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How is MiFID II Impacting Research Budgets?

| April 3, 2018 | Dave White

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At Quark our clients include innovative leaders in investment research, the majority of which are sell-side producers of research. To best serve these clients we stay active in several forums and standards groups that are watching and responding to the impacts of the new regulations. This activity, plus ongoing conversations with our clients, gives us unique insight on the impact of MiFID II in investment research marketplace. One of the most important topics on the minds of those in the industry: How is MiFID II impacting research budgets?

At this time we know that institutional investment firms are struggling to define research budgets because:

1) They don’t know how research is going to be packaged and priced. Most research producers are providing some basic pricing information in large packages, but the entire marketplace is just now being developed – so no one currently knows what the pricing and packaging will be in 1-2 years from now as the participants settle into this new marketplace.

2) The buy side is still grappling with how/when/if to charge their clients for investment. This is made considerably harder because the US is not implementing the MiFid II regulations and cross-border investment relationships make chargebacks to clients difficult to allocate, defend, and even calculate.

Another major topic the industry is grappling with is whether some managers will reduce their investment in research at the expense of client returns. This affects both the clients and their investment managers as well as potentially impacting smaller stocks and industries.

First, as investment managers will have limited budgets to spend on research, they will certainly not have access to the same quantity of research they had previously. However, they will have buying power and will be able to compare research offerings, create their own ratings and valuation measurements for research quality, and be able to demand better research from their chosen providers.

Most industry experts estimate that investment managers were receiving access to over one million research documents per year. Clearly no individual or even complete teams can consume that much information, and talk amongst investment managers is consistent: most of that content was just noise anyway. As one simple example, institutional investors who take a longer view of their investment portfolio do not really care, nor want intra-day analysis, but research producers send those reports more as a marketing and branding effort to keep their name in the investor’s view. Reducing the noise will also help the research producers to focus on and improve their highest value research.

Arguably, it takes as much or even more time and effort to research smaller companies and niche industries, but will investment managers be willing to pay the same or higher fees for research produced for these smaller segments of opportunity? Without coverage, will smaller and newer companies and sectors get less investment and therefore struggle to succeed?

Yes, there is a danger that – especially during investment volume downturns – reductions in budget for research could impact results. But that risk appears to be more than offset by the ability for investment managers to demand and receive higher quality research where the new competitive marketplace will require research producers to create better, more usable research in order to compete for their slice of those limited research budgets.

So, these two main issues intersect for producers of investment research who want to remain competitive in the era of MiFID II. Is it possible to produce high-value research while driving down research costs?

Absolutely. And to do so, forward-thinking investment research firms are looking to technology. Traditionally, research has been created in a highly manual, copy/paste work effort to create monolithic, print-focused PDF documents which are often highly repetitive in their content.

For example, a quarterly equity report will have a single, first-page summary, a longer multi-page summary, and then a series of expanded, detailed topics that are covered in the summary along with all the disclosures and disclaimers. And, as a PDF or even a static HTML file, the charts and graphs are frozen images representing snapshots of rich data and analysis models. An investment manager must work hard to get to the detail they need at any given moment, and trying to compare analysis from different producers is extremely time consuming. With their new buying power, investment managers can start to demand higher quality research: in depth and focus of content, but also in technical value to assist in their business process.

Research should be available in rich, interactive HTML supporting:

Technology can help solve these problems by applying content automation to both the production of research and the consumption of research.

It isn’t clear that investors nor research producers have had the time to understand the coming changes that will be required when investors finally start taking advantage of their buying power and a competitive marketplace. Both sides have been running hard just to be able to participate in this new marketplace. But in very short order, one to two years, the new dynamics of supply and demand for research will force a dramatic improvement in the quality and value of research which could easily dwarf the benefit of MiFid II’s intend impact on research: avoiding conflicts of interest for trading banks that provide research as a free service to its investor clients.

