A look at the future of client reporting through the lens of Kurtosys and Northern Trust

Our Kurtosys Chief Commercial Officer, Patrick McKenna and Brad Burgunder, Relationship Manager, recently sat down with John Desmond of Northern Trust, Head of Investment Operations Outsourcing – Service and Delivery in North America to discuss the future of client reporting, ahead of their much-anticipated roundtable discussion at InvestOps, taking place on the 13th of March in sunny Orlando, Florida.

With so many new trends mentioned across industries, they delved into the complexities and regulations around the investment industry. How client experience and servicing clients in the best way possible has become essential and of course their thoughts on AI and the evolving possibilities.

Watch the full interview here.

Challenges and opportunities in implementing a client-centric approach 

Changing the way teams operate and perceive their roles is the key to implementing a client-centric approach, says John. Putting themselves in the shoes of a client and working out what their best possible experience is allows organizations to streamline their own efforts. Technology plays an important role in this and in leveraging innovative solutions to streamline processes and personalize services efficiently.

Firms that successfully embrace technology to help deliver a client-centric approach will see improved client satisfaction and business growth, allowing them to build stronger client relationships. 

John Desmond

John Desmond

Head of Investment Operations Outsourcing – Service and Delivery, North America, Nothern Trust

Key challenges with the new normal in investment reporting

We have seen more managers looking to change their reporting in the last 6 months than in the last 3 years. The need to shrink budgets and meet the ever-increasing demands for regulatory and client-related efficiencies, has become a catalyst for the new normal in investment reporting.

We also see the end of technology cycles where the solutions chosen back in the 2000s no longer tick all the boxes. With too much time spent churning reports and dealing with data inaccuracies, teams are under pressure. Managers are now feeling that need to innovate and do better.

How can investment firms address the growing demand for transparency and reporting?

According to John, investment managers need to leverage technology to provide real time and customizable reporting solutions. The days of PowerPoint, Word and Excel to create client reports have passed and no longer align with a future-focus client-centric approach. Though technology is key, organizations need to prioritize their intent to transform and innovate through training and upskilling talent that buys into this client-centric approach.

The days of PowerPoint, Word and Excel  to create and send client reports have passed.  You can’t have a client centric lens if you’re using those tools.

John Desmond

What role does data analytics play in investment reporting – can it help identify bottlenecks and give direction to greater efficiency?

Looking at the amount of content that a typical investment manager produces – including marketing material, support material and regulatory material – there are a lot of sunken costs in that, and many managers may not even be aware of how much this content is used (or not).

Understanding the lifecycle of that content and where it’s being used is incredibly important to help managers make more informed decisions.

Patrick McKenna

Patrick McKenna

Chief commercial officer at Kurtosys

Kurtosys offers tools to help investment managers understand how that content is being used within their own client’s website and portals, offering a good opportunity to look back and analyze how long certain elements of these production cycles take and where the bottlenecks are.

How technology is leveraged to enhance the accuracy and availability of data insights for clients

Looking back a few years, the data infrastructure in terms of collecting raw data involved a jumble of backend processes, data, files being transmitted between servers being picked up by certain jobs and retransmitted and processed. Now we see cloud date warehouses and data going straight through the pipeline from a tool like Kurtosys straight to the client. Removing complexity means that the data and insights arrive much more quickly with an added benefit of accuracy and reliability.

We can’t forget generative AI and its potential to refine and accelerate communicating investment information to our clients and interpreting the data.

A look at the future of client reporting through the lens of Kurtosys and Northern Trust 1

What are the key steps involved in effective client report customization?

One the greatest pain points for institutional reporting teams, organizations will say, “why not standardize what we provide to clients?”, but it’s often not feasible. We encourage our clients to have gold standard templates but to also include conditional page and components so that if you have a request to include a certain type of analysis, it becomes a part of your standard option that you can potentially even use for other clients.

Making the move from Excel and PowerPoint to a tool that can automatically plug into any medium requested by your client allows more flexibility to serve that customer requirement.

Why is understanding the client needs crucial in the report customization process?

This is at the heart of a client-centric approach. With clients across the globe, all with different benchmarks and strategies, asset managers need to make sure that they tailor their reports to their unique requirements. It’s all about supporting the portfolio managers to understand how they wish to present their information and how their clients wish to receive it.

How do you see the future of client reporting evolving? 

Yes, it’s clear that technology is reshaping the landscape but it’s hard to predict the future of client reporting. Generative AI has led to the ability to define and assemble reports including authoring commentaries where you can have the commentary auto generated for you. We may see this becoming a core part of client reporting solutions soon, as well as language models and creating a pipeline for data to ensure that portfolio managers are doing more with less.

Managers are now able to digitize the client reporting that they provide to their investors. And so what that means is an availability of data that is much more timely.

Patrick McKenna

How is Northern Trust approaching key technologies overall? 

Northern Trust is focused on data delivery and the client-centric approach to providing data in a digestible format for their client-specific needs. Migrating data to the cloud has been a key focus through Snowflake integration and the end result will be making that data accessible to the Kurtosys application in order to generate  monthly and quarterly reports for clients from one central place. The biggest frustration from his experience as an asset manager says John, has been when different systems don’t talk to each other.

Cloud Reporting

Is AI going to displace me?

Does John think we are going to be replaced by AI? Not at all. He thinks it’s going to make us better, deliver better results for clients and spend valuable time on the right tasks. Pat agrees that it’s augmentative to the experts in the industry who need resources that are often quite scarce. Empowering bright minds with AI tools  is the name of the game.

A look at the future of client reporting through the lens of Kurtosys and Northern Trust 2

11 – 13 March 2024, JW Marriot Grand Lakes, Orlando

About InvestOps

InvestOps brings together leading buy-side COOs and Head and Heads of Investment Operations to discuss new digital transformation trends, continued growth in alternative investments and offers practical insights on streamlining workflows, capitalizing on AI and data analytics and keeping those very important regulatory changes in check.

If you haven’t registered yet, you can do so here.

John Desmond

John Desmond

Head of Investment Operations Outsourcing – Service and Delivery, North America, Nothern Trust

John is a seasoned leader with over 25 years of experience in financial services. In his current role, he oversees the delivery of middle office services for global investment management firms, contributing significantly to the growth and maturity of the Investment Operations Outsourcing business. Before joining Northern Trust in 2014, John was COO and Head of Operations and Technology at Harris Associates, where he successfully implemented operational models to support rapid expansion. With a background in investment management, mutual funds, and securities, John has held leadership positions at various asset management firms including Nuveen Investments, Deutsche Asset Management, Scudder Investments, and Putnam Investments. 

Patrick McKenna

Patrick McKenna

Chief Commercial Officer at Kurtosys

Patrick oversees the commercial and product related activities at Kurtosys, a leading solutions provider of client reporting, client portals and multi-region websites for the investment management industry. Having spent the last twenty years working on both the buy and sell side, Patrick has a wealth of experience in most areas of investment technology, ranging from client reporting and digital through to trading and risk. For the last ten years he has stewarded the build out of the Kurtosys Cloud platform and is a keen proponent of the modernization of the IM tech stack via the cloud, a topic he speaks about regularly at industry events.