The challenges faced by the asset manager can be categorized as organizational, and system- or data-related. The firm faced issues similar to those confronted by many clients that Cutter provides its client reporting consulting expertise, including data reliability, long production cycles, workflow, and too many custom reports.
This client’s culture is accommodating and collaborative, and all voices are considered important and heard. The asset manager also prides itself on its superior white-glove client service, which is a great approach to servicing, but has resulted in many bespoke custom reports.
Even though the firm had standardized templates, custom client reports were created by client service team members who each maintained their own templates in Excel and PowerPoint. As a result, the report layouts lacked consistency. The client service representatives accessed their own data, which resulted in report data that did not always match the data that clients received from other channels.
The firm did whatever it could to accommodate client requests. This culture, while very flexible, did not provide the necessary infrastructure to quickly create quality client reports. As a result, the firm created too many custom reports, and the reports looked dated when compared with peers.
Firms often hire Cutter to evaluate their client reporting functions and offer our recommendations. A common recommendation is to purchase and implement a new modern client reporting tool. In this case, the client already was using a quality tool, but its efforts seemed to stall out there.
System challenges included the following:
- Use of the tool had not evolved since implementation: Although the client had a quality client reporting tool, it operated pretty much the same as when it was implemented. The asset manager used only a fraction of the tool’s capabilities. Some components were run in the tool and exported to be pasted into Excel and PowerPoint. As a result, the client service team spent a lot of time manually creating reports. Obviously, this manual approach to client reporting is rife with risk.
- Lack of Super Users: While initially training to use the tool, the firm had not curated knowledge of the software within the team. As team members left the group, the knowledge of the tool dwindled. Components and templates could not be changed, so, although the firm had a powerhouse tool, it’s effectiveness was diminishing because no one could update it. The firm became reliant on the vendor and consultants to make changes.
Data challenges are probably the most common challenge we assist clients with. Oftentimes, the proper data structures are not in place and the data is not viewed as reliable. This client had a pretty sound data architecture in place; however, it did not have clarity on how data was to be used. Individuals had to figure out on their own what calculations and/or transformations had been made to the data once it left the system of origination.
Data definitions: Without data definitions, the firm lacked clarity on data elements. While some business terms are industry standard and have an accepted definition, that’s not always the case. This lack of clarity caused confusion on the correct use of data.