Digital Portfolio Management and Use of Dashboards

There’s a reason auto manufacturers don’t design cars with the speedometer on the ceiling, the fuel gauge under the driver’s seat, and the check engine light in the trunk. In order for a driver to operate a vehicle effectively, they must have critical information that they can check quickly and efficiently. 

Alternative investment firms also need vital data where it’s easy to view. That’s why leading firms implement portfolio management tools that include advanced dashboards. The industry is moving faster than ever today. If you don’t have the information you need to make important decisions wisely and rapidly, it’s likely that you’ll lose deals to other organizations that can.

Essential Data for Portfolio Management

Needless to say, your portfolio management dashboard must provide the specific data that are important for your firm and the types of deals you pursue. But generally speaking, there are three broad categories of data you should be able to see at a glance in your dashboard:

  1. Financial information. Portfolio managers need clear, concise details on forecasts, actual figures, and budgets. They also need access to information on cost breakdowns, different types of expenses, compliance costs, and much more. If their dashboard has the right data, managers can spot trends quickly and make course corrections as needed. They can also identify opportunities and start their pursuit before competitors are even aware of them.

  1. Strategic assessment. How is your portfolio’s performance aligning with your business objectives? You’ve got to be able to answer that question to ensure you focus your efforts on the right areas.

  1. Project visualizations. Often what a portfolio manager needs is access to the status of their projects at a glance. Well-designed dashboards provide summaries of project health using key metrics that are displayed graphically and easy for viewers to understand.

Altvia Answers provides this type of operational analysis. An additional benefit of having this kind of data at your fingertips is that it enables you to differentiate from your competitors. The comprehensive view that Answers produces helps portfolio managers paint a compelling performance picture rather than just reciting facts and figures.

Avoiding Portfolio Monitoring Dashboard Mistakes

Firms that implement a portfolio monitoring dashboard simply so they can say they have one may be doing more harm than good. You must optimize your dashboard to report on the KPIs and metrics that matter to your team and investors.

To do that, you’ve got to avoid common dashboard development mistakes. For example, you must include the correct information in your dashboard. Too often, firms create dashboards that contain data that isn’t useful and become “noise” that makes it harder to find crucial information.

It’s also essential that you achieve the right balance in your dashboard. If it has too little information, it doesn’t help you make well-informed decisions. If it provides too much information, it’s challenging to identify the insights you and your investors need to be successful. And once you’ve identified the right amount of data, you must ensure that it’s always current.

Enabling Proactive Portfolio Management

Finally, your dashboard should enable you to assess dependencies between and among your projects and portfolios. It also must make it easy to spot KPI trends, analyze their impact, and determine what actions you should take to address them.

And increasingly today, firms are looking for solutions that enable predictive analytics. Your portfolio monitoring dashboard should help you do more than react to evolving market conditions and other factors. You must be able to anticipate them and modify your tactics accordingly.

To learn more about Altvia’s industry-leading solutions for alternative investment firms and their portfolio monitoring capabilities, request a demo below.

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A traditional crm was built for general ‘customer’ scenarios

Software platforms have made the world a better place by making work a better place. Indeed the world is better off when people enjoy their jobs even marginally more, and workplace applications on big CRM platforms like Salesforce.com have done that and much more.

But the potential that platforms like these offer presents diminishing returns: once the platform provider has engineered too many industry specific components into its platform, its usefulness for other industries begins to be threatened, and with that so do the usefulness of the component tools built into the platform.

So it is with the CRM category that Salesforce.com has defined: it is generic enough to work for many industries, and yet still offers the potential for others to round off the edges and nail more vertically-oriented and extremely tailored software solutions.

Private capital markets are actually a great demonstration of this dynamic. Where generic CRM platforms simplify — appropriately so — to assume there’s a business, a customer, a sale, and service of that customer, there are a few industry-specific pieces that are missing.

Take for example, that investors become customers by investing through legal entities the GP raises. It’s a subtle but important nuance that just doesn’t make sense at a platform-as-a-service level (because it’s overly complicated for a simple one-time sale that many industries require), but which can easily be added without 10 years or software engineering. Once provided, the rest of the platform’s components become tremendously powerful again and you’re set to take over the world.

As a traditional CRM in our pillars methodology, these nuances must be present to properly account for investors in these legal entities, potential target companies and which are owned by these entities, the context of all interactions with these parties (as well as the appropriate overlap, ie co-investments), and how you’re arriving at finding these opportunities on both sides of the equation, such that you’re able to piece together what’s effective and what’s not. Not just because we say so, but because these are the very relationships and data that are key to the motivation behind a CRM in any industry.

It’s critical, too, that the valuable publicly-available information that helps to enrich CRM systems and save users painful steps of entering it themselves is fully-integrated at the platform level.

Again, look no further than the 3,000+ pre-built integrations that Salesforce.com — the creator of the CRM platform concept — has at a platform level to do so, and which only exists by way of holding just short of overly-specifying certain industry workflows that would present challenges to properly integrate.

Stakeholder reporting and communication (investor relations) draws on a range of datasets

The traditional “customer service” model of CRM systems once again makes overly-simplified assumptions about the customer relationship when applied to private capital markets.

In fifteen years I personally have yet to hear the terms “warranty” or “service call” in this market because it’s just not the same. But make no mistake, as uncomfortable as it may be to say aloud, customer service is more important now than ever and it’s constantly happening; the industry is, after all, considered to be a financial “service”.

As it turns out, that service is primarily information-based — it’s driven by data and takes the form of reports and analysis that drive decisions, and then end up again in investor-facing reports and analysis.

The foundational elements of a private capital markets CRM must be built such that they accommodate this data (like we discussed above), but so too that it can accommodate additional supporting data that investors (customers!) need in the context of service.

Oftentimes this supporting data — financial metrics and time-based values, for example — is believed not to meet the traditional definition of CRM and the natural thought is “well, better do this in Excel!”.

While I happen to believe Excel is still the greatest software application ever built, its introduction to this value chain we’ve discussed herein actually creates the problem many firms suffer from: key data needed to provide customer service (again: effectively the entirety of a firm’s reports and analysis) is now in disparate systems and detached.

Both of those dynamics are important and distinct: not only is this supplemental data disparate, but when brought together there is no logical association that can be made between the two data sets.

Allow me, then, to make the point very simply: not only can this financial and time-based value data (you may be thinking about is as “portfolio monitoring” or “accounting”) be a part of a CRM, it is arguably the most important part of a CRM because it’s at the core of what providing service to the customer entails — information that comes out of data!

Firms need a digital method to engage stakeholders (ie investor portals)

Investor portals are not new; in fact, for many of us — including myself — they conjure up horrifying nightmares in which we’re aimlessly guessing at folders to find the newest document we need.

So in lies the opportunity: not only have the portals we’ve come to hate not simplified the process of acquiring information, they’ve failed to create an entirely new experience that is “customer service” driven.

To be fair, this is not a B2C market where you’d be long out of business for not having focused on customer service and thus the customer’s technology-driven experience. But don’t expect to be around too much longer if you aren’t thinking about this shift.

Today’s institutional investors increasingly expect this same consumer-like experience, and a massive opportunity is being missed by not providing it. It’s not about providing them the experience they desire; it’s more about the ability to measure engagement that is had in return.

Put simply: what’s keeping the market from providing this experience is the availability of the information that’s required to create the service that provides the experience.

If you’ve hung in this long, you know that by focusing on your CRM, you have the data that’s required to manage the customer relationship and the technology-driven experience through which that information is shared to create a differentiated and opportunistic customer experience.