Key considerations institutional asset managers should weigh when formulating their data strategy.

Growing business needs, new products, regulatory changes, and more are compelling asset managers to future-proof their data strategy and platforms. An accelerated transformation is imperative to enhance return on investments, achieve business outcomes, and build momentum.

Creating a robust data strategy flexible enough to evolve with an organization is critical. But where should firms start?

The Growing Business Needs Driving Transformation

With everyday business challenges, such as the rollout of new products, obligations to adhere to stringent regulations, or planning for the upcoming transition to T+1 settlement, a robust data strategy has become non-negotiable. Forward-thinking data strategies enable asset managers to keep pace with evolving business requirements.

Several factors are driving the urgency to accelerate data strategy transformation. To begin with, asset managers must justify their investments in data strategy, including costs and tangible business outcomes. Providing data access to everyone in an organization – often called democratization of data – is also vital to improving front-, middle-, and back-office operations.

To Build or to Buy

A pivotal decision asset managers face is whether to build their enterprise data platform internally or buy a specialized platform. With advantages and disadvantages to both approaches, choosing the best fit depends on several factors.

Asset managers building their own solutions can align the platform to their unique business requirements. The decision to build reduces dependence on financial technology vendors and platforms. That said, even in this scenario, asset managers are dependent on general-purpose software platform vendors. With greater control over infrastructure, asset managers can make their own decisions about how and when to upgrade systems and can be confident they own their information. Building can sometimes offer potential cost savings. Freedom from annual vendor payments and vendor implementation costs means that firms can spend their investment dollars in other much-needed areas.

On the other hand, asset managers must also consider the disadvantages. Building in-house requires a significant investment in talent, infrastructure, and maintenance – often underestimated components. It typically takes much longer to develop an in-house platform with a greater-than-expected investment. Firms cannot overlook the time it takes to build capabilities from the ground up, integrate various platforms and functionality, and test for functionality performance and scale. What’s more, institutions must be committed to maintaining and continually fine-tuning the platform.

Supporting Expanding Data Needs

There is a third option for asset managers deciding whether to build a platform in-house or work with a partner: buy and build on top.

Working with a trusted partner can offer asset managers the technical and strategy know-how. An experienced partner offers deep domain expertise and knowledge across a broad set of use cases.

Leveraging a specialized financial data platform provides asset managers the core capabilities necessary to implement a solution that works out of the box – ultimately accelerating their time-to-market. These build-on-top capabilities allow customization, support to build out of proprietary analytics and workflows, and bespoke integration.

Typically, total cost of ownership is also lower because asset managers avoid the elevated expenses associated with internal development and maintenance. In our experience, the annual total cost of ownership can be 50-60% lower than a pure build approach, which doesn’t include the large upfront costs to build. As a result, the buy-and-build-on-top model is the top choice for many institutions. In fact, we’re increasingly seeing firms that once chose to build their own platform pivot to the buy-and-build-on-top approach.

As asset managers evaluate their options, they must ensure they choose a reliable partner, as that will have a significant impact on the data platform’s success. It’s also crucial to confirm the financial data platform they select offers the necessary capabilities to build on top.

Buy and Build on Top in Action

Consider the case of a large multi-asset manager that wanted to modernize its data strategy and roadmap. As part of sunsetting multiple legacy data management platforms, they chose Arcesium’s financial data platform with a clear intention to build on top. Their rationale was clear: it was important to focus their employee resources on value-added analytics, core workflow management, and implementing high-value business use cases. Arcesium’s specialized financial data platform offered them a host of core capabilities and the necessary components to build on top.

What Decision Is Best for Your Firm?

For institutional asset managers looking to transform their data strategy, a buy-and-build-on-top strategy can accelerate time to market, maximize resources, and optimize total cost of ownership. A buy-and-build-on-top approach can be a cost-effective and efficient way to transform your data strategy and achieve critical business outcomes.


Mahesh Narayan, Institutional Asset Management Segment Head


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