Pragmatic Data Transformation: Addressing Your Data Needs Without Disrupting Your Business

October 17, 2019
As data use cases increase, the need to service data in an efficient, scalable, and flexible way will only escalate.

Asset managers and financial institutions say data management is one of their top three most pressing challenges. Meanwhile, 66 percent of asset managers view data management as the area of their business that most calls for total disruption.1 But there are as many “solutions” out there as problems to solve. Solutions are available to facilitate investment decisions, open insights through analytics, manage risk and regulatory compliance, provide oversight of vendors, measure performance — the sky is the limit. Well, actually, data is the limit. Specifically access to high quality, well-organized, ready-to-consume data.

For asset managers, looking at a “total disruption” and overhaul of their data ecosystem is daunting. It’s often said that data should be treated as an asset — you hear it all the time — but revamping an operating model can be capital and headcount intensive. Rather than taking on this scope, some asset managers are turning to asset servicers for data solutions. This makes sense: assets servicers have domain expertise about what the data means, they typically originate the data, and know how to surface the data that matters. This deep understanding of the data, as well as their clients’ business model, puts asset servicers in a good position to develop trustworthy data solutions that can help. It’s no wonder that data related capabilities and services are now as much a part of the buying decision and commercial relationship as traditional core services such as custody and fund servicing.

With all of that said, there’s no silver bullet that can solve a large-scale data restructuring. The key to unlocking the power of data lies in what we call pragmatic transformation—meaningful, incremental, iterative adjustments that build to a holistic solution.

Here are three ways our clients are addressing data needs without the total disruption of a wholesale overhaul.

Case Study 1:

Rightsize your data footprint

Client A was in the midst of a productivity exercise and wanted to assess if they were receiving reports from their various service providers that could be decommissioned. Our investigation into their request produced clear opportunities for efficiency gains.

Our findings:

  • The client was receiving hundreds of reports each month, a result of years of specific requests across business areas and providers
  • 50% of the reports were customized
  • All of the reports were transmitted via email instead of standard, automated channels
  • Multiple versions of the same report were being sent to different functions across the client
  • 25% of the reports were going to third party service providers, some of whom were no longer responsible for the function that originally required them to have access to the data

Our process:

Through a series of workshops, we worked with Client A to rationalize their reports. We then produced streamlined data inventories focused on: email, FTPs, portals, SWIFT messages, and third-party data feeds in/out.

These projects, more often than not, started with relatively simple questions:

  • Where does data overlap?
  • What reports are customized?
  • Where are different departments getting the same data feeds?
  • Where is the manual intervention required?
  • How much data is going out the door?
  • Are all data recipients valid?

The result?

After data inventories and workshops, our clients are seeing enhanced levels of control, efficiency, and oversight. While the work is ongoing, we see clients making progress in these areas:

  • Decommissioning obsolete reports: cutting cost and driving efficiency
  • Gaining control of their data – confirming data recipients
  • Rightsizing the data footprint for more intuitive decision making, thereby reducing costs
  • Streamlining how data is received
  • Decrease risk by ensuring all flows were going to authorized users

Case Study 2:

Trim the Fat: Streamline your custom reporting

Client B has historically required their service providers to customize all reporting to follow the client’s own proprietary standards. Client B wanted their inbound reports to include internal transaction codes related to cash and share postings to make it easier for their systems to consume inbound data.

Our findings:

Over time, the impact of Client B’s approach was that their providers had hard coded reporting specifically for Client B. Later, when Client B approached their providers about upgrading reporting in support of an internal platform upgrade, they found the providers were not in a position to send the data without rebuilding all the existing data feeds which impacted the timing of the initiative.

This is a theme we see with many clients who want reporting their way which can include data column order, FX currency translations, specific timing rules, and myriad other small custom coding or manual intervention.

Our process:

BBH is working with clients like Client B to resource all the reporting they receive to standardized models and use an advanced translation engine to support any client-specific terminology required in out-bound reporting flows. Using standard data models and configuration tools allows the client to have more flexibility to consume data in a manner that optimizes Client B’s workflow, without modifying the source data and limiting the ability to use data for multiple purposes.

The result?

  • Client B is gaining greater control of report delivery through standardization and is able to calibrate the frequency of reports to its intended workflow
  • Client B sees their data as they like but doesn’t have to pay for each manual upload

Case Study 3:

Clean up your multi-provider mess

Client C was rolling out a new risk management platform but was having trouble getting data into the application.

