Technology progress expected
NAV Fund Administration Group: Best Administrator – Middle-Office Services – Over the coming year, the hedge fund industry can expect further development in the area of technology, and in particular advancements including accelerated report delivery cycles, more efficient transaction processing, and enhanced data security.
These advancements can help managers meet the challenges posed by the need for greater data security, the increased costs of fund administration, and expanding rules and regulations. “We view our clients as partners, so we strive to provide them with one-stop solutions that offer the most comprehensive, inclusive suite of services at a highly competitive cost,” outlines Ambuj Garg, Chief Operating Officer at NAV.
Garg believes this is a relationship-driven industry: “We build relationships by focusing on an overall goal to provide our clients with the highest quality of service at the lowest possible cost. As a technology-focused firm, we will continue to invest very heavily in technology -- it has served us well in achieving our client-focused objectives.”
The firm has always focused on technology and is well-positioned to manage industry developments successfully, as it has done historically.
NAV has had a strong year, with business growing overall through 2020. The primary areas of expansion were alternative credit, cryptocurrency and private equity funds. “Our growth in these areas is well above average compared to the industry, as well as relative to our peers. NAV onboarded 180 new clients so far in 2020, with 50 per cent of those being existing fund structures transitioned from other administrators,” Garg says.
The firm has achieved nearly 30 years of year-over-year growth solely via client referrals and maintains a remarkable 99 per cent client retention rate.
More broadly, Garg highlights changing client expectations: “Their needs have moved beyond traditional reporting and back office support. We now manage additional middle office functions, taking more responsibility for the operations/compliance side of the business so fund managers can focus on trading functions.
“We have designed and implemented several tools to accommodate our clients at no additional cost – including enhanced reporting (investor, risk, operational, and compliance) and a robust client portal – and will continue to develop new tools and service enhancements to anticipate our clients’ changing needs.”
Like most companies across the globe, the NAV workforce has been working remotely in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Garg comments: “We made the decision to move our workforce to remote or work from home status in mid-March 2020 and will likely continue to maintain largely remote operations through the first half of 2021.
“Our team did an excellent job adjusting our IT and communications infrastructures to keep our operations flowing smoothly. We’ve focused on maintaining optimal availability and responsiveness internally and to our clients.”
In further testament of its growth, NAV also expanded geographically in 2020, opening a new office in Singapore. The jurisdiction was selected on the back of the numerous initiatives introduced by the Singapore government to develop the country’s fund management industry. NAV also has a fourth back office building with 62,000 sq. ft. of workspace currently under construction in Jaipur, India. The project is expected to be completed in early 2021.
This year has also seen the firm reach 1,000 total employees globally, with more than 100 additions to the back-office team alone in 2020. Within NAV, 75 per cent of staff is qualified as CPA, CA, CFA, or MBA and account managers have an average of 15 years’ experience.
Chief Operating Officer, NAV Fund Administration Group
Ambuj Garg has more than 15 years of hedge fund administration industry experience, specialising in alternative investments. His role at NAV includes strategising and implementing operational process efficiencies, designing and supervising internal core accounting operations and procedures, and managing business development functions. Additionally, Ambuj directs setup and implementation teams for both new clients and those transitioning existing funds to NAV, with a focus on support of new funds and emerging managers during the critical initial launch phase. He holds advanced degrees in management and computer applications and is a Chartered Accountant.