Advent Software Tracks Investment Management From Idea To Earnings

Tom Groenfeldt

Fund managers can use data they already have to monitor each step of their investment supply chain — from broker research to in-house analysts, trade execution and portfolio management with a new tool from Advent Software.

Data which already exists inside firms has great potential to improve returns, said Todd Gottula, chief technology officer at Advent Software, whose investment software tools are used at more than 4,500 firms.  The company is rolling out Advent Direct, a new cloud-based system that lets investment managers take data from their Advent modules and other enterprise systems such as, to generate a view of their investment processes and, soon, of their customers.

“Clients are focusing not on how to get more data but how to get better access to the data they already have,” added Gottula, “and use it in new ways to make better decisions and offer more transparency out to their clients and stakeholders.”

Information on the original investment hypothesis, the research it was based on, the analyst behind it and the trade execution, is typically held in a variety of separate silo systems, even in small firms, said Gottula.

In the past, several software providers have offered ways to track sell-side research and its results, but narrowly focused research evaluation systems are not sustainable, he explained.

Advent is looking to solve a much bigger set of issues and deliver more value, Gottula added. The quality of information about investment research is highly variable with some firms using software like Advent Tamale or CodeRed to track it, and others using Microsoft Outlook and shared folders — a fairly primitive approach that requires a lot of work to deliver even mediocre results.

“To really understand the quality of the broker information you need a repository of who the analyst was who received the broker research through to the point where you decided to act, and beyond that to tracking the performance. That involves lots of data from different systems, which is where a point solution fails because it requires that you build duplicate systems or undertake a massive integration project. If you are doing all that just for broker evaluation, you will fail.”

The challenge is to reach into the source systems and surface the underlying information to improve collaboration within the firm, make better investment decisions, and communicate the firm’s investment strategies with relationship managers and ultimately investors — often institutional managers or high net worth clients.

“Traditionally, communication among the departments has been done in printed paper reports. The analyst pitches an idea to the portfolio manager and then it goes to the trading desk. When relationship managers sit down with clients tor prospects to talk about why the firm is invested in IBM, they don’t have the information.”

Rather than getting more data and creating a data warehouse to store it, Advent  is proposing that firms  go to the source systems and put together views and presentations that cut across the silos. To achieve this, Advent is using an open eco system that can take information not only from Advent systems but also from other software packages, in-house systems, a firm’s internal research and or other CRM solutions, and delivers the results, with some effective visualization tools, through the cloud.

“We have been Microsoft, but our new platform uses SQL and Mongo (an open source NoSQL data repository) for doing a lot of the data set manipulating so we can get the best out of the technology. That is one reason cloud can be so powerful — we can use best of breed technology behind the scenes and not subject our clients to managing the environment,” he explained.

“Our first focus is on transparency and then helping the investment manager understand clients and prospects and find better sources of sticky capital. The investment manager is interested in raising the funds and keeping the funds.”Capital retention is a key concern of managers, he added, and flight risk is never far from their minds.

“We can help them have better conversations with their clients and prospects and explain how they are making investment decisions.”

Search capability in Advent Direct will allow analysts to find information they may not be aware of.

“People often don’t know what is already available,” Gottula said. “Broker research comes in — it  might be a report on IBM but it also talks about how IBM is selling systems into Brazil which they see as a growing opportunity. Generally people will stuff that into an IBM folder, while a portfolio manager who is  interested in South America would never know about the report.” Advent’s system uses a natural language search engine so an analyst can easily check for mentions of Brazil or South America across all the reports within the firm’s systems.

Advent’s initial focus is on investment management and the investment lifecycle process, but the relationship management process is probably the next step. Gottula sees a large opportunity there.

“The quality of information on customers is surprisingly, often shockingly, low, especially for high net worth individuals where a lot of publicly available information exists. Investment firms will know the name, address and Social Security number but they often don’t know much about the investor’s other investments and about them personally. Sourcing what is available though social networks we can provide a lot of value by augmenting that data set.”

Advent is rolling out Advent Direct to a few clients in Q4 and hopes to have several hundred of its 4,000 clients using it by the end of 2013.


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Top Ten Business Innovation Posts of the Week [January 14, 2013]

Lindsey Nelson

On the Business Innovation site, we deliver the top blogs, news  and  featured content on business innovation for professionals looking to  grow and  gain a competitive  business advantage. We cover hot topics and thought  leadership on mobile applicationscloud computingbig datareal-time analytics and the top challenges facing  executives and leaders in sales & marketingfinancehuman resources and much, much more.

