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Chinese Insurance Market Represents a Lot of Potential, Says DST Global Solutions’ Harries

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As well as working on its Anova platform offering, DST Global Solutions will be focused on expanding its reach in its core Asian markets this year, including China, according to Geoff Harries, global head of asset servicing for its Investment Management Solutions (IMS) business. Harries, who joined the vendor from Fiserv last year, indicates that DST has refined its software and solutions strategy and has invested in its investment accounting solution HiPortfolio to this end, including adding a unit pricing module.

DST Global Solutions is focusing its attention on its key Asia Pacific markets this year such as Australia and China, as the former faces a slew of new taxation legislation and the latter’s financial markets continue to mature. Harries indicates that the vendor is working with a “strong asset servicing base” of clients in Australia that have already gone live on the HiPortfolio solution and are moving to implement some of DST’s other solutions.

In China, he says that DST is attempting to claim a stake due to its “market dominant position” in the Asian region as a whole. “We are regionally diversified and are in 35 different Asian countries with our full fund accounting and investment management operations solutions,” contends Harries. “Our commitment to the Chinese market, in particular, means that we are a trusted provider.”

To this end, the vendor already has in place a number of partnership agreements with local consulting firms and has a physical presence in the country. Harries indicates that this investment in “bricks and mortar” on the ground is key to tackling the often rather conservative Chinese market. Many other vendors have focused on markets such as Hong Kong and Singapore from which to launch their Asian ambitions, but DST’s real growth opportunity is in China and the insurance sector in particular, says Harries.

The vendor’s recent implementation of the HiPortfolio Asset Servicing solution in China at Citic Prudential Fund Management Company is a case in point. Harries is hopeful that the rollout at the firm, which is a joint venture between the UK’s Prudential Group and China’s Citic Group, is merely the start of things to come.

For now, in order to keep pace with the changing market dynamics across the globe, the vendor has recently ploughed investment into HiPortfolio. The latest version includes a new ‘smart client’ facility, client regression testing capabilities and modules such as one focused on unit pricing. “We have spent a lot of time looking at how we can improve operational efficiency and that is why we took the decision to invest in new technology for the core system,” says Harries. The vendor has also kicked off a number of projects to tackle new asset class capabilities and to extend into other areas of pricing functionality.

This reflects the investment that the firm is seeing from its clients in the market, who are also evaluating whether they have any key people dependencies and looking to become much more efficient in light of cost pressures. “Where firms were previously able to afford to do much more in-house systems development, they are now unable to maintain these levels of investment due to the need to keep pace with change and are therefore turning to solution providers such as DST,” contends Harries. “The focus is on doing much more with less.”

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