Despite the proliferation of market data platforms and custom internal applications that have been designed to replicate or replace Microsoft Excel over the years, Excel remains arguably the most widely-used mission-critical application for financial services industry professionals.
Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and models are employed across a wide range of processes, from investment research and portfolio management to currency trading and loan processing, and just about everything in between. The common thread? They all require financial market data as an input.
What’s the best way to integrate market data into Microsoft Excel? Later in this article we’ll explain why a cloud-based market data solution provides an optimal combination of ease-of use and value. But first, let’s take a look at the most common ways market data can be integrated into Microsoft Excel. (more…)
In today’s environment of shrinking margins, it’s incumbent on wealth management firms and RIAs to ensure that they’re optimizing the value they receive across all vendor relationships. Market data expenditures, which represent a substantial slice of ongoing operating expenses for advisors, are no exception.
At most firms, market data is accessed within desktop terminals and Microsoft Excel. Firms will often have to pay a steep annual fee for terminal access, with extra charges incurred to access the same data within Excel via an Excel add-in.
While vendors have added a wide range of datasets to their terminals over time, that data comes at a price. Subscription costs for industry-leading market data terminals can run anywhere from $5,000 – $20,000 per user per year. (more…)
Investment management firms are among those facing an uphill climb to conform to the regulatory requirements of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. While legislators and lawyers are still busy sorting through the details of the controversial legislation, it is clear that reporting rules will be more stringent, requiring more transparent disclosure by asset managers.
Here are a few of the issues that will impact investment management reporting:
- To reduce systemic risk, regulators will require firms to provide more comprehensive information, and have it available on demand
- To the fullest extent possible, this information will need to be real-time or near real-time
- To comply with the above trends, firms will need to identify solutions that enable them to provide an enterprise wide view of activities, positions, and risk
Complying with these new regulatory requirements will be expensive, but will be less so if investment management firms can implement an enterprise-wide approach that provides the flexibility to conform to the rules of today as well as to an unpredictable tomorrow. (more…)
A key consideration driving financial advisors’ data management strategies is how to leverage data and technology to forge stronger client relationships. There’s been considerable buzz recently about emerging new technologies that have improved wealth management systems such as CRM and account aggregation. However, an area that’s still very much unexploited and rife with opportunity is the development of advisory-branded mobile applications.
The explosive growth of smartphones and tablets in recent years is accelerating, and is creating demand for all kinds of mobile applications. As of this writing the Apple App Store, the world’s largest app marketplace, boasts over 500,000 iOS applications for iPhone and iPad.
Interestingly, there have been only a handful of mobile applications released by wealth managers thus far. Expect that to change. According to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers Asia Pacific Private Banking Survey, nearly 50 percent of private banks surveyed expected to use mobile applications to interact with customers in the next two years. (more…)
In the wake of the recent financial crisis, wealth management clients are more focused than ever on the value financial advisors deliver. While portfolio performance has always been an important element in the calculation of value, customer service remains the most critical factor in retaining customer assets. And a fundamental component of customer service is developing highly customized investment strategies that better fit the needs increasingly skeptical, and often increasingly sophisticated clients.
The evolving mindset of wealth management customers
Why have wealth management customers become more skeptical? The market downturn revealed that many portfolios were not adequately calibrated to the risk their owners were willing to tolerate. Ensuring risk alignment is a critical component of wealth manager service, so these misalignments resulted in an erosion of trust in many financial advisor relationships.
In parallel with this erosion in trust, the ubiquitous availability of financial information and advanced trading capabilities has resulted in a more sophisticated breed of clients who are prepared to invest on their own behalf if they don’t perceive adequate value in wealth management services. These customers not only demand that investment and allocation strategies are fully aligned with their unique risk requirements, but are also looking for full transparency into potential risk factors and the market data that drives underlying investment decisions. (more…)
As investment management firms look to cut costs in today’s highly competitive environment, market data expenditures are an obvious target. One of the largest outlays within this cost center is market data terminals. The advent of market data terminals in the mid-1980s was a huge step forward, combining previously scattered market data into a single interface. However, this “one size fits all” approach is no longer in step with the diverging needs and budget concerns of investment management firms.
