Supporting growth in challenging times
By A Paris – Private capital may have historically lagged the rest of the asset management industry in terms of technology and digitalisation, but the past year has brought about a sea change in this regard. As teams were shifted to remote working, general partners (GPs) had to use new tools and solutions to encourage collaboration and productivity while also guaranteeing open communication with limited partners (LPs), whose need for data and information increased sharply.
In this environment, which was new territory for some PE managers, the support they received from their service providers proved invaluable. The winners of this year’s awards assisted their clients through the transition and the uncertainty the year had to offer, providing solutions and services to streamline operational processes and refine investment insights.
“While the past 12 months have been very tricky and uncertain for many, due to Covid and the end of the UK’s transitional arrangements with the EU, we’ve seen many of our PE clients not just surviving, but actually thriving, together with a number of start-ups and spinouts,” notes Matthew Crisp, CEO, at Wheelhouse Advisors, crowned the Best Accounting Firm, “So, despite the tumultuous year, we have found that our business has been increasingly busy.”
However, although PE firms found ways of excelling in this trying environment, hurdles remain.
“One of the key challenges is the huge increase in regulation which has really emphasised the client need for support in reacting to, and complying with, the increasing amount of global regulation across our industry,” comments Alex Di Santo, Group Head of Private Equity Fund Services, Crestbridge. “Whether it’s FATCA, CRS, AIFMD or DAC6, our clients rely on our expertise as an outsourced provider to make regulatory compliance easy.” The firm won the awards for Best Fund Administrator – Technology this year.
Service providers have also been taking stock internally, George Ralph, Global Managing Director at RFA, this year’s Best Cloud Services Provider, outlines: “RFA are using the opportunity of the massive shift in working conditions to develop a better understanding of ESG and how we deploy an even more successful policy within our own business. Business travel is a great example of this. Before 2020, I for one seemed to always be in flight somewhere. RFA have nine global locations across three continents and as Global MD, I have a responsibility to each and every one of our 300 plus employees worldwide. Covid has taught me new ways to communicate and collaborate to still get the job done, just remotely.”
By and large though, particularly with the support of strong partners, the PE industry is expected to thrive. Ron Biscardi, CEO and Co-Founder of iConnections, winner of the Best Fund Raising Solution award shares his perspective: “We are bullish on PE and the entire alternatives space. The alternative asset management industry is now experiencing digital alpha – the power of algorithms, computing and technological prowess to significantly improve work product – which will have an end result of providing greater value to the LP community.”