Since its decision to sign up for the MoneyMate investment data management solution in October last year, Schroders has been working closely with the vendor to control the aggregation and cleansing of their product information for presentation on websites. Gerard Walsh, head of change management for the web and customer relationship management (CRM) at Schroders, and Ronan Brennan, chief technology officer at MoneyMate, explain that the solution is aimed at enhancing the timeliness, accuracy and consistency of Schroders’ product information, which is communicated to their clients and distribution channels.
The manner in which buy side firms can most easily get buy in for a project such as the one Schroders began with MoneyMate last year is by focusing on aspects such as sales and costs, says Walsh. This is about selling the cost saving or generating benefits of data quality improvements such as performance improvements in the eyes of clients. “Client facing functions will buy into this argument and finance directors are interested in the cost based argument. By finding buy in from both business functions, you increase your chance of getting overall approval,” Walsh says.
“At Schroders we weren’t presenting the data held on our website in as accurately and timely a manner as we would like. So we went to senior management with the specific data points that we wished to improve and used those as metrics against which to measure success,” he elaborates.
MoneyMate’s DataManager service is being implemented to manage the full global range of Schroders’ approximately 650 funds. The underlying data is produced and stored in a number of ways across Schroders offices spanning 32 geographical locations, and by third party administrators globally. DataManager is being used to centralise and validate pricing, performance, holdings and all static fund data in many formats and make this data available in real-time for publication on Schroders websites and in fund documentation, says the vendor.
Brennan indicates that one of the common starting points of such a project is setting in place targets and metrics such as these to measure whether appropriate action is being taken to solve data quality issues. “You need to introduce measures such as scorecards or key performance indicators (KPIs) to hold the data owners accountable for the quality of the data they are in charge of,” he explains.
In order to get the ball rolling in the future, Brennan contends that data management teams can also exploit the current fear of risk in the market in order to sell the benefits of a data project. “The data may be of good quality in the long run but the enormously manual processes required to achieve that level of quality pose a risk and a cost to the business,” he says.
However, the length of time it takes to achieve data quality improvements can be a critical factor in the perceived success of a project. Walsh explains: “Anything longer than three months in this current environment can seem like a lifetime and data management projects are rarely completed this quickly. This is why vendors need to provide regular progress updates even if the improvement in data quality is 70% rather than 100% at that point.”
Finding the right owners for the data, those that really care about its quality, and proving the benefits to them will help to guarantee the long term success of a project such as this, agree Walsh and Brennan. “You need buy in to the idea and long term governance by identifying the correct data owners, otherwise the project is guaranteed to fail,” says Brennan.
The focus at Schroders was on keeping the communication channels open between budget holders and those on the ground in order to provide regular progress reports, according to Walsh.
Although the MoneyMate offering is traditionally speaking an outsourced solution, Brennan contends that he prefers to think of it as a “withsource” solution. “Just because the technology is hosted does not mean you can just delegate the data problem to your vendor. The client and the vendor need to be on the same page and this can be achieved by strong but flexible service level agreements (SLAs) and regular communication. An SLA is a working document that needs to be regularly reviewed,” he says.
Walsh adds: “You also need to keep your vendor happy and pay them enough to provide the right level of service. I have seen outsourced relationships soured by a push to drive down costs as much as possible. With MoneyMate, we have adopted a long term relationship approach via the establishment of a partnership where risks and rewards are shared at the outset.”
Brennan concludes: “There needs to be a level of pragmatism in the vendor/client relationship and this means your vendor product roadmap needs to be flexible.”