Case study: How Glenmede is dealing with data in 2021

Mike Beck, Vice President at Glenmede, talks data challenges, the importance of automation and why the firm is building up IT skills among employees.

Sara Benwell POSTED ON 2/3/2021 9:46:14 AM

Sara Benwell: What are the biggest data challenges facing fund operators in 2021?

Mike: The biggest data challenges in the upcoming year are around getting the data into a deliverable format to maximize its interpretive or actionable value.

Most data is stored in a warehouse or data lake and is used for multiple business lines of reporting, finance, performance measurement, etc. but the overall impact of the data is never analysed or utilized to its full capability.   

“The biggest data challenges in the upcoming year are around getting the data into a deliverable format”

Another enterprise challenge is getting all of the data from legacy systems into the data warehouse for a wide scale evaluation of the firm and data needs. 

The other trend that is continuing into 2021 is the cost of analytic and index data from the outside providers. This cost has continued to increase but the data is vital to investment management firms since benchmarking is essentially required for performance measurement and analysis.  

Sara: How are you facing these challenges / what are you doing to overcome them?

Mike: Our firm is currently working on a corporate project to enhance the information that is stored in the warehouse and implement a new technology solution to help us with this process.  

This will enable all of the firm wide system specific data to be stored in one large depository to be used firm wide.  

“Having a data driven enterprise will help lead innovation in the reporting aspect of our business”

This project will also help to enhance our internal reporting and external client reporting because all of the requirement data will be stored in one data warehouse for use by the entire firm.  

Having a data driven enterprise will help lead innovation in the reporting aspect of our business for increased client touch points and conversations around the client reports.  

Sara: What are the top trends that will influence how asset managers manage data over the next five / ten years?

One of the top trends will be around the new technology of AI and how much budget will be allocated to this new technology. Machine learning will also help to transform the use and updating of data streams in the next few years.  

“I see additional regulation in the US similar to what the EU has begun with GDPR.”

These changes should help to eliminate the historical manual data downloads and uploads to new platforms.  Machine learning should be able to increase efficiency by providing verified and scrubbed data to help drive business analysis.   I also see additional regulation in the US similar to what the EU has begun with GDPR.  

Sara: As data becomes ever more important, how do you make sure you have the right skills to keep on top of it throughout the organisation?

Mike: As we have added new technology to the firm, the skillset has become more IT focused.   Additional training on the application has been rolled out to current employees.  

We have also increased headcount in the Information technology development group to help facilitate more seamless interfaces between systems.   The firm has also implemented a more strategic Project Management Office which includes both business lines and change management.   

Sara: Where do you stand on outsourcing vs. plug and play? Is it better to build expertise in house or outsource data management?

Mike: We feel that technology can help our data challenges but it should be used in house rather than outsourcing the data analysis and warehousing.   Keeping the data in house allows the firm to gain information more quickly which enables us to act on this data.  

“We feel that technology can help our data challenges but it should be used in house”

The firm has partnered with some technology firms to provide their cloud-based software to help enable the process but the work in those systems remains in house.  

Sara: How important is data when it comes to capitalising on trends such as automation, AI, etc.

Mike: For a technology to truly be impactful to the firm and industry, it has to move from the pioneering lifecycle phase into the growth or later phases for greater adoption.   Firms always want to be innovative but not ahead of the technology curve.

If we looked back five years ago, there was a lot of discussion on block chain technology however, it has not materially changed the industry or made vast improvements for financial firms. #

“Automation is a very important aspect of our projects and planning”

Firms should try and focus on the items which will make smaller level improvements over time which can lead to greater efficiency.  

With that being stated, automation is a very important aspect of our projects and planning. Automating long standing or repetitive processes will enable those employees to complete more value added activities with their time once the project is completed.  

 

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