22nd March 2016
Changing fund administrator is a significant decision. Until recently, funds were so concerned about business disruption and investor perception issues that they tended to persevere with existing administrators even if the level of service being delivered was not what they were paying for. Thankfully this situation has now changed. Investors are supportive of funds moving service provider to obtain a better level of service and better contractual terms.
Having a detailed plan with a dedicated team ensures that the transition to a new administrator is made effectively and seamlessly. Karen Malone, Founding Partner of Centaur Fund Services shares Centaur’s best practices for a smooth transition.
If managed correctly the transition to a new fund administrator doesn’t need to be a daunting prospect. Funds can’t afford service disruption, even for a moment. A smooth transition builds a positive foundation for client relationships resulting in better business outcomes for all the parties involved. At Centaur, we have identified five steps to facilitate the smooth transition of fund administrator:
Service Level Goals
The first step in an effective transition process is to define service level objectives and goals for each phase of the contract. Clear and timely communication is key at this stage of the process to address any issues that may arise. An effective transfer timetable must be agreed to eliminate any possible service disruption and notice will need to be served to the current administrator to coincide with the service startup date.
“At Centaur, senior management is heavily involved in the set-up phase, ensuring the smooth transition of funds. We remove complexity, uncertainty and unfamiliarity from the transition process by using the best people, backed by the best processes in the industry,” says Karen.
The second step in the transition process is for the administrator to obtain a complete understanding of the fund’s existing operations. Centaur assigns a client service team at this stage, well in advance of the service start-up date. All investor records are checked as part of the on-boarding process to ensure they are accurate and current with legislation. Additional checks are made to identify areas where efficiencies can be made; ultimately leading to more timely reporting once the fund goes live.“The key to achieving transition success is having a dedicated team which is responsible for the transition and remains involved with the client once they go live. At Centaur, we understand complicated fund structures, identify potential issues and prepare for the unexpected. We spend time from the outset understanding the fund’s existing operations and work with the outgoing administrator to understand the fund’s systems and processes,” says Karen.
Data Collection and Integration
Many funds store data in several different formats which the new administrator collates and integrates into its technology platform. Bringing both financial and non-financial data from disparate sources into a new system can be a mammoth task so it is important for the fund administrator to have robust systems and processes in place.“An integrated technology solution creates a more efficient process, leading to lower costs and increased accuracy of reporting for the fund. Once Centaur receives the files from the outgoing administrator, we carry out a gap analysis of the data we receive versus any legal and Fund requirements including Anti-money Laundering to ensure all conditions are met,” says Karen.
Operational stability is core to a successful transition service. In this period between contract signing and service start-up, experienced Administrators execute a parallel administration service, including reporting, reviewing and risk management. Appropriate bank accounts are set up, legal documents are reviewed and relationships are developed and maintained with the client’s external service providers, such as auditors and bankers. These steps ensure that switching costs are kept to a minimum.“A fund’s parallel period is implemented by Centaur following a full assessment of the fund’s operational and service needs. During this phase, regular meetings take place to review the transition status and identify and resolve any issues that may impact on the success of the project. The switchover of administration services will only take place when a steady state is reached and all targets have been met,” says Karen.
- Switchover of Administration Services
During this final phase of the transition period, systems and processes are tested and reconciled with the previous administrator, full NAVs (Net Asset Values) are prepared and all stakeholders are informed. Finally, Centaur imports and reconciles all historical data so that auditors can liaise solely with Centaur for the entirely of the accounting period.Karen concludes, “We have a huge amount of experience in transition services and are at hand every step of the way for our clients during the process. In the last five years we have transferred in excess of 100 funds on to our platform and by the end of 2016 we will have transitioned a further 50 funds from a variety of different administrators. Our product team and service team assigned to clients manage the projects efficiently and effectively to ensure continuity of service offering.”