Data management, analytics and client reporting solution vendor BiSam’s recently hired account management and business development manager Elena Petit speaks to Reference Data Review about her previous experiences at Allianz Global Investors France and how she intends to put them to good use in her new role. With a focus on the downstream requirements of data management systems, Petit indicates that flexibility will be key in the future for any such technology.
Petit spent the last 10 years at Allianz’ investment management subsidiary in France as head of performance measurement and analysis and reporting, a role in which she managed a team of 18 people. Her team focused on supporting client reporting for institutional, retail and insurance clients; working with detailed yield curve studies; benchmarks management; and performance attribution management.
She has also been involved in running a French think tank, along with asset management industry association the Association Française de Gestion (AFG), focused on setting standards for risk and performance analysis and communicating with the regulatory community. To this end, the think tank, Club Ampere, created the NF 343 standards for financial client reporting certification.
At BiSam, Petit has been charged with particular responsibility for the vendor’s software as a service (SaaS) offering.
What attracted you to this particular corner of the financial services industry? What is it about performance measurement and risk management that has kept you interested in the area?
After a postgraduate degree in finance, I wanted to be an asset manager. Then, when searching for vacant positions, I found an interesting job advertisement from Allianz in performance measurement and analysis and that is how I started working in asset management. After 10 years in this area, I chose to discover the other side of the financial services industry. The last couple of years highlight financial market weaknesses and taking part in the process of performance measurement and risk management makes me feel at the heart of a system that is so interesting and challenging.
Describe some of the data management challenges you faced at Allianz Global Investors and the successes that you achieved?
To me, the most important data management challenge at Allianz Global Investors France was producing the socially responsible investment (SRI) data for equities and fixed income. It was one of the most successful reporting documents I built there.
How did your experiences at Allianz influence your career path?
Over the 10 years, I worked in the performance measurement and analysis and reporting department, starting as analyst and ending up as the head of the group. Remaining in the same department was the choice I made since I realised how interesting and extensive the performance and measurement analysis domain was. Having an inquiring mind, I have always found new things to learn and boring is really not a word I think of when someone asks about my experience.
Do you think the fact that you have worked on the user side of the industry has enriched your appreciation of the issues facing financial institutions in the market? How will you put your experiences to use in your new role?
My experience on the user side of the industry allowed me to meet all types of issues faced by financial institutions in the market and therefore I know very well the constraints. I really think that you can provide better solutions once you understand the problem. Today, I can understand the issues of the clients and suggest to them the best solutions.
Why did you choose to move to BiSam in particular and what do you hope to bring to the firm in terms of business development strategy?
Over the last few years at Allianz, I often met BiSam and I followed the fortunes of the company. I think that the B-One solution perfectly meets asset management companies’ needs. The platform includes various performance analysis possibilities allowing each type of asset manager to have the appropriate analysis of their fund. They can then show the investor what has happened with maximum transparency, which is crucial today. As you mentioned, I have a clear view of what asset managers need, having worked on this side of the market for a long time and I believe that I can help BiSam to serve its clients even better and be ahead of some market changes.
How do you see the data management and analytics market developing over the next five years?
Data management is and will remain the key point of a good value chain. If this part of the value chain is efficient, reliability and deadlines (a key success factor for the production of the best reporting document) will be improved.
The analytics market is constantly evolving further to other asset management types. Over the next five years, I think that analytics will have to get simpler. Investors prefer simple and transparent performance analysis to understand exactly what managers have done. The best thing but also the most difficult is to build a simple document that perfectly suits the investment process.
Many in the industry are focusing on the SaaS approach – how can BiSam hope to competitively differentiate itself from others out there?
The first main strength of BiSam’s solution compared to other software is to offer a global solution reflecting the reporting process’ value chain from data management to reporting generation in the same place. The second one is the variety of methodologies available in B-One. Each type of process can be explained through the most appropriate analysis (active or passive management of currencies, top down or bottom up analysis for balanced or equities portfolios, corporate or duration management for fixed income, ex post and ex ante risk management…). Flexibility is key to be able to adapt to the process analysis.
What keeps you up at night – what concerns you in the industry at the moment?
That’s a good question! The risk management analysis (ex post and ex ante) consistent to the investment process is an important decision taken by the managers. It is essential to measure the link between return and risk in the decision making of managers. BiSam proposes a new methodology showing the link between the risk defined by the client at the beginning (ex ante risk analysis) and the effective risk taken by the manager on each decision (allocation, selection).
What is the most innovative and groundbreaking change that you have seen in your time in the financial services industry?
The most innovative and groundbreaking change over the last 10 years has been the evolution of institutional clients requirements concerning reporting documents. More and more information has been required on the management of funds and this has given reporting services a greater emphasis in the asset management company overall.
Considered before to be just a support service, reporting has become a strategic and competitive element, included in request for proposals for the most important clients.
Which part of your career do you feel has been most rewarding thus far?
At each step, I have learnt different things that have been decisive and rewarding for my career. For instance, when I was in charge of report production, I had the ability to see different types of assets and different types of asset management from equities to tactical allocation management. As head of the reporting department, managing the team and creating new analyses together with asset managers and clients were important rewarding elements as well.