Courtney Thomas and Maximilien Dambax, of specialist fund administrator Alter Domus, give insight into how client-facing technology is driving the alternative funds administration business.
Alternative fund administration is an industry centred on building scalability, speed of information, and regulatory control for the sector’s clients, who are largely private capital funds. Technology is central to these aims. But as well as helping fund managers scale their business, retain and win clients, the Covid-19 pandemic proved that tech is also invaluable for business continuity.
Fund administration specialists, Courtney Thomas and Maximilien Dambax of Alter Domus, believe that ongoing technology development, focused on client needs, will continue to make a significant difference through current challenges and beyond.
One of the main drivers for further developing client-facing technology is the increasing demand for transparency and direct access to fund, portfolio and investor-level data, says Thomas – the head of client portals at Alter Domus, which has over $1 trillion of assets under administration.
“Asset managers are moving more and more of their middle and back-office services to administrators, so technology that continues to meet their requirements is fundamental. They need to be able to see what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and have access to all the data we’re aggregating and processing on their behalf. In other words, they need to feel that they have the same tools at their disposal as our internal teams.”
To meet these needs and provide the most effective service, Alter Domus takes a partnership approach to client relationships. Dambax, who is group product head of fund and corporate services, adds: “We are an extension of the client business and technology is an enabler for us, the client, investors and all stakeholders involved.”
To further enhance its client services globally, Alter Domus is expanding its proprietary data management product, CorPro, into the EMEA and APAC regions in spring 2021.
CorPro is a secure portal inclusive of data reporting, collaboration, and investor communications tools. It has multi-source analysis capabilities and has been a viable product offered in North America for the past few years. “It’s a tried and tested product that we want to extend to our clients globally across all of our core segments,” says Thomas.
A brand new payments platform, which is part of the CorPro suite, is being lined up for launch mid-year as well, in North America, EMEA and APAC.
Thomas reveals: “We plan to build a mobile app around the payments platform, so that when clients are on the move, there’s a quick and easy way for them to access payment request information and respond to it securely.”
The pandemic has accelerated the adoption of Alter Domus’s technology capabilities, but the firm had noted that demand was increasing even before coronavirus hit last year.
Dambax says: “We noticed that investors were increasingly asking fund managers for more access to their data, and more frequently. They wanted to move away from paperwork, to digital, with access to their data in a ‘live’ environment. Covid accelerated and amplified this demand.”
Thomas adds: “To give an example, we built an investor onboarding tool that was released in April last year and it’s becoming increasingly popular. It digitises an extremely manual process of an investor completing a subscription agreement with pen and paper that involved returning it by post, which slowed down the process for all stakeholders involved. So, this tool became particularly useful while we saw workforces move remote.”
Asked what they expect next in terms of demand and challenges stemming from it, the pair clearly have product centralisation among their ambitions.
“We want to keep widening our range of services to enable clients to have all their activities in the portal. That way they can have access to the entire universe of their activities and funds all in one place,” says Dambax. “This is a key goal for us.”
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