Written by Andrew Sherlock (Opus Nebula Director/ Co-Founder)

I agree with so much that has been written, and echo many of Jackie’s comments and observations. Especially where firms seem to be confusing client reporting with client service, and expending greater effort and cost on producing reports, and are increasingly unable to undertake and perform the ‘servicing’ element of the relationship with their client. Jackie also states that 66% of respondents agreed that changing the company culture from being product to client focused was the biggest and most persistent challenge in achieving their client management strategy. I suspect in many cases, both of the situations outlined above are as a result of the age or the inflexibility of the existing systems, which may prevent responsive and client specific configuration being delivered in a quick and simple manner. Client servicing can simply be defined as “Asking what the client wants – and giving it to them.” Reliably and cost effectively delivering on this with older technology and manual processes is virtually impossible. Organisations need access to modern reporting solutions, that the reporting team can control and manage, that are cost effective and affordable, and available to all sizes of firms.

Service meter graphic - Opus Nebula

I was surprised at the levels of manual intervention identified in the reporting processes in the paper: 10% manually intervene, 29% customise for over 75% of their clients, and 60% perhaps not even having the data required by their customers. These levels of manual intervention and customisation would suggest higher levels of operational risk, report delays and potential inaccuracy, and as such would require additional resources and checking activities. Once again these levels suggest a fundamental issue, that cannot really be solved by assigning more people to the task, or working longer hours. The current systems and processes must be inherently weak and inflexible. Customisation should be replaced with configuration – whereby the reports and data outputs dynamically flex based on the clients, funds, data and investments being reported. No manual intervention, but automated processes that can be monitored by the reporting team.

Modern reporting solutions allow for flexible data ingestion, with data checks being performed as part of the process, they should also allow for on-going configuration, such that when each client report is delivered, a client service conversation can follow immediately thereafter. The client service conversation seeks to verify the receipt of the report, and enquires how the report is used and whether any changes are required, perhaps to the content or the layout, the delivery timetable, whether additional information or digital formats are required, whether a data file is also required to supplement the report, whether there are additional recipients who may require the report or the data etc. By understanding how the reports are used by the client and any additional client requirements, the asset manager can then make the necessary configuration updates and deliver the revised reporting outputs to the client. Simple – “Asking what the client wants – and giving it to them.” I often wonder whether if you can’t respond to a client request, is it better to not ask in the first place, or to ask and not deliver?

Where the paper suggests that the majority of firms are expecting client servicing costs to increase, 50% of firms expecting a 1-5% increase and 20% of firms a 5+% increase, this may not now need to be the case. For instance, our system offers world-class reporting with a complete end-to-end system which is quick and efficient to set up, the preparation, production and publication processes are controlled via the reporting team, and the entire solution is securely hosted in the cloud. Due to the flexibility and efficiency of the model, we would expect firms to improve their reporting proposition, reduce their operational risk, and reduce their reporting costs – perhaps this sounds too good to be true – come and find out more at www.opus-nebula.com and see for yourself.

Andrew Sherlock
Opus Nebula