Each week, we curate and publish the top ten posts of the week on  business  innovation from across our content categories. We hope you find  these articles  valuable, informative, and interesting. Enjoy!

The Global Phenomenon: BYOD

Mobile – By Lindsey Nelson, @LindseyNNelson

It’s gone global! Did you know 89% of IT departments worldwide support bring your own device (BYOD) practices? This is just one of the findings from Cisco’s recent survey of mobile device usage. Check out the other interesting findings!

How The CDC Is Using Big Data To Save You From The Flu

Big Data – By Julie Bort, @Julie188

There’s Google Mail, Google AdWords, now Google Flu Trends? The CDC and Google teamed up with big data to help people fight the flu just by showing them where it is. Pretty cool!

Big Data For Marketing: I Want My Real-Time Dashboard

Sales & Marketing – By Michael Brenner, @BrennerMichael

Marketers worked with massive data sets even before big data was cool (we’re trendsetters, what can we say?). Here one marketer’s plea for a real-time dashboard and if you’re with him, he’s identified three ways to get your own.

Planning for Mobile Business in 2013 – New Year’s Mobility Resolutions [Infographic]

Mobile – By Carolyn Fitton, @carolynfitton

Look around you, I bet everyone has a smartphone or tablet in their hand. So it’s not hard to make a prediction that mobile will continue to grow. If you want to create a strong mobile strategy, here’s a few tips and with an accompanying infographic on how to do so.

5 Ways To Achieve A Profitable Customer Experience

Sales & Marketing – By Lindsey Nelson

It’s not specific to any industry or market, a great customer experience means profit, it means brand loyalty, and it means overall success for your company. How do you do it? Here are 5 tips to get you started.

2013 Forecast On Cloud Computing Trends

Cloud – By Folia Grace, @FoliaGrace

Don’t expect it to float away in 2013, here are four areas forecasted to cloud up the horizons.

3 Qualities Of A Great Sales Manager

Sales & Marketing – By Mukesh Gupta, @rmukeshgupta

Sales is fast paced and high pressure. So if you’re a sales manager how do you maintain stress and still be a good boss? Mukesh gives us three tips.

See What The Retail Stores Of The Future Will Look Like

Industries – By Ashley Lutz, @AshleyLutz

In the age of mobile technology, shoppers are changing more than ever, and retailers are rushing to catch up with their customers’ ever-evolving demands. Check out this post with pictures on what our shopping ambiance of the future will look like.

Mobile Is Maturing – Don’t Get Left Behind With a Bad Mobile Strategy

Mobile – By Stephen Brown

Just like your corporate strategy, your mobile strategy should continue to evolve in order to meet the demands of the fast-paced market. It’s bigger than a project, it requires a combined effort across teams. How do you develop one? Here are a few tips.

The Obstacles In Big Data

Big Data – By Lindsey Nelson

It’s a powerful resource and when it’s used right can make some pretty great predictions and forecasts. But make sure you’re aware of these obstacles before you start.


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3 Critical Questions For B2B Sales: Why Change? Why Now? Why You?

Bob Apollo

Your company is facing an increasingly strong competitor – yet you won’t find them listed in any Google search of the key players in your marketplace. But this competitor is playing a powerful and often-undefined role in almost every significant B2B buying decision. And it’s the reason why a growing number of your apparently well-qualified opportunities are ending up with the prospect deciding to “do nothing”.

Have you recognised the competitor yet? It’s the status quo – and in today’s increasingly risk-averse decision-making climate, where it may be harder than ever before to get approval for discretionary investments, your prospects might think that sticking with the status quo is the safest option open to them. You need to persuade them otherwise. And you need to make the case for change before you make the case for your solution.

Is the status quo holding you back?

Anchor stuck flipped

Before you can expect to win their business, you need to play your part in persuading all the key stakeholders in the buying decision process that the cost and risk of doing nothing significantly outweighs the cost and risk of the investment you are asking them to make – and that your offering represents the least risky of all the options open to them – including the decision to “do nothing”.

