This reports showcases some of the winners in the service provider categories at this year’s Hedgeweek US Awards, highlighting how they are nimble and can adapt their solutions to meet the changing needs of managers.
The 'US Service Provider Insights 2020' special report comprises 20 separate articles listed below, these can be read individually or as a sequence.
By A Paris – As the world scrambled to transition to remote working, service providers played a critical role in easing the shift among hedge funds and alternative investment managers. In this, they proved to be of vital support to ensure managers continued to trade and also serve their clients without interruptions.
Cowen Outsourced Trading: Best Outsourced Trading Solution Provider – The near immediate global lockdown that resulted because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the shelter-at-home policies that followed has to be the biggest challenge clients have faced this year. The struggles they encountered led to a sharpened need for trading assistance and connectivity.
UMB Fund Services: Best Administrator - Technology – As managers seek new ways to generate alpha for investors, they look for new and unique opportunities. As a result, funds will look to strong third-party partners who are committed to delivering the comprehensive solutions to support their objectives and the needs of their investors.
Anchin, Block & Anchin: Best Accounting Firm for Start-up & Emerging Funds – The increase in market volatility has provided hedge funds with the opportunity to generate returns in excess of the indices. However, despite the positive performance, emerging managers are still struggling to raise capital, as investors remain hesitant to hand mandates down to managers they have not met in person.
FIS: Best Risk Management Technology Provider – The essence of the FIS Front Arena solution centres on providing portfolio managers with dashboards that deliver a real time view of positions, risk and performance. Adrian Holt, Director at FIS, identifies that the strength of the solution is the broad range of investment strategies the platform can support: “This coverage is enabled by the vast range of asset classes and associated valuation models which are natively built into the application. Through these models, users have access to a very broad range of analytics and metrics. These are augmented through the integration of other FIS modules such as Monis and APT.”
Investcorp-Tages: Best Seeding Platform – Investors have been increasing their focus on diversifying away from traditional assets and gaining exposure to solid and consistent alpha generation. This has translated into an increased need for steady and new sources of alpha above and beyond a well contained market risks exposure.
Arcesium: Best Data Management Solution – As investment managers become more comfortable with making use of new technology, firms in the financial services industry are now reaching out to providers of fintech platforms, services and infrastructure for supporting in sustaining their operating model. They also understand both the need to be more agile and the role technology plays in making this happen.
BNY Mellon’s HedgeMark: Best Managed Accounts Platform – Institutional investors are changing the way they access the hedge fund asset class. Their desire for increased control, customisation and transparency is driving an increase in the use of managed accounts.
CohnReznick: Best Audit Firm – In the current environment, launching a fund requires more preplanning than ever before. Along with successfully raising capital, there are various other key factors which play a crucial role in making sure the launch is successful. Establishing adequate operational support is a critical part of the process. Bill Pidgeon, Co-Leader of CohnReznick’s Financial Services Industry practice, comments: “Launching a fund takes more than just knowing how to gain investment alpha. Planning around achieving operational alpha is just as important. Managers need to be able to identify compatible partners; having a strong supporting cast at launch is crucial to our clients’ success.”
BTIG Prime Brokerage: Best Boutique Prime Broker – In the last year, BTIG Prime Brokerage has experienced tremendous growth in the number of funds on its platform. “Whether established hedge fund, newly launched business or family office, managers are selecting BTIG as their prime broker for multiple reasons – better client service, customised solutions, a robust portfolio reporting system and seamless integration with our Outsource Trading and Electronic Trading offerings. Our high levels of client satisfaction lead to referrals not only from existing clients but also from other service providers – accountants, attorneys and even bulge brackets for small and mid-sized accounts that don’t meet their coverage criteria,” said Justin Press, Managing Director and Co-Head of BTIG Prime Brokerage.
Align: Best Cloud Services Provider – The changing needs of fund managers, driven by regulatory and industry progress, means Managed Services Providers are in a strong position to capitalise on these developments. The increased demand for regulatory-compliant IT services, increasing focus on operational standards and controls as well as the abrupt shift to a decentralised workforce have contributed to Align breaking the 350 client threshold in just about three years of going to market.
DMS Governance: Best Offshore Regulatory & Compliance Firm – Regulation is changing rapidly across all jurisdictions and as hedge fund managers look to capitalise on increasing institutional investor interest, they are reaching out for the global support to facilitate this. As well as ensuring that they adhere fully to the current rules they must also be well primed for any future amendments.
Eze Castle Integration: Best Cybersecurity Provider – In today’s remote world, firms now more than ever need to ensure the security of their distributed workforces. The Covid-19 pandemic had a profound impact on global businesses as well as their employees who have had to adapt to new environments and adopt new collaboration methods.
Ogier: Best Offshore Law Firm – The continued growth of global regulations will continue to have an impact on every aspect of the investment funds industry, including the Cayman Islands as a jurisdiction. In this environment of rising regulation investment managers are increasingly looking to law firms like Ogier to provide them with support and help bring consistency across jurisdictions.
RFA: Best Outsourced IT Provider – While security has always been at the forefront for funds, this year has tested defence practices and security frameworks utilised by the sector globally. The Covid-19 pandemic has pushed firms to identify and quickly mitigate any new security gaps. This new landscape has accelerated the adoption of advanced security and control measures to survive.
Horseshoe Fund Services: Best Offshore Administrator – Hedge fund managers are seeking fresh ideas to achieve position returns. This need has driven significant growth in private lending/specialty financing, including real estate loans, peer-to-peer lending and merchant cash advances.
Sadis & Goldberg: Best Law Firm – The marketplace is in demand of Alpha and Beta. In view of this, the industry can expect to see strong growth with the launch of open-end funds and growth of assets under management due to the market’s recent ongoing volatility since March 2020.
Peaks Strategies: Best PR & Communications Firm – In light of increasing market volatility and market dislocations, there continues to be a need and demand for more niche managers to find overlooked investment opportunities.
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.
BarclayHedge: Best Index Provider – Savvy investors are considering non-bond alternative investments to provide portfolios with an element of diversification and offer protection during major market sell-offs. As they look to substitute parts of their fixed income holdings with hedge fund and managed futures, the demand for data on these assets has been on the rise. The volume and accuracy of these information requirements have also been evolving. This progress has buoyed firms like BarclayHedge, a division of Backstop Solutions Group, whose purpose is to help clients solve data and information-related problems.