The best fund administrator category has never been the most popular in terms of the number of entries it has attracted since its 2009 debut in the Buy-Side Technology Awards. But that is understandable, given the modest number of organizations making up this relative niche in the market. However, sheer entry numbers only tell half the story: This category is nonetheless one of the most keenly contested annually, as was the case again this year, where Oaks, Pa.-based SEI emerged top. Such is its dominance in this market that this year’s win is SEI’s fifth in the last six years, the only blip being 2010 when GlobeOp, now part of SS&C, won the award.
It’s not hard to see why SEI has consistently outgunned all comers. The vendor, founded in 1968, has a headcount of 2,600 and offices in all the centers where one would expect to find boutique asset managers and hedge funds—the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, South Africa, Dubai, the Bahamas, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, and the Cayman Islands. It has 265 clients on its books, while assets under administration continue to grow at approximately 35 percent year on year. Add to these already impressive figures SEI’s commitment to developing new technologies and research and development (R&D)—it has spent in the region of $200 million on these activities over the last two years—and a picture quickly emerges of a fast-growing organization with a proud technology heritage and deep commitment to supporting its clients’ needs.
At the core of SEI’s fund administration business is its “workflow application,” an automated platform designed to electronically receive, store, and direct data to each specific work group within the firm. Once there, the application tracks data, documents records, indicates processing stages, and points to future tasks. As part of clients’ service teams, SEI employees are able to identify where clients stand in terms of fund allocations, redemption receipts, or cash processes, and communicate those statuses to their clients, providing them with greater transparency and confidence that their various administration activities are in order. SEI also has the ability to provide clients with controlled access to the application, in the event that they require final approval or would like to review processes.
If one had to draw up a list of the most glamorous buy-side activities, fund administration is unlikely to be on it. But it is an increasingly crucial aspect of the buy side that needs to be managed accurately and efficiently, which SEI currently does better than anyone else in the industry, hands down.
Fund administration is an increasingly crucial aspect of the buy side that needs to be managed accurately and efficiently, which SEI currently does better than anyone else in the industry, hands down.
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