Is self-service reshaping traditional client reporting? – Part Three

Date: July 7, 2014

Lisa Massena, SVP, State Street Investment Analytics, in conversation with Swati Bhoumick

Lisa Massena State Street SpeakerLisa heads the global product strategy team for State Street Investment Analytics. This group is responsible for demand management and product development across the Analytics suite of capabilities. Lisa has held various leadership positions in the financial services industry. She is a chartered financial analyst and has been licensed with the NASD (Series 7, 28 and 65).

What does traditional client reporting mean to you?

Lisa: To me, client reporting is a fixed format report going out to clients on a regular basis. In the asset manager space, State Street serves a wide variety of organizations who are providing this type of reporting to their end clients.

How long has it been in that form?

Lisa: Well, for a very long time. In the traditional form of reporting, asset managers generally determine what the client needs to know and that’s what they put together in the report. This allows managers both to form and control the message and content compliance, and to manage the cost of providing clients with reported results.

Read: New Insights for Asset Managers: How Technology Can Drive the Most Effective Middle Offices


What according to you are the challenges of traditional client reporting?

Lisa: Traditional client reporting tends to be templated – that is, it’s made up of standard information which is generally suitable to an end client under most circumstances. One challenge of this – the information may not be as closely configured to a clients’ interests, or it may not easily reflect some of the dynamic ‘stories’ that make up performance for the period.

Another challenge with the traditional setup is that when reports are customized or highly configured to a particular client or to reflect the events of a specific time period, the production efforts can increase significantly and, typically, this is an ‘uncompensated’ activity on the part of the provider.

What do you think of bespoke reports? Are they still happening?

Lisa: They absolutely still happen and they are important. Almost all service providers have client relationships that require reporting customizations to create a more client specific view.

From a provider point of view, is it sustainable and cost effective?

Lisa: It depends on what kind of reports you are looking at and how much you are customizing. You may have reports that are 90% consistent, period after period. In other cases there may be good reasons to customize significantly – but providers need good tools that enable them to produce and use ad hoc information as part of a consistent package.

What do you see as key drivers of change in client reporting?

Lisa: When you get into serving clients on a more personalized, customized basis, people are looking for tools to analyze what happened and that help them tell the story. When I give our asset management clients these tools, I’m giving them an important self-service opportunity and getting out of their way as tellers of the story associated with a specific investment period.

Are the investors demanding change in the way they receive information?

Lisa: Yes – in an environment where I can look up the answer to any question that occurs to me, I can assume investors also want to interrogate their data or receive results more flexibly.

How do you define self-service reporting?

Lisa: Self-service reporting are capabilities that allow the end user to take care of her own data and reporting needs.

Do you see this as a differentiator now and will it become standard in the future?

Lisa: In the old days we had a very manual process in place for client requests for more data. Now we have real-time or near real-time information available. So I have the ability to pull out real-time information to respond to client questions and present it nicely. If I’m an asset manager, that makes me look good.

What are the pitfalls of self-service reporting?

Self-service tools must strike the tricky balance between flexibility/power/breadth of access and ease of use. I see two potential concerns:

  1. Tools should help users capture and report out key information on a flexible basis without being too complicated to use
  2. If systems contain a mix of official/final and unofficial/preliminary data, users will need clear information on which is which.
How do you see technology supporting this change?

Lisa: Technology is the critical component that enables us to put clients in a position to do more, and to do it more easily. I think asset managers need to be thinking of the following four things as they evaluate their self-service tools:

  1. Intuitive tools – How easily can you access and use the information needed?
  2. Presentation – How good does your information look online and in reported form?
  3. Data management – Will you have to move or consolidate data to make it available for reporting; what are the logistics and what will this cost?
  4. Support model – Which users will have access to the tools or systems and what support will they require?
Your views on outsourcing this?

Lisa: Today we see clients using a mix of in-sourced and outsourced tools to meet their information access and reporting needs. While technical costs for light and fast tools have come down, the volumes and complexity of data required and available have increased significantly. Where clients are looking for a high level of data stewardship, outsourcing to a provider who offers both the data set and high quality integrated access and reporting tools makes good sense.

What is your view of the cloud? How do you define it?

Lisa: To me, cloud is a way to implement, leverage and optimize a common framework for building applications that allow for extensibility,  scalability and security. We are increasingly using cloud approaches to lighten our footprint in clients’ offices, and to ensure we can quickly scale across growth areas.

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