For investment operations managers, performance reporting is where the rubber meets the road.
This is the tangible result of the firm’s investment decision, and these results will be shared with their client.
High-quality performance reports are key to maintaining client trust and keeping your job!
Here are the best practices for making sure what ends up on your client reports from your portfolio accounting system is both pristine and accurate.
The portfolio manager is in the best position to know about what the performance number should be. They are the one selecting the securities that make up the bulk of the performance.
Ask them what they expect the performance to be relative to their benchmark. Get this number prior to generating the performance of the fund or account. It should be a good indication of what the IRR will be for the month or quarter.
This also saves you from a lot of after the fact research when the PM tells you the “performance looks wrong." You can do the research while you are producing the performance and if there is a big difference, you now know why and can articulate it to the portfolio manager.
Unfortunately, not all portfolio accounting systems provide the right tools to ensure that the data in the system is accurate.
There are literally millions of data points that are maintained in these systems, and all it takes is one missing data point or incorrect detail can erode lots of trust if they end up on a report and a portfolio manager or client sees it.
There are two approaches you can take: you can 1) build the system yourself or 2) partner with a firm like Empaxis that provides investment managers with the QA reporting tools they need.
In general, we do not recommend building in-house systems.
But if you do, you can build your own quality assurance system by identifying all of the data points that are going to end up on internal or client reports.
1. Export the data to Excel, if you have a small data set or SQL or other data base if you are dealing with larger volumes of data.
2. Create queries to check for missing data, outliers in performance and other inconsistencies which would be impracticable to find using the portfolio accounting system.
3. Once you set this up, you can refresh the tables with new data for the next day, week, or month.
The more frequently you check, the better the data quality will be. Make it easy for you to check.
If you have done a good job identifying all of the fields that will end up on reports and have queries to check and ensure their accuracy, your portfolio managers will not have to spend time going over report by report to check your work.
If you prefer not to develop your own quality assurance system, partner with QA experts like Empaxis that have the technology for you.
Our proprietary QA system was custom-designed to deal with the complexities of investment performance reporting, allowing for the following:
- Identify missing or incorrect data points
- Identify improperly formatted data
- Track timeliness of deliverables
- Confidently access quality data and reports over x periods of time
Empaxis QA systems work with your existing software and data sets, as we will configure the technology to track quality according to your definitions of quality.
Data coming in from custodians arrives at different times based on when the custodian delivers it.
Batch your work by the availability of the statements. Some custodians provide statements earlier in the month than others. Establish reporting delivery dates based around the availability of these statements.
For example, use the 5th, 7th and 15th business days. This allows you to get out the reports for the clients with accounts at the early custodians earlier and later ones later. This also sets expectations internally about when to expect the reports to be ready.
Lots of operations managers do not like to have hard commitments.
At Empaxis, however, we believe that committing actually helps you deliver a better service and gives you something to compare your work to.
Even if you do not have a set delivery time with clients, we would recommend that you create one internally and track your delivery to them.
To paraphrase Peter Drucker, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure.”
Measuring your back-office performance to service levels can be motivational for your team since you can see how you did this month vs last month or this quarter vs last quarter, etc.
Especially now as investment organizations continue to work remotely to varying degrees, employees need to stay engaged. That means communicating regularly and of course, keeping track of performance. Our recent blog post has helpful tips how RIAs can track team performance while working from home.
Measuring things such as on-time performance, turnaround time and defect or error rate helps you know how consistent you are performing. Not knowing anything else, if you know there is a lot of variability in processing, most likely there is an inconsistent client experience.
Performance reporting usually happens on a quarterly basis. Get it wrong only 1 quarter and your “grade” goes from an A+ (100%) to a C (75%).
If you only have one person who can do this job well, that is a lot of risk to not being able to successfully deliver come reporting time. You need to train and test multiple backups who can do the work.
The key is testing. If you train someone today and then don’t have them do the process for 6 months, is it rational to think they will flawlessly ?
Have your people swap reporting assignments every other quarter. Ideally you have a team where anyone can perform at the level of the primary person responsible for the account.
People leave, get sick, get married, go on vacation – some of these you can control, most you can’t. Do not let absenteeism adversely affect your most important deliverable.
If finding and training backups takes too much time, then it is worth looking at performance reporting specialists like Empaxis, who have the technology and backup resources to ensure reports get done accurately.
For operations managers, providing clients and internal staff high quality performance reports is an essential part of their job responsibilities.
It can be a high stress part of the work since there are a lot of people who are looking over the information, and having the right technology and a reliable and qualified team to run the reports goes a long way.
Following these best practices will help you to produce a high quality result and perform more consistently.