Tech

Non-public Fund Information Operations Must Supply Extra Coverage

COVID-19 has hit business leaders. It’s hit them with an endless parade of unexpected challenges. Leaders in private fund data operations are feeling it too. However, these challenges also present opportunities for technological advances.

Stretched Operations

Shrinking revenue and smaller budgets have reduced the margin for error. Risks are more severe. New risks are joining the ones that lurked in the shadows.

The time it takes to double-check numbers and make sure data operations are running smoothly is no longer a luxury. Fund administrators serving alternative investment funds, private equity, and venture capital are being stretched.

Exacerbating this are limited partners who are incredibly vigilant in checking investment reporting and statements.

Instead of relying on legacy systems that are dangerously susceptible to human error, this is the time to transition to an integrated platform that consolidates key data, automates processes with machine learning and adds clarity to data operations.

Operations Are A Worthy Investment

Moving away from point-to-point legacy systems to automated processes increases the speed of operations. And, it mitigates the risk of mistakes. Think about trying to say something fast and efficiently to a large group of people through a game of telephone.

The message gets garbled by the time it gets to its destination. So, moving to an integrated platform is like replacing the game of telephone with smooth, simultaneous communications. Get everyone on the same page.

Accuracy counts. It’s important to ensure your systems for managing data and fund operations are rock solid. Investing in good technology designed to improve operational productivity makes the business’ odds of running smoothly better. It will strengthen the business for what’s next when we’ve emerged from the crisis.

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For many employees, remote work may end up being permanent. The accommodations being made now are becoming the norm. It’s crucial that the business’ operational systems sustain that transition as well. The move to automation can largely eliminate the risk of human error.

It can improve accuracy. However, that’s only true so long as there are checks along the way. Automation can also spread and multiply human errors if it’s not done right. Just look at Excel Macros, and cut and paste.

The goal is to remove human error from the data management equation. But, that does not equate replacing employees with automation. In fact, it’s a matter of putting energy where it’s needed, and in a way that’s simple.

The Best of Both Worlds

Get more simplicity out of complex internal systems. A fund can do it through automation. That’s even more important when employees’ efforts and the company budget needs to be aimed at keeping good investors calm.

In a crisis, human empathy is in high demand. If your team’s focus is on untangling accounting puzzles, their attention is not on the investor.

You’re responding to clients’ demands and getting more data online. You’re adding clarity. However, that also means clients need assistance adjusting to receiving services online. And, the volume of customer questions will only be amplified by the transition. Human connection is a vital tool.

Moving the management of business operations to an integrated platform frees up employees. It allows them to support customers in more personal, empathetic ways.

We’ve all found ourselves pounding “0” on our phone keypads in frustration to get past automated answering systems. Really, we want to speak with a human. In moments of crisis, people expect urgency, accuracy and empathy. They want to see clearly what is going on.

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Implementing modern private fund data operations can deliver both. Automation means smarter, faster and more accurate data operations.  Employees are freed up to engage with customers.

Digital Doesn’t Have to Mean Complex

In a time when doubts are all around, business leaders still have a window to invest in security. That also means technological investments should be well researched. They should be checked ahead of time. Make sure they serve to improve the success of operations.

It’s essential that any integrated approach a fund goes after should first try to be more intuitive and easier to learn.

Funds need to integrate information from different places. And, they need to do it across the organization. So, funds have the general ledger. They have reporting systems, human resources systems, and market intelligence systems. None of these talk to each other. Really, they need to figure out a data integration strategy.

Before funds can ponder dashboards for people outside the fund, they need to consider internal interoperability. They need to consider ease of use. To move in this direction, they need to try to implement newer cloud-based solutions that will enable them to assemble data across the organization.

Everyone On Board

A good way to measure the success of new private fund data operations is how many employees are using it after integration. So, make data easy to get to, and easier to use by more people. That can help crack down on internal bottlenecks. Those jams can crop up when only a few people have a sincere understanding of how the system works. That limits progress.

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Limited partners are focusing on capital statements. In fact, they’re relentless. But switching to an integrated platform can guarantee that statements will be error-free.

By taking advantage of the opportunities for technological wins, and investing in data smarts and fund operations, business leaders are aiming their businesses to emerge from this crisis stronger than before.

Kevin Walkup

President and COO

Kevin Walkup is President and COO of Harmonate, a data services firm serving private funds.

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