Core Consulting – Case Studies
We are at the forefront of advising organizations throughout the business operations spectrum — core functions, processes, platforms, and staff resources. Our clients experience the benefits of our comprehensive cross-enterprise assessments across multiple operating functions.
As your trusted advisor, C&A Consulting aids clients to achieve complex and strategic transformations, often concurrently leveraging technology solutions and 3rd-party tools to support your vision and plans. C&A Consulting is passionate about collaborating with clients.
With our bench of subject matter experts, C&A’s financial services markets experience spans the spectrum of Institutional and Alternative Asset Management, Global Wealth Management, Private Markets, Banking, Real Estate Mortgage Servicing and Origination, and Investment Banking/Broker/Dealer/Capital Markets.
Operational/Functional Assessment and Identify/Select an Optimal Portfolio Accounting Solution
C&A Consulting’s work was commissioned to assist a top investment and innovation firm in the U.S./global venture industry, in the modernization of its business and technology processes as well as improve and enhance its financial accounting and investment portfolio systems and processes taking into account the nature of our client’s global programs and investment portfolios, and the rapid growth in its early stage investments. C&A also took into consideration that the client makes/maintains significant investments through multi-level/tiered complex entity structures, as well as performs the associated accounting, waterfall/fee calculations, record-keeping, etc., in-house.
C&A’s consultants first performed a current state/target state assessment, and gap analysis of core capabilities needed to improve the current financial process model for the finance group. Even though this client more closely approximates the model of a private markets firm, C&A pivoted its recommended target state towards a different end-state that better aligned with a higher volume, process-centric nature of the firm’s operating model. This brought a broader range of platforms and solutions within scope for consideration.
C&A then made recommendations for a modernized technology platform model using a ‘best of breed approach,’ focused on delivering an enhanced ‘Straight Through Processing’ (STP) process lifecycle structure and functionality, thereby creating a target model that would create a much more highly automated internal operations/accounting and financial/investor reporting outcome. This would result in increased efficiency, transparency, financial control, and a “single source of truth.”
This resulted foundationally in the need for an investment accounting system, that would help automate the current manual day-to-day reporting and data entry processes and data reconciliation across multiple systems, and efficiently derive critical investment accounting data and key calculations/allocations. The high-volume of investments and complex fund structures further added to the need for automated, internal accounting processes and solutions. The C&A recommendations encompassed several different planned outcomes and stages for the overall development of the target state platform structure.
C&A was subsequently engaged to specifically address the consideration and evaluation of portfolio and partnership accounting and investor servicing platforms/processes, appropriately balanced for short- and long-term horizons based on total cost of ownership while ensuring proper staffing/support levels and ‘fit for use.’
C&A presented the assessment recommendations into several phases of development that would allow the client to lay a solid core foundation. Then, C&A properly sequenced the elements of the program to stage additional phases to increase the sophistication of the overall outcomes while also allowing for the client’s gradual staging of changes to its organization, facilitating its adoption of the new STP model. C&A:
- Conducted a high-level assessment/validation of the firm’s current core financial operating and accounting processes, including investment and fund portfolio accounting, partnership accounting, and investor servicing and reporting.
- Reviewed the business process structure, technical architecture integration and data model, to determine the convergence with a technology platform design to achieve a material level of automation of core business processes, in a sustainable enterprise aligned architecture.
- Determined a target state model, business requirements, technical design and roadmap/workstream sequence and staging plan to modernize and shift to an enhanced STP model automating internal operations/accounting processes.
- Established a baseline financial processing operating model to enable the firm to achieve a potential future transition from a private investment manager to a fully regulated operating model in the future.
- Aligned business evaluation objectives with the IT organization’s architectural and production requirements.
- Conducted an RFP/selection process for an investment accounting system to enhance the overall STP processing model of the firm, thus raising the productivity of the finance team, while enabling the firm to improve the integration of the financial platforms with other existing operational platforms used in its core investment operations.
