Three Tech and Ops Vendors Asset Managers Should Watch in 2018

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I love Thanksgiving, but I love the day after Thanksgiving even more. Not because I love Black Friday shopping (I do not!) but because traditionally this is the day we go cut down our Christmas tree and watch the movie Elf for the first time (not ever, just for the season). I absolutely love the holidays, so considering they have just begun, it’s tough for me to start thinking about them coming to an end—but 2018 will be here before we know it!

One of the biggest trends I’m watching in 2018 is the growing vendor landscape. From order management to client reporting to investment accounting, we’ve been seeing a shrinking vendor landscape over the past decade or so which is why seeing new entrants is an exciting change. As an example, if Citisoft assisted a client with a search and selection for an investment accounting application 10 years ago, the initial short list may have had nearly 10 vendor applications on it; today, there would only be a handful. I’m hopeful that the new entrants I’m seeing will be able to push innovation in asset management and provide more options to our clients (a little competition is always a good thing). With that in mind, I’ve put together my preview of three firms making big moves over the next year.

InvestCloud Attracts Institutional Asset Managers

If you take a look at InvestCloud’s site, you’d think they are very wealth focused (which is how they started out), but in the past 6–12 months, InvestCloud has been gaining some traction in the institutional space and we are hearing its name come up with our clients. Specifically, we have seen an uptick in client interest in InvestCloud’s IBOR solution (called “Emerald”), as well as its reporting and portal solutions (“Blue”). While Citisoft hasn’t evaluated InvestCloud as part of a formal evaluation and selection, we have seen demos and the product shows very well; with a sleek and modern UI and a library of nearly 300 integrated apps, the InvestCloud platform was born digital.

The Next Frontier in Data Technology from State Street

“We’re big, but not boring” was the title of a panel at the “State Street Live” conference held a few weeks ago, which I and a few others from Citisoft were lucky enough to attend. It felt like nearly the entire conference was dedicated to showing that State Street is pivoting its thinking and trying to shake the big, old bank reputation. It’s clear that State Street is investing in transformative technology, and one of their main focuses is on DataGX. DataGX is State Street’s Data-as-a-Service platform which allows clients to load, enrich, and aggregate data not only from State Street, but from any service provider, data vendor, or other source. The functionality of DataGX promises to help asset managers with a need that historically has only been filled by investment in internal people, processes, and technology. State Street’s approach to rolling this ecosystem out to some of their current clients in the middle office, as well as some new client wins, will definitely get DataGX some visibility and might start to shake things up in the enterprise data management space.

Integrated IBOR and ABOR Solution Could Be Big News for Aladdin Users

BlackRock Solutions is leveraging their foothold in the front office by making a big move in the middle office. BlackRock historically offered an IBOR but is adding an ABOR solution to the Aladdin roster. For the multitude of asset managers out there already using Aladdin, “Aladdin Accounting” could be a very compelling solution that will allow clients to close the books on Aladdin with an integrated source for portfolio valuation and performance data. Knowing the investment and thoughtfulness that BlackRock puts into development of their products, I expect this could be a welcomed addition to a market that has far fewer choices now than it did a decade ago.

I’m certain this is just a small sample of the exciting things to come out of the vendors and service providers in 2018. Right now we see focus and investment on innovation and transformation from virtually the entire vendor and service provider community…and if vendors aren’t focused on it, they probably won’t be around for long.

Disclaimer—neither I nor Citisoft has fully evaluated the aforementioned solutions. The intent is to share some insights into vendor (and service provider) solutions which I am aware of but may not be mainstream knowledge to readers.