Capabilities of the Best Investment Management Software
As former investment managers, we struggled to find transparent and unbiased information about systems. We felt vendors always tried to put their solution forward as the best fund management software. The truth is that no two investment managers are the same, and no software can be the best choice for everyone.
This guide is our attempt at Limina to provide an unbiased guide to capabilities to consider and compare when looking for the best software to manage your investment portfolio. In the name of transparency, we have created two public articles about what firms Limina is most suited for and when Limina might not be the right choice.
Questions Your Firm Must Ask About its System Needs
In this fast-changing space, technological developments and the move to hybrid working models have led firms to strive for integrated investment management solutions that can save time and resources, align teams and reduce errors and inefficiencies.
Here are some questions we encourage you to ask about your firm’s Investment Software (IMS) needs before you start the search for a solution:
- What’s working well today? It’s essential to understand what in your current solution you don’t want to lose whilst also being open to these capabilities working differently with a new solution
- What kind of functionalities do you need now and in the future? Consider the functionality and process automation your team needs, both immediately and what you foresee in the future. Future-proofing might feel like a difficult thing to guarantee. Our article on the key factors helping asset managers future-proof their investment management platform and systems reveals some handy insights.
- What is your data strategy and target operating model (TOM) as an asset manager? The IMS software will facilitate (or obstruct) your TOM and data strategy.
Below are six examples of potential system landscapes that might fit depending on which operating model you have today and are targeting in the future. Some solutions can work in several setups, such as Limina, illustrated below.
For more insights into questions that can help you match your prospective solution to your
firm’s needs, read our article: Put Your Needs First: Questions to Ask Yourself When Procuring an IMS.
Two Surprising Aspects of the Best Investment Portfolio Management Software
Many straightforward considerations exist when selecting the best investment management software, such as current capabilities and fees. Asset class support is also critical to evaluate whether you invest in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds or derivatives.
In this section, we explore two less commonly identified aspects that tend to become a surprise after a system has been selected, and the decision is too late to reverse.
1. Total Cost of Ownership
When selecting an investment management solution, the total cost of ownership (TCO) is critical to analyse, as the overall cost is usually more than the software cost. Beyond initial licensing or subscription costs, there are direct or indirect costs associated with the implementation. For some older technologies, ongoing maintenance and upgrades might incur significant fees.
In addition, considerations such as what infrastructure the system is deployed on (on-premise, cloud-enabled, or cloud-native), available market data integrations, and what kind of relationships the vendor has with the sell-side - and the associated fees thereof - are all vital aspects that can also affect the total cost of ownership.
2. The Best Software to Manage Investment Portfolios is Future-Proof
As your firm develops and evolves, so will the environment you operate in. Staying agile in an ever-changing industry can be the difference between stagnation and long-term growth. Therefore, ensuring your IMS is future-proofed and adaptable to change is essential. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind for your system evaluation:
- Select a vendor that acts as a partner and listens closely to you as you evolve your business
- Select an enterprise SaaS solution (in opposition to off-the-shelf) to be adaptable to fit your investment workflows and investment processes through configuration (not customisation). Watch the video below for a more profound introduction to different investment management platforms in the cloud
- Select an open system designed API-first, allowing you to adapt your ecosystem of service providers and systems over time
Your asset management business will develop and evolve, as will the environment you operate in, from new investment strategies launched to updated portfolio compliance requirements. Future-proofing systems and staying nimble in an ever-changing industry can keep you ahead of the competition.
To dive deeper into the topic, read our article: 4 Factors Helping Asset Managers Future-Proof Their Investment Management Platform and Systems.
Four Capabilities to Expect from the Best Investment Portfolio Management Software
Depending on your firm’s specific needs, the features and functionality you’ll require the IMS to perform will vary. Let’s dig into four aspects that have gained increasing importance recently.
1. Strong Integration Capabilities
Integrations between systems and service providers offer increased efficiency by reducing the need for the time-consuming process of manually capturing and moving data between tools for different processes. Such integrations also create greater oversight, giving you the confidence that your data is always accurate, reducing the risk of errors.
Integrating systems isn’t easy for several reasons. Swift and FIX are all good, but they’re not fully standardised and don’t cover all data that must flow between systems. And many solutions or providers don’t support these formats. We still recommend ensuring that any software you consider supports at least these two as a baseline.
Secondly, some software vendors offer managed integrations. The vendor takes full responsibility for a connection, and the most common examples are trading and market data connections. Not all vendors have these kinds of managed integrations, and when they do, the connections covered differ, so we urge you to compare.
Finally, when neither of the above is possible, you need a way to create integrations yourself. Most vendors offer options for your developers to do this via database access or API. Read more about connectivity approaches for investment management systems.
At Limina, we’ve created an alternative to needing developers for integrations. We’ve built a configurable import/export engine that your business users can use, removing the need to involve developers in setup and maintenance. Follow the link for an introductory video on how it works.