Introducing Content Automation for Fund Marketing

| March 13, 2018 | Sarah Rector

Today at TSAM London Quark Software launched Content Automation for Fund Marketing – a new solution that transforms how asset management companies produce and share fund marketing material such as pitchbooks, client review presentations, fund fact sheets, commentaries and other business-critical content.

Using Quark’s Smart Content approach to content automation, asset management teams deliver customized and compliant marketing material to clients and prospects across any channel (print, web, and mobile) – all from a single source of approved content. This allows firms to connect with customers and potential customers more quickly with fewer resources.

Out with the Old, In with the New

Unlike traditional methods for creating content (in static Word documents) and reviewing content (via email or outdated content management systems) Quark Content Automation for Fund Marketing enables analysts and other subject matter experts to create structured content (Smart Content) in a familiar authoring environment. Smart Content can be easily managed, updated, tracked, analyzed and reused across any number of channels.

With the Content Automation for Fund Marketing, fund marketers can:

Content Automation for Fund Marketing is just one way Quark’s content automation technology transforms how organizations create and engage with business-critical content. Other applications include standard operating procedures, investment research reporting, product data sheets, marketing and sales collateral, and government legislation. Visit www.quark.com or Contact Us to learn more about the benefits of content automation.

 

5 Top Challenges Facing Investment Management Marketers (and How to Overcome Them)

| January 4, 2018 | Sarah Rector

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Marketing investment management services is a tricky undertaking. Not only must marketers adhere to industry regulations and accepted practices, but gaining trust in the financial services field is notoriously difficult. Handling other people’s money is similar to providing healthcare services; clients are sharing their deepest personal information with and placing their future in someone else’s hands. So, successful marketing of investment management or any type of financial services is always built on a foundation of trust. Here’s a look at the challenges facing investment management marketers and how to overcome them.

1. Consumers feel a disconnect between digital and real-world experiences. To overcome the perceived disconnect between the experience in the digital world vs. the real world, think personalization. With many tools and technologies readily available at marketers’ fingertips, creating a truly personalized experience through digital channels is within reach for investment management marketers.

2. Differentiating an investment management brand is no simple task, yet it’s essential for gaining trust and resonating with the target audience. As DeSantis Breindel points out, investment management services frequently convey the same messages so consistently that consumers perceive them as empty promises – if they notice them at all. In looking at the asset management space overall, DeSantis Breindel found that common brand terms are repeated across the industry:

The challenge, then, is for investment management marketers to look beyond the cliches to find unique ways to solidify the brand and differentiate the firm. What that looks like, precisely, is different for every investment management firm, but the process begins with taking a deep and honest look at the organization to identify the ways that the firm stands out from the competition and then conveying those messages across channels.

3. Regaining trust without telling the audience that you’re trustworthy. Despite the multitude of investment management firms who state that they’re trustworthy on their websites and in other marketing collateral, there remains a substantial lack of trust among consumers when it comes to financial services. Thus, regaining consumer trust continues to be a top challenge facing investment management marketers, but marketers must find ways to build trust without coming right out and promoting the trustworthiness of their firms.

Some of the most effective ways to establish trust with your audience include client testimonials and social signals, as well as transparency in both marketing and operations. Data-driven marketing programs are best able to achieve these goals by adapting messaging, mediums, and other tactics to meet the changing demands of the audience and enabling marketers to fine-tune campaigns until they resonate with target consumers.

4. Consumers expect in-the-moment availability and real-time information. Technology has made it possible for consumers to manage practically every aspect of their financial lives online, with instantaneous results. Paying bills is as simple as scheduling payments to be sent from your financial institution, and it’s equally simple to find out what balances remain on everything from credit cards to personal loans, vehicle loans, and mortgages.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that investment management clients expect the same level of real-time information and instant access. That means investment management firms must adopt the latest technology available in the market, enabling clients to log on, make decisions, and take action related to their financial future from their mobile devices. With clients accessing these services from anywhere via their mobile devices, marketers must also adapt and meet their audiences on the same devices and mediums where they’re used to conducting financial business.

