IT outsourcing has become commonplace in the financial and professional services industries. More firms are now seeing the value in bringing in a partner or vendor, especially with the increase in new technology and constant innovation in IT. However, choosing a vendor or partner to manage your IT needs requires your time and consideration. Continue reading for some of Eze Castle Integration's best practices when looking to outsource IT for your firm.
Perform a self-assessment of your firm.
The first step when looking to outsource your IT needs is to do some reflecting on your firm's needs. Ask yourself the following:
What is right for your firm?
What are your firm's priorities?
What is the organization looking to achieve?
An assessment can help your firm find a compatible provider who understands your industry as well as your priorities and goals.
Perform Due Diligence
Once you know what you are looking for in a firm, it is crucial to perform due diligence on an IT service provider. Have they done projects similar to this before? Who are some of their clients? Are they familiar with the specific needs of your industry? You want to make sure that your firm is aligned with the provider in terms of expectations of service, project management, as well as expertise.
Pick the Right Projects to Outsource
Not all projects should be outsourced. One common trend in the financial industry is outsourcing migration to the cloud. While a CTO or Director of IT could perform this in-house, it is a complicated project. Your firm has to consider which cloud model fits best with the organization.
As hedge funds continue to grow and prosper, the need for a “one-stop shop” IT
provider is becoming increasingly necessary. As a fund manager, your job is demanding enough; therefore, finding one company that can hone in on your technology needs and quickly provide solutions is a smart investment, as well as a good relief. Here are a few of the main benefits firms can realize in working with a single, all-inclusive IT provider.
Whether it is an intern heading back to school or a full-time employee moving on, an investment firm must have a detailed employee termination checklist for information technology (IT) that is diligently followed.
But what are the key items that must be on your employee termination checklist?
Here’s An Employee Termination Checklist Foundation:
Contact IT Department or IT Provider to terminate or change network or application logins
Ensure subscriptions are either cancelled or changed
Collect employee equipment such as laptops, monitors, mobile devices, etc.
Ensure employee has documented transition procedures
Reset user password and disabled account
According to TechTarget’s SearchSecurity, “an advanced persistent threat (APT) is a network attack in which an unauthorized person gains access to a network and stays there undetected for a long period of time.” As with most sophisticated cybersecurity attacks, the goal of the intruder is to capture valuable information and steal data. APT intrusions are often focused on high-value information and sectors such as the financial industry.
The cybersecurity landscape is constantly changing and today the cyber threat actors range from organized crime to state sponsors.
How do hackers gain access?
When it comes to advanced persistent threats, the cyber criminals often use targeted social engineering tactics including spear phishing. In a spear phishing incident, criminals target specific companies or individuals and conduct background research to compile employee names, titles and contact information. Social networks are common resources crawled for this information. Obtaining such details and observing communications provides criminals with the tools to mirror email addresses, website URLs and dialect. The end result is the criminal’s identity masqueraded as a legitimate, trustworthy source.
How can you defend against Advanced Persistent Threats?
Hedge fund assets have hit record highs in each of the five past quarters, to some $3.2 trillion, and will grow by 5.5% over the next 12 months, according to Don Steinbrugge, head of Agecroft Partners. With this performance and 2018 well started, new hedge funds are looking to launch.
Technology is just one of the many areas to consider when starting a hedge fund. To help jump start the process, below is a list of some commonly asked questions we receive.
Where do I start in creating a technology budget for my hedge fund?
It is important to note that whether a firm selects to go with an in-house IT solution or cloud computing there will be implications on technology budgeting. Once in-house versus cloud is evaluated, it is important to think about the workflows and systems you use to complete your work – be it email, reports, phones, market vendor applications, and/or risk systems. You can find a technology budgeting worksheet here to help with your planning.
Why should I consider cloud computing?
Cloud computing is the preferred IT delivery model for most new hedge fund launches for a number of reasons. In fact, 8 in 10 investment management firms are using a cloud service today. The advantages of the cloud include reducing and transferring costs from CapEx to OpEx, increasing speed of technology deployment and simplifying IT management. Additionally, many private and hybrid cloud solutions offer built-in disaster recovery along with an enterprise caliber infrastructure that delivers availability assurance to end-users as well as investors.
