The Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) has a new gadget that should help it run more efficiently – and others seem to want one too.
(July 12, 2012) -- The Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) has released a new platform to increase transparency and accessibility of the fund's day-to-day investment activities.
The platform is available exclusively to employees at the $70 billion Canadian institutional investment fund manager.
Known as the "Dynamic Dashboard," the investment reporting platform displays a range of metrics from investments to operations in real time. Returns, performance attribution, asset mix, economics and markets, risk, and a range of other indicators are available to the Canadian fund manager's employees.
"The biggest users are CEO Leo de Bever and me," Jagdeep Singh Bachher, AIMCo's deputy chief investment officer told aiCIO. "It's really all about getting data of the organization and presenting it in a way that is key to investment decision-making."
AIMCo's institutional clients have already expressed interest in the platform to implement the technology within their own organizations, Bachher said.
In reality, however, the value of the platform is not in the technology at all, but rather in the information, Bachher said. "We have increased the frequency of gathering the most important information in real time," he added.
While the web-based version of the Dynamic Dashboard was released in April, the platform will be made available on the iPad at the end of the month. AIMCo will not be taking the dashboard to the iPhone, however. "It's too small," Bachher explained.
It all started with a paper-based version of the dashboard in April 2009, beginning as a 30-page Power Point produced every two weeks. "Then I started thinking 'why are we printing all this paper? Why don't we populate it into a website and make it dynamic? But the iPad is really the way to go," Bachher said.
Institutional investors often use the fact that they are long-term investors to say that they don't always need investment information in real time, according to Bachher. However, he indicated the irony of such investors reading business news every day. "Why not have that daily news for our own firm?"
AIMCo's new platform illustrates the next phase of money management, where infrequently updated Excel documents and Power Points are ditched in favor of a wiki-type platform that allows for metrics such as asset allocation to be continuously tracked and accessed. According to the fund manager's deputy CIO, the dashboard also portrays the differences between Canadian and US-based money managers. While Canadian funds have historically relied on in-sourced investment, their US peers have outsourced investment functions more widely partly due to more limited resources. The dashboard perhaps exemplifies this sense of investing control among Canadian institutions, giving the ability to zero in on a particular investment at any given time.
"The best thing that this dashboard could do if implemented more widely is to help clean up data in the organization on a daily basis, having the information easily accessible to everyone. If you're a longterm institution and have a daily dashboard, you have visibility on a daily basis, and could maybe clear up errors more easily," Bachher said.
The financial world knows all too well when major blunders remain unchecked for too long and get out of hand -- think JP Morgan's multibillion trading losses. Within the institutional investing world, where large pools of money can move markets, data and access to information can help spot trends before others might, according to AIMCo's investment team.
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