10.18.2011
By Terry Flanagan

Buy Side Gets Tech Efficient

The biggest trend in buyside technology is how to get it for cheap.

As the marketplace becomes increasingly electronic, core portfolio managers need to acknowledge the need for being tech savvy is upon them in the new era of investment management. Yet staying abreast of new technology is costly—both in expense, time, and energy.

Such costs have propelled buy side firms to outsource technology. “We are a money management firm and we want to stay within our core competency of being that. We want to support our people on using different applications, not be responsible for getting the hardware,” said Steven Steffy, director of operations at Trilogy Global Advisors, an internationally focused asset manager with north of 12 billion in assets.

Among buy side firms, emerging firms are the most likely candidates to choose the outsourced technology route.

Ryan Bateman, head of technology at Virginia-based asset manager Sands Capital Management, stands alone in directing technology operations at his firm, which partners with an outsourced vendor for technology needs. Bateman is at times; weary of buy side firms who are quick to outsource technology needs.

“Apart from me, we have a trusted provider for our technology implementation, but firms need to understand what they’re getting and what they’re giving up. You need alignment,” Bateman noted, indicating that a discrepancy between personnel may arise between different skillsets.

“When you outsource, you get fantastic engineers who know how to run a data center, but they know nothing about the business of investment management—they’ve likely come from another sector (outside of investment management).”

Among the latest development within financial technology is the development of cloud technology—the ability to take access data anywhere.

“People are so mobile. Using the old paradigm, people would access data on-the-go using a file server, but now people are working all the time, from everywhere, as sad as that is,” Bateman said. “They have an iPhone, and an iPad…they need scalability of technology.”

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