There is now an emerging trend towards “suit-to-fit” internal custom applications that focus on the unique requirements of various departments within a firm. These applications are often fueled by on-demand market data delivered over the cloud. When executed well, this combination delivers superior workflows that suit the firm’s exacting needs, while also reducing overall market data spend.
Why are market data terminals out of step?
Market data terminals don’t align with the evolving business needs of investment management. Terminals target the fat part of the bell curve, but as firms increasingly look to differentiate themselves with new strategies their needs become more unique, the curve flattens, and terminals become less relevant. In addition, in terms of data management, firms are moving towards a holistic and scalable approach that provides increased consistency and transparency, leaving behind legacy market data silos. (more…)
In today’s highly volatile market environment, quality investment opportunities are hard to find and identifying and managing risk is more important than ever. Investment management firms are under pressure to broaden the scope of their research efforts to improve performance and to create new alpha-generating strategies. At the same time, managers need to better monitor existing holdings in order to maintain a comprehensive understanding of all factors that may negatively impact performance now and in the future.
As if this wasn’t already a formidable challenge, making sense of the ever-increasing deluge of unstructured market data is adding to the complexity. Due to the recent economic crisis and subsequent market downturn, investment managers need to consider a wider array of information in their analysis while minimizing market data management overhead. Uncovering emerging trends in economics, commodities, options, short interest, and futures data can have a profound impact on individual securities and overall portfolio performance. In addition, managers may also need new data sets to explore the veracity of new investment strategies to keep up with competitive offerings. (more…)
Building financial technology software has become an increasingly complex endeavor with the proliferation of operating systems and the intense demand for financial mobile apps. Financial technology firms are also being driven by rapid changes in the consumer software industry which has resulted in pressure for dramatically shorter development cycles.
Now more than ever financial technology software firms need to focus on what they do best and seek to leave non-core activities to others. An obvious candidate for this strategy is the area of market data management. The infrastructure required to power today’s financial applications can be daunting. Fortunately, the market data cloud offers a dramatically easier approach for both financial technology firms and their end-users.
This post is the first in a multi-part series that describes the top 5 financial technology challenges all addressed by the market data cloud. In subsequent posts we will examine each of these financial technology challenges in greater detail. (more…)
The recent economic crisis and subsequent market downturn has spurred a significant number of retail investors to take a more active, hands-on approach to managing their investments. These investors are looking for new self-service financial resources to learn about the markets and to develop their own investing strategies.
This trend is a boon for financial website and application developers targeting retail investors. Financial websites and applications serving this market are in high demand, and there are a number of directions for developers to take, including:
- Financial news sites
- Research portals
- Investor education
- Trading applications
- Portfolio simulators
- Interactive games
- Social investing
To engage investors and increase traffic and conversions, financial websites and applications need to provide unique tools powered by actionable market data. However, getting market data integrated into applications has typically been a very resource-intensive process that distracts developers from adding value on the front end. (more…)
Market data is an integral component to critical wealth management systems across the front-, middle- and back-offices. From investment research to portfolio reporting, compliance and risk management to online customer portals, market data drives decision-making and provides enhanced transparency.
Managing market data across all of these disparate systems has always been a challenge, but has become increasingly complex in recent years due to the explosive increase in the volume of market data. The daily flood of market data shows no sign of slowing down—in fact, experts project it to accelerate in the coming years. This means that market data management solutions must easily scale to meet the needs of tomorrow.
At the same time, data management has taken on an elevated priority for wealth management firms, moving from what was once primarily an IT issue to a priority vital to the entire enterprise. Among the forces that are driving strategic investment in data management are the growing number of applications that require market data, the need for scalability and improved operational efficiency, increasing regulatory requirements, and potential cost savings. (more…)