Future-proofing Takes Platforms, Process – and People

By Annmarie Rogers, EVP, Client Operations

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With all of the uncertainties of the markets and our industry, it’s no surprise broker-dealers are ready to invest in robust, feature-rich portfolio management platforms proven to work well under the stress of volatile markets or big events.

It’s also important to look for a partner whose support goes beyond technology. Broker-dealers benefit when they have a platform partner who is not just looking to sell a solution, but who will work with them to tailor the solutions to their needs, help them anticipate future areas of concern or opportunity, and design solutions to cover those potential situations.

In my role leading the client operations of Vestmark, I like to point out that, on top of the impressive technology of the VestmarkONE platform, what really makes us stand out is our people. The tenure of our service team members, both with Vestmark and elsewhere in the industry, gives us unique insight and the ability to support our clients in ways they may not expect.

Many of our people have been through volatility before – we have people who went through the market aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the crisis of 2008, and many other significant events before and since. They are complemented by a healthy cohort of younger professionals who see things from a different perspective.

Vestmark’s commitment to service is also reflected in the effort we make to ensure our own resiliency. We have been designing and implementing systems that allow us to work seamlessly and support our clients even in the case of a major disruption, systems we validated through dry runs by asking employees to work remotely and stress-test our solutions – which came to seem prescient in the spring of 2020.

Case in point: The volatility of March 2020

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic created a perfect storm in many ways. Broker-dealers, traders, and the entire Vestmark family all suddenly found themselves working remotely. Thanks to our preparations, it was a stable situation for us, giving our clients the confidence to lean on us as they reordered their own business.

Many firms without the kind of support Vestmark offers saw their platform service disrupted as their outsourced overseas support teams were also ordered to work from home – contingency plans had anticipated localized crises that could knock out some offices, but not everyone everywhere at the same time.

Because we were stable, Vestmark’s service staff were able to do a lot more than just run-of-the-mill technical support desk assistance (although of course that was extra important too).

Some examples:

  • Vestmark subject matter experts were able to step in and perform critical work on behalf of client employees who were unable to work remotely
  • Our staff rode co-pilot in other cases as less-experienced client staff had to take on more responsibility
  • We conducted virtual training on the fly to help cross-skill clients who had previously decentralized certain functions

Our teams also offered extra eyes to watch for anything unexpected happening in our clients’ systems. Our people have a good appreciation for trading patterns and called attention to aberrations. The deep relationships we build with clients smoothed the way to get urgent information to the right people.

During the volatility, we proactively asked clients to alert us to major events, such as plans to do a wholesale rebalancing across all accounts, and made sure to have our people monitoring their systems and ready to help out.

Long-term support for long-term growth

Support in a crisis is critical, but so is support every day. Vestmark’s people also help our clients prepare for less dramatic but no less important changes.

There isn’t a broker-dealer in business today who can afford to be complacent as margins shrink and expectations rise. While there is no shortage of technology partners ready to promise great performance tomorrow, it’s smart to start by evaluating what they can do for you today.

Vestmark has built its reputation by serving the needs of many of the world’s largest broker-dealers, easily cresting all the heaviest volumes and demands thrown at them by their millions of investors. At the same time, Vestmark has remained committed to smart, scalable innovation, with a focus on efficiency and creating modular solutions so that broker-dealers can integrate individual components of the VestmarkONE platform’s technology into their own best-in-class systems.

We help clients think around corners and anticipate the unexpected. I coach our teams to look beyond the obvious and be diggers – if a client has submitted a support ticket, take the time to dig and see if there is a root cause we can solve. I encourage our people to imagine themselves in our clients’ shoes and embrace their challenges. We follow up to make sure problems are solved, and always err on the side of overcommunicating.

By doing all the little things right, we are in position to be a big help when the unexpected happens, whether it’s a global health crisis or an acquisition. Let us know how we can help future-proof your firm – whatever that future may be.

By Annmarie Rogers, EVP, Client Operations