In performing the assessment and later platform selection support work, C&A’s work covered a wide level of analysis and staging scope. This included C&A’s work that:
- Reported out its observations and participated in discussions of the different potential target state financial processing models that could be entertained
- Covered various permutations of major platform components that could be proposed to deliver the future state processes and how the core business would benefit from the new platform design. This included the pros and cons of different modules within the overall target state.
– Example vendors and platforms for each core area were illustrated to create a view of the potential new operating platform to be considered.
- Described the functional roles and responsibilities needed to support the target financial operating model (nearly all of which were acted upon), including new or re-adapted functions to pick up or re-position investment operational work that is material to the structure of the target state model
- Created a roadmap considering the sequence staging and approximate timeframes of execution of program workstreams, enabling the foundational work to proceed on concurrent tracks enabling both the business and technology teams to proceed in coordination
– Clearly defined milestones and deliverables accounting for purposeful and timely convergence of key tasks were included.
– Resource projections, both internal as well as external platform cost of deployment and ownership, were also provided.
- Described the requirements, scope, functionality/platform features/functions
- Identified a list of potential software vendor solutions and draft of an RFP
- Evaluated (e.g. pros, cons, gaps, etc.) of selected industry platforms/software vendor solutions, as well as a ‘fit for use’ comparative review and alignment with firm needs, and
- Rated/ranked and scored the participating vendors in its final evaluation report, including its vendor recommendations to support the final selected platform.
C&A was engaged by one of the top U.S. transfer agents (TA) to qualify and procure an enterprise-wide content management, document imaging and workflow solution to handle incoming shareholder transaction requests and inquiries processed in the United States and Canada.
C&A developed and administered the RFI (requests for information) and RFP (requests for proposal) steps including compiling business and technical requirements, identifying potential vendor systems, interfacing with the vendors and business stakeholders across the TA enterprise, and working with the business and technology groups to view and evaluate a subset of the platforms. The universe of competitive firms included a diverse cross-section of firms from known industry segment leaders through younger, more technically advanced but less well-known platforms, including those with AI/self-learning capabilities. C&A organized and documented each aspect of the evaluation, identified risks and issues, and reported results to the TA’s executive sponsor and transformation team in a highly transparent process. The C&A team supplied subject matter experts in TA operations, workflow systems and ultimately, SMEs in the eventual selected vendor’s platform itself to support its onboarding.
C&A’s engagement with the Transfer Agent was divided into two phases: Vendor Selection and Imaging and Workflow (IWF) Product Application Implementation.
The Vendor Selection phase included prospecting vendors to engage/buy into the process by understanding the client-specific needs, submitting corresponding RFIs and qualifying prospective vendors into the RFP pool. C&A used its own subject matter expert knowledge of industry participants blended with a technical review of the state of lesser known but potential vendors with promising technical feature vs. needs matches with the prioritized requirements.
C&A also fully discussed and vetted its approach with the vendors with the client describing its two different methodologies that it employs in vendor competitive bidding – a fiduciary competition model vs. a ‘best and final’ contest. These two approaches are very specific to the manner in how C&A works between the client’s requirements and each vendor candidate, and stems from a very ‘active engagement’ subject matter level of expertise that C&A uses to apply its rigorous screening of issues, questions, use cases and vendor answers before they are placed into the competitive assessment outputs.
The RFP was then customized with targeted questions to enable the team to better differentiate between the replying parties and identify the best match overall. The latter step included sharing “documented use cases” with participating vendors, then grading and ranking responses based on the relative priority of each feature and function. C&A moderated the internal discussions to ensure a ‘full volume discourse’ on the pros and cons of the requirements, prioritization of needs and grading processes was equitable amongst the competitors.
Given that C&A’s client in this case had a fully engaged vendor management team in the governance of the program, C&A advised this team on specific issues and questions asked of it to ensure the eventual contract terms and technical issues promoted a strong, documented understanding of the scope and coverage of the negotiated terms and services to be offered. A selection was completed, and C&A assisted with contract negotiations including guidance on SLA’s, terms, and best-practice inclusions.