  • The platform required the client’s full holding portfolio to be uploaded daily to run the risk analysis, but Client C’s portfolio had been allocated to over a dozen different sub-advisors
  • While the sub-advisors were willing and able to provide position holdings data to Client C, Client C found themselves on the receiving end of over a dozen separate position files that needed to be formatted, normalized, and aggregated, at a cost of many hours of manual work, just to prepare the data for upload

Our process:

BBH is working with Client C to introduce Infomediary Data Services as a solution to solve its data aggregation challenges. The Infomediary platform will sit in between the client and their service providers to automatically receive sub-advisor files and transform the data into an aggregated, normalized, and ready-to-use standard data set. As their business evolves, Infomediary makes it easy to plug and play any new service providers into the same infrastructure.

The result?

Client B will recognize:

  • Efficiency and cost savings
  • Ready-to-use data set for analytics and research without preparation or manual intervention
  • Freedom to easily add or subtract a new service provider

Bottom Line

Small steps can yield meaningful results. As data use cases increase, the need to service data in an efficient, scalable, and flexible way will only escalate. From a consolidated supply chain to efficient insight interpretation, and from standardized reporting to strategic decision-making support, the right data servicing partner can equip asset managers with the necessary tools to grow without a complete overhaul.

Next time you hear someone mention that data is an asset, ask yourself whether your operating model and relationship with your service providers supports the comment.

Case studies are for illustrative purposes and may not be representative of the experience of other clients and are no guarantee of future success.

1 Reinventing Operations in Asset Management, Accenture, 2019

Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (“BBH”) may be used as a generic term to reference the company as a whole and/or its various subsidiaries generally. This material and any products or services may be issued or provided in multiple jurisdictions by duly authorized and regulated subsidiaries. This material is for general information and reference purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax or investment advice and is not intended as an offer to sell, or a solicitation to buy securities, services or investment products. Any reference to tax matters is not intended to be used, and may not be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, or other applicable tax regimes, or for promotion, marketing or recommendation to third parties. All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed, and reliance should not be placed on the information presented. This material may not be reproduced, copied or transmitted, or any of the content disclosed to third parties, without the permission of BBH. Pursuant to information regarding the provision of applicable services or products by BBH, please note the following: Brown Brothers Harriman Fund Administration Services (Ireland) Limited and Brown Brothers Harriman Trustee Services (Ireland) Limited are regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland, Brown Brothers Harriman Investor Services Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Brown Brothers Harriman (Luxembourg) S.C.A is regulated by the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier. All trademarks and service marks included are the property of BBH or their respective owners. © Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. 2019. All rights reserved. IS-05561-2019-10-15

This browser is not fully supported by our public website and may not display or function as expected for this reason. Please note, the Infuse Portal and BBH client applications fully support the IE 11 browser.

Important Information for Non-U.S. Residents

You are required to read the following important information, which, in conjunction with the Terms and Conditions, governs your use of this website. Your use of this website and its contents constitute your acceptance of this information and those Terms and Conditions. If you do not agree with this information and the Terms and Conditions, you should immediately cease use of this website. The contents of this website have not been prepared for the benefit of investors outside of the United States. This website is not intended as a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any security or other financial instrument or any investment management services for any investor who resides in a jurisdiction other than the United States1. As a general matter, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. and its subsidiaries (“BBH”) is not licensed or registered to solicit prospective investors and offer investment advisory services in jurisdictions outside of the United States. The information on this website is not intended to be distributed to, directed at or used by any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation. Persons in respect of whom such prohibitions apply must not access the website.  Under certain circumstances, BBH may provide services to investors located outside of the United States in accordance with applicable law. The conditions under which such services may be provided will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis by BBH. BBH will only accept investors from such jurisdictions or countries where it has made a determination that such an arrangement or relationship is permissible under the laws of that jurisdiction or country. The existence of this website is not intended to be a substitute for the type of analysis described above and is not intended as a solicitation of or recommendation to any prospective investor, including those located outside of the United States. Certain BBH products or services may not be available in certain jurisdictions. By choosing to access this website from any location other than the United States, you accept full responsibility for compliance with all local laws. The website contains content that has been obtained from sources that BBH believes to be reliable as of the date presented; however, BBH cannot guarantee the accuracy of such content, assure its completeness, or warrant that such information will not be changed. The content contained herein is current as of the date of issuance and is subject to change without notice. The website’s content does not constitute investment advice and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. There is no guarantee that any investment objectives, expectations, targets described in this website or the  performance or profitability of any investment will be achieved. You understand that investing in securities and other financial instruments involves risks that may affect the value of the securities and may result in losses, including the potential loss of the principal invested, and you assume and are able to bear all such risks.  In no event shall BBH or any other affiliated party be liable for any direct, incidental, special, consequential, indirect, lost profits, loss of business or data, or punitive damages arising out of your use of this website. By clicking accept, you confirm that you accept  to the above Important Information along with Terms and Conditions.

1BBH sponsors UCITS Funds registered in Luxembourg, in certain jurisdictions. For information on those funds, please see

captcha image

Type in the word seen on the picture

I am a current investor in another jurisdiction