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.
In the evolving technology landscape, coupled with regulatory concerns and investor demands, CTOs at investment management firms must be prepared for a host of complex technology challenges in today’s world. Here are some of the top challenges CTOs in the investment management industry are facing today:
1.) Data Security, Privacy and Governance
One of the top challenges, if not THE top challenge, for CTOs is cybersecurity. Troublesome threats include AI-driven cyber attacks, ransomware and malware attacks, phishing schemes and internal threats, among others. Cybersecurity programs require attention, expertise and consistent evaluation to ensure you have a robust security posture, and developing the proper protections, plans and programs is time consuming and challenging.
2.) Multi-cloud Computing Challenges
While cloud computing has grown in popularity and become more accepted by investment management firms, they were more comfortable with using the private cloud based on its inherent security. Now, due to advancements in security, more firms are incorporating the public cloud into their methodology. Challenges lie in every step, from planning and deciphering which cloud model best fits their firms' needs, to implementing and securing the cloud, managing vendors, and educating employees and other internal and external stakeholders.
3.) Compliance Regulations and Audits
All businesses in the financial space need to be especially cognizant of the regulatory bodies and compliance requirements specific to their industry. Compliance audits ensure that the firm is adhering to the regulatory guidelines and drive all technology related decisions. Failure to maintain compliance can result in hefty fines or legal action. This responsibility often falls on the CTO, and it is no easy job to maintain compliance across an investment firm.
4.) Strategic Investment in Technology and Budgetary Concerns
In general, IT budgets are growing among investment management firms, and with the progressive and evolving technology landscape, new tools, technologies and services appear and create tough choices regarding budget spend. CTOs must evaluate which tools are useful, valuable, and trustworthy for the organization. For some CTO's, getting management buy-in for new technologies is a challenge of its own. On the other hand, for some CTOs convincing the management team that a technology or tool isn't the right fit for the firm is the challenge.
5.) Finding Talent
According to our 2019 Global Investment Management IT Survey, respondents indicated that lack of in-house cybersecurity talent was a top 5 concern for 47% of UK businesses and 22% of businesses in the US. The talent pipeline depends on potential hires and their skill sets, and the shortage of talent in general, specifically in security, cloud computing, data analytics and business analytics.
When it comes to investment management firms, collaboration, efficiency, and cutting edge technology are all critical factors when it comes to growth. At Eze Castle Integration, we partner with Microsoft to offer our clients the option to utilize OneDrive and SharePoint, two tools that can dramatically improve collaboration and streamline processes for businesses, increasing efficiency for everyone. With more people working remotely and traveling for business than ever before, mobility, security and ease of use for applications is more relevant than ever.
Before we outline the five ways SharePoint and OneDrive can transform your business operations and enhance collaboration for investment firms, let's outline the functionality of these applications. It is also key to note that in this blog, we're referring to OneDrive for Business and SharePoint Online, which are business tools and products of Office365 for Business. There are similar tools you can utilize on your personal accounts, however today we're talking about how they can specifically impact your investment firm and day-to-day business.
OneDrive: Our partners at Microsoft simply define OneDrive as "the Microsoft cloud service that connects you to all your files". Simply put, OneDrive for Business is a storage location or repository for files and documents. You are able to access this tool through Office365, anywhere at anytime, regardless of whether you're connected to your firm's VPN.
SharePoint: Like OneDrive, you're also able to access SharePoint through Office365 anywhere and anytime. It's a tool that helps firms share and collaborate on documents and files from anywhere in a secure manner.
Now, let's dive into the 5 ways OneDrive and SharePoint Improve Collaboration for Investment Firms:
As previously mentioned, one of the best features of these tools is the ability to access your files anywhere. Today more than ever, due to technological advances like these, employees are are able to work remotely with little to no change in the processes. These tools allow you to securely store your files no matter where you are and whether you’re connected to your business’s VPN, share them with your team members or partners, and access them from any of your devices. If you aren’t connected to your firm’s network, you can access and work on documents in OneDrive, and when you return to the network, the files will automatically sync with your network, ensuring a seamless transition from working at home or from a plane to being back in the office.
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.
Today’s emerging managers face a number of challenges: fierce competition and demanding investor expectations tops among them. With operational due diligence processes evolving rapidly, how can emerging managers differentiate themselves and make an impression on suspecting investors?
