RESEARCH & RESOURCES

Building Customer Equity at International Financial Data Services

By Jake Freivald, Vice President of Corporate Marketing, Information Builders


IFDS Canada provides outsourcing administration services and technology to mutual fund, insurance, and banking industries internationally. As a transfer agency, it owns and operates its own record-keeping system, iFAST, utilized by more than 150 organizations. In Canada, IFDS is the largest net settlement user over the FundSERV network, processing approximately 100,000 transactions daily.

“Because the Canadian mutual fund industry requires complete transparency into every transaction, right down to the advisor level, we have a mountain of data,” said David Bullock, executive vice president of IFDS. “Part of our competitive edge comes from transforming organizations’ data into useful information that our clients can use to make fact-based decisions. We recognize that decision makers at all levels of an organization should be able to more easily access, understand, analyze, collaborate, and act on information, anytime and anywhere, so we set out to create technology solutions that make it very easy for them to achieve these goals.”

IFDS sought to replace third-party solution providers with business intelligence (BI) tools that clients can use themselves. The WebFOCUS BI platform from Information Builders was selected to support a dashboard-driven environment, known as IFDS Insight, for reporting and analysis of data related to funds, asset categories, share classes, dealers, and advisors.

IFDS Insight is quickly gaining adherents. At one of the company’s largest clients, business users can easily retrieve data with just a few clicks or screen taps. Senior managers can examine their wealth management business, and product managers can consider how to add, extend, or collapse their mutual fund offerings.

“The dashboard provides a capsule summary of the previous day’s activity, such as top trade tickets and top dealers,” said Sara Hilliard, IFDS vice president of product management. “WebFOCUS Active Technology lets them sort and manipulate statistics on selected fund products. Other reports permit them to analyze trends and dimensions over time.”

Alert-Driven Capabilities for iPad Users

A mobile version of IFDS Insight for smartphones and tablets, such as the Apple iPad, was also created. “Our target user base is not sitting in the office,” Hilliard said. “They are traveling or in meetings all the time. They want to access their metrics from wherever they are.”

WebFOCUS’s event-notification capabilities were also leveraged to devise a subscription-based alerting system that distributes information and reports as critical events occur or when certain business conditions are met, such as when total trading volume reaches a preset threshold.

These real-time updates are especially important to C-level users. “If a million-dollar ticket drops, they want to be aware of it,” Hilliard emphasized. “WebFOCUS lets us interact with these users by delivering relevant information about critical events as they occur. The dashboard is very dynamic. People can address the big picture and drill down to underlying details very quickly.”

Positive Feedback from Loyal Customers

IFDS expects 75 percent of its customers to adopt IFDS Insight. As a value-added service, the purchase price subsidizes ongoing enhancements. For example, although the first version focused on sales and marketing, upcoming versions will support operational teams, interface to CRM systems, and include predictive modeling.

“The feedback from our entire client base has been phenomenal,” Hilliard said. “Many of our customers currently get their information from Excel spreadsheets. Until now, they have not had an easy way to roll up the data and present it in an interactive way.”

“One of our largest customers told us that IFDS Insight will transform his business,” Bullock concluded. “We’re giving business users greater transparency into what’s happening each day so they can determine how a huge range of data-driven variables impact their strategies and goals.”


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