Waters Rankings 2017: Winners' Circle—SS&C Advent

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SS&C Advent won the best accounting platform category at this year’s Waters Rankings, thanks to its Geneva and APX products. James Rundle talks to Robert Roley, general manager of SS&C Advent, about the firm’s compliance efforts, mobility, and its cross-platform development play.

How has the past year been for both APX and Geneva, and what have been the big growth points for you?

Robert Roley, general manager, SS&C Advent: In both APX and Geneva, we’re rolling out a lot of complementary services around the products which address the increasing requests for flexible deployment models and services. Cloud delivery makes both products easier to adopt and to extract value from. More and more clients have been choosing cloud delivery with one or more operational services to augment their back office so that their people can focus on higher-value tasks.

For APX specifically, if I was going to highlight one theme we’ve had a big focus on, it’s regulatory compliance. That’s been a constant for a while, but during 2016 and 2017 lots of resources were devoted to making sure the solution can address Mifid II [mandates] in Europe.

On the Geneva front, the biggest development for us, and something that our clients have been clamoring for over some time, is our new data access and reporting solution. It’s something we call the Enterprise Information Store. We delivered it last year to make it easier to interact with both raw and derived data outside of Geneva, and our clients have been very excited about it.

Looking ahead, what are the challenges that your clients are facing in the next year, and what are they looking for in terms of products and services? 

Roley: Regulatory compliance has absolutely been front and center. Right now, I think there are many question marks around what the regulatory regime in the US will look like, but we are paying attention and are ready to react depending on what the outcome is.

Secondly, our clients are sensitive around cybersecurity. That’s particularly true in what we’re doing with hosting or software-as-a-service deployment models. What’s been a real benefit is being part of SS&C, which has a very mature business from a cybersecurity perspective and has shared market-leading best practices in outsourcing.

The third thing is our client servicing. If you think about it, regulatory compliance and cybersecurity are must-haves—there isn’t really an option. Client servicing is really how our clients compete for business and win assets, and that’s where we’ve seen things like more integrations come into play. We’ve been working on integrating the end-client portal—which we call the investor experience of our full BPO web-based advisory product, Black Diamond—with APX, so that an APX client can actually push out that slick web and mobile experience to their end-investors.

How has that cross-platform experience taken shape at SS&C, and has it been challenging to bring the products into that new world?

Roley: It isn’t simple, but it’s exciting. Some of it is taking a subset of what’s available in your product, then using technology to make it accessible elsewhere. What’s a little bit trickier is where you’re almost trying to be a platform, and exchange content with systems from that platform perspective in real time. We’ve done that to a degree, but we think we’re going to have to do that more because one of the things we see—and we service multiple types of customers—when we think about wealth managers, which make up a good chunk of the APX client segment, is that their clients want a full client service view. These firms want to see the complete wealth picture, including components of customer relationship management, risk profiling, portfolio details, performance history, and more… and they like to get it in a one-stop shop.

In Geneva, we get the cross-platform experience a lot less frequently, almost never. Deployed as a best-of-breed solution, Geneva is really focused on facilitating the most complex portfolio accounting and portfolio management functions for hedge funds and providing investment book of record functionality that asset managers require.

What else are your clients asking from you? Where else do their challenges lie?  

Roley: Clients are looking for help with data management. They need timely, complete and accurate information to solve for all of the above—for regulatory compliance, client servicing, and to make good investment decisions. We help them to do that by continuing to enhance our integration with data providers, but also by continuing to build up our toolset to make sense of that data, make sure it’s normalized, aggregated, clean and available. Quality data is critical for driving many of the organizational functions across the front, middle and back office. W

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