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June 10th, 2021

Straight-through reporting

By Sanjoy Chatterjee, Chief Strategy Officer

Why and how it will become the standard for institutional investment analytics and reporting.

What is straight-through reporting?

Straight-through reporting implies a transformative approach to streamline and automate portfolio analytics and reporting for all institutional asset pools. Straight-through reporting encompasses data aggregation, reconciliation, calculating plan performance, attribution analysis, peer benchmarking, digital dashboards and customized reporting. It provides investment consultants and asset owners significant efficiency, transparency and accuracy that will allow them to focus on their core competency of driving better investment outcomes.

What are the key foundations for straight-through reporting?

Straight-through reporting builds on four key foundations to deliver a seamless and integrated workflow for a streamlined analytics and reporting experience:

  • An integrated, secure connected platform
  • Functional synergy across portfolio construction, research, analytics and reporting
  • An intuitive, easy-to-use dashboard interface
  • Seamless integration with client in-house tools
What are the key components required to deliver straight-through reporting?

For institutional investment analytics and reporting to become increasingly agile, insightful, accurate and digitally transformed, it will be necessary to streamline and enhance four key components:

  1. Data aggregation
  2. Analysis and insights
  3. Client experience
  4. Technology stack
1. Automating data aggregation

In straight-through reporting, automated data collection and aggregation must include sourcing high quality content from:

  • Structured data from custodians, fund administrators, asset managers and record keepers
  • Unstructured data from alternative investment data providers and managers
  • Various market and reference data providers

The goal is to connect to a variety of custodians, fund managers, record keepers and market/reference data sources in a variety of data formats—structured and unstructured—transforming and aggregating data into a central data repository.

There, the process will perform rules-based reconciliations to ensure all data is valid and accurate, with an intent to highlight any data anomalies or exceptions.

A true automated aggregation and reconciliation will reduce the likelihood of human and manual errors with the added benefit of streamlining workflow to truly focus on exceptions. The more data that’s automatically collected from various sources ultimately drives more efficiency. Plus, as data aggregation and reconciliation become increasingly efficient, it optimizes the effort to focus on analysis of the data.

For example, the rise of alternative investments requires an efficient means of aggregating unstructured data. By its very nature, this type of data presents a different set of challenges. However, purveyors of straight-through reporting will establish the means to efficiently collect and integrate the latest available data from PDFs, web portals, emails and other file formats, allowing alternative investments to be more fully and accurately reflected.

Overall, flexible data aggregation and reconciliation are the true foundation of realizing the core benefits of straight-through reporting.

2. Optimizing analysis and insights

Analytics and insights requirements continually evolve. Straight-through reporting must be designed to keep up with industry trends. Some of the key evolving trends in the near term include integration of ESG and factor analytics to identify factor-based exposures and attribution. There must also be ongoing enhancements in tracking pension liabilities (PBO), unitized accounting and integration of qualitative commentary for investment strategy and fund ratings. Straight-through reporting demands an analytics platform that is flexible and extensible to support each step in the analysis process that leverages the required industry trends to drive insights required for objective investment decisions.

With straight-through reporting, readily available built-in analytics, integrated market reference data, robust peer data and benchmarking tools will make it easier to perform objective performance analysis. Attribution calculations, which can be a very time-consuming and manual process, will be performed automatically for faster, more accurate and efficient evaluation. Portfolio construction and rebalancing will be better informed with insights that are both timely and accurate. And benchmarking for plans of different types, sizes, asset classes and allocations, funding levels and more will all be run on a single, integrated platform enabling users to have a holistic view of their asset pool by having the option to:

  • Choose from a wide variety of pre-built analytics and peer universes.
  • Create custom universes for more precise, apples-to-apples comparisons.
  • Delve into underlying factors, explore trends and weigh different scenarios.
3. Enriching the client experience

Despite the underlying complexity of institutional investments, the client experience for straight-through reporting must ultimately have a seamless, easy-to-use digital experience. This will start with an interactive client portal: Envision a digital dashboard designed for custom configurability to drive transparency into the key components of the investment pool with an easy-to-navigate tool. The digital dashboard is geared to drive home true insights and benefits of straight-through reporting, allowing all key functional users within the asset allocator community to focus on their area of interest/focus. Users will be able to organize content to ensure the information they need is accessible near real time—in the format that works best for them.

They’ll also have tools handy to run the analytics they require interactively. The digital experience will include integrations that will allow access to analysis, research and various insights capabilities.

4. Transforming the technology stack

Fulfilling the straight-through reporting promise requires an open architecture, agile technology stack built to assist with seamless integration via a REST-API interface (interactive, easy-to-use visualization supported by an agile-development process). It’s key to build upon a services-based framework for addressing independent functional components that will facilitate quick functional enhancements to scale the platform.

Are you ready?

The industry is ready to step up to straight-through reporting, a single end-to-end platform for reduced data aggregation workload, enriched benchmarking insights and streamlined analytics. A robust straight-through reporting solution delivers a customizable digital experience, automated collection of alternative-investment data, and real-time insights.

Contact Investment Metrics and see how straight-through reporting is being brought to life.

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