How Investment Management Firms Benefit from Engaging the Right Consultant

During an era when critical skills are in short-supply and valuable IT and business personnel spend most of their working hours in meetings, consultants can make the meaningful difference between a project’s success or failure. The right consultant brings diverse skills, broad perspectives and an understanding of both business and technology. In addition, consultants are best positioned to contribute in a way seldom possible by others since they can apply focus and attention to the task at hand – something that is difficult for full time employees to do when they are juggling competing demands and BAU tasks. This article:
• delves into business problems prevalent in many investment management firms, especially in vendor product evaluations and implementations;
• deals with how an outside consultant can play a significant, contributory role; and
• leverages a practical use case to demonstrate key benefits and tangible results delivered by a Meradia consultant who moved an almost failing project to a successful outcome.

by Jose R. Michaelraj, CIPM, Senior Consultant

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Wealth Management Study: A Survey Prompted by the Radically Evolving Operating Environment

Meradia’s 2020 wealth management survey collates information from interviews with key executives in the industry. The participating firms range from small- to mid-size and specialize in wealth management and trust service and operations. The study surfaces how firms view market trends and potential future challenges and involves deep discussions about their internal operating models.

The final output is designed to give insight to the industry in the form of commentary rather than statistics, gauge how the market is feeling as well as how firms are managing their clients and businesses. The views are based on observations made by the executives who participated.

by Joshua B. Levitt, Principal

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Targeted Demos Benefit Both Buyers & Vendors in the Selection Process – Whether They Are Conducted In-Person or Remotely

Typical vendor selection methodologies include consecutive steps made by the buying firm. Their first step is to consider an ‘anything is possible’ list of vendors before culling it to a short list of qualified vendors, followed by a robust and time-consuming RFP process. A few vendors will make it to the final steps which involve product demonstrations, or ‘demos.’ Even after all this effort and detailed qualitative analysis, a firm may have a difficulty selecting a single vendor and/or feel less-than-confident that their choice is unbiased and free of incorrect assumptions. By including live or remotely conducted targeted demos as the final step, firms are better able to evaluate vendors objectively.

by Christine (Tina) M. Madel, CFA, Principal

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Client Reporting for Wealth Managers: Taming the Challenges of Bespoke Meeting Books

Wealth managers offer a variety of services for high net worth, ultra-high net worth and institutional clients. Their services may include investment advisory, portfolio management, administration and oversight of trusts, monitoring against investment policy statements, goals-based wealth planning, total net worth aggregation and management of gifts and grants for endowments and foundations.

For multi-service wealth managers, there are a multitude of challenges in efficiently preparing client meeting books. They can include exhibits relevant to some or all these services. Advisors and support staff compile data points from multiple sources in multiple formats to create a comprehensive book which often takes hours to produce the finished product for a single client meeting. Here within we address solutions to making client reporting more efficient while maintaining flexibility and a high standard of quality.

by Thomas E. Alex, PMP, Principal

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Re-Engineering Karnosky-Singer: Utility, Versatility and Insight for Practical Multi-currency Management

In 1994, Denis S. Karnosky, Ph.D. and Brian D. Singer, CFA published a monograph entitled “Global Asset Management and Performance Attribution” (KS). They presented the idea that – due to the arbitrage known as interest rate parity – some contribution to the total return of a multi-currency portfolio is known, and ‘baked into’ a foreign-currency investment at the time it is made. Because this contribution is knowable and hedge-able, it should accrue to the currency market allocations of the manager – whether or not these are ultimately hedged.

While hugely influential among asset managers globally, these ideas remain largely unexploited in current performance practice. Though KS fully detail an attribution approach based on an expansion of the Brinson-Fachler method, and though this method is implemented in several commercially available performance systems – it is rarely adopted in the field.

We posit this circumstance to have arisen from several causes: misalignments between the paper’s formulation and practical investing reality, as well as inaccurate readings of, and consequently flawed implementations of the attribution method it sets out. We explore these causes in detail, and how they contribute to attribution results that fail to explain portfolio performance, obscuring the otherwise substantial value of KS’ central premise.

Finally, we develop a re-statement of KS that addresses those issues, producing an accurate decomposition of multi-currency effects that precisely explains the portfolio’s performance, while preserving the original paper’s essential insight. We go further to generalize this method and demonstrate its applicability to any investment attribution methodology.

by Mark R. David, CFA, Director of Performance, Risk and Analytics

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