On route: Redefining the fund administration experience

Opus Fund Services has consistently been recognised in the annual Industry Leaders awards season, this year winning Global Custodian’s 2022 Hedge Fund Administrator of the Year and the award for Best Client Service. This article seeks to explore what it is that has Opus’ clients writing so positively about their Opus experiences.
By Editors

Christian Pollard, Opus’ regional CEO explains that to understand the Opus edge, we need to understand the evolution of the fund administration industry.  Prior to the global financial crisis, the fees being charged by fund administration companies permitted highly manual, inefficient customised processes, to be carried out by seasoned accountants sat in sparkling offices in the world’s global financial centres.  The fund accountants presided over a small number of client accounts and were responsible for compiling the end-to-end NAV.  This meant, that when you picked up the phone and spoke with your fund administrator, you spoke with someone that knew your investor base, could talk to what elements of the portfolio had outperformed and they understood every component of the NAV, as a result you received excellent service.

The hunt for efficiency

Between 2007 and 2008 hedge fund assets declined by 34%, significantly hitting fund administration revenues. Operational efficiency became the golden panacea, and the incumbents lost sight of their clients’ needs.   Presiding over clunky legacy technology, firms followed the route of offshoring work and functionalising their production lines to leverage their scale to create efficiency.  Outsourced centres sprung up in lower cost jurisdictions and the end-to-end NAV process became increasingly fragmented.  Functionally siloed departments started to perform their work in isolation on a broad array of dispersed third-party technology products that were implemented to increase the operational efficiency of the specific task in question.  There was no consideration given to how these individual data sets would integrate, and the overall data quality declined.

The search for scale

To add yet further pressure, the fund administration industry has seen an ever-increasing amount of consolidation through acquisition as competing firms battle it out for market share.   

The impact on client service

Opus firmly believes that the impact this trend has had on the client experience is considerable.  No longer when you pick up the phone to speak with your fund administrator does the person answering you call have the end-to-end knowledge of your fund, instead they offer the services of a triage.

This degradation of service has happened gradually, and over time the bar has crept lower and lower and fund managers have been conditioned to expect reactionary damage control as the baseline service of their administrator.

The Opus edge

Opus was born during the global financial crisis when it was evidently clear, the route to being successful would involve building a single, proprietary, fully integrated fund administration platform from the ground up.  15 years on and this investment is paying dividends.  Record numbers of clients are switching their administrator from the larger firms in the search of excellent client service and transparent real time data.  

Alice Caracci, VP, Client Solutions who has been taking care of Opus clients for the past 7 years explains how the Opus platform enables excellence in client service:

“The Opus platform automatically identifies and escalates items that are at risk of creating operational hurdles for our clients before these issues impact the day to day running of their fund.  From my seat using the same view as our clients, I have total transparency into all areas of a fund, from monitoring in real time cash breaks, reconciliation issues and pricing discrepancies to tracking pending investor activity and overseeing progress with the year-end audit.  This allows me to proactively contact clients where we need their input.  I routinely speak to every one of my clients, and the data from these calls is closely analysed and provides us with deep insights into where we are best to focus our attention.”

Proactive client service is a new phenomenon in an industry that is in desperate need of a shake-up and with the right technology, excellent service does not have to come at a high cost.   Based on what Opus’ clients are reporting in their annual surveys, Opus is leading this charge.