5. Mastering content marketing and digital advertising while maintaining compliance. Content marketing and other digital initiatives are quite effective – if done right. Investment management marketers can take cues from financial enterprises that have mastered the digital marketing space such as American Express, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and other major players, and develop similar but innovative tools and resources to reach consumers. If investments are any indication, making an impact in the digital space is a goal shared by many financial services firms: digital advertising spending in 2016 is projected to increase by 14.5% over 2015 spending, reaching $8.37 billion. Financial services falls behind the retail and automotive industries, maintaining its current rank as the third-largest share of total digital advertising spend in the U.S.

This data clearly indicates that investment management marketers must readily adopt digital marketing initiatives in order to reach today’s consumers, but keeping pace with the fast-evolving digital world is no simple task. Coupled with the need to adopt more sophisticated IT and development methods, digital represents a large portion of budgets overall in the current climate. Adding to the complexity of adapting in the digital world is the issue of compliance. An industry with strict regulations regarding both the marketing of investment management services and the handling of client funds, investment management marketers have their work cut out for them. Staying up-to-date with any relevant regulatory concerns or new rules while developing marketing strategies is key for marketers in the ever-changing financial service climate that exists today.

These challenges point to the ongoing need for marketers (CMOs and other executives) to be more technology-savvy and CIOs to be more marketing-savvy to better meet the technology needs of the marketing department. There’s an ongoing, continued blending of marketing and IT functions across organizations of all types (with legal/compliance executives also playing a big role), but financial services firms are increasingly feeling this pressure as consumers have embraced digital financial management and providers are forced to keep pace in a state of change.

Money Laundering Scandal Emphasizes Need for Better Procedure Management

| October 19, 2017 | Dave White

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News breaking about the money laundering scandal in South Africa serves as a harsh reminder that even the most sophisticated organizations are susceptible to corruption. As the BBC reports, information has come to light that major global banks “may inadvertently have been conduits for laundered money.” The reports allege that £400M was illegally transferred through the banks by South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and an affluent Indian-born family.

How is this type of exploitation even possible? While it’s very likely the banks employ Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Software, which is developed to help prevent and/or report money laundering, it may not have been enough to raise flags about suspicious activity.

AML Software can help companies meet compliance and regulatory requirements mandated by global policing organizations, but it’s not enough to manage the thousands of policies and procedures banks must rely on to manage and react to daily activity.

If true that the banks in the scandal in South Africa were “inadvertently” a conduit, the implication is one or more of the following:

The only path that does not put banks at risk in this situation requires:

  1. Well-documented procedures that are up-to-date and provided in a timely manner
  2. Procedures that are easy to find and apply to the correct business transactions
  3. Consumption of procedures tracked through usage analytics and reporting, as well as frequent content and usage audits

If any of these three critical operating procedures processes cannot be proven by the bank, then the bank will likely be at risk even if there was intentional, individual employee negligence.

Global banking has some of the most complex and dynamic procedures of any business context and this story is yet another proof point that it’s not just about pushing files around a content management system. The content within policy and procedure files, how and when the procedures are used, and how easily the procedures can be associated with the appropriate business transaction is critical to the successful operations of regulated businesses.

But, it doesn’t require an enormous amount of complexity to ensure policies and procedures are effective. It’s time for global banks to adopt smarter and more automated content processes and move beyond simple word processing documents and PDFs. From content analytics, through contextual application of content, to AI and Machine Learning applications in content processing, Content Automation with Smart Content for procedure management is a requirement for modern businesses to be successful and mitigate costly risks.

Quark Software + WIRIS = Mathematical Automation

| September 15, 2017 | Autumn Cuellar

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If your technical or financial content is illustrated with mathematical formulae, you’ll be interested to know that Quark Publishing Platform and Quark Author can automate mathematical content in addition to your text, tables, charts, graphics, and video.

