AFTAs 2020: Best Back-Office Initiative—SEI


The best back-office initiative AFTA has for the most part been awarded to London-based SmartStream since the category’s inception in 2016. The two occasions that it hasn’t were in 2018, when Cobalt won thanks to its foreign exchange (FX) reconciliation platform, and now, with fund administrator SEI taking the award for its SEI Developer Portal and SEI Investor Dashboard. 

Though the Pennsylvania-based firm first launched its SEI Investor Dashboard in 2005, it devoted much of 2020 to a redesign of it that would help asset managers improve and automate reporting functions for the end investor. The dashboard leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to automate aspects of reporting and meeting investors’ demands for real-time, personalized data and transparency. 

The firm has also made updates to its SEI Developer Portal, which was launched in December 2019. The portal provides developers with tools to integrate features and functionality across front-, middle- and back-office services. The firm developed more than 50 API products, extending its internal business services to the industry through this new digital offering. The portal’s back-office applications include portfolio accounting, data aggregating, portfolio reporting, fund accounting, payment processing and wire services. 

More than 870 developers at banks, investment managers and fintech firms are actively using the portal to manage data and accelerate their innovation timelines. “The developer tools reduce the time to securely deliver data through APIs by more than 50%, which significantly speeds up the integration process for asset managers,” says Jim Warren, head of platforms and solutions of SEI’s global wealth management services division.

Warren says capital markets executives are not just facing the challenges of a global pandemic, but also issues such as changing regulations and requirements and more complex strategies.

“Managers are balancing investors’ needs for greater transparency with fee pressures, while also trying to maintain and build the operational infrastructure needed to keep up with demands,” he says. “In order for leaders to adapt and move forward with resiliency, investment firms must have strong operational integrity and reliable back-office functions.” 

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