Custodian banks: there are lots of them but only a dozen or so have made it to the top league as the world’s largest and most successful in no small measure due to their size.
The value of the assets they service goes hand in hand with the size of their pocketbooks – just how much they are willing to spend to keep their existing clients and win new ones.
“It’s all about the customer experience” is the logo they live and perish with. In the world of custody that means providing data and lots of it to fund managers and their customers.
“In our terms it’s the client information experience that counts,” says Christopher Remondi, managing director of systems at Brown Brothers Harriman, one of the world’s largest custodian banks.
ChriS Remondi, Managing director of systems, Brown Brothers Harriman
Remondi hasn’t mastered the art of coding code but he has mastered understanding what information fund managers need to run their operations. Remondi started off at BBH 17 years ago as a manager of client services for fund accounting and custody. He then spent about five years as director of BBH’s Infomediary unit, which provides fund managers with an outsourced platform to communicate with multiple service providers.
In the new role he signed up for three years ago, Remondi must come up with the business rules for the technology necessary to service fund managers both in the U.S. and overseas. BBH is one of the world’s largest custodians for U.S. mutual funds and investment funds domiciled in Dublin and Luxembourg. It is headquartered in Boston but services fund managers out of operations offices in Jersey City, London, Dublin and Luxembourg.
“Fund administrators and other service providers are now engaging with their customers to ensure they are aware of any potential operational risks,” says Remondi, who works in the Jersey City, N.J., office of BBH, which boasts $3.1 trillion in assets under custody.
Regardless of their location or investment strategy they all share one need: reducing risk. One of the largest and likely most easily preventable risks: failing to settle a transaction on time which can cost the fund manager hundreds or thousands of dollars per trade depending on the reason for the problem, the asset class involved and the market involved. That’s just for payments to counterparties and potential buy-ins of securities. It doesn’t even take into account the time operations executives must spend investigating what went wrong and correcting the problem.