Quark Author includes the WIRIS EDITOR, a GUI mathematical editor created by Quark partner Maths for More. When your content is published, equations are then converted to the best possible format for your target destination, be it HTML, ebook, PDF, or other. The goal is for the formulae in your business critical content to match the surrounding text for a seamless reading experience, and Quark Software with WIRIS EDITOR makes that goal an afterthought.

Check out this minute-long demo showing how Quark Author integrates with the WIRIS equation editor:

To learn more about Quark and our focus on content automation, contact us or download the free eBook The Beginner’s Guide to Content Automation.

About the Author
Autumn Cuellar is a Technical Services Consultant for the Quark content automation team. Her first degree is in Biomedical Engineering, which led to a role as a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. There Autumn co-authored a metadata specification, explored the use of ontologies for advancing biological research, and developed CellML, an XML language for describing biological models. Since leaving the academic world, Autumn has been delighted to share her enthusiasm for XML in technical and enterprise applications. At Quark, Autumn provides her XML expertise to organizations seeking to hide the XML for a better non-technical user experience.

The Top Three Content Challenges for Asset Management Firms

| June 14, 2017 | Nick Howard

Earlier this year Quark partnered with TSAM (The Summit for Asset Management) to find out how asset management companies approach content creation, management, and delivery. We surveyed 111 professionals in a variety of asset management roles and found that the majority of respondents struggle to create and maintain data-heavy content types, such as financial research reports, pitchbooks, commentaries, product profiles, fund marketing assets, and more.

As we analyzed the data, it’s clear that three main content challenges plague asset management teams.

#1 Keeping Up with Digital Transformation
Digital transformation is driving change in nearly every aspect of today’s enterprise and, in most cases, requires fundamental improvements to traditional content strategies. In our survey, asset management professionals reported a wide range of digital transformation initiatives with the top three being: reducing reliance on paper, moving content online, and improving intranet/portal content consumption experiences for employees.

#2 Maintaining Consistency across Channels
There is no doubt customers want (and need) more digital content. In fact, 83% of survey respondents said their customers want more Web content, more mobile content, or both. However, almost 75% of respondents admitted to being dissatisfied with their digital content capabilities and more than 50% reported having no confidence in the consistency of their content across print, Web, and mobile channels. Fulfilling the customer requirement for more Web and mobile content is only worthwhile if the content is accurate.

#3 Relying on Outdated Tools and Technology
The content challenges associated with digital transformation and omni-channel publishing are only compounded by the fact that the majority of asset management companies still rely on shared or local file systems to manage their business-critical content. Sixty two percent of respondents stated that they find it hard to manage the document variations needed to support country and business unit requirements. It’s tough to stay competitive without modern systems that streamline content creation and management.

Addressing Challenges with Content Automation
Although these are complex pain points, new content automation solutions are already helping asset management companies solve their content challenges. By moving away from document-centric workflows and adopting structured content, it’s possible to address every challenge listed above to speed time-to-market and increase customer satisfaction.

We hope you’ll join us at TSAM New York on June 21 to attend our session “Transforming Fund Marketing with Content Automation.” You will learn more about how your organization can get ahead of competitors and drastically decrease the time and costs associated with creating, formatting, reviewing, and distributing business-critical content.

Nick Howard has over two decades of experience in enterprise software, working around the globe from the United Kingdom and Europe to New Zealand, Australia and the United States. As senior director of sales enablement for Quark, Nick is focused on solving customers’ specific content challenges. He has met with hundreds of customers across corporate, marketing, and enterprise publishing functions and is adept at turning challenges into real world software requirements.

Research Reveals Content Challenges Faced by Asset Management Firms

| March 15, 2017 | Gavin Drake

Today at TSAM London Quark revealed the findings of a survey we conducted among asset management professionals to learn more about their approach to content creation, management, and delivery. The research was conducted among the TSAM community, which stands for The Summit for Asset Management. Global TSAM events attract financial services organizations interested in staying competitive.

