SimCorp’s recently announced decision to partner with data management solution provider Aim Software was based on the desire to better support its clients’ requirements around golden copy record production, explains Marc Schröter, SimCorp’s senior vice president and head of strategic research. Up until now, the vendor has left its clients to deal with the process of scrubbing their reference data to produce golden copy records, but as a result of the partnership, these clients will be able to use Aim Software’s Gain to carry out this function once the integration work has been done over the coming months.
Back in July last year, the vendor produced some research on the challenges involved in data aggregation within the buy side community and this partnership seems to go some way towards tackling those issues. Respondents to the study indicated that most senior executives at UK asset management firms believe that their ability to undertake new business initiatives is hampered by the need for data aggregation, especially in the area of risk. There was therefore widespread recognition amongst respondents of the need to pull together reliable data to support key investment, control and reporting functions, but an indication that the ability to carry out this function was hampered by disjointed, duplicative systems.
Clearly these findings and the intense focus on the reference data quality space from the regulatory community (see transaction reporting fines from the UK Financial Services Authority for proof) are drivers for vendors such as SimCorp to take action. To this end, the vendor kicked off a search for a suitable vendor in the data management space at the start of this year.
For his part, Schröter’s responsibilities include leading the team that does the research to define the direction of the vendor’s flagship product, SimCorp Dimension, and also the work towards forging partnerships with companies with complementary products. Consequently he has overseen the process of identifying the vendor’s need for a partner in the area of data management and of establishing Aim Software as that partner.
“SimCorp Dimension is an enterprise solution for the asset management community that covers right the way from the front office to the back office and all of these functions are data intensive,” explains Schröter. “Traditionally we have provided interfaces to data vendor feeds such as those provided by Bloomberg or Reuters but we have not done the scrubbing of that data.”
However, the focus on data quality within the vendor’s customer base was such that it was compelled to improve the master data management capabilities of Dimension. The focus was initially on finding a corporate actions data specialist system vendor but this later broadened out into a wider reference data management solution provider, notes Schröter. “The reason behind the initial focus on corporate actions was that we have a specific module to deal with corporate actions in Dimension and we were looking to introduce golden copy record functionality in that space.”
This meant that a number of corporate actions solutions providers, including Information Mosaic and SmartStream, were considered during the partner selection process, as well as more general service providers such as SS&C, enterprise data management specialists like GoldenSource, and data scrubbing specialists including DTCC and Aim Software. The original list included around 30 or 40 vendors, according to Schröter, but this was soon shortened to four.
The vendor also briefly considered developing its own in-house functionality but this was soon dismissed due to factors such as time to market and cost. “It was decided that it was not core to our business to maintain so many connections to data providers and that a partner would be best placed to manage this for us,” says Schröter.
Aim was selected because of its ability to meet SimCorp’s functional requirements and it was what Schröter describes as a “good technical fit”. For integration purposes the vendor was looking for a partner with a similar technological basis to work from, including a Microsoft .Net-based solution and an Oracle database.
Client focus was also important, says Schröter, as Aim is also looking to expand its reach in the asset management community across Europe. Moreover, Aim also has a history of partnering with other vendors in the community and therefore has the experience to boot.
The integration work between the solutions is ongoing and Schröter is hopeful this will be completed before the end of the year. The plan is to have it up and running before the launch of the next iteration of Dimension in February next year. He notes that this integration work is largely around making sure Dimension is able to import the required data formats and defining the data workflow between the two solutions.
“The benefits for SimCorp clients will be the introduction of a new master data management module and the ability to choose feeds from a wider range of data providers than before. They will also be able to set up their own rules for golden copy record production, as well as only having one point of integration to their data providers,” Schröter concludes.