Fifth Third Asset Management (FTAM) is the institutional asset management subsidiary of Fifth Third Bank, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, that provides comprehensive advisory services for institutional clients. FTAM offers a broadly diversified asset management product line utilizing proprietary mutual funds, commingled funds, and separate accounts. Charles River’s single enterprise solution creates efficiencies for FTAM and allows the firm to focus on core competencies.
Dave, could you please tell me a little bit about FTAM and your role there?
My name is Dave Fissel. I’m the Director of Investment Operations at Fifth Third Asset Management or FTAM.
We are primarily an institutional asset management firm. We are a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fifth Third Bank, headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, and we have approximately $16 billion in assets under management, across equity, fixed income and international styles.
What are some of the challenges that made you require a single enterprise solution?
I’ve really had to shift my team over the past few years to more of an operations analyst role than the typical processor. I no longer need someone that can simply print off a trade ticket and fax it to a counter party. I need somebody who can really understand the complexities of the securities and various markets that we’re dealing with these days.
Operations as a whole has been forced to take on a much larger role within the investment firm. A lot of the typical front- and middle-office functions that were being performed by other areas have been eliminated and shifted down to operations.
How long has FTAM been a Charles River client and why did you originally select Charles River IMS?
We went live with Charles River in October of 2009.
We primarily chose Charles River for a couple of reasons. The first was on the fixed income side. It was a much better fit for the type of firm that we are, specifically dealing with our 2a7 compliance requirements. It also allowed us to really consolidate all of our fixed income trading onto one platform. Prior to Charles River, we were on multiple systems. The integration of Tradeweb, MarketAccess, Bloomberg, FIX venues was a huge win for us.
Secondly on the post-trade side, we were looking for a system that could consolidate all of our processing onto one platform, which Charles River allowed us to do.
How has Charles River IMS streamlined workflows and created efficiencies for your firm?
With all the additional regulations and more unique and complicated asset types that we’re dealing with today, Charles River really is a lot more open and flexible; allowing us to deal with those changes much more quickly.
With the system being so open and flexible, there’s a lot of features embedded within Charles River, such as the broker standing settlement instructions and post-trade export routing rules, that have really helped streamline a lot of our processes, allowed us to get through SWIFT messaging and message formatting, and allowed us to get trades out to our counter parties much more quickly than we were ever able to do in the past.
Charles River IMS takes the post-trade worries out of the Portfolio Managers’ hands and puts it in the Operations group. It allows the Portfolio Managers to just focus on security selection as opposed to worrying about allocations and settlements.
The partnerships that Charles River has with Omgeo, specifically for Oasys, TradeSuite and CTM, being able to integrate to those directly within the system, has been a huge win. Finally, we really take advantage of the use of the Blotter functionality within the system. We’re able to monitor where a trade is at in the order lifecycle at any point, right within the Blotter within Charles River. It helps us identify issues a lot more quickly and just reduce a lot of the downstream settlement risk.
How has Charles River helped you get to a true straight-through processing environment?
Being able to do everything within the Charles River system has been a huge win for us. Prior to our implementation, we were doing things in multiple systems. Anytime you have to take your fingers off the keyboard to go to another system you inherently introduce risk into the equation. Within Charles River, we’re able to set up multiple blotters and follow an order through the entire trade lifecycle, and monitor in real time if something is not matching or something is not settling.
For example, we have been able to send out an order, receive an execution, send an allocation to the broker, receive the confirm, match it, send the affirmation back out – all within a five minute period without any body from my team touching the trade. It’s really helped us move to more of a true straight-through processing environment.