Q&A: Supporting APAC Clients and Expanding the Eagle Business

David Ingleson, Eagle’s new Head of APAC, shares his perspectives on Eagle’s development, the market trends he’s seeing and the opportunities to extend Eagle’s presence in the region

Q: Could you please tell us about your background at Eagle and how have your previous role as head of service delivery has helped equip you for your role as Head of APAC?
A: I originally started my journey at Eagle 14 years ago in our London office where I was focused on implementations and consulting on the Eagle Accounting solution. I then moved from London to Singapore in July of 2010 for what was supposed to be a one year secondment to work on a specific project, but my family and I fell in love with the city and eight years later, we’re still here.

My background of working on the implementation and service side of the business has given me a great perspective on the challenges that our clients face; be that the business challenges they are looking to address through their technology, the demands placed on them by their own clients or the internal challenges that inevitably surface. However, in APAC in particular, the implementation team also tends to get involved early in the sales process, so I tend to follow a client’s progress right through from sales to onboarding.

There are a number of reasons for that, but clients in Asia tend to focus on the details of implementation, including how long it will take, how it will be phased, who will be involved and how much it will cost from the outset.

If you look at the main change to my role, I’ve now also assumed ultimate responsibility for business development, sales and client support, but with my background it has been a relatively easy transition to make. 

Q: How does the market differ in APAC to other regions such as EMEA and North America?
A: Our client-base in APAC is similar in number to that in EMEA but we have a higher proportion of clients in the asset owner space – in particular we have a significant number of insurance and sovereign wealth fund clients across Asia and the superannuation funds in Australia. These clients have their own nuances and complexity. For example, they tend to have multiple providers of data and a large technology and operational footprint.

There are two key business trends we’re seeing across much of Asia. The first is an appetite from clients to develop an Investment Book of Record (IBOR). As the market matures, and in the face of heightened risk, governance and transparency requirements both from regulators and clients, asset managers are increasingly looking to achieve a consolidated and accurate view of assets, risks and exposures in real-time.

The second is the heightened demand for managed services. With many of the prospects I talk to, the conversation often gravitates away from products and towards services. With the exception of Australia, there is less technological maturity in the APAC region, and therefore more manual processing and with it operational risk. As a result investment in technology and solutions have lagged, but as firms have grown their AUMs, and wages have inflated, they are pivoting towards enterprise level software. Unencumbered by legacy systems and large in-house technology teams, these firms are attracted by the prospect of leveraging Eagle’s solutions as well as the expertise of our team to deliver the operational support they need and ensure best practices are followed.

Q: You’ve already mentioned Australia, and as the newest Eagle location in APAC, could you provide an update on that market?
A: Our presence in Australia continues to grow from a position of strength and great client relationships. Australia represents 25% of our APAC client base and we have built a team of nine, across sales, solutioning, technology and support. The success of our Australia office really comes down to our strategy to support clients in the region. We have made a commitment to put people on the ground to make sure clients are getting a great experience. It’s something we have done in other regions and are following that model in Australia.

We have also been working to enhance the services we deliver to our clients in Australia, in particular by developing our strategic alliance programme. Earlier this month we announced a collaboration with GBST, a leading provider of tax analysis and tax data solutions in Australia to enable our client-base to utilise GBST’s best-in-class tax-reporting capabilities. Their detailed knowledge of the market and the complex and dynamic capital-gains tax regulatory regime facing superannuation funds and investment trusts allows us to offer a more comprehensive solution to our clients.

From a data management perspective, and in common with other markets globally, as the investment industry in Australia continues to evolve, the need to manage data to support the investment process is increasing in importance. Regulatory changes, increasing product complexity and an increasingly informed and demanding client base is leading to firms looking at new ways to address their data needs. As a result, many of our clients are looking to approach data management more strategically and with greater discipline. For instance, we’ve been working with one of our superannuation clients to develop a business glossary, data governance and data lineage. They also recently on-boarded Eagle Managed ServicesSM to further support their data management needs.

Q: Do you have plans to expand your footprint in APAC?
A: I definitely see us continuing the same approach that’s served us well in China and Australia; establishing a local presence to serve clients in new geographies. We’re seeing increasing interest in our services from asset managers in Japan, I’m looking to establish a local presence there in 2019 and will consider establishing a presence in other markets to support new client needs as they arise.

Just on a practical level, the APAC region is expansive, the distances involved in travelling are so far. The shortest flight for me or anyone on my team is four hours – to Hong Kong. All other locations are a seven or eight hour flight. In addition the variety of cultural and market nuances from country to country may be very different.

Q: Speaking of long distances, I hear you’re a bit of a marathon enthusiast?
A: Maybe in my younger days, but not so much any more. My peak was probably in 2013 when I did the Marathon Des Sables, a 250km, 6-day ultra-marathon in the Moroccan Sahara desert. You have to carry everything you need – sleeping equipment, food and water – in your rucksack. It was a lot of fun but I’ve scaled back a bit since then!

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