In part one of our most read stories of 2020, we had an overview of BlackRock’s moves during the year through its Aladdin platform, a major regulatory delay, a promotion at JP Morgan and launches from HSBC and State Street. Today we bring you the top five most read from the year, with some big custody moves, a fund administration acquisition and a major people move to top it all off.
FIS’ majority stake in alternatives fund administration firm Virtus was the first of several major merger and acquisitions that were struck within the funds services space this year. The deal provided FIS access to a range of new front-to-back office services for credit-focused alternatives fund managers from deal origination, trading and direct lending to cash management, settlement, fund accounting and NAV calculations.
The acquisition was also a major boost to FIS’ alternatives fund solutions business, as it looks to become a go-to technology and outsourcing provider not just for administrators but also hedge funds and private equity managers. Virtus would later partner with State Street to provide new technology management solutions for the collateralised loan obligation (CLO) and collateralised debt obligation (CDO) markets.
BlackRock’s Aladdin made numerous headlines this year through its partnerships with many global custody banks (and you can read more on this below), but its alliance with Northern Trust was the most read.
In June, Global Custodian broke the news that the Chicago-based custodian partnered with BlackRock and announced the launch of ‘Whole Office’ – a new end-to-end investment ecosystem for both its asset manager and allocator clients that will encompass everything from trading services and operations to data insights and analytics.
Underpinning the rollout is a deal with BlackRock where mutual clients can benefit from the use of the asset management giant’s Aladdin Provider. The service link will provide clients with increased efficiency, interoperability and transparency across the back-, middle- and front-office, with operations, data, and servicing capabilities.
In October, Global Custodian featured an exclusive interview with State Street’s chairman and CEO, Ron O’Hanley, off the back of the Boston-based custodian’s impressive third quarter results. Two years after State Street’s $2.6bn acquisition of Charles River, O’Hanley reflected on the custodian’s bold front-to-back strategy, in which its State Street Alpha platform had been responsible for on-third of new mandates won over the past three months.
On top of that, O’Hanley told Global Custodian that we can expect even more impressive figures for the rest of the year. “This is a big development year. So far so good, and the biggest quarter for deliverables is the fourth quarter,” he explained. “From a pure deal synergy perspective and what we said we would deliver, we are exceeding what we laid out back in 2018. But more importantly, we are positioning ourselves for the ability to shift our strategy and not to move away from fund servicing but to add to what we can do in the front- and middle-office.”
The second most read story was both before COVID took over the world and before BNY Mellon made Todd Gibbons was made permanent CEO. The world’s largest custody bank started the year by making a major reshuffle within its asset servicing business, giving new roles to Hani Kablawi, Roman Regelman and Akash Shah.
Kablawi was named head of international, while Regelman took on the dual role of head of asset servicing and digital, and Shah would assume leadership for global client management. The moves would set up several key initiatives undertaken by BNY Mellon this year, such as its adoption of Microsoft’s Azure to provide new data management capabilities, an alliance with NCB Capital to deliver global custody services in Saudi Arabia, and the launch of a new front-to-back office infrastructure called OMNI.
Surprisingly, and thankfully, nothing COVID-19-related surrounds our most read story of 2020 (maybe it was because you can’t flick on the TV without seeing a disheartening news story on the virus), but instead it was one of the major people moves of the year when JP Morgan’s former head of global custody product for the Americas, Caroline Butler, would join BNY Mellon as global head of custody.
Previously at JP Morgan, Butler helped set up the bank’s US exchange traded fund (ETF) servicing business. In her new role, Butler would lead product strategy and work with key stakeholders across asset servicing, as BNY Mellon continues to transform its global custody business with a focus on digitalisation, new markets, and modernised custody platforms.