrementalist” mentality in which asset managers simply tack new capabilities onto legacy systems and fight an ongoing struggle to keep pace with mounting internal and external demands.

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ENGAGE18 Q&A: Enterprise Data Management – A Cornerstone to Transformation

Is your data working for you or is it the other way around? A Q&A with Eagle’s Paul McInnis ahead of his panel at ENGAGE18 can help answer that question


Q: As it relates to data management, what are the biggest obstacles that stand in the way of whether data is working for or against the larger organization?

A: First and foremost, the biggest obstacle for many asset managers today are their legacy systems. That’s why we’re seeing so many organizations embarking on transformation initiatives that begin the journey by addressing the technology debt accumulated over the past 15 or 20 years. As old technology gets shuttled out, the adoption of agile and scalable systems allows organizations to store and process more data than ever before. And these efforts enable firms to not only leverage their data today but also positions them to seamlessly build out their capabilities in the future.

As digital information expands, the amount of data is increasing at a significant pace each year. Older systems simply can’t handle the volume or velocity of information. This glut, beyond exposing inadequate systems and degrading data quality, has also driven an emphasis on enterprise data management—it’s no longer just data management. Ten years ago, the amount and types of data being utilized was managed in different silos; today, that’s almost certainly a disaster waiting to happen and the impact is felt across the business.

Q: So as the philosophy of CIOs evolve, how has this changed how organizations manage data?

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ENGAGE18 Q&A: How Technology is Fueling the ESG Revolution

Arabesque’s Andreas Feiner, Head of ESG Research and Advisory, discusses the drivers behind investors’ growing appreciation for sustainability.


Q: In terms of an introduction, can you talk a bit about Arabesque and, in particular, the firm’s thesis around sustainability?

A: Arabesque was founded on the mission to help mainstream sustainable investment strategies. Since our management buyout from Barclays five years ago, we’ve tried to become a conduit and vehicle for asset managers of all stripes to incorporate sustainability into their processes. And we’ve found that across the broader asset management industry, the level of interest has only grown as the market understands that ESG (environmental, social and governance) is in fact “performance relevant.”

There is still this notion, though, that sustainability is about the goods or products being produced or sold. This misconception goes back to the SRI (socially responsible investing) filters that have been around for a long time and were generally used to help people avoid investments in certain “sin” industries, such as alcohol or tobacco. Adding to the confusion recently has been the growth of the impact investing space, which is more aligned to meeting philanthropic objectives and typically isn’t additive to performance. ESG, though, should be viewed as a way for investors to gain a more complete picture around a company’s opportunities and potential risks, and serves to reinforce and improve returns.

Sustainability, as we think about it today, is about three things: environmental stewardship, social inclusion and sound governance. Each of these factors supports economic value creation, collectively, and serve as a foundation for transparent and principled markets. So, as investors begin to look at these areas more closely—to reduce risk and improve stock selection—we can begin to quantify how these factors improve performance. In fact, to put a number on it, our data shows that by incorporating ESG analysis into the investment process, it can add between 50 and 100 basis points per annum to returns and imparts a slight reduction in the overall risk. In a low-rate environment, this is not immaterial to total returns and it more than offsets any additional fees required to incorporate these kinds of ESG capabilities into an investment strategy.

Q: There has certainly been a budding interest in ESG strategies judging by the media coverage. But where would you say the movement currently stands with the investment community and what are the catalysts that will drive it forward?

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ENGAGE18 Q&A: Becoming a Data Visionary through Eagle Managed ServicesSM

Eagle’s Liz Blake, who will be speaking at ENGAGE18, highlights why forward-thinking asset managers are abandoning an “incremental” approach to data management


Q: Most asset managers have been affected by significant shifts that have occurred across the industry landscape, including the rotation into passive strategies and its impact on fees, the growing regulatory burden, and, of course, the pace of technological change. How have you seen firms deal with these challenges as it relates to their approach to data management?

A: Firms typically pursue one of two possible paths. You have the data “incrementalists,” who are focused on the immediate challenge and are not necessarily looking at the whole picture. They tend to be far more focused on the production and maintenance of data rather than analyzing it. Ultimately, this speaks to the amount of value that the broader organization receives from the data management function. Most financial organizations, before now, have resisted more comprehensive transformations because the evolving backdrop has created a moving target. But given the insatiable demand for data today—driven by growth in the volume, varieties and velocity of data—many organizations are at a point where they need to transform their data management function or fall behind. Otherwise, they may struggle to accommodate AUM growth, launch new products, or even expand into new markets. Organizations today can no longer solve the data explosion by simply adding bodies or by sticking new technology onto old systems. Taking a reactive, piecemeal approach may solve each challenge as it arises and can help delay big decisions, but it comes at the expense of adding more technology debt, creating a more complex operating model, and introducing greater operational risk.

Then you have the true data visionaries, who are willing to step back and reconsider how their organization is positioned to meet new challenges. Those who fit into this category recognize the consequences of poor data quality. And they’re willing to reimagine a more revolutionary, data-inspired operating model that goes beyond simply meeting an immediate need to materially enhance the value of desired outcomes.

Q: That’s interesting. So how do you characterize those firms that would be considered a data visionary?

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