Our research, based on 111 survey respondents, uncovers universal content challenges asset management companies face – from reliance on outdated technology solutions to increased demand for Web and mobile content. The findings highlight how content teams struggle to effectively produce and provide multi-channel information to internal and external audiences.

Study highlights:

Ultimately, our research confirms that the demands for content have changed dramatically in the past decade while tools used to create and manage content have changed very little. This makes it almost impossible for asset management firms to deliver timely and accurate multi-channel content, which is a competitive requirement in today’s business landscape.

To address and solve content challenges, we at Quark advocate content automation, an evolution of enterprise content management that minimizes risk, improves the customer experience, ensures compliance, and eases the burden most content teams face today.

Gavin Drake is Vice President of Marketing for Quark Enterprise Solutions where he drives the adoption of content platforms that leverage automation to improve every stage of the content lifecycle. By moving away from creating static, siloed documents to creating reusable content components, it’s possible to reduce costs, improve content quality, and operate more competitively.

Investment Research Reporting in the Digital Age

| January 18, 2017 | Autumn Cuellar


Financial reporting often includes many repetitive tasks that can eat away at resources, and when copy/paste is involved, there’s a chance for error that could make or break your business. This is why financial firms are turning to Quark to help automate their content processes. In this digital age, speed to market is critical. Your customers depend on having the latest information at their fingertips.

Quark has partnered with EFA, whose market-leading EFA Platform provides financial models essential for investment research analysis. Together, Quark Publishing Platform and EFA Platform provide a powerful Investment Research Reporting Solution for managing the content lifecycle of investment research, reporting, and analysis.

The Quark Investment Research Reporting Solution includes a wizard that allows users to select several options, including the type of report being created, the subject of the report, and preferences such as whether financial data should be presented in units of millions or billions of dollars. Once these options have been selected, Quark Publishing Platform contacts the EFA Platform for the latest data and, using that data, creates the requested report with tables and graphs that are common to all reports of the specified type. The report’s author can then add additional tables and charts (again pulled from EFA Platform), write new content, preview how the report will look when published, and share the report with team members.

To view the Investment Research Reporting Solution in action, watch one of our videos showcasing Quark’s partnership with EFA: a short overview or 30-minute in-depth demo.

To benefit from Quark’s Content Automation tools in your financial document lifecycle, ask Quark’s expert a question or request a meeting with our team.

Autumn Cuellar is a Technical Services Consultant for the Quark content automation team. Her first degree is in Biomedical Engineering, which led to a role as a researcher at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. There Autumn co-authored a metadata specification, explored the use of ontologies for advancing biological research, and developed CellML, an XML language for describing biological models. Since leaving the academic world, Autumn has been delighted to share her enthusiasm for XML in technical and enterprise applications. At Quark, Autumn provides her XML expertise to organizations seeking to hide the XML for a better non-technical user experience.

Policy & Procedure Solution Requirements for Financial Services Firms

| October 19, 2016 | Quark Blog Team

policies-procedures-lifecycle

Today’s hostile regulatory environment has put financial services firms on the defensive. Faced with stiff penalties, the growing risk of prosecution and career-ending rulings, CXOs are flocking to improve their regulatory profile. Unfortunately, an outdated manual workflow means a lack of control over policies and procedures content and therefore increased risk within financial services firms.

policies-procedures-beforeworkflow

Look familiar? Legacy policies and procedures lifecycle creation and management solutions are:

That’s because financial services’ policy and procedure solutions leverage generic software, such as word processing and spreadsheet applications. These tools not only consign policy and procedure activities to manual processes, but they serve as a bottleneck to limit the contributions of robust content management solutions as well.

This begs the question: what would an effective policy and procedure lifecycle creation/management solution look like?

