We provide investment management and technology consulting to some of the largest institutional managers in the world. We’ve guided the conversion of numerous institutional portfolios for a host of client organizations throughout the United States and Canada.
The value we bring to every organization derives from accurately assessing its operating environments, cost-effectively evaluating conversion and application specific requirements, effectively implementing production systems to keep pace with the sophistication of and rapid change occurring in global investment markets.
While each client relationship is unique, our success derives from common and mutually held beliefs that result from years of hands-on experience. Our primary focus is to add value to our clients’ investment operations and programs in the following areas:
- Consulting oversight and in-depth advice
- Technology assessments, infrastructure evaluations, and design
- Investment accounting and portfolio management applications and conversions
- Improved implementation of investment strategy
- Program and project management in line-of-business, functional, and operating areas.
Firms often struggle with choosing new systems, and their decision processes can range from too quick (based largely on tactical criteria) to the far more common analysis paralysis. Because of our extensive business experience, and knowing how a large number of clients use various systems, we are able to help clients focus on what is truly important to them and streamline the vendor selection process significantly as a result. We don’t want to give away too many trade secrets, but here are few key points to consider when making a decision on a new system:
- There will be multiple viable alternatives, no matter what a vendor’s salesperson says.
- No system will do everything you want, no matter what a vendor’s salesperson says.
- Every firm has some important unique requirements – and vendors need to prove they can meet them.
- Most requirements, however, are not unique.
- You should talk to firms other than the vendor-provided references.
- In the end, you will have multiple choices – and how you implement may be every bit as important as the vendor you choose.
We can help you determine what you really need to focus on from a functionality and technology perspective, and what not to worry about. We can help you work with the vendors to validate viability. Ultimately, we can help you make your decision better and faster.
Of course, we can also help with the implementation and conversion, no matter which vendor you select.
Our specialty is accelerating achievement.
ICC has been involved in an increasing number of data management projects — some strategic, like helping to design a governance model, and some tactical, like implementing new data management software. In both cases, we bring a unique perspective and years of experience, with an emphasis on data quality.
Data quality is of course the key to data management. What’s the point of governance over bad underlying data? All data management programs touch on it, but most don’t follow through on continually managing data quality, nor do they automate the identification resolution of discrepancies.
We also find that many data management programs, while they have good intentions, get a little too complicated technically and take too much away from the operations teams. That slows down the resolution of data discrepancies when time is often of the essence. We often add significant value by conducting a quick review of how things are working today and by offering advice on what we’d suggest as a better model.
In short, we can help improve your data quality, as part of a larger enterprise data management or governance project or by coming in after the fact to make things work better within your existing infrastructure.
We reduce our clients’ exposure to risk by identifying and resolving their compliance, operational, business process, and technology issues. By performing due diligence reviews and analyses; compliance, operational, and technical process evaluations; documentation reviews; impact analyses; risk evaluation and assessments; and disaster recovery/business continuity evaluations, we’re able to:
- Identify business processes or activities that are peripheral, redundant, or unnecessary to day-to-day operations
- Produce timely, accurate documentation of the operating environment
- Detect gaps in and consequences from processes or operational activities that don’t comply with current policy and procedure guidelines
- Determine the organization’s control environment and recommend steps to improve gaps, omissions, or oversights
- Create a plan to manage and control risk and identify areas requiring management attention.
Most organizations pay significant attention to the operational, financial, and reporting controls that ensure the integrity, the accuracy, and the validity of the information they report to their constituencies. But changing regulations precipitate corresponding changes in business, operational, and reporting processes.
Many organizations are unprepared for the level and velocity of change, the enormous amount of time and resources necessary to bring their operating and technology environments into compliance, and the degree of scrutiny to which they’ll be subjected. As organizations strain to keep up with new mandates, it becomes increasingly easy to overlook or omit the apparatus necessary to ensure the organization maintains appropriate levels of control.
That’s why we offer operating, policy, and procedural reviews; business process and functional analyses; workflow analyses, infrastructure and systems evaluations; operational gap analyses; and process and efficiency reviews that enable us to:
- Accurately document the reality of the operating production environment
- Quickly detect control gaps through access, omission, or modification of existing business processes
- Quickly detect policy and procedural gaps to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of information initiated, generated, transmitted, housed, and maintained for clients’ constituencies
- Efficiently report the organization’s state of control and its readiness to protect its intellectual assets
- Effectively document remediation efforts for the affected organizational units
- Strengthen the organization’s ability to address audit, compliance, and prospective legal liabilities associated with reporting and control vulnerabilities.
