09.01.2011
By Terry Flanagan

Buy-Side Technology Specializes

Audit control, process efficiency, and business intelligence reign key for asset managers, according to service provider.

As the business of managing money becomes more reliant on developing sophisticated technology, it may be true that some top tier asset management firms need an upgrade.

“You’d be surprised how many asset managers still use excel, even the big ones,” said Chris John, chief executive of service provider, Bonaire.

The Boston-based firm provides broad-based services for asset managers. The flagship product, Revport aims to automate operations by focusing on audit control, tracking revenue and billing cycles, and information management/organization, known as “business intelligence.”

“Clients are adverse to change, mainly in our space because it’s viewed as a back office function, but it’s a process that should be viewed as a key to the business. Clients should ask themselves if they’re efficient,” John said.

Bonaire has roughly 100 customers, managing 9.5 trillion and was launched in 1999. Many of the firm’s customers are household names ranging from asset management arms of banks, insurance companies and broker dealers—J.P. Morgan, GE Asset Management, AllianceBernstein, to name a few.

The firm’s larger known asset managers often purchase Bonaire software to be used under their own firewalls, in-house.

“We’re stringent about not customizing our core application, but it can be molded for different outputs,” said John. “The philosophy is to find a way to fit the product in with the customer.”

Wholly customization of products could be counterintuitive for clients, according to John.”We don’t want to replicate what they’re doing.”

Over the past twelve years, the firm has been looking for “holes in the market” and building products around customer needs. John asks the firm’s clients to address their top ten technology needs every year, he noted. In recent times, much of the challenge for vendors has been to help clients “stay ahead of regulation.”

John cited keeping clients up with Dodd Frank is paramount, only second to perhaps the bank regulation surrounding the troubled Eurozone.

Perhaps as rapid as the fund launches themselves, are the service providers that pitch products and services for their business. To stay competitive in a growing saturated market, John remarked that he finds it better to “specialize” in one or two areas, rather than be known as a mediocre “jack of all trades” via a wide array of product offerings.

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