Buy-Side Technology Awards 2013: Winners' Circle—Eagle Investment Systems

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John Lehner, Eagle Investment Systems

With its second win in the best overall buy-side technology provider category, Eagle Investment Systems has proved once again that it is at the top of its game. John Lehner, Eagle’s president and CEO, talks to Waters about cloud on the buy side, what he’s seeing in the market, and the firm’s plans for 2014. Interview by James Rundle

Given the range of buy-side technology areas that Eagle covers and the fact that you’ve now won this award twice, what do you see as the defining challenges that your clients are facing right now?
When Eagle was established in the late 1980s, our founders employed a data-centric approach to its solutions where clean data could flow seamlessly from one system to the next. So it was a natural progression for us to have multiple systems such as data management, investment accounting, and performance measurement. With our suite of solutions, Eagle holds a wider view of the industry than some other vendors in our space. The primary challenges we continue to see with clients is their access of clean, validated data. This is necessary for operational efficiency, but is also a key success factor for firms that require an investment book of record (IBOR) on which they make their investment decisions. A data-centric approach to IBOR provides the most accurate and timely data for making decisions. Data-centricity also helps with adhering to the numerous industry regulations they are facing, which is another primary challenge. Many of our clients run global operations, so they not only have to contend with multiple or regional IBORs, but they also need to comply with global regulation, and their data needs to be shared around the globe.

Eagle has, of course, operated a private cloud environment for a long time now with Eagle ACCESS—do you see a decent level of acceptance for cloud among your buy-side clients now, compared to a few years ago?
We’ve provided our Eagle ACCESS service for more than 20 years, initially offered on an application service provider (ASP) basis. However, we’ve seen the most interest in cloud deployment over the past five years. In fact, 100 percent of our deployments in 2013 have been via Eagle ACCESS. The focus on core competencies and growth are currently more important to companies, instead of developing and managing their own differentiating, proprietary systems. Today’s firms would rather use resources for the business’ bottom line and let the vendors manage the systems, upgrades, and so on. There are so many industry changes taking place each year—an example of this is regulation, so firms have put their faith in the vendors to manage these changes and focus on how to make their businesses more successful.

What does Eagle have coming up for 2014?
Eagle continues to reinvest a significant portion of our revenue back into our data management, investment accounting, and performance measurement solutions, and we will continue to do so in 2014. Eagle is focused on helping our firms manage risk, producing clean IBOR, and getting systems running and operational faster. You will hear more about a new product around risk and services that will help clients become operational quickly and more efficiently. Eagle continues to evolve its cloud-oriented technology solutions from a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model, adding platform-as-a-service (PaaS) solutions to our offerings. Our vision is that this platform will enable positive change in the core competencies of our clients, gathering assets, making good investment decisions, and serving customers excellently. As we continue gaining more and more market share with our investment accounting solution, we will continue to roll out new updates around derivatives and changes that help our clients manage their records and comply with regulation. There will also be additional updates around security and Eagle’s further build-out of its investment management ecosystem, offering seamless integration with of best-of-breed solutions in the market to our clients.

"We’ve provided our Eagle ACCESS service for more than 20 years, initially offered on an ASP basis. However, we’ve seen the most interest in cloud deployment over the past five years." —John Lehner, Eagle Invesment Systems
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