Q&A: Building Momentum in EMEA

Dan Cavanaugh, Eagle’s new Head of EMEA, shares his thoughts on the region and Eagle’s continued focus on supporting the diverse client needs.

Q: Alongside your appointment as the Head of the EMEA region, it was also announced that Eagle was separating the management of its EMEA and APAC business lines. Can you discuss some of the catalysts behind this decision?

A: The decision to separate the EMEA and APAC business lines simply reflects the growth we’ve experienced in each of these regions. Particularly in EMEA, sales grew by more than 30% year over year in 2017. The number of new EMEA clients last year was also approximately two to three times higher than what is traditionally considered a strong year of new business growth. And we’ve had an increasing number of existing clients who are interested in extending their Eagle relationships by adding new services or capabilities.

There are several drivers, but we believe the momentum stems from a multipronged approach over the past few years to build awareness in the region and work more closely with local consultants. We’ve also found that growth tends to beget more growth. Client references, especially from some of the large, multinational firms that we work with, have gone a long way to build credibility among fund managers and asset owners who initially may be less familiar with Eagle.

Also, our alignment with our parent company has been invaluable. BNY Mellon has a tremendous presence and reputation globally, which has helped increase Eagle’s opportunities. Beyond collaborating in the ongoing development of our solution set, our relationship with BNY Mellon provides clients a continuum of deployment options as well as value-added functions through either managed services or a fully outsourced solution through BNY Mellon. This is a huge differentiator and has especially resonated in the EMEA region.

Q: It’s only been a short time since you assumed the role as Head of EMEA, but could you highlight some of the key differences between this market and other regions, such as APAC and North America?

A: In the EMEA region as it relates specifically to business trends, we’ve seen considerable momentum and excitement from clients around Eagle’s data management solution. Part of our growth in this business is related to the global recovery and the growing sophistication of the investment landscape here. As the investment industry across the EMEA regions continues to mature, investment managers and institutional investors are realizing that they need a far more robust data management solution than what they currently have. This is especially true as data volumes, varieties, and processing power grows amid tightening regulatory demands.

If you look at the regulatory regimes in Europe you could argue in the wake of Solvency II and MiFID II that European regulators are more progressive than what you see in North America. You also have the issues and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, which adds another challenge. This speaks to the need for fund managers and asset owners to be flexible and agile in meeting the evolving demands for transparency, as well as in managing risk. In other jurisdictions, such as the Middle East, the focus on governance and privacy is an area of particular emphasis. Many of the sovereign wealth funds that we work with in these regions are very protective of their data, to the point that we need to be on-site and in their buildings to work on certain projects.

Another more nuanced difference relates to the diversity across the broader EMEA region. We have clients throughout EMEA—as far south as Cape Town, South Africa, and in Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE, Oman, and elsewhere. Considering culture alone, the demands of doing business in these disparate countries requires a true global provider who can tailor solutions to the very specific needs of the operators. Across our EMEA offices, our employees can speak more than 20 different languages. I mention this because in a “globalizing” world, it’s important to recognize the subtle differences in order to address the unique needs of clients across different time zones and cultures. I would add that this kind of global perspective is absolutely paramount as we look to supplement our EMEA team. We recently hired Vincent Peter as the Head and Chief Administration Officer for our Poland Operations. He is joining Eagle from BNY Mellon and has spent considerable time in his career in Poland, India, the U.S., and the U.K.

Q: Can you speak to how clients are deploying Eagle’s technology? Are there other trends in terms of how fund managers and asset owners in the EMEA region look to implement and utilize the software?

A: Often in Europe, we’re finding that our clients are more interested in the service component of our offering rather than looking to Eagle solely for our software and systems. This differs from the U.S. market in that many of the largest firms we work with will have built out large teams within their organization to execute on their operations and data management strategies. This can present some challenges to really understand and quantify the true cost of ownership to run these specific functions as certain roles may transcend specific operations or data management roles.

In the EMEA region, particularly in the countries in which data management capabilities are still maturing, we’re finding that many of the organizations we work with have a much better grasp of their “all-in” costs. This is inclusive of both the software and systems as well as the infrastructure and team required to run the technology. For this reason, we’ve seen an accelerated adoption rate as it relates to our managed services offering because the front office has clarity around the true cost of ownership in the event they would have to build the function from scratch. There’s also a desire to implement more than a data management system. Instead, organizations seek to create a center of excellence by leveraging Eagle’s software as well as the expertise of our people, who can bring best practices to bear. This increases the ROI on their technology spend and allows our managed services clients to easily scale up or down as needed.

Q: What about potential similarities? Is there anything that stands out when thinking about the common threads that extend across the markets that Eagle serves?  

A: The technology question, of course, cannot be overlooked. If you talk to most investment managers today, they’re exploring how new innovations—from big data to artificial intelligence and machine learning—can either deliver operational efficiencies to their organization or arm their investment teams with an analytical or informational advantage. Given the pace of innovation today, there is also a continual struggle within the back and middle office to stay ahead of the change curve.

I think this is one of the reasons that news of our recent collaboration with Microsoft generated so much interest from clients, regardless of geography. The effort to build a cloud-based data management platform offered via Microsoft’s Azure public cloud will create an extensible, multi-tenant platform to add new data and help clients respond to continuously changing data needs. While organizations operating in certain jurisdictions may be less likely to embrace the cloud in the immediate future, there is a broader trend in which clients have no desire to piece together isolated software solutions. Ten years ago and as part of a new implementation, there would be a lot of discussion and scrutiny into the integration of new systems and how successfully they could work together. Today, if the data is clean and standardized, next-generation capabilities will deliver packaged content that is available across the enterprise when and where it’s needed. This is already becoming a global trend and will soon become an expectation.

Q: So you’ve recently moved to London as part of your new role. What are you looking forward to most as you become acclimated? 

A: I’d say soccer, but that would expose me as an American—if my accent doesn’t give me away first. I’m looking forward to travelling to different regions with my wife and two young daughters and experiencing the various cultures throughout. I’ve also heard some great things about the Royal Institution’s Michael Faraday Museum and look forward to visiting with my family.

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