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Survey: Workflow Transparency, Data Security, Work-From-Anywhere Capability Are Top Post-Pandemic Needs for the Buy-Side Front Office
April 27, 2021

BOSTON & PRINCETON, NJ — (April 27, 2021) — Workflow transparency, data security and work-from-anywhere capability top the list of post-pandemic needs for the buy-side front office, according to results from the 2021 Investor Survey: Research Management Trends in the Year of a Pandemic, published today by MackeyRMS and InsiderScore.

The 2021 Investor Survey was commissioned by MackeyRMS, a provider of SaaS-based investment research management software, and InsiderScore, a provider of corporate and regulatory filings data and analytics on publicly traded companies. The survey was conducted by Market Measurement, an independent market research and consulting firm. A total of 100 interviews were conducted between March 11-17 with investing, technology, operations, and compliance professionals in the asset management industry to assess their views on and plans for improving internal research management processes.

Nearly half (49%) of the respondents in this year’s survey reported their front-office teams had the most difficulty transitioning to work from home in March 2020, a much higher percentage than middle-office teams (29%) and back-office teams (22%). When asked how the pandemic changed technology and operations requirements for front-office teams, 69 percent of respondents said workflow transparency and data security were now a top priority. More than half(57%) of respondents also said cloud-based systems with mobile applications that support work-from-anywhere capability are post-pandemic requirements for front-office investment teams.

Despite the challenges posed during a year of work-from-home, the majority of asset managers continue to report that front-office technology modernization remains a top priority for their firm. Nearly all (95%) of asset managers not currently using a dedicated research management system (RMS) said their organization was likely to extremely likely to evaluate adopting a third-party system in the next two years. A majority (57%) of asset managers using an internally built system also reported they were likely to extremely likely to upgrade their system by implementing a vendor solution within 24 months.

There were, however, signals that the pandemic may have slowed platform upgrades during 2020. Among asset managers currently using a third-party platform, only 15 percent reported having implemented that system within the last two years, a drop from 33 percent in2020. Furthermore, no firms using a vendor platform reported having implemented it during 2020. This potentially indicates that the industry will see a resurgence in demand in 2021 among asset managers seeking to update front-office systems as modernization initiatives resume post-pandemic.

"The pandemic has proven to be the ultimate stress-test for systems and processes across the buy-side front-office,” said Andrew Robson, CEO of MackeyRMS and InsiderScore. “And while the overwhelming majority of firms in this year’s survey report that modernization initiatives remain a top priority, it’s likely the pandemic slowed industry progress toward upgrading front-office systems. That said, we’re seeing resurgent demand for modern, cloud-based, work-from-anywhere solutions for front-office investment teams and anticipate increased demand as the industry moves beyond work-from-home and toward a home/office hybrid work cadence in 2021 and beyond.”

While the use of dedicated research management systems has become prevalent among asset managers regardless of fund style and size (81% of firms report using a third-party or internally built system, up from 74% in 2020), survey data suggest that traditional, long-only asset managers, with teams larger than 16 people and more than $20 billion in AUM were slightly more prolific RMS users than were long/short managers, with teams of fewer than 16 people and less than $20 billion in AUM.

Other notable results from the survey:

For more information on how the pandemic has impacted research management technology and workflow enhancements across the asset management front office, please download the 2021 Investor Survey: Research Management Trends in the Year of a Pandemic.

2021 Investor Survey Methodology

MackeyRMS and InsiderScore worked with Market Measurement, an independent survey administrator, to conduct the 2021 Investor Survey. The survey was fielded between March 11-17, 2021. A total of 100 online interviews were conducted with investing, technology, operations, and compliance professionals in the asset management industry to assess views of and plans for the automation and modernization of internal research management processes.

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About MackeyRMS

MackeyRMS is a provider of SaaS-based research management software engineered to optimize the way analysts and portfolio managers generate, share, debate and act on investment research conducted for actively managed portfolios. Relied upon as a single system of record for research supporting the investment process, MackeyRMS is used by many of the world’s leading investment managers to organize key investment workflows, engender trust from investors, and streamline regulatory and compliance oversight. MackeyRMS is used by institutional asset managers and asset owners across the Americas, EMEA and APAC regions.