Industry Expertise

IFST Professionals understands that the investment accounting and management process differs depending on the perspective of each industry segment, and each unique investment manager within a segment. With a broad experience base, our investment management consultants support the unique needs of each industry space, while infusing investment accounting system best practice across all segments.

IFST Professionals has extensive experience supporting the investment systems needs of insurance companies. The investment management process is tightly coupled with finance, accounting and actuarial needs. We recognize the importance of allowing each function to see investment data from its own perspective, while ensuring consistency and integrity throughout the reporting process.

IFST has experience with multinational insurance clients requiring accounting across multiple accounting bases (including IFRS), currencies and asset mandates. We have supported clients seeking to manage mutual and segregated funds, insurance assets and institutional accounts in a single systems environment.

Separate accounts, segregated funds and mutual funds all share the additional back office complexity of the daily accounting cycle. While many firms outsource this function to third parties, some still choose to strike daily net asset values internally. IFST has experience in both cases.

Firms that outsource often can improve data integration from the third party back to the investment advisor. Quite often this also involves shadow accounting to support consolidated reporting. Firms that internalize the function benefit from improved automation, compression of the end-of-day processing cycle, and integration with assets that do not require daily processing.

And in the spirit of change, IFST Professionals' consultants have considerable experience with firms choosing to move from one approach to another. Moving to an outsourced model can be challenging for both the advisor and the outsourcer. IFST helps to make both parties successful by avoiding common pitfalls and helping to reconcile the outsourcers needs for standardization with the client's needs for customization.

IFST Professionals consultants have worked with the largest pension funds in North America, and understand the unique organizational and institutional needs that distinguish pension funds from other industry segments. Integration across platforms is crucial when pension funds diversify their portfolios across derivatives, fixed income, equities, real estate, private equity and other alternative investments. Consolidation of data for reporting and general ledger purposes presents challenges, but with experienced consultants, IFST Professionals is poised to help.

IFST consultants have worked with the largest and most respected institutional investment advisors in the world, as well as smaller, more focused boutique advisors. We understand both commonly shared traits and the things that make each unique. Managing "other people's money" changes the back office emphasis from general ledger accounting to client reporting. Consolidated reporting remains a common thread with other segments of the institutional space, but with a slightly different perspective. Often, advisors are faced with needing to consolidate accounts across multiple lines of business, including mutual funds, sub-advised accounts, institutional accounts, wrap business and other third party business. Typically this involves integrating data from multiple providers, to facilitate reconciliation and validation of internally housed investment data. IFST consultants have amassed an impressive body of work within the investment advisory space.

These days, software vendors within the investment management space rarely stop at offering software to their clients, often choosing to market an array of complementary services to help clients implement and integrate their solutions. IFST Professionals has a long history working alongside software vendors in the space, to help enhance the client/vendor experience and extend the value proposition of the vendor's offering.

Quite often, we can provide perspective to a client, to help them understand and resolve issues that have more to do with the client than they do with the software or the software vendor. IFST works extensively with our clients to improve business processes and operations around a software solution, and to better integrate the software with the rest of the operation.

Many investment management software packages are highly configurable and customizable to suit a client's particular needs. While the software vendor is often prepared to support customization with their own resources, they often struggle with the client to pinpoint business requirements. By helping too much with requirements, the vendor can be blamed for stacking the deck, by helping too little, the vendor can be blamed for an inability to read a client's mind. By applying structure and methodology IFST Professionals helps clients define, articulate and approve business requirements, offering a stable platform for a vendor to customize their application to the client's specific needs.

During the software implementation process, clients are also often confronted with numerous configuration choices. While software packages often provide flexibility to allow for choices, the software vendor resources are often reluctant to recommend one choice over another. With deep knowledge of many major front and back office systems, IFST Professionals has the experience and courage to help a client through the configuration process, allowing the vendor focus on assisting the client to implement the configuration that best suits a client's needs.

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