This December, Andrew Barnett, Global Head of Product strategy at RIMES was interviewed by Victor Anderson, Global Content Director at WatersTechnology in a ‘fireside chat’ discussion. What follows is a summary of their conversion.
What has been RIMES experience nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic?
RIMES has had to flex, pivot and reset several times during the pandemic to ensure we continue to provide our services to the standard that customers have come to expect over the past 25 years. Our aim is to work as an extension of our clients’ teams. This embedded, collaborative approach has proved invaluable this year.
2020 can be broken down into three phases:
- Defensive reaction to the pandemic. The immediate requirement for RIMES was to support clients and give them the resources needed to enable home working; including by releasing free of charge a number of tools that would normally be provided on a commercial basis. Our goal during this period was to ensure clients had everything they needed to maintain their operations without incurring additional risk.
- Navigating market volatility. The initial impact of the pandemic on markets and the data landscape was profound. For example, there was a large uptick in notifications from providers around changes to data and the republishing of data, and index rebalancing schedules were postponed or cancelled. We got in front of these problems, communicating changes to clients and updating and republishing data so they could rebalance their portfolios accurately.
- A move to offense. Now we are seeing a shift from defense to offense, with clients looking to restart their change programs. Firms are looking to RIMES for help, both to plug any gaps in their resources as a result of furloughs or layoffs and to help them plan their future operating model.
Did RIMES experience an increase in demand for additional data sets when markets were at their most volatile?
RIMES did see an increase in demand for forward looking indices, and subject to licensing it was simple to open these channels for clients.
A much bigger change was the increase in demand for operational support. With access to data via FTP sites no longer possible for many people, RIMES supported clients by providing new ways of accessing data and analytical tools to ensure the data was fit for purpose. For instance, RIMES has allowed all clients to access their data through the cloud, and we have provided this service free of charge.
What changes have occurred at RIMES as a result of the EQT investment? Have these changes been felt by clients?
The EQT investment has catalyzed a significant amount of activity at RIMES this year, but this has largely been behind the scenes.
The EQT investment has allowed us to commit completely to our product roadmap and clients have started to see evolution in our Managed Data Services and our RegTech products. We are also working to ensure that we’re as closely aligned with answering the market challenges associated with data management by setting up client advisory boards comprising buyers, users and key industry consultants where we discuss challenges facing firms and outline potential solutions.
Has RIMES noticed changes in the propensity of capital markets firms to outsource their data management?
Choosing whether or not to outsource data management is not a decision to be taken lightly as it is part of a firm’s strategy and operating model. However, as firms go on the offensive, they’re taking a closer look at what’s core and what’s not core.
Significantly, companies are inviting service providers like RIMES to have these conversations and to see what can be done differently. This is a good situation to be in as it means RIMES can help inform future state operating models in a strategic way.
In RIMES’ conversations with firms, the challenge of accessing operational data comes up frequently. Many firms have found that their data is imprisoned due to partially completed technology implementations. They’ve also found that their business case no longer stacks up. Having invested heavily in technology, they’re not seeing the expected OPEX savings. This situation is not sustainable for organizations, because while data is an important foundation for their business, it is not core.
Firms need to look at the point in their business where they turn data into information (i.e., the point where data starts being used for core insights and value generating activity). Any process prior to that part should be outsourced to a company that treats data management as its core.
What are your clients’ pain points right now?
These are broadly similar across the buy- and sell-sides, with firms across the sector looking at new operating models for data services and regulatory compliance. With regards to the latter, firms are challenged to understand the level of enforcement against emerging regulations while also mapping how new technology is putting oversight at risk. At RIMES, we’re adapting our products and partnerships to help them in this task. For instance, when it comes to market surveillance, firms are having to adapt to new platforms like Zoom, Teams and WhatsApp, and RIMES has put in place a communications surveillance partnership to augment its trade surveillance capabilities.
On the data side of things, firms are having to manage the growth of new data sources and suppliers across fast-growing segments such as ESG investing and ETFs. Firms need to know that they have access to high-quality and timely data, and RIMES is stepping in to provide just that.
What can RIMES’ clients expect from 2021?
EQT has given RIMES new views, perspectives and ways of working. The relationship is giving the company a sense of how it will build out services in the future. Externally, RIMES is looking to extend services to meet the requirements RIMES’ advisory boards are identifying. Internally, RIMES will continue to innovate and ensure the service model adapts to new needs and executes in the way that clients require.
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