Moving to a new office securely, effectively and without complications takes a lot of planning and strategy. So we caught up with our Eze Project Management Team to get the lowdown on the top 10 areas firms should consider before, during and after a move. Checkout our 'technology move checklist.'
Conduct a Technology Infrastructure Audit: It is important that your firm takes the time to account for all the technology and data in its current office space. It is important to know how much equipment you are bringing to the new space so you can have enough space and power.
Check Building Suitability & Timing: Evaluate office space based on the requirements you have for telecom, hardware, servers, workstations etc. Also, consider timing. It is important that all circuits are ordered before the move as lead times vary. Also verify lifecycle support and service agreements.
Evaluate Your Existing Infrastructure: If your infrastructure is ageing or is no longer suitable for your needs now is the time to considering updating your environment or making a move to the cloud. Relocating outdated equipment is often a waste of valuable resources.
On our recent Emerging Manager Trends in Operational Due Diligence webinar, we looked at how today’s emerging managers face a number of challenges from fierce competition to the rapidly evolving investor IT due diligence process, especially in terms of scrutiny on technology processes and security safeguards.
The reality is that investors have a greater understanding of technology, are asking more probing due diligence questions and care about the responses they receive. In recent years the depth of DDQ questions around information technology and security has expanded as investors become increasingly savvy about IT and headlines around IT risks have grown.
Here at Eze Castle Integration we regularly assist our clients in completing the IT portions of investor due diligence questionnaires. The wording of questions varies but here is a handy list of 51 common IT due diligence questions we see.
- Provide an organization chart for the Company, its affiliates and key personnel.
- Provide the physical address and general contact information for each of the Company’s office locations.
- Provide the name and contact information of the Company employee(s) assigned to the client’s account(s).
- Provide a list of compliance personnel, their roles and qualifications, the date of his/her appointment and position within the Company’s organizational structure.
There has been discussion for years about whether public or private cloud platforms were more suitable to financial and investment management firms. And that debate continues, but with the addition of a new player – the hybrid cloud.
While the public cloud receives praise for its flexibility and potential cost savings and the private cloud for its robust security and reliable performance, the hybrid iteration essentially marries these features to create a compelling package for firms who don’t fit naturally into the previous two categories.
As its applicability continues to surge, it is worth understanding the concepts and benefits behind the hybrid cloud. Let’s take a look at what makes hybrid environments appealing to some organizations:
Agility & Flexibility: A hybrid cloud model allows a company to combine public cloud assets with those in a private cloud to increase agility and availability. For example, combine Microsoft Exchange and file services via the public cloud with robust security layers and 24x7x365 managed support via the private cloud, and suddenly you’re benefiting from the best of both worlds (hint: we’re talking about the Eze Hybrid Cloud).
We all make mistakes, but when it comes to technology and investment operations, mistakes aren’t an option. So let’s look at seven common cloud mistakes we see financial and investment management firms make and talk about how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Not Sizing Bandwidth to Business Needs
Determining the right amount of bandwidth comes down to the types of services being delivered and user expectations. Nothing ruins a cloud or really any computing experience like sluggish application and Internet performance.
Beyond bandwidth, firms must also consider latency. While latency issues don’t impact all applications (i.e. email is relatively insensitive) for others it is a killer. Latency has little place in trading applications or voice over IP services. When moving to the cloud, have a realistic conversation with the hedge fund cloud provider about the amount of bandwidth your firm really needs.
Mistake #2: Not Planning for Applications
Not all cloud platforms are equal especially when it comes to supporting hedge fund specific applications such as Order Management Systems or Portfolio Accounting Systems. While a hedge fund may not launch day one with one of these applications, there is a good chance they will require one in the future. To help mitigate future growing pains a hedge fund should plan for the future when evaluating cloud providers. Being shortsighted can result in future disruptions and integration pains.