Digital Features

The digitally connected Global Transfer Agent

Globally connectedAnand Ramachandran, Vice President, Global Head of Solutions, Richard Clarkson, Head of Solutions, Funds and Swapnil Joshi, Senior Strategy Manager from Oracle Financial Services Global Business Unit discuss changes occurring in the area of investor servicing and transfer agency, as clients increasingly seek out scalability, simplicity and speed.

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The area of investor servicing and transfer agency is where legacy technology poses challenges to those looking to innovate.

It is where fund managers are having to respond to new demands from clients in areas such as ESG; and where distribution is increasingly global in nature, and as a result, any transfer agent must consider their processing and business model.

Global transfer agency is particularly critical for global asset manager groups, especially regarding emerging end investor trends, explained Swapnil Joshi, Senior Strategy Manager.

“From a global investor perspective, there is emergence of a new customer segment and Investment beliefs,” he said.

This is categorised as, typically, a “digital only” investor, who can be further sub-segmented into those with existing investment experience and those who are first-time investors.

Those with experience are seeking out investment opportunities both nationally and internationally. First-time investors, especially those who have come on stream in the past couple of years, are willing to invest in any asset class, be it equities, cryptos or NFTs, so long as the investment process is digital and quick.

Commenting further on the emergence of the new investor segment, Anand Ramachandran, Vice President, Global Head of Solutions, said: “It's important for an asset manager and asset servicing partner to offer a wide spectrum of products to meet the demands of New Age investors.”

Other aspects to consider include how the market has shifted, with more alternate fund structures; managers that have specialised and have a wider product range need to consider a more holistic approach to investor servicing and transfer agency and avoid silos by product lines.

This in turn points to the growing need for data consistency and reducing duplication and reconciliation challenges.

“In our view, a truly global transfer agency platform should ideally have a data model geared for multi-dimensional capabilities, and thereby delivering a single source of truth on a variety of datasets.”

“The global asset manager will need to critically assess when they are looking forward for asset servicing partners and underlying technology to deliver truly next generation investor servicing and transfer agency for the emerging global investors segments.”

Service partner expectations 202
Richard Clarkson, Head of Solutions, Funds, highlighted that he regularly hears from investment industry participants about the need to bring out customer centricity and scalability in any solution.

“Asset managers with their asset servicing partners, who are able to put the investor experience front and centre, will show that they are customer centric. Transfer agents with multiple legacy systems are not able to truly replicate that data. And so, this necessitates the investor re-filling in the gaps, which is a poor experience.”

Other demands include regulators pushing responsibility for retirement onto individuals, which necessitates solutions addressing retail scale across multiple markets; the ability to handle ESG and impact investing objectives of asset owners; in addition to the above mentioned need to support a variety of mutual fund products and alternative investment structures “on the same chassis”.

“Rather than using multiple TA systems, transfer agents should look to use a single system that covers multiple fund products in-country and globally. This approach can provide the speed, simplicity and scalability for transfer agents in servicing their clients and the clients' investors,” Clarkson said.

The issue of avoiding multiple sets of data is a key one to address in respect of creating a more seamless customer journey, added Joshi.

“Typically, when businesses operate in different countries, they're more likely to hold multiple sets of data for the same customer. There is a digital layer, which can show the customer's aggregated holdings. But if he tries to transact on something which requires information from two different sets, chances are that he will probably see a broken response as it's not true STP. So, for a seamless experience, it is imperative that you have a single source of truth, rather than multiple copies of it. It will help enhance your servicing experience for your global customer, especially if they want to invest in funds belonging to different jurisdictions, or are trying to switch between funds, which are belonging to different jurisdictions.”

The experience outlined is also determined by its consistency, Swapnil continued. It ought to be the same regardless of jurisdiction, and it ought to be kept simple. If a person has invested previously, they should not have to go through the first-time investor experience when investing in a different country.

Similarly, any reviews subject to KYC (Know Your Customer) anti-money laundering measures should not require repeating if the customer is already known, simply because they are investing in different countries.

“This is where the customer ownership comes into play. If the customer is owned by the global asset manager, they should be good enough to have an investment passport.”

Technology developments
Referring to the technology underpinning global and regional investor servicing and transfer agency, Ramachandran said that “it is important that the IT and operating model truly renders itself for global operations, enabling economies of scale, efficiency available for global scale and as well as regional operations, regulatory considerations in the respective jurisdictions. And last, but not the least, the overall investor 360-degree view per se.”

Asset managers who understand the benefits of this approach therefore avoid the ‘tactical lens’ that would see them deploy X number of transfer agency engines or transfer agency infrastructure per respective jurisdiction in which they need to deploy.

“What we are seeing is those asset servicing institutions who have established a global TA infrastructure foundation, with the inherent capabilities to address the multi-arm capability in terms of multi-product, multi-asset managers, multi-jurisdictions and the value chain around the TA aspect of it, including multilingual, multi-currency, they are very well placed. And they can effectively pivot to service regional asset managers, or global asset manager groups, because they have the robust TA foundation. And they are well placed to address the emerging needs of the New Age investors, the New Age distributors and the entire value chain of transfer agents.”

Wrapping up the insights, Clarkson stressed the importance of the foundation layer outlined by Ramachandran.

“Oracle has recognised the paradigm shift that is happening in the global transfer agency story. With its continued investments in Oracle's transfer agency system, we enabled transfer agents to leverage a platform that provides the ability to run transfer agency services for in-country and/or global asset managers on a single common chassis.”

From the end customer point of view, it enables access to a “single source of truth” in respect of data. While for transfer agents it means not having to master multiple legacy systems, which means they can focus on service delivery rather than service recovery.

“Oracle helps transfer agents to address the need to have scalability, simplicity and speed for their clients.”

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