DAVID ABITBOL, HEAD, SOCIETE GENERALE SECURITIES 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 standardisation across the asset servicing industry plays an important role in back-office efficiencies. For this reason, SGSS has organised itself in value chains to streamline processes, and by using the latest data technologies, clients can personalise reports and dashboards, thus we can be efficient and bespoke.
As a major international bank and asset servicer, SGSS continues to make significant investments in the global custody services. This includes the unique European IT platform – New Custody Information System (NCIS). This multi-year program allowed SGSS to develop a pan-European harmonised custody service offer for clients, with local booking capabilities, supported by a single custody platform able to address local specificities. This new system incorporates the latest technologies available.
Nevertheless, there is a huge need for the digitisation of asset management services. As part of this process, SGSS has integrated the global SG BtoB [business-to-business] web platform SG Markets that gives an access to reporting and transactional facilities adapted to clients’ needs: markets, financing, global transaction banking, securities services, asset management.
SGSS is committed to reinforcing the relationship and transparency with its clients through several initiatives such as co-construction of new services on SG Markets and give them access to their data with an increasing use of APIs. In addition, SGSS has used artificial intelligence to facilitate fund management reporting with auto-explain, which automatically generates the reporting in natural language.
We are also developing a concept of client self-care, allowing them to be autonomous with their interactions with SGSS.
Please tell us something about the stresses and strains of delivering asset services during 2020, due to the onset of the virus and lockdown.
During the Covid-19 crisis, SGSS managed to guarantee the continuity of services due to its remote working capacities. For some time, all staff were working remotely but ensuring full business continuity. Furthermore, cyber-security measures have remained at a constant level compared to the period before the crisis.
In order to measure the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on asset managers’ business as well as its consequences on the financial markets, SGSS conducted a survey among 83 clients. According to this survey, the vast majority of SGSS’s clients (93% of interviewees) considered that the quality of service did not suffer from the exceptional operational measures implemented by their providers during the crisis. Moreover, the satisfaction level leads to even higher expectations from their partners in terms of digital transformation (26%) and quality of service (21%).
What will custodians be focusing on most in the year ahead, both generally and with respect to asset management clients?
There is no doubt that the digital transformation will be the key success factor in the upcoming years. The current crisis revealed that the sudden spread of remote working within organisations had demonstrated the potential of digital solutions to communicate with all stakeholders and their ability to replace traditional means of information exchange. The questions of data quality and data use are therefore important issues in the anticipation of future projects.
On the other hand, the crisis has reinforced the desire of asset managers to focus more on their core business. For this very reason, outsourcing of non-core services will remain one of the main factors for improving operational efficiency, especially for dealing and middle-office functions. This can be explained by a growing need of digitisation and automation. Outsourcing is therefore a way to access these new technologies without any supplementary investment.
As an integral part of the Societe Generale group, SGSS is well aware of professional investors’ concerns. To respond to their needs, SGSS has launched Crosswise, a front-to-back outsourcing solution combining a cutting-edge portfolio management system (SimCorp Dimension) with the full support of SGSS’s middle- and back-office teams. SGSS operates in open architecture and has formed ties with key players to ensure flexibility. This allows asset managers to implement a modular front-to-back outsourcing solution and focus on what really matters: investing and generating financial performance.
Societe Generale Securities Services
Perspective Defense, Bat B, 5 Rue du Débarcadère
+33 156 378 476
Ultimate parent company origin: France
Global number of employees working in custody: 4,000
Global assets under custody: $4,668 billion
Global assets under custody EMEA: $4,668 billion
Senior executives in Europe: David Abitbol (Colombes), head of SGSS; Christopher Baurand (Colombes), head of coverage, marketing and solutions; Guillaume Heraud (Colombes), head of marketing fe
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