It would:

Leverage efficiency-boosting solutions to lower costs:

1. Business-rules-driven engines to drive efficient, parallel workflows that allow SMEs to work on content simultaneously
2. Standardize on best-practice workflows to promote consistency across the enterprise

Leverage automation technologies to replace manual tools/processes with high-productivity systems:

3. Leverage automated features to track, manage and update policy and procedure content. This feature alone can eliminate substantial labor hours currently devoted to the task.

Enable a wide variety of output formats/channels:

4. Support existing publishing and distribution channels for policies and procedures such as print and PDFs
5. Enable the automated production of modern publishing formats for policies and procedures such as HTML5 and mobile apps
6. Focus on making the procedures as easy to find, search and consume as possible

Replace point solutions with an enterprise-wide platform:

7. Through the use of configured templates, a common platform for all users dramatically increases the consistency of policy and procedure content and
activities across departments and regions
8. A single platform is cost effective for IT to manage

However, the platform must:

By meeting these criterion, financial services CXOs can dramatically bend the policy and procedure content lifecycle cost curve downward. This allows PMs to untether themselves from the straight-line costs usually associated with ballooning policies and procedures content.

Through an elegant and holistic design, Quark’s content automation platform goes far beyond fixing and patching your policy and procedure systems to build out a fully-functioning, enterprise-wide content platform. As a result, our policy and procedure content lifecycle solutions are helping financial services executives to:

policies-procedures-afterworkflow

With so much at stake for financial institutions, the Quark platform is comprehensive. You can seamlessly create, update, manage, publish, and deliver your policies and procedures via a wide range of channels and modes, including print and all the latest digital devices.

So, what are you waiting for? Meet the demand for accurate, up-to date and easily searchable policy and procedure content and stop fiddling with low-value tasks and focus fully on high-value content creation.

Brexit and MiFid II – What to Expect

| July 6, 2016 | Dave White

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The UK referendum vote to leave the European Union has brought plenty of questions and few answers regarding the plan, timing, and potential outcomes of the UK’s withdrawal.

One area of significant interest is the implementation and UK authority of new MiFid II (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive adopted April 15, 2014) as defined by the EU and implemented in the UK by the FCA (Financial Conduct Authority). On June 24, 2016 the FCA clearly stated, “… Firms must continue to abide by their obligations under UK law, including those derived from EU law and continue with implementation plans for legislation that is still to come into effect.”

Many of Quark’s customers use Quark Enterprise Solutions to create and publish IRR (Investment Research Reports) and changes to the long-standing investment research business model is required by a section of MiFid II. In April of 2016 a draft Delegated Directive defines the requirements related to Inducements (Chapter IV), the goal of which is to remove the potential for a conflict of interest between investment research, investment opinion, and the funding of investment research through commissions on trades. These are “level 2” implementing measures and while initially stated as effective in January of 2017, it is expected that the earliest these would go into effect is now closer to January of 2018.

If the UK officially applies for exiting the EU in the 2016 calendar year, and the EU requirement of exit completion within two years is held, then the UK would need to adopt these EU regulations as is, or somehow create their own version of them. Given that the inducement directives related to investment research are not one of the highest priorities, it is easy to imagine that the regulations could be adopted as-is or just as easily dropped entirely from UK regulation. However, the EU will almost certainly require that the UK adopt the full MiFid II regulations as they relate to any cross-border business engagements.

The most expensive path for our investment research customer’s business would be the implementation of different regulations related to investment research inside the UK versus outside the UK. So the highest probability outcome is that the UK will follow and fully adopt MiFid II if and when the EU finalizes the timeline(s) for implementation. If that’s the case then the urgency still exists for investment banks to modernize their investment research reporting technology platforms in order to remain competitive when the regulatory changes come into effect.

Dave White is Chief Technology Officer for Quark Software. An engineer by training with over two decades defining standards for content automation, White is on the forefront of technologies shaping the future of content. He works with customers and partners across industries to develop and implement transformative solutions for creating, managing, publishing and delivering business-critical content.

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