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Many private investment partnership executive teams have found that outsourcing fund administration to a specialist firm improves operating efficiency and LP relationships. Allvue Systems works with firms that do their own fund administration, with those that outsource, and with those that co-source their back-office functions.
In this article, we’ll cover what fund administration is, what a fund administrator does, and how Allvue’s technology gives fund administrators a competitive edge. This will help you understand the field better to make a smart decision that fits your organization.
What is Fund Administration?
Fund administration involves collecting data from investment activities and using it to create reports used by investment managers, investors, and regulators to make decisions, calculate taxes, and ensure regulatory compliance.
As a business function, fund administration involves collecting data from the ongoing investment activities and then creating financial reports used by investment managers, investors, and regulators to make decisions, calculate taxes, and ensure compliance with regulations.
Fund administration processes, by nature, are detailed. Back-office teams maintain the books and records of an investment management firm. It is imperative that the data is accurate and that reports are filed on time. A general partner needs good data to manage the fund, a limited partner needs good data to evaluate the investment, and regulators and other overseers expect that everything will be transparent.
Given the importance of data to fund administration, technology becomes an essential part of back-office workflows. Whether a fund’s team chooses to handle fund administration in-house, outsource it, or establish a co-source relationship, the right fund accounting software can help automate processes, standardize data, and streamline reporting.
Fund accounting is sometimes confused with fund administration, but the two are not the same. Fund accountants prepare operating audits, profit and loss reports, and calculate taxes. They ensure that investment reporting meets applicable standards such as the CFA Institute’s GIPS. They also report the investment portfolio values to general partner’s executives.
Fund administrators, by contrast, handle back-office responsibilities on behalf of the fund’s general partners. They prepare books, records, and financial statements, and they ensure that everyone involved receives the necessary reports to do their jobs. This frees fund managers to focus on investments.
Fund administrators take on many tasks, ordinary and extraordinary. They track performance on a fund and general partnership level, manage the rules of any complex tax structures, calculate management fees and carry amounts, arrange for capital calls, and ensure that agreements in any LP side letters are met. Their reports help portfolio managers analyse their risk exposure.
In addition to the fundamentals of fund accounting, other common fund administration responsibilities include:
An ongoing debate in the industry is whether back-office operations should be handled in-house, outsourced, or executed through another arrangement. There’s no one right answer; different funds have different needs, different priorities, and different capabilities. Below are a few of the factors to think through when considering which option best meets your firm’s needs.
Outsourced fund administrators can offer specialized knowledge for particular types of clients, such as hedge funds or private equity firms. Additionally, they may offer limited services, such as performance monitoring, or they provide a complete and integrated administration program.
One of the largest benefits of outsourcing is that it removes the back-office responsibilities from a team’s already heavy workload. By outsourcing accounting and reporting to a capable third-party, managers can spend more time focused on portfolio management and client relationships.
Of course, there is a corollary: because these operations have been moved offsite, it can potentially slow down other operations. For example, increased market turbulence may cause investors to place urgent calls to their GPs. If the accounting and reporting capabilities have been offloaded to an administrator, the GP may be slow to respond while they coordinate specific reports from their fund administrator. Capable fund administrators build close, synchronistic relationships with their GP clients to avoid this, often using cutting-edge communications technology. Still, some fund managers prefer to keep back-office operations in-house.
By choosing not to go with a fund administrator, fund managers are able to maintain complete control over their data. They can quickly answer those ad hoc questions from investors, they can fully integrate their back office workflows into their other processes and leverage end-to-end technology to streamline processes and reduce risks, and they can avoid the concerns of having to one day switch administrators and undergo a significant data migration process.
But, as many fund managers well know, back-office operations can be extremely costly, manual, and error-prone, especially as a firm grows. Many managers who handle processes in house initially find their workflows buckling by their third or fourth fund. This often leads them to onboard fund accounting software and other technologies that can streamline those processes and supercharge their growth rather than restrain it.
For those managers that prefer to avoid the distraction of back-office operations but wish to avoid losing control of their data, a third option exists: Co-sourcing.
Co-sourcing combines aspects of in-house operations and outsourcing to offer compelling benefits for both fund managers and fund administrators. With co-sourcing, a fund administrator leverages the fund manager’s technology platform to complete their accounting and reporting. This way, the data stays with the fund manager, but the administrative burden stays with the fund administrator.
To make co-sourcing work effectively for both parties, it is essential to have a technology solution that can facilitate the arrangement rather than hamper it. Allvue’s co-sourcing solution is revolutionizing the industry, offering unrivalled flexibility and scalability through cutting-edge functionality that allows fund managers and administrators to easily share access to data within a single platform.
As private equity firms grow and mature, their back-office operations become increasingly complex. As such, fund administration becomes an increasingly important aspect of their continued success. But efficient and effective accounting and reporting requires capable, powerful software.
Whether fund managers choose to go in-house, outsource, or co-source their fund administration, Allvue offers a complete solution. Our best-in-class platform includes:
Allvue’s technology enables superior investment decisions. Our integrated product suite supports fund administrators and meets the needs of demanding GPs—and the demanding LPs who allocate to them. Fund administrators can use Allvue’s Fund Accounting solution, reporting capabilities, and Client Hub to hone a competitive edge and serve their clients better. Our integrated system ensures data accuracy, and our engineering team keeps our products on the industry’s forefront.
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