John Lehner, President, FundGuard
Every now and again there’s a massive technology transformation, requiring all of us to make a huge leap. The creation of the iPhone and the subsequent, almost universal shift to smartphones, is an excellent example. However, what’s often not well understood is that the creation and development of the technology is not always the hardest part of the process, adoption and value benefits are. of the easiest parts. The difficult bits are the need to adapt everything else to accommodate these shifts, and the often real fears and concerns that come from the change in behavior and processes. I’ve been fortunate to have gone through this a few times such as during my previous firm’s migration from on premises technology to the use of SaaS services and, over the last few years, the move to native cloud and AI so I have a pretty good idea of what’s needed.
Today, we’ve finally reached a tipping point for the entire asset management and asset servicing industry, one that many insiders have long seen coming - now is the time to overhaul our systems and technology by abandoning legacy systems that were created in an entirely different environment (some as far back as 50 years ago) and embrace cloud-native and AI-based platforms. If we don’t, we limit what our customers can do and we’ll slow down any advances in new asset classes, new products and new services. Our industry is desperate for this change, even while simultaneously being fully aware that it’s not as simple as flipping a switch.
The challenges for implementation are significant but the risks in not doing so continue to get more serious. Legacy systems were, at implementation, major projects with complex, far-reaching hardware and software requirements. Today, many of these simply aren’t supported and the people who built them aren’t even in the industry anymore. As importantly, they weren’t designed to manage the volume of data that’s routine today, and they certainly weren’t set up for digitalization, collaboration and today’s expectation that data should be easily and immediately accessible. This is particularly true as we consider the explosion in new asset classes such as cryptocurrencies, that operate very differently to traditional assets.
But the decision to completely replace these isn’t an easy one. Ultimately, it’s about capital and investment. Firms have been, and continue to be, under intense financial pressure, so taking on a blue-sky multi-year project that must be scalable has been daunting.
For me, joining FundGuard at this point in time is a no-brainer and an incredible opportunity to help clients in the industry. Fundguard is solving these problems for the industry as a whole. They’ve created a fully automated, scalable solution that improves operational efficiency and dramatically reduces cost. Because it’s AI-powered and cloud-native, banks, asset managers and fund administrators can work more effectively and collaboratively, enhancing transparency and prove a real-time, single source of truth for funds. These are all things that the industry has long wanted and needed but that could not truly be delivered by attempting to adapt old systems. FundGuard has the right combination of leading cloud-based technology, deep industry experience and functional and operational expertise that rarely comes together, but when it does, it’s extraordinarily powerful.
While my experience has been varied and I’ve certainly enjoyed running and growing businesses in the asset servicing space, what really excites me is helping clients and solving their problems by finding better operational models. More than anything, this is what Lior at FundGuard has asked me to do - to work with FundGuard teams, and with our clients and potential clients across the industry, to smooth this necessary and much-anticipated transformation.
Any major technology shift happens when the technology and the timing is right. Now is the time for the asset management and asset servicing industries and FundGuard is at the vanguard of this. I can’t wait to be part of the journey as we become the default platform for the industry.