Asset Managers Reaching for Cloud as Fiera Flies High with Eagle

Terry Flanagan

Fiera Capital, a full service, multi-product investment firm in Canada, has extended its reach among institutional investors by leveraging the cloud-based technology of Natcan Investment Management, a large fund manager it acquired last year.

Natcan, with $25 billion in assets under management, was formerly a subsidiary of National Bank of Canada, providing asset management services to pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies, exchange-traded funds, foundations and other institutional clients.

With the Natcan acquisition, Fiera Capital has boosted its assets under management to $55 billion.

“The Natcan acquisition was driven by our strategic growth plans,” said Robert Trépanier, senior vice-president of operations and information technology at Fiera Capital. “It fulfilled our goals of teaming with a sizable player with a view toward establishing a major North American presence.”

Equally important, Fiera Capital has been able to standardize on the data management and performance measurement systems used by Natcan, which it licensed from Eagle Investment Systems, a unit of custodian bank BNY Mellon.

Fiera’s adoption of Eagle’s software and migration to the cloud will enable it to integrate future acquisitions into its centralized platform much more easily and efficiently.

“In all of our acquisitions, we look to create efficiencies and find cost-savings by leveraging the best providers and services available,” said Trépanier. “In Natcan’s case, we saw an opportunity to apply its current data management and performance measurement solutions to our entire company, thereby reducing multi-vendor complexity and saving time and money.”

Eagle Investment Systems delivers data management, investment accounting and performance measurement solutions over its secure private cloud, Eagle Access.

In 2012, 90% of its new client accounts preferred private cloud services, and many other existing clients have opted for its secure private cloud over a traditional on-site installation. This is a relatively recent shift.

“Five years ago, the great majority of assets were managed on internally-installed systems,” said Mal Cullen, managing director, head of the Americas and Eagle Access for Eagle Investment Systems, in a blog. “The line between internally and externally managed investment systems might as well have been a brick wall and the ability to make decisions along the outsourcing continuum was prohibitively difficult and costly.”

Today, he said, “the wall between internal and external systems is more porous, allowing for alliances along a technology continuum”.

The decision to outsource an entire middle office is significant.

“It is critical to find business process providers that understand the business and are accessible,” said Cullen. “We are able to work with our clients to help them decide at what pace they wish to move through the continuum and at which point to consider the move to full outsourcing—leveraging both firms’ offerings from accounting and custody activities to data management.”

By completing the outsourcing continuum, said Cullen, “we can address the complete business cycle for clients—from trade management all the way through to end client reporting and billing and collection of client fees—enabling clients to focus on growing and managing their investments and leaving the burden of managing the technology to us”.

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