Waters Rankings 2017: Best Performance Measurement System Provider—FactSet

Peter Davaney-Graham, Hannah Grover, Glenn Moody

FactSet? Really? Winner of the best performance measurement system provider category at this year’s Waters Rankings? Surely not?

Actually, yes—the New York-based data and analytics specialist is now also the proud owner of a highly successful performance, attribution and risk management platform, thanks to its $265 million March 2017 acquisition of BISAM, one of the buy side’s most successful niche players. BISAM, recipient of one of only three “service to the industry” awards at last year’s Buy-Side Technology Awards, has dominated the performance category in those awards since they were launched in 2007, winning it nine years in succession, thanks to its flagship B-One offering. 

BISAM describes B-One as a performance, attribution, risk and reporting platform, designed to streamline investment processes by integrating middle- and back-office systems. It uses a single data source across all of its modules in order to help improve clients’ performance measurement, data management, operational risk and attribution, client reporting, and composite management and GIPS-compliance activities. 

In March 2016, BISAM went on its own spending spree, acquiring FinAnalytica and the firm’s Cognity risk management platform, and in so doing added the missing piece to its buy-side proposition by providing firms with a unified performance, attribution and risk platform that could support all their performance and attribution calculations while crucially also furnishing them with various measures detailing their risk consumption in chasing their performance. It’s a trend that’s been a long time coming across the buy side and it was only a matter of time before those functions were combined in a single offering. 

Given the recent M&A activity that has occurred across the performance and attribution landscape, it’s fair to say that while the total number of providers has fallen, the market is now all the more competitive. In addition to FactSet’s acquisition of BISAM, StatPro bought the UBS Delta business, providing London-based StatPro with sophisticated risk management analytics that it will, over the course of the next 18 months, bed down alongside its cloud-based StatPro Performance platform. Eagle and SS&C Technologies are the other two vendors making up the “big four” independent providers, which, when one considers their reach and financial clout, means there will be some interesting times ahead. 

And so, from a business and operational perspective, what does the BISAM acquisition mean to FactSet? Well, BISAM’s technology is much admired across the industry, while its client roster is a veritable who’s who of the global asset management industry. There will be significant cross-selling opportunities for both entities, given their maturity—FactSet celebrates its 40th birthday this year, while BISAM was founded in 2000—which can only be a good thing, not only for the combined business, but also for its clients.

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