AIMA Forum Takeaways: Technology, Innovation and Change

We’re still digesting all the great takeaways from the recent AIMA Global Policy & Regulatory Forum 2019. The theme was “Technology, Innovation, Change,” which is exactly what firms should be focused on this year.

In the general session, Jeanette Turner, Chief Regulatory Officer of CSS, led a lively panel on “Technology as a Gamechanger” with fellow panelists Matt Siano, Managing Director and General Counsel at Two Sigma; Moad Fahmi, Senior Advisor-Fintech, Bermuda Monetary Authority; Stacey Schreft, Deputy Director, Research and Analysis, U.S. Treasury’s Office of Financial Research; and Stan Yakoff, Adjunct Professor, Fordham University School of Law.

Here are some key takeaways from the discussion:

  1. Every firm is a technology business. Everyone needs to understand certain concepts and basic coding. You can’t analyze situations and make informed decisions without basic knowledge of technology.
  2. ABCD – Always be collecting data. Always.
  3. Firms should think about their culture and create a culture of innovation. Fund managers should be using technology to streamline anything that can be streamlined. If a firm is less tech-savvy, it can start by identifying the “low-hanging fruit,” meaning the simple manual tasks and processes that can be digitized or automated.
  4. When considering “build vs buy”… also consider whether existing service providers can help. Some have technological solutions in place and already have access to the firm’s data.
  5. It is an “evolution, not a revolution.” Do not be afraid of future technological change. You will see it coming and the changes will be iterative. For now, understand your business and what viewpoints you need to consider when making changes.
  6. Data, data, data … Regulator demand for fund manager data is the primary reason many firms started using more technology. Data is always part of the conversation, whether it’s how to collect, aggregate and normalize it, or how to keep it secure, especially after it is sent to the regulators.
  7. Status Quo – The issues around regulatory reporting are not changing any time soon. Regulators like receiving and analyzing the data.
  8. Automated reporting – When asked how firms would feel about automated reporting via machine-executable rules or eventually through distributed ledger technology such as blockchain, the panelists did not think that firms would mind automated reporting so long as it wasn’t in real time. To protect data and proprietary information such as investment strategies, information reported to regulators must be sufficiently stale.

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