In the subsequent award of the contract and engagement of the winning firm by C&A’s client, IWF Product Application Implementation phase, C&A provided functional and technical design input, including the experience of its platform SME in the techniques and staging of work, covering specific gaps and practical staging issues between the vendor and client teams.
The client selected a platform vendor that represented a combination of strong technical, as well as project support. The end choice favored a longer-term view of platform architecture renovation which this client was strongly advocating given its historical legacy platforms’ deficits that it wanted to remediate. It was also judged that the in-house SME strength could compensate for a lower level of specific TA expertise over other choices, as well as a judged view of a more economical long-term cost of ownership of the overall platform.
C&A advised its client not only on the scope of how the workflow core structure was successfully and foundationally prioritized, but also moderated competitive vendor scope decisions where multiple vendor methods were possible to deploy a business process. In some cases, this involved creating a wider view of business process ‘architecture’ to contrast against alternative technical design approaches to achieve a more effective business outcome.
Additionally, the new IWF solution was designed to suppress movement of all physical documentation, while preserving legacy data and records (i.e. physical medallion stamp imaging, NIGO (Not in good order) procedures to return non-complying documents to clients for remediation, etc.) to optimize the staging of the digitized record and processing steps, and to provide an audit trail in compliance with the client’s required regulatory standards, including multi-national data privacy controls.
C&A also closely oversighted the technical staging of the multi-tiered and multi-vendor software environment selected by the client (a combination of existing vendors and new ones), for the initial implementation, and post-implementation ‘tuning’ of new TA workflows to ensure expedient adoption of the core platform. The deployment of the workflow environment was done in parallel with a separate robotics processing automation program coordinated to focus on complementary areas of opportunistic productivity improvements and automation gains.
In the Applications Implementation phase, the team provided defined staffing requirements (roles, skill levels, staff assignments, etc.) to support workflow routing (SLA compliant scheduling & task dispatching).
In support of the new workflow development and deployment, C&A assisted in the below example list of activities performed:
- Scanning and meta-tagging of data requirements,
- Cataloguing and defining phrases/terms used in scanning intelligence,
- Digitization analysis support of ingested documents,
- Supporting the machine learning ‘teaching’ of the platform for structured and unstructured data,
- Providing the requirements definition for integration of the workflow platform with different robotics process automation platform,
- Key word inventory, and data meta-tagging structure across the diverse data sets.
C&A’s scope of work also included assessing the type and volume of physical mail (e.g., requests / correspondence) received and processed by the mailroom. In most cases, this correspondence was the basis for transaction processing across multiple legacy downstream systems within the TA. The C&A process work validated the scanning, tracking, and routing steps to the respective enterprise TA-related departments that served as the rule’s requirements for the new platform.
Also, in working with business stakeholders to design, update, and revise business processes, C&A provided guidance and recommendations for transforming the high-volume Mailroom operation into a phased approach for creating an enterprise-level Digitization Center, with a materially upgraded role of its work and staffing requirements. This was initiated through a review of the TA’s existing incoming mailroom processes. Then, in concert with the executive sponsor, a best-practices Digitization Center target state view with new roles and responsibilities was mapped along with detailed skill-set pre-requisites and qualifications down to the core task and process levels.
Finally, C&A held discussions and obtained buy-in from the senior managers (stakeholders) which ultimately led to a “Phased Approach” entailing a “Process-based” implementation, wherein selected parts of the organization were gradually converted, avoiding disruption while ensuring a controlled transition. The most material factors (e.g. type of forms; request types such as Change of Address) were addressed first and provided benefits across nearly all operating units in the initial rollout.
All these efforts were completed according to a tight timeline to coordinate deliverables from multiple teams and sources.
SEC and state regulatory requirements (timeliness of responses, documented correspondence with customers, etc.) and service level agreements also required the ability to electronically track (and report) receipt of requests/correspondence and elapsed time for transaction or correspondence fulfillment (i.e. turnaround times). Documents archive and retrievability (as well as search) with the time stamping and monitoring of turnaround times also formed part of the platform’s overall audit trail adequacy.