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Eagle Client Spotlight

This month we launch our new Client Spotlight feature, where we talk to senior executives at investment management companies about industry trends, business administration practices, priorities and their use of Eagle Investment Systems’ solutions.

In this interview, we speak with Craig Mockford, the chief operating officer at Prescient Investment Management. Founded in Cape Town, South Africa in 1998, Prescient is South Africa’s leading quantitative investment management house. In 2012, it acquired AIB Investment Managers in Ireland. In 2009, Prescient selected Eagle’s portfolio management suite, including solutions for data management, investment accounting and performance measurement delivered over Eagle ACCESSSM, Eagle’s secure private cloud.

Q: How do you use Eagle's solutions across your business? How long have you been using these?

When Prescient started out in 1998, our operations were based on Excel spreadsheets; we then adopted a more purpose-built system. However, by the late 2000s we realized that it wasn’t keeping pace with our development, so we began a review of new systems, which is when we engaged with Eagle.

We started using Eagle in 2009, and it forms part of the operational backbone of our business. Eagle is an integral part of our daily processes. Pretty much everything we do involves Eagle in some way, shape or form.

Q: What business challenges do Eagle solutions best help you address?

There were a number of considerations for Prescient in upgrading our systems, which revolved, in large part, around how the business was evolving and our plans to grow internationally. Whilst we were locally focused at that point, we wanted a product that would enable us to grow our business offshore with relative ease.

We could have selected multiple systems—software solution, accounting system, performance system and a data warehouse solution—to meet our requirements, but felt that it wasn’t an efficient way to operate. The complete enterprise solution that Eagle offered us, from fund accounting to data warehousing, right through to performance measurement and attribution was a compelling offering for us.

Q: What factors were considered when moving onto Eagle’s secure private cloud?

There were a number of features that attracted us to Eagle ACCESSSM . The most compelling at the time was the ability to access Eagle from any site, provided we had an internet connection.

There was quite a bit of skepticism initially when considering this as an option. As far as we knew, this would be a first in South Africa in the investment management environment. Internet connectivity between South Africa and the rest of the world was not at the required standard at the time, which did present a real challenge to the Eagle ACCESS offering.

However, four years later, without Eagle ACCESS we wouldn’t have been able to do many of the things we have done. For example, we set up our Irish fund management and administration business without the need for a large investment in infrastructure. Without Eagle ACCESS, I’m not sure we would have been able to set that up as we did.

We continue to find new opportunities and we are able to consider, and in some cases take them on because of Eagle.

Q: What do you see as the major issues currently facing the investment management industry? How is your firm addressing those issues?

Regulatory overload is the single biggest consideration both here in South Africa and for our Irish business. We don’t know where it’s going to end—it is evolving at a rapid pace, and I don’t think anyone is fully on top of the changing requirements. From an operational point of view, there are question marks over the extent to which we can systemize solutions to accommodate these ongoing requirements. One of the key challenges is the ability to report on what the regulator wants—and this is not always straight forward.

At the same time, our clients are becoming wiser and far more sophisticated. This means their information requirements are growing in complexity and frequency, which is why reporting is a big challenge.

Increasingly, we’re being asked for supplementary information that is not necessarily fund accounting specific. With a warehouse storage solution like the one Eagle provides us, we have the ability to store this information and then access it allowing us to meet our clients’ requirements.

Q: What are your main priorities for this year?

Bedding down the integration of the Irish business is our number one priority. Beyond that, we are looking to improve the efficiency in some of our processes, particularly on the data reporting side. Reporting is a very time consuming process, and enhancing that is critical.

We are also looking to integrate the front with the back- and middle-office systems.

There is a lot of opportunity in the third-party administration space in the South African market at the moment. So we’re also looking to get the building blocks in place so we can take advantage of this and build that part of our business.

That should keep us busy enough… 

 

 

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