Presenting Global Custodian’s Best New Fund Services Project nominees for 2021

An in-depth look at the shortlist for Best New Fund Services Project, with the winner to be announced at Global Custodian’s Industry Leaders Awards on 18 November.

By Jon Watkins

Apex Group – ESG Ratings and Advisory 

A combination of Apex’s leadership showing a clear passion for environmental, social and governance (ESG), the appointment of expertise in this space and a growing list of client uptake has put the fund services provider in the running for best new fund services project.

Apex has been steadily positioning itself as a leader in data provision and thought leadership on ESG issues and 2021 was the year of reaping the rewards from this strategy. 

The ESG Ratings and Advisory has evolved to include carbon footprint assessments and an ESG health check, along with the flagship ratings and reporting service. 

The Carbon Footprint Assessment & Reporting service was launched in September to help funds and companies to measure the sources of emissions, implement plans to reduce their carbon footprint and provide a mechanism to offset any residual emissions. 

In November 2020, Apex partnered with data science firm Rep Risk to incorporate its technology to identify environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks for private markets participants. Meanwhile it has also been growing its list of ESG funds as clients due to its focus on the space, including INVL Asset Management selecting Apex Group to provide fund administration services to a new fund investing in sustainably managed forests and agricultural land in the Baltic Sea region and Central and Eastern Europe.   

Throughout 2021 the fund services provider has gained new clients for its ESG Ratings and Advisory service, including i80 Group and global (re)insurance broker BMS. 

Citco Data Services 

Citco bookended the 12-month period which Global Custodian assesses for these awards with two major initiatives. The more recent was its shift of $1 trillion worth of assets onto the newest version of Æxeo running on Amazon Web Services (AWS) – this will likely be in the running for an award next year – however this year we commend Citco launch of its data services business aimed at enabling fund managers to unlock insights for their investment and operational decisions. 

The new platform leverages cloud-based data sources to curate and present data of disparate systems in a unified manner. 

The Citco Data Services platform has also developed as a self-service hub for all of Citco’s companies and business lines.   

The firm added the platform also will be able to streamline data exchanges with third-party vendors to enrich Citco’s existing data, offering the ability to integrate external data for further enhancement. 

“We pride ourselves on our ability to deliver the most advanced and innovative proprietary technology solutions that make clients’ workflows more efficient and better equipped to manage today’s operational challenges. Access to data from a single source, in a modern and efficient way, is fundamental to clients’ operational needs,” said Frank Servidio, head of client reporting, Citco Fund Services, upon the launch at the end of last year. 

“Citco Data Services goes one step further, empowering clients to control, explore and action their data to address their unique requirements, all within a clean, user-friendly interface.” 

MUFG Investor Services – Private Markets ESG Reporting solution  

Speaking with Global Custodian earlier this year, John Sergides, CEO at MUFG Investor Services, outlined the problem in private markets when it comes to environmental, social and governance (ESG). 

“The assets in hedge are – let’s say – close to $3 trillion, on the private equity side $4 trillion, real estate and everything in between, there are a huge amount of assets that aren’t serviced,” he explained. “A lot of the data in the private space won’t be available at this point in time from streamlined sources, so this is where you deploy your technology like AI to scrape those sources and build your own.”

Shortly after, we saw the launch of MUFG Investor Service’s private markets ESG reporting solution, as Sergides looked to shine a light on an area which has been traditionally difficult to collect data on.  

The securities services provider partnered with sustainability consultancy, MJ Hudson, to provide array of services for investors, starting at the pre-investment stage. The solution allows data to be collected in an automated way, with an overlay of ESG expertise from analysts, while being tailored to industry, investment, and client requirements.  

The services pertain to policy creation and investment strategy integration, Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) consultancy and due diligence, as well as ESGIQ – a proprietary digital platform for the monitoring of and reporting on ESG factors.

The services were made available to institutional investors, fund of fund managers and general partners investing in or operating any private market strategies, including private equity, venture capital, private debt, infrastructure and real estate.  


SS&C –Intelligent Automation Solutions Group 

SS&C is not one to rest on its laurels despite being the largest independent administrator in the world, technology provider and continuing to enjoy another year of mandates pouring in. Instead, the administrator and technology specialist continues to innovate.  

In March this year, SS&C announced it would utilise next-generation technology for its newly created Intelligent Automation Solutions Group. 

The newly formed group will focus on helping clients with their digital transformation journeys using technologies such as workflow management, machine learning, natural language processing, and robotic process automation.  

SS&C’s suite of solutions includes a business process automation platform, machine learning tools for paper-to-digital data transformation, consulting and implementation services, and managed services in the cloud. 

The tech and administration giant also hired Gautam Moorjani as general manager of the Intelligent Automation Solutions business.

Moorjani joined from global consultancy PwC where he was a principal and leader for intelligent automation within its financial services advisory practice. He was also the chief operating officer at WorkFusion, where he worked with the likes of JP Morgan and IHS Markit in projects involving machine learning and process automation solutions.  

“With its worldwide presence and financial muscle, SS&C is ready to bring Intelligent Automation to every organisation,” said Moorjani. “For me, it’s an exciting opportunity to help SS&C build on its leadership position in the business process management and intelligence space.”