Let’s be clear. If you haven’t done all you can to persuade the prospect of the need for change, you probably don’t deserve their business. Yet I still observe experienced sales people rushing in to propose their company’s product or service offerings while the prospect is still unclear or unconvinced about whether they need to let go of the status quo.

The truth about burning platforms and compelling events

Sometimes you’ll get lucky, and the prospect will already have concluded that they are standing on a “burning platform”, or face a truly “compelling event”. But don’t be surprised if, during the course of your sales process, the flames start looking a little more bearable, or if the upcoming event seems just that little less compelling.

The answer is in your hands. As Tom Pisello of Alinean points out in a recent webinar, you need to make sure that the key stakeholders in your prospect understand why they need to change, why they need to do it now, and why they need to work with you to accomplish it. And until you’ve successfully navigated the “why change?” and “why now?” questions, you ought to be very cautious about investing a lot of sales effort in trying to answer the question “why us?”

It’s why I’ve been advising clients to test that their prospects recognise the case for change early in the sales process – and if a clear case does not yet exist, to work with the key stakeholders to either create one or to exclude the opportunity from any sales forecast until and unless the case has been made and agreed by the prospect.

No case for change? no deal!

Failure to make the case for change is one of the most common root causes when I conduct pipeline analysis to help prospects understand why opportunities are stuck or being lost to a decision to do nothing. But the impact is deceptive, because the effects often show up later in the sales cycle.

If you’re suffering from a rash of stuck late-stage sales opportunities, I strongly recommend that you investigate whether an adequate case for change had been made and agreed earlier on in the sales process. Don’t be surprised if your sales people turn out to be suffering from a condition I have come to refer to as “premature elaboration”.

Six steps to making a compelling case for change

In order to establish the strongest possible case for change, I recommend that you coach your sales people to lead their prospects through the following six-step process, and that you provide them with the sales tools and marketing messages to implement them. Don’t be put off if this approach at first appears rather long winded: try it, get the “case for change” foundation built right, and you’ll be surprised how fast the subsequent stages in the buying process can be driven – and how many fewer well-qualified opportunities end in “do nothing” decisions.

1: Start building the foundation by sharing valuable insights with the prospect – you want to stimulate them to adopt a fresh perspective about what they need, and have them believe that you can help them make smart decisions that will take their business forward

2: Next, develop those insights into specific issues that directly affect their current business situation – these could be specific problems they need to address, goals they need to achieve, or opportunities they need to realise

3: Third, and most critically, help them to calculate for themselves the impact on their business of failing to address the issue – and to conclude that action needs to be taken sooner, rather than later

4: Before jumping in and proposing your product or service solution, explain why your approach is the one most likely to help them deal with the issue. Focus on how and why you do what you do, rather than the details of what you offer

5: Once you’ve clearly differentiated your approach from all the other options open to them, now – at last – you can show how your (carefully selected) capabilities directly address the issues you have established earlier

6: Finally, eliminate as much risk as possible from the equation by proving (with tangible, relevant evidence) how your approach and capabilities are going to help them accomplish the needed change successfully

So – are your marketing and sales processes successfully building a compelling case for change? Are they providing clear answers to “why change?” “why now?” and “why you?”. Or, if not, are you really happy with all the wasted effort that will have been devoted to the rash of decisions to “do nothing” that will inevitably result?

Note: This blog post is from one of our featured guest bloggers, Bob Apollo, and has been modified slightly from its original form with Bob’s consent.  The original post can be found on Bob’s blog here.


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Cloud People: Paul Nursey, the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC)

Schalk Viljoen

Paul Nursey is the Vice-President of Strategy & Corporate Communications at the Canadian Tourism Commission (CTC). He has been with CTC for over six years; in his current role his focus is on strategic planning, managing government relationships, corporate communications, and championing change initiatives across the organization. (@PaulNursey)

What business issues factored into your decision to move to the cloud?

There are multiple reasons, the overarching factor being that we are committed to a strategy focused organization and deliver a lean and scalable operation across all our business lines. As a public organization, it’s easy to get pulled in different directions by stakeholders. In order for us to be effective, we need to be clear about our strategic vision and the initiatives that support that vision. In 2009 /2010, we went through a comprehensive IT review to really understand what our business needs; based on the outcome we decided that cloud solutions would be a good fit for our organization.

What are your goals for cloud solutions?

