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Magazine Issues » October 2020

Custody directory 2020


Joanna_MeagerJOANNA MEAGER, GLOBAL HEAD, PRODUCT AND CLIENT EXPERIENCE, HEAD I&TS UK, RBC INVESTOR & TREASURY SERVICES

Standardisation across the asset servicing industry is vital to back-office efficiencies. Has standardisation gone far enough to reduce operational friction and costs for asset managers and their clients? What sticking points remain, if any, and what needs to happen?
The circumstances brought about by Covid-19 have been a catalyst to standardise, automate and implement efficiencies and technology solutions across the industry at pace. While standardisation remains a priority, it is only part of the wider journey. ‘Standardisation’ can still include manual processes. The key to creating efficiencies, cost savings and reducing operational friction is digitising manual processes. Digitising time-consuming, lower-value tasks allows staff to focus on higher-value activities, often resulting in a better client experience.

Working with clients to understand their needs throughout the digitisation journey is crucial. Rather than looking at ‘what’ needs to be done, the focus should be on ‘why’ it needs to be done in the first instance. Once we understand the ‘why’, there are usually more ways to approach and digitise the task. Collaboration is paramount to ensure clients’ goals and objectives are met every step of the way.

Please tell us something about the stresses and strains of delivering asset services during 2020, due to the onset of the virus and lockdown.
As RBC I&TS operates in 16 countries across North America, Europe and Asia, we felt the effects of the pandemic on a global level, and adapted quickly. Successfully transitioning over 90% of the global workforce to remote working within weeks of the pandemic, and provided a seamless experience for our clients. Not only did we continue to service clients, and exceed their expectations, but we did this whilst handling multi-fold increases in volumes compared to pre-Covid-19.

Prioritising the wellbeing of our employees, through assisting with childcare, home office set-up and technology needs meant that we could continue to deliver first-class asset services to our clients during this difficult period.

From a service standpoint, the pandemic provided the opportunity to leverage our technology and expertise to ensure continuity for our clients whilst implementing new enhancements. Some examples of digital enhancements we made in light of Covid-19 were: digital automatic payments, digital oversight reports/automated reporting, e-signature tools, enhancements to RBC One client portal, the implementation of real-time live data dashboards and more.

The challenge now is to continue the momentum gained through these efficiencies and continue to look for ways to digitise the client experience.

What will custodians be focusing on most in the year ahead, both generally and with respect to asset management clients?
Digitisation continues to be a top priority for the year ahead, as we build on our operating model, and work to digitise and automate key processes to enhance the client experience. We adapted seamlessly to a virtual working environment, which has enabled us to accelerate digital efficiencies across all aspects of the business, and has set us up to confidently enter 2021 with client service excellence at the centre. Giving all users, including clients, line of sight into our digital roadmap will encourage collaboration and strengthen trust, resulting in higher-value service to clients.

Maintaining positive momentum and continuously adapting and reimagining the client experience will be the key to success in the year ahead.

RBC Investor & Treasury Services
100 Bishopsgate
London
EC4R 3BF, UK
www.rbcits.com
+44 020 7653 4000

Ultimate parent company origin: Canada
Global assets under custody: $2,187 billion
Global assets under custody EMEA: $589.04 billion

Senior executives in Europe: Francis Jackson (London), CEO, Investor Services; Joanna Meager (London), global head, Product and Client Experience, head I&TS UK; Philippe Renard, Luxembourg, CEO, RBC Investor Services Bank S.A.


Niklas_NybergNIKLAS NYBERG, HEAD OF PRODUCTS GLOBAL CUSTODY, SEB BANK

Standardisation across the asset servicing industry is vital to back-office efficiencies. Has standardisation gone far enough to reduce operational friction and costs for asset managers and their clients? What sticking points remain, if any, and what needs to happen?
There are plenty of processes that could be improved, harmonised, standardised or in general are just in need of simplification. The area of alternative investments is growing fast and there are several issues remaining to be improved. Matters become more complex when applying different perspectives. Fund providers and distributors need to work with transparency of the product and how the supporting documentation is structured, as clients often need to turn to their asset servicing provider for support. The compliance monitoring can be challenging when the underlying assets of the vehicle are far from standardised. And finally, it all needs to be valued, and broken down to machine-readable data that is compatible for a multitude of platforms to digest.

In the field of asset servicing, SEB has been part of initiating market collaboration with the vision to replace current and inefficient mutual fund trading and transfer agency processes with a DLT-based technical platform connecting all market participants.

Please tell us something about the stresses and strains of delivering asset services during 2020, due to the onset of the virus and lockdown.
In general, it has worked out well so far. However, as half a year of virus restrictions are behind us, we can see that normal operational day-to-day problems are quickly solved, but the more complex problems require a slightly new approach. To transform and innovate require more coordination, hence take more time. New technologies to support digital meetings, workshops etc will alleviate this and to a certain extent already has.

What will custodians be focusing on most in the year ahead, both generally and with respect to asset management clients?
In general, custodians will try to utilise APIs and cloud-based platforms to overcome the cost challenges and to service demanding clients. Furthermore, self-service concepts and functions will be deployed to improve cost structure, increase automation etc, in the pursuit of releasing capacity to reinvest in future revenue-generating product and services. Continued focus on core clients in our home markets, to tailor our Investor World offering to cater for their needs. Front-to-end open architecture for asset managers and other investors to selectively tap in to as they see fit. Continue to reimagine service delivery in combination with technology-led transformation.

SEB
Kungsträdgårdsgatan 8
106 40 Stockholm, Sweden
www.sebgroup.com
+46 771 621 000

Ultimate parent company origin: Sweden
Global number of employees working in custody: 600
Global assets under custody: $1,150 billion
Global assets under custody EMEA: $1,150 billion

Senior executives in Europe: Tomas Engel (Stockholm), head of sales; Ann Magnusson (Stockholm), head of investor services; Niklas Nyberg (Stockholm), head of institutional global custody; Göran Fores (Stockholm), deputy head of investor services