Pzena Investment Management is a 16-year-old hedge fund with a solid return record and a reputation for business integrity, research excellence and devotion. With close to 70 employees between the New York headquarters and a representative office in Melbourne, Australia, the company relies upon its IT department and technology consultants to oversee its 80 computers and 30 virtualized servers. As a public company and reputable investment management firm, Pzena must be assured that its critical systems and applications, such as its portfolio accounting system, email service, Microsoft Office applications and Swift Connections, are operating properly on a 24x7x365 basis to ensure client needs are addressed promptly.
Seeking an IT Partner for the Future
In 2009, the firm decided the time had come to replace its existing technology consulting company. In its search for a new partner, Pzena reviewed the qualifications of several firms and gathered referrals from other companies in the investment management market. Based on this research and feedback, the firm chose Eze Castle Integration for its deep technology knowledge, worldwide support and the ability to leverage Eze Castle personnel as on-site system administrators.
Here we are again – at the end of another year and recapping some of the best and most popular posts from the Hedge IT Blog in 2012. This year, we spent a lot of time talking about cloud computing, security, and disaster recovery, among other topics.
As always, we welcome your feedback and would love to hear your suggestions for future articles on Hedge IT. In the meantime, we’ll continue to bring you new and interesting posts related to all of your favorite hedge fund technology topics.
At last, here is a recap of our most popular blog articles of 2012:
This year, we undertook a research study surveying 130 hedge funds and alternative investment firms in regards to their adoption of cloud technology. The results revealed that more than eight out of ten investment firms are either currently using or planning to use cloud computing services in the near future. This shift towards the cloud signifies a major trend in the financial services space as firms look to move away from costly on-premise technology infrastructures. You can download the complete survey report here.
Categorized under: Cloud Computing Business Continuity Planning Disaster Recovery Hedge Fund Due Diligence Hedge Fund Operations Hedge Fund Regulation Help Desk Infrastructure Outsourcing Security Trends We're Seeing
It’s no secret that hedge funds and investment firms have been divided over the use of public and private clouds for some time. We’ve discussed it in depth here on the Hedge IT Blog, explaining the differences between the two and why most funds are choosing to go with a private cloud solution.
A case can be made, however, that there’s a time and a place for each cloud platform and both offer their own advantages for hedge funds. We’ve taken a look at some of the key areas firms will consider when looking at public and private clouds and identified who we think takes the cake.
Service & Support
Investment firms demand uptime to ensure operational efficiency and profitability. Public cloud providers, however, do not offer hedge fund-specific IT support and rather have limited customer service representatives troubleshooting the most basic of email and desktop support issues.
A volatile economic environment, increased investor scrutiny and changing regulations have put the spotlight on organizational transparency and operational risk at investment firms. These factors, combined with the rising overhead costs inherent in owning, managing and monitoring a technology infrastructure and related services, have caused technology to take on a greater importance in recent years. It’s become a competitive differentiator and – with the explosive growth of cloud computing –a game-changer for funds’ operational strategies.
One major change we’re seeing within the industry is a trend toward outsourcing. In the past, we’ve discussed a number of outsourcing options, such as cloud computing, colocation, FIX connectivity and staffing. Today, let’s take a deeper dive into one aspect of outsourced staffing: leveraging a third-party help desk for day-to-day technology questions, systems management and troubleshooting.
As we mentioned in our Help Desk FAQs article a few weeks ago, we recently completed a comprehensive profile on our Help Desk team. This includes an in-depth look at all areas of the department, such as the various sub-groups housed within the Help Desk, the team’s client request escalation procedures, professional development and ongoing skills enhancement provided to all team members and more.
While completing this document, we also created a video depicting our Client Support Center and the team members in action. (You may also remember last year’s video, featuring our director of Help Desk services, Dan Kummer, and associate director, Andre Chinkan.) This year’s video introduces viewers to several members of the Eze Castle Help Desk staff, who take us through many of the team’s most important functions and services. Check it out!
Over the past few weeks, we have been hard at work putting together our submission for this year’s Help Desk Institute Team Excellence Awards. These awards honor top Help Desk teams that consistently demonstrate excellence in customer service and support, focusing specifically on the people, processes, and technologies of the teams.
In talking with our Help Desk leaders, specifically Dan Kummer (our Director of Help Desk Services) and Andre Chinkan (Associate Director), we identified a number of questions they hear repeatedly from our clients regarding what to expect when working with the Desk. So, to help clear some of these up, we’ve put together a set of Help Desk FAQs.
People take vacations. Companies don’t.
Hedge funds, just like most financial firms, need staff to run their technology, handle special projects, build (and manage) complex applications and of course execute core business activities. But in many cases it is not realistic or cost-effective to keep everything in-house. Enter outsourced staffing.
Outsourced staffing options for hedge funds abound. So let’s take a look at five common outsourcing practices, which we first introduced in our Technology Outsourcing Guidebook:
As next week’s SIFMA Financial Services Technology Expo approaches, we are gearing up for some great seminars featuring some of the industry’s leading experts. In preparation for the conference, we have been reviewing the conference agenda and sharing some of our top picks for the seminars to check out.
Earlier this week, we looked at such hot topics as Dodd-Frank compliance and cloud computing. For today’s post, we have compiled some interesting and informative SIFMA seminars on technology trends and the impact of social media that are sure to be a hit at SIFMA.
If you follow us on Twitter, you may have noticed that we have been hard at work putting together our submission for the upcoming Help Desk Institute (HDI) Team Excellence Awards. Each year, the HDI honors Help Desk teams that have demonstrated outstanding customer service and support. The Team Excellence Award is focused on the people, process, and technology aspects of support centers.
Led by Director Dan Kummer, and Manager Andre Chinkan, the Eze Castle Help Desk team is based in New York City with additional employees located in London as well. The desk handles support calls for our clients worldwide on a 24x7x365 basis, through both remote and on-site engineering services.
In submitting for the HDI Award, we seized the opportunity to spotlight the many extraordinary aspects of our Eze Castle Help Desk Team and to create a Video!
Earlier this week, we looked at some of the personnel factors that are common among extraordinary outsourced Help Desks. Today, we’ll continue the discussion on the characteristics of a great Help Desk, with a focus on the technology aspects to look for when evaluating Help Desk providers. We've also created a presentation on the "Nine Elements of a Great Help Desk."
Call Management Systems: The best Help Desks have systems in place to track all incoming calls from clients. A call management system tracks such statistics as call volume, the length of time a call remains in queue, the length of a conversation with Help Desk personnel, and more. Monitoring important details of all calls allows supervisors to then review the data and analyze it to identify areas of weakness and improve upon them. Call management systems help ensure that all clients who call the Help Desk will be assisted in a timely and efficient manner, as analysts can continually learn from previous client interactions.