Data maven Confluence’s latest asset management trend survey suggests regulation will drive fundamental change in the respondent firms’ back office automation and regulatory reporting requirements.
In its 2017 Asset Management Trend Survey of asset management professionals, Confluence says that while the concerns voiced by respondents echo those of the 2016 survey, this year’s study finds increasing urgency to addressing issues including back-office automation and regulatory reporting requirements.
In response to a question that was new to the survey this year, as many as 83% of asset management professionals responding to the survey identified at least one factor that will cause fundamental change in their operating models over the next 24 months. Respondents named regulatory change (60%) and technology innovation (49%) as the top driving factors in this transformation.
When asked to identify important goals for back-office operations over the next 2 years, majorities of respondents cited automation of back-office processes (62%) and management of increased regulatory reporting requirements (60%), with the latter representing a 13-point increase from the comparable 2016 figure (47%). This rise is arguably ascribable to the recent implementation of SEC Modernization and multiple other post-trade regulations in recent years, such as Form CPO-PQR and Form PF in the U.S. and AIFMD in the EU.
Centralising fund data (42%) was the third-most cited goal in this year’s survey. More than three quarters of survey respondents said it was extremely or very important to centralise to improve data accuracy and consistency (86%, up from 80% in 2016), minimize reporting errors (82%, up from 80% in 2016) and meet regulatory demands (76%, up from 70% in 2016).
Asset management professionals who responded to the survey also displayed increasing concern about continued reliance on manual processes. As in the prior four Confluence Asset Management Trend Surveys conducted since 2008, “replacing manual processes with automated technology” was named the top back office goal.
Highlighting the growing urgency of the issue, Confluence reports that reliance on manual processes was singled out as the back-office challenge of most concern for 22% of those surveyed (up from 14% in 2016 and 12% in 2008), making it second only to data accuracy and consistency issues (24%). Nearly all respondents reported being concerned about manual processes and spreadsheets affecting the ability to control errors (90%) and the ability to control costs (83%), and those who were extremely or very concerned climbed 10% from 2016 in each case.
“While the concerns of the asset management industry in 2017 are largely consistent with what we found in 2016, the rise in urgency on display is what really explains the transformation we have seen taking place this year,” says Todd Moyer, chief operating officer at Confluence. “Our survey respondents clearly see that the time for automation and technical innovation has arrived. Heightened regulatory requirements are turning a pent-up desire to automate into a need to automate. And technology innovation in the RegTech space is enabling this fundamental transformation in back offices across the industry.”