We advise institutional asset managers in the implementation of investment management software and converting large-scale investment accounting applications. So, we know successful conversions require an intimate knowledge of securities, including fixed income and equity securities, as well as various derivative instruments. They also require detailed knowledge of statutory, GAAP, and tax accounting, plus the characteristics required to identify, account for, and report securities positions to comply with regulatory requirements.
While every situation is different, conversions and implementations of accounting software typically cost millions of dollars, including internal and external costs, and take 12 to 18 months to complete. But if a conversion is necessitated by a merger, operational requirements may shorten the timeframe to three to six months. The typical phases of such a project include but are not limited to the following:
- Client-specific application development
- Daily and monthly production jobs
- Data cleanup
- Data conversion
- Interfacing with other services and systems
- Issue tracking and resolution
- New release testing and implementation
- Parallel input to the old and new systems
- Production cutover planning and implementation
- Project planning, management, and client communication
- Reconciliation and financial implications
- Report creation, testing, and user sign-off
- Workaround documentation
- Workflows and procedures documentation.
In these efforts, exclusive use of internal resources can result in missing the big picture and a lack of objectivity as cross-departmental issues impede progress. New systems environments necessitate appropriate levels of training in addition to the attendant support documentation. Finally, effective post-conversion knowledge-transfer is crucial to success in new environments.
That’s why we provide services of two distinct types:
Management Consulting Services:
- Conversion and installation
- Project planning
- Project management and client communications
- Data conversion and data cleanup
- Client specific application development
- RFP (Request for Proposal) and RFQ (Request for Quotation) development
- Software evaluation and selection
- Systems interfaces to in-house and external systems
- Portfolio management reports, queries, and views
- Reports for quarterly and annual corporate tax filings systems.
Technical and Business Services:
- Reconciling old systems to new systems
- Financial impact documentation
- Parallel input to old and new systems
- Issues tracking and resolution reports
- Testing and signoffs
- New release testing and implementation
- Schedule D production and reconciliation workaround documentation
- User training on investment systems
- User training on investment instruments
- Workflows and procedures
- Monthly/quarterly portfolio reconciliation.
We frequently serve as an extension of our clients’ management in assessing, designing, and implementing projects. We fill the roles of program and project managers, business analysts, and technical advisors on investment applications, software evaluations, and system upgrades and conversions. We also design and manage implementations for all processing and operational activities for financial reporting, compliance, and the technologies on which they run.
We advise our clients on the development and evaluation of business/IT strategies and participate in tactical activities that support their business and operational objectives — from business and systems architecture design to user acceptance testing and systems implementation. We deliver timely, cost-effective, practical means to utilizing resources and achieving our clients’ objectives.
We provide program/project management and implementation support. We evaluate business processes, then develop business and technology strategies and measure business performance as those strategies are executed. We provide compliance, policy, and examination documentation. And we ensure financial reporting transparency. In short, we give our clients:
- Objective, independent input with hands-on experience
- No-nonsense, real-world, actionable recommendations
- Practical solutions that address business requirements (not technologies)
- In-depth advice and evaluations that address business and technology risks
- A cost-effective alternative to Big 4 or captive vendor teams
- A demonstrable track record of successful engagements.
Director’s Oversight Review
We provide independent advice and guidance on business, operational, and process risk and the controls necessary to manage them. We determine and document the suitability of current business processes, operational controls, and reporting to meet compliance and certification support requirements. We assess operational and technological readiness, as well as the adequacy and effectiveness of reporting, compliance, risk, and control processes. We identify gaps, determine the risks each represents, recommend mitigation, and manage the required changes.
Our methodology is based on globally accepted standards and addresses the policy, process, and procedural risks associated with investment management. We thoroughly examine the control environment. We assess the risks in the as-is environment, including the adequacy, recency, and quality of its supporting documentation. We evaluate the existence, the suitability, and the adequacy of existing control mechanisms. So, by assessing the effectiveness of existing information and communication channels — and by evaluating existing IT monitoring processes — we’re able to deliver:
- A comprehensive, timely, and accurate review of the processes, activities, and risks associated with the investment management process, concluding with:
- A Board report and presentation of findings
- A control-process gap and impact analysis
- A business risk assessment
- A risk-mitigation and management action plan
- An independent, objective evaluation of business and operational processes as a supplement to that provided by the firm’s legal and audit resources
- Functional expertise that transcends traditional accounting, compliance, and technical disciplines across the organization
- Risk-management and control orientation that identifies and measures the adequacy of current business and operational processes to manage control gaps and their likely consequences.
To find out more about the ways in which we can help, please call us at 603-912-5406 or complete the form below.