For UMB Fund Services, the past 18 months have been a lesson in adaptability, flexibility and commitment. According to Jill Calton, EVP, Executive Director Alternative Investments for UMB Fund Services: “We quickly adapted to a new working style in March 2020, and over the course of a weekend, transitioned our entire workforce to remote work.”
Strong policies and procedures, a highly skilled and trained workforce, and paperless processes made this transition possible. “We already had remote work integrated into our disaster recovery plan so we were able to implement those changes without service impacts to clients and stakeholders,” she adds.
UMB has seen strong growth in all sectors of the business: hedge, private equity and a growing interest in strategies pertaining to real estate, real assets and direct lending. While there are some commonalities with other fund strategies, the administrator has invested resources in system enhancements to meet unique needs for real estate fund administration.
“We are witnessing a major shift in employment in the industry and as people are making more career moves than ever before, we are seeing asset managers turn to service providers to provide more expertise and stability,” Calton says.
“An asset manager’s need for real time data continues to increase. We have continued to invest in making data more accessible and available on a real-time basis, whether related to investors, investments, financial performance, compliance or other matters. Automation continues to change the way the industry operates and the speed in which data flows,” she adds.
There has also been a growing demand by clients to provide private equity strategies to a broader distribution channel and access to the retail accredited investors, and UMB is working with several clients on developing regulated investment companies (RIC) focused on private equity strategies.
Further, UMB continues to see high demand for core fund administration services. Increasingly, clients are asking for more support with regulatory compliance, data standardisation and transferability, custody and treasury services, and loan servicing support.
In terms of new products and services, UMB continues to grow regulatory compliance support services and has extended services for FATCA and CRS to existing clients who have funds serviced elsewhere.
Through its proprietary system AltPro, UMB offers a service to fund of funds to collect, standardise and report on underlying fund holdings and portfolio companies.
Calton adds: “UMB has expanded our offering for funds with lending strategies, and has made technology enhancements to track and price loan data. We have also developed a full offering to support RIC funds, and can support all functions associated with those complex products.”
Over the next 12-18 months, Calton believes that the industry will continue to offer risk-adjusted returns to investors and growth will continue, and that opportunities in private debt will be an additional driver of growth.
Calton also points to technology as a major factor in the industry as developments, like blockchain, influence workflow. “Technology will also support the increasing demand for transparency and monitoring, as regulatory requirements and government oversight increase and investor demands for information gets more granular,” she says.
“Our industry is quick to respond to changes and evolves to meet new challenges. So whatever lies ahead, the industry will adapt to,” she concludes.
Jill Calton, EVP/Executive Director Alternative Investments, UMB Fund Services
Jill Calton leads the alternative investment servicing business of UMB Fund Services, which offers a full range of back-office services for alternative investment funds. Her responsibilities include organisational leadership, strategic development and fiscal management. This includes overseeing the teams that provide fund accounting, administration, investor reporting, tax and audit services for the company’s alternative investment clients. She previously served as a Managing Director, overseeing one of these client service teams.