2. Investment Data Management Capabilities
Advanced and automated data ownership and governance capabilities enable investment managers to achieve a complete, accurate, and timely view of portfolio data. When you base your investment decisions on quality data, it significantly reduces operational risk. Some Investment Software Systems will have built-in investment data management tools, which help you achieve the following:
- Complete data: Some systems are based on loading snapshots from accounting in the morning, which leads to incomplete views. For example, settlement date information might be missing, making a cash ladder view only contain partial information. In opposition, a live-extract Investment Book of Record (IBOR) enable all transactions and cash movements to be captured and even projected into the future.
- Accurate data: You can ensure accurate data with data quality controls that automatically control the relevance, consistency and reliability of data coming into the system, both via user entry and integrations. Using data states, a portfolio manager can see preliminary data such as potential execution prices on open orders and estimated deposits. At the same time, operations can see the settled views for reconciliation efficiency.
- Timely: Real-time data gives you the correct information immediately and in the proper context, leading to improved decision-making. The IBOR will ensure data updates continuously for corporate actions, cash events, position lifecycle events, etc.
Top IMS solutions also have custom validation rules and automated data quality control, automatically flagging potential data issues early. Such flagging will enable your team to spend valuable time resolving problems proactively rather than reactively, subsequently improving overall firm-level profitability.
3. Ability to Enrich Data Models with Custom Data and Analytics
Extending data models with custom data and analytics enables your team to add information, such as analysis data, ESG data and risk classifications, and see it in the native portfolio views. Such data model extensions will allow you to incorporate data into workflows easily, increasing overall process efficiency, oversight and accurate decision-making.
The best Investment Management Systems will enable you to integrate market and sustainability data from multiple sources seamlessly. Additionally, you should be able to handle data conflicts efficiently and in a way that ensures total data auditability. This way, any data changes that could affect portfolio compliance rules or investment decisions are streamlined and accounted for without risky human intervention.
4. Fast Time to Market
Fast time to market is another core requirement. And not just in the initial implementation process. As you scale your business and need new functionality in the IMS software, frequent upgrades will allow you to continue developing your business without having to wait for IT.
The best IMS architecture is based on microservices with multiple server components. Such architecture ensures system upgrades can be completed quickly and safely without affecting the rest of the application.
Finally, a microservice architecture is one way to minimise technical debt, avoiding problems for investment managers. Problems avoided include maintaining development speed over time, even as the system grows in complexity.
Key Questions to Ask Before Deciding Which is the Best Investment Management Software For You
Not only does the system need to match your needs, but so does the vendor. Here are two questions that will help you determine if you match each other.
1. Does the Vendor Have a Dedicated Support Team?
As former investment managers, the best customer service is, in our opinion, personalised. Client relations that understand your investment strategies are vital to ensure you get the right, most efficient support.
- As your business develops, will the vendor you work with will support your new requirements? If so, will this come with additional fees?
- Does the vendor deliver technical support (e.g. integrations)? If so, how are these supported, and what happens if you require a change made fast?
- Does the solution’s offering come with a dedicated account manager, and is this included in the pricing?
2. Will the Vendor be Receptive to Client Enhancement Requests?
When evaluating prospective vendors, it’s important to understand whether they will be receptive to enhancement requests and if there are concrete examples of completed enhancements. If the vendor has supported firms of a similar size and complexity with strong testimonials, they can very likely support you, too.
- Will the vendor keep enhancement requests in mind when developing the solution?
- Are there concrete examples of completed enhancements to comparable managers to yourself?
- Can the vendor show you a templated process they use for enhancement requests?
Outsourcing Trends and how they are Relevant for System Selection
When selecting the best IMS solution for your firm, consider how that solution is fit to enable outsourcing of functional areas now and in the future. For example, is it built to operate in real-time with an outsourced operations provider so you can see cash movements immediately to empower better and faster investment decisions?
Summary: The Best Fund Management Software Selection Advice
Which is the best fund manager solution for your firm will ultimately depend on your specific business needs, priorities and growth goals.
To recap, here are some of our recommendations beyond the straightforward questions such as current functionality:
- Make sure you have answers to the key questions about your firm’s IMS needs, including if you’re looking for a best-of-breed or end-to-end solution
- Determine the total cost of ownership of each vendor you’re considering
- Determine whether the vendor is future-proof. For example, ask what happens if you change a system or service provider and need new integrations configured and maintained.
- Can the solution adapt and be configured to the way you work and your ideal processes?
- How long is the time to market? When will you see a Return On Investment (ROI)?
- Check the platform’s ability to integrate with current systems and service providers and incorporate future unknowns
- Confirm that the solution offers all the capabilities you need, such as:
- Accurate real-time views of data in all areas for all users
- Strong integration capabilities
- Data control and oversight capabilities
- Ability to enrich data models with custom data and analytics
- Does the vendor:
- Have a dedicated support team?
- Have proof of being receptive to client enhancement requests?
- Invest heavily in their technology?
- Ensure you’re aware of the investment trends that may influence your decision
To dig even deeper, download our complete guide today.