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Don't let poor data cloud your investment decisions | A guidance note for family offices.

We are often called into family offices to help solve investment reporting challenges; incomplete, labour intensive and lack meaningful insights.


However, challenges with investment reporting can be a sign of more fundamental upstream issues with how data is captured, stored, organised, and managed. 


For many years, fund managers have focused on Operational Alpha, which describes how to leverage operations and technology to improve investment returns.  Fund managers have recognised that data, treated as an asset, helps drive business outcomes. They spend a lot of time and money to ensure the data is right.  


We have found that managing data within a family office can be just as complex.

  • Inbound data flows are messy, unstructured, and cut across multiple counterparties.

  • Heavily reliant on 3rd party providers that offer limited customisation.

  • Manual data processes evolve organically, with Excel often bridging the gaps.


These challenges are compounded by the fact that family offices rarely have sufficient internal resources to develop a structured approach to data management.  


What does good look like?

Reliable, complete, and readily accessible data has a powerful impact on an organisation.


  • A single source of truth allows the family office to make fast, informed decisions.

  • Comprehensive investment data provides a holistic view of the portfolio, delivering clear, concise, and actionable insights.

  • Quality data helps attract and retain talent and empowers them to do their best work.

  • Investment exposures and portfolio risks are promptly identified.

  • Data management scales to accompany growth without data integrity deteriorating.


How to get there?  

Not sure where to start? Here’s a simplified roadmap that should help get you on the journey.


First, start with a plan for what you want to achieve. Agree on what good looks like for your family office. In our view, the goal should be data that is complete, accurate, timely, customisable, and easily accessible.  


Next, draw a baseline understanding of your data, its uses and dependencies. This should include all inbound data from service providers and data domains.


Rank your data needs based on business impact and identify gaps. Start small by looking for some easy wins. For example, are we fixing the same data break every month, can we automate manual processes, can we sync data across domains, can we consolidate service providers or ask them to do more of the data validation?


You may reach a crossroads where time and effort are better spent on transitioning to new technology infrastructure rather than incremental improvements to legacy systems. 


Finally, assess early on if the family office has sufficient expertise and resources to drive this initiative.


Any questions? 

If you are unsure where you are on the map, here are some questions.  

  • How complete is our data?

  • How much data manipulation and remediation are we doing?

  • Is there proper alignment between the investment reports and our IPS?

  • Can we customise the data to suit our requirements?

  • How timely is the report information generated? 

  • Do we have a solid understanding of investment exposures and risks?

  • Does the reporting provide meaningful, actionable insights?

  • Is our data management positioned to leverage emerging technologies? 

  • Can we easily transition to digital delivery of all information?

  • How secure is our document storage, and can documents be easily retrieved?


A final note of caution, this is a journey without end. Good data management requires a constant focus on quality, completeness, security, and controls. Data management is not a time-bound project. It requires ongoing focus as your business grows, data proliferates, and your requirements evolve.



Co-Founder - Hall Road Services


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