When belt-tightening became a necessity during the aftermath of 2008, there were many different strategies employed to find ways to cut costs whilst keeping service levels high. Of those strategies, there is one that has outlasted the downturn and continues to be a central part of project programmes in businesses all over the world – outsourcing. Technology vendors are rapidly emerging to solve business problems by building cheaper, quicker, more sophisticated solutions than businesses can build in house. Outsourcing to a tech vendor is a huge cost savings whilst delivering often to a higher standard than previously available.
The business case for outsourcing client reporting and factsheet production is stronger than ever. Asset management firms’ realize that vendors now have technological and process maturity to be able to provide highly scalable and cost effective solutions. Outsourced services and products can go a long way to improving quality, business day cycles and presentation flexibility.
In the frenzy of outsourcing activity one area that can be often overlooked is client reporting. The production of documents within an asset manager is a laborious, intensive activity requiring several resources usually from a mixture of teams — chief amongst which is IT. Outsourcing this production can massively help. Outsourcing may not be right for every asset manager, but here are five signs it may be time to re-evaluate your current production process and consider outsourcing your client reports.
1. You need to reduce production costs
The first benefit in outsourcing is the cost saving. Producing client reports internally is expensive because dedicated resources are required. In other words, manual production of client reporting rips people away from the main focus of their jobs (i.e. servicing clients or marketing funds). Passing the responsibility on to a vendor allows internal users to focus on reviewing output rather than producing it.
2. The production process takes forever
Often, outsourced production can speed up the output of the required documents and their time to market. Automated systems manage most of the production within vendors with data loading and outputs automatically handled. Add the benefits from cloud computing (any vendor worth their salt will use cloud computing) with the quick rate of production and you have yourself a pretty heady cocktail of speed enhancements. This comes together to improve the speed of distribution by day, and even better, weeks.
3. You run into problems when you have to make an alteration during production
In addition to the increased production speed, the rate in which changes are incorporated is drastically reduced. Changes to internally driven systems at asset managers can often require significant IT involvement. Their involvement includes either incorporating new data feeds, building new templates or updating the look and feel of document. Even in more advanced, adjustable systems this can still require significant time and acquired and enacted knowledge . Utilizing an outsourced vendor can remove these problems. Resources are available to integrate new content and outputs immediately so managers will see their content within a much shorter time frame. With this ability, they can manage their rollouts with way more flexibility.
4. Your implementation is inefficient
By it’s very nature, outsourcing requires a much more rigorous process. If implemented poorly it will be inhibiting, but if done properly the process can enhance any document production cycle by increasing speed, providing audit control and reducing the risk of manual intervention and error. There’s been a recent trend towards self-service solutions that have allowed for flexible changes to content within an output and have also allowed for quick report modifications in production. This has snow balled in some instances; meaning with this ability asset managers are finding conflicting data sources and outputs. Having a strong process around the production of documents dramatically reduces this risk.
5. You’re in dire need of a reporting specialist
One major element that is often overlooked with client reporting is the need to have report-writing specialists within organizations to support a report building process. Whenever a new piece of software is integrated to allow report writing, users have to become skilled at using the tool and producing the reports. This often leads to lengthy training or implementation periods and creating key man risk. Vendors remove this issue, providing a pool of adept resources to build reports and removing any time frame risks around skills.
Potential pitfalls of outsourcing
As you can see, outsourcing provides a multitude of benefits. That said, the outsourced process is not without its issues. The loss of control over client reports can be difficult to adjust to.If the process isn’t tightly planned and executed, then all sorts of issues can creep into the outputs and cause delays. Outsourcing won’t solve all of the issues either. Commentary management and the delays that happen with the submission of data are still internal problems that can’t be resolved through a vendor. Finally, let’s talk about security concerns. Particularly in the realm of client reporting, security issues can halt the process before it has even begun. Therefore, ensuring that your vendor has adequate security tools is of paramount concern.
A smart strategy
Overall, outsourcing report production remains something that can really provide benefits to an asset management company. If you’ve noticed any of these signs, it may be time to re-consider your client reporting process. The cost benefits alone justify the proposition. The solution becomes really compelling when you pair the savings alongside the production speed and change responsiveness. With the support and the balance of the internal team, outsourcing client reporting is a strategy that should be at the forefront of an asset manager’s mind.
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