Taking a leap of faith
Alter Domus: Best Fund Administrator (GPs with assets >$30bn) – Progress in technology is driving managers to create more complex private equity strategies and as products are globalised, the lines which historically were drawn between segments are blurring. There is also growing specialisation in the industry.
“As a result of this specialisation, managers are having to capture many more data points and therefore how that data is managed and reported on serves a huge purpose,” details Tim Toska, Global Head of Private Equity at Alter Domus. “Limited partners (LPs) are demanding even more transparency, so general partners (GPs) need to have that information at their fingertips. There is a certain level of openness now which wasn’t there historically.”
He says Covid accelerated these transparency requirements and also raised expectations around speed of response: “General partners were giving updates every week, which given the ability to process data, was now made possible.”
In view of this, Alter Domus has been showcasing its CorPro technology with private equity clients. This is a secure web portal developed by the firm’s technology and accounting professionals. It gives GPs real time, online access to data in a secure manner.
Further, cybersecurity has become a big part of the industry since sensitive information cannot be shared over email or phone calls. Therefore, communicating and sharing data through a secure portal is very valuable. Toska outlines: “Different clients have different verticals, so such a platform can provide them with the ability to see their whole portfolio. It’s a seamless, transparent technology solution which supports the back office and can be used throughout an organisation, through to the front office and for interacting with LPs.”
Toska notes that the choice between developing tech solutions in-house or electing to partner with a service provider remains a key decision for managers to make. They will need to carefully assess their operations and the expectations of their clients before choosing a suitable technology and a cost-effective means of obtaining it. “Cost is a key component to consider; some managers will opt to develop in-house solutions and potentially risk a lengthy and cost-intensive development process while others will consider the support they gain in addition to the technology itself.”
“When it comes down to it, clients starting new relationships with service providers are taking a leap of faith. Our operating model is people-focused. Although we make use of technology to provide added value, prospective clients need to ultimately believe in their partnership with us.”
He believes the pandemic brought Alter Domus closer to its clients: “Although we’re not seeing clients face to face, I would argue that many of our relationships are much stronger. It has broken down certain barriers. Managing the frequent requests, helping clients overcome challenges and responding to them swiftly has deepened those relationships.”
Toska’s outlook for the PE industry is positive and he expects more complex funds and strategies to be brought to market. He also anticipates a need for more technical support: “Things like the ESG reporting service are going to be in the foreground a lot more. Clients will need help understanding the regulations and making sure they have all the support they need in that regard.” Having access to a service provider active in multiple locations can provide a manager with cohesion and consistency.
In addition, the PE industry continues to become more global. Toska highlights: “We have offices in various locations around the world and have the capability to service clients from any of them.”
Tim Toska, Global Head of Private Equity, Alter Domus
Prior to becoming Global Head of Private Equity, Tim was Managing Director and Co-Head, Private Equity Operational Leader, North America where he oversaw the private equity operations management team from the Darien, Connecticut office. In addition, he assisted on various operating initiatives and business development for the firm across Private Equity, focusing on fund-of-funds. Tim was a Director at Carta Fund Services, which became part of the Alter Domus Group in 2017. He was responsible for managing fund engagements and leading various business development and operating initiatives for the firm.