In the months since the pandemic began, AMP Capital’s Cortex Investech strategy and platform has been put through its paces in a manner that would have been unthinkable at the beginning of the year. In a volatile environment, the ability to access the right information in a timely and insightful manner is critical for investment managers, clients, regulators and corporate stakeholders. Our team has been able to meet substantially increased levels of demand for our solutions and in the process developed new tools, systems, analytics and reporting that will allow us to offer an even more dynamic, customisable and granular experience for our users into the future.
Over the course of the crisis, this increased demand for information has taken three primary forms:
1. A constant flow of information
When volatility rocks and roils markets, our users need an up-to-the minute understanding of conditions. Some quarterly reports that had previously taken six weeks to compile such as our core portfolio and risk report, were now effectively required on a daily basis. By leveraging the strengths and diverse skill sets of our team and applying end-to-end problem-solving disciplines, we developed an interactive and intelligent web platform for our users to explore and interrogate. The end result was a reduction in production time of more than 99%, daily availability, and a significant uplift in quality, content, accuracy and context.
2. Deeper and broader analysis and reporting, with a real focus on context
In times of increased focus on risk, liquidity, exposures and returns, most stakeholders across our industry want both deeper and broader analysis and reporting, much more frequently. Along with these deeper and broader demands our users want more context around what they are seeing, and what is being reported, to help them understand what it all means.
Examples here included: more detailed breakdown of exposures, potentially all the way down to individual positions; more detail around high level portfolio risk numbers and what was driving the change in risk profiles; and the ability to look at all portfolios simultaneously, rather than just a subset.
We have become very good at anticipating new requests, and as we develop new solutions for reporting and analyses, we seek to build out context and granularity from the start. Our solutions join the bottom up data, analytics and information with the top down, allowing it all to be surfaced to the user in a very accessible manner. As new stakeholders and users have joined the Cortex platform we have been able to respond quickly, often combining existing data sets, to create and deliver new solutions to satisfy their very different and specific demands. As a result, we now have at our fingertips a new variety of tools, analytics and visuals that support the needs of a much broader set of stakeholders in an immediate and impactful way.
3. Closer connections between users and the data
Our users are not only demanding deeper insights and analysis of relevant data, they want to be able to interrogate it themselves, without needing to come back to us and ask new questions. We’ve been anticipating this evolving need for some time, and our work has been accelerated by the impact of the pandemic.
A key part of making data more accessible to users has been the format in which it is presented. No more spreadsheets, PDFs or word documents. We design our solutions to be delivered via a web interface, with a focus on functionality and user experience, exposing complementary adjacent information and analyses, and providing context in the form of past time series.
We’ve received strong and positive feedback around the platform’s interactivity and ease of use, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that our user base has increased five-fold over the past three months.
Such a substantial increase in the number of users added another layer of complexity to our operations. We’ve had to broaden our focus well beyond our internal investment teams to include clients, regulators, management, investment committees, trustees, boards, as well as other teams across our business who provide reports and analyses to their own stakeholders. With this added diversity comes a broadening in the range of services we are asked to provide, such as analysis and reports for compliance purposes, and core portfolio reporting for boards and trustees.
By focussing on the operability of our platform, however, and by treating reporting and analyses as an engineered production line with a focus on end-to-end solutions, we’ve been able to efficiently meet the needs of this increasingly disparate stakeholder mix with minimal human resource involvement and the highest possible frequency, all within a framework of robust data quality control.
The key factors that have driven the increasing demands on our services – higher frequency, the need for more granular and contextual information, and greater user accessibility – will be a permanent fixture of the investech landscape into the future, as will the greater universe of stakeholders making use of (and demanding more from) these platforms.
In order to keep this new body of stakeholders fully engaged, investech teams will need to adopt new ways of working and problem-solving to address their increased needs and demands, and firms will need to support them in these endeavours. Moreover, as many businesses embark upon or continue with significant multi-year transformations, it will be important that teams, strategies and operating models are redesigned specifically for that future and not simply marginal evolutions of what is in place today.
The impact of the pandemic means that, for investech, the future may have arrived a little early. But it’s not a bad place to be.
Subscribe below to Institutional Edition to receive my latest articlesAlistair Rew, Global Head of Investech, Public Markets
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