Three major drivers influenced our decision to move business process to hosted cloud solutions:

1. Running Lean

The majority of our funding comes from public sources; as a result we don’t have direct control over our revenue cycles, which can fluctuate quite substantially. In that context, it’s important that we run lean and minimize our overhead costs. One example of how cloud solutions have made CTC more lean is by replacing onsite servers with cloud-based technology, freeing up those resources to invest in marketing to grow the  business of tourism for Canada.

2. Scaling for Growth

Running lean is part of the equation – equally important is leveraging technologies that will grow with us. At the end of the day, our goal is to drive businesses. Solutions that are scalable ensure that our business needs are met at every stage of growth in our organization. Having the flexibility to license an as-needed number of users with different levels of access gives us the power to optimize our business processes and improve performance.

3. Keeping Technology Current

The reality of on-premise solutions is that the day you buy something, it becomes obsolete. You end up paying consultants to upgrade all the time or build customizations, which adds extra expense. We really liked the idea that by embracing the cloud we’ll get new releases and our systems will be current all the time. We know that the providers we’ve chosen are dedicated to staying current.

What key elements have made your transition to the cloud successful?

There’s an old saying: “It takes a whole village to raise a child” – I would amend that to “It takes a whole village to embrace the cloud”! It’s really true – moving to the cloud requires an organization shift that goes wide and deep. Through our experience, I can point to two key elements that have helped CTC make the transition successfully.

1. Know what you want

We made a conscious decision – we recognized early on that we’re not different from many organizations in that we wanted functional, good systems that worked well and supported our employees. It was important to us that we license a system that we considered to be a “Chevy” – something everyone can drive – as opposed to a Cadillac. We intentionally chose a solution that is mid-range without a lot of bells and whistles that we may never use.

2. Embrace changes in your business process

Fundamentally, embracing change is about good, clear communication within your organization throughout the change management process. It’s important to be very clear on what you want to achieve and recognize that your business processes are going to have to change. We went in with eyes wide open, knowing that we would need to adapt our business practices, communicate changes clearly to our staff, and set the expectation up front that customization wasn’t really going to be an option in our situation. Ultimately our approach was to find the best tool we could against our price point and strategy and work from there.

What’s the one critical question every customer should ask when selecting a cloud vendor or solution?

For me, it was really about the relationship more then a specific question. Of course, it’s imperative to make sure your technical requirements are covered. Beyond that, what I really look for is solid business relationship experience that I can rely on. You’re getting into a long-term relationship where core business functions are moving onto a different platform – you have to be able to pick up the phone and know that you can have frank discussions to address critical business needs. Having excellent support throughout this process has had a huge impact on our success.


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Leadership Lessons From Everyday Acts - Part 1

Mukesh Gupta

leadership is like riding a bikeLeadership is like riding.

  • you need to know where you want to go.
  • you need a fair idea of how to reach there.
  • you re-route yourself if you face a traffic jam or any other situation which might stop you from reaching your destination.
  • you decide on the route based on the type of vehicle that you are driving. The routes that you can take while driving a bike is very different from the one that you can take while driving a car, which could be very different from the one that you can take if you were driving a huge 26 tire truck.
  • if you want to reach a specific place at a specific time, you plan to leave at a specific time based on facts like which vehicle are you driving, what route you will be taking, the traffic conditions on that route at that particular time, etc.
  • you know when, where and how much to re-fuel.
  • you also plan for maintenance of your vehicle.

All of these are the same qualities that a leader needs to exhibit while leading an organization or a nation:

  • they need to have a vision or know where they want to lead to.
  • they need to have a fair idea of how to reach there (a plan).
  • they should be able to recognise when things are not going according to plan, and be able to change strategies to be able to reach the goals.
  • they design their strategies based on their understanding of the people whom they are leading. Strategies that work while leading a start-up will be very different from the ones that will work while leading large scale organisations.
  • they also understand the resources that will be required to reach their goals and find ways to get these resources at the right times.
  • they also understand that people and organizations need overhaul and maintenance on a regular basis to weed out inefficiencies and straighten out cultural issues.

So, if you know how to ride from one place to another, you already know more about leadership than you will ever need. The only thing that you need to do is to be aware of these and put them in action.

What do you think of this comparison between driving and leadership. Do let me know by commenting below or by tweeting me (@rmukeshgupta).

PS: you can also watch Popeye’s leadership lessons:

Popeye’s leadership lessons 


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