During a recent webinar, speakers from Eze Castle Integration and EisnerAmper discussed the current environment for emerging managers and examined the following topics:
Key Qualities Investors Look For
Red Flags for Emerging Manager Investors
Investors IT Expectations
Why Firms Look to Outsource
Post-launch, many hedge funds and investment firms struggle to gain ground and attract the institutional capital needed to succeed in today’s competitive market. As firms grow – and bandwidth and budget are less likely to be roadblocks – it can be a challenge to reinvent the wheel and position your firm to capture institutional dollars.
During a recent webinar, speakers from EisnerAmper and Eze Castle Integration explored trends in hedge fund operational due diligence and technology operations and offered advice for asset managers looking to grow out of their startup boots and achieve an institutional grade operation. Some areas they explored during the 40-minute webinar include:
How institutional investor expectations have changed for firms at the pre-launch and post-launch phases;
The importance of (and detriment to not) passing an operational due diligence examination;
How cyber security expectations are evolving to increase standards across both technology infrastructure and policy planning;
If the public cloud is suitable for investment management firms looking to solidify institutional investments; and
Top mistakes emerging managers make that prevent successful ODD exams and institutional evolution.
Scroll down or click here to watch the replay.
To quote our latest Tech Tips video, "when things are good, they’re good. But when things turn bad, it could be downright scary," so here is our latest video that covers four signs you may be outgrowing your IT service provider.
The following article originally appeared on HFMTechnology.
Although we are faced with change on a daily basis, especially in the hedge fund technology industry, keeping pace with ongoing tech metamorphoses does not come easy for everyone. Fear, the biggest contributor of hesitancy toward change, masks the opportunities innovation presents. Fear is what leads to IT limbo, and in an ever-evolving technology landscape, this effect can be crippling. However, with the support of expert IT service providers, the pains and fears of migrations and upgrades are alleviated.
In this article, we’ll examine the recent end-of-life (EOL), of operating system (OS) Windows Server 2003, its resultant challenges and how to overcome them.
Doing Nothing and Risking Everything
Windows Server 2003 extended support ended on July 14, 2015; however, not all users have made the transition to Windows Server 2012 R2. Why are firm’s remaining on an out-of-support OS?
The primary influencers are fear and a lack of sense of urgency to replace a still functioning OS. In the case of users still utilizing the legacy application, the risks they face largely outweigh the benefits. By doing absolutely nothing, firms are risking everything. As patches and bug fixes are no longer being provided, hackers have an unguarded entrance to access a firm’s sensitive information, passwords and banking accounts. This not only increases the firm’s odds of being hacked, but also raises the gravity of ensuing damages should an incident occur.
Additionally, if a firm’s network does crash that’s still deployed on Windows Sever 2003, the odds of finding expert support become increasingly limited with each passing year. This is predominantly due to the industry’s forward marching nature. An outdated system will only continue to fall behind in the race of technology, trouble shooting will take longer, future applications will fail to run, or crash the server altogether, and the cost to migrate increases concurrently as the pool of experts shrinks.
The bottom line is change is inevitable, and eventually 2003 will reach a point where the surrounding ecosystem won’t work with 2003 servers. Ultimately, MS will make it so the OS becomes inoperative as the company continues to evolve. So what can we do?
The following article is part of our Hedge Fund Insiders Article Series and was contributed by CBRE Group, Inc. Read more articles from the Series HERE.
As a team focused exclusively on advising hedge funds on their strategic real estate planning, we have observed several trends continuing to proliferate in the market. Below are three real estate-related issues relevant to all hedge funds.
Increasing Construction Costs
Construction costs for office interiors throughout New York City are rapidly increasing and firms that built space 5–10 years ago will find that overall expenditures for the same quality installation have increased 30–40% based on benchmark construction cost data across NYC. Although benchmarking numbers are not available specifically for hedge fund construction, high-end design details like custom millwork and architectural metal and glass are often a significant part of the design and are seeing the most rapid appreciation in cost, driving even more significant increases specific to hedge funds. Additionally, these premium and other critical trades such as HVAC and electrical are in high demand and can cause scheduling delays, pushing associated costs higher than ever.
It is crucial for hedge funds to have an owner’s rep / project manager advisor involved to ensure projects are appropriately budgeted from the initial due diligence phase, assessed on a project-by-project basis throughout the site selection process, and effectively implemented during the design and construction of the selected space.
Happy New Year, all!
As we embark on the New Year, there is no better time to reflect on 2014 and set new goals for the future, both personal and professional. We’ve asked a few of our employees at Eze Castle Integration what their aspirations are for 2015. Check out what some of their responses were below.
"Eat out less and cook at home more often." - Jim Bove, Systems Engineer
"To learn more about technology. You can never learn enough!" - Tim Macdonald, Product Manager
"To travel more." - Elizabeth Martin, Resource Coordinator