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Leaders in asset management honored for innovation

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NICSA is recognizing achievement in asset management as it presents its annual NOVA awards to executives and companies across the industry. Among the honors this year are awards for operational excellence, and innovations in product development and technology.

"Given the rapid evolution of the global asset management industry, innovation has never been more critical to success," says Jim Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of NICSA.

Broadridge Financial Services Executive Chairman Richard Daly, this year's Fund Industry Lifetime Achievement Award winner, concurs. "No industry can be complacent in today's digital world," he says, "and every business leader must be ready to disrupt their own business before others do."

Three firms this year were recognized for innovative technology achievements. State Street was lauded for its ESGX platform, which helps ESG-minded clients track their portfolios by factors including carbon footprint analysis, ESG metrics versus risk and return measures, and standardized climate reporting.

OnCorps, also awarded, uses machine learning to fuel its fund operations platform, which helps simplify operational processes using data ingestion from both internal and external services.

"We are proud to celebrate these honorees, who exemplify NICSA's mission to advance best practices across all facets of the global asset management industry," says Jim Fitzpatrick, president and CEO of NICSA.

CAIS, meanwhile, has created an end-to-end marketplace that allows managers and advisors to easily engage on a considerable scale as the firm focuses increasingly on alternative investments.

NOVA winner DFIN, honored for innovation in marketing, is focused on transforming from a traditional print company to a digital SaaS-based firm.

TIAA has been recognized for operational excellence in part for creating a platform that uses internal crowdsourcing methods to streamline processes to help solve customer and associate challenges.

Snehal Waghulde, senior manager of strategy and analytics at Deloitte, and one of this year's Emerging Leader honorees, also notes the importance of embracing innovation in the years ahead.

"As artificial intelligence and other digital technologies continue to change our industry, it is imperative that organizations evolve to have a positive impact on both their workforce and investors," she says.

Bill Greilich, the now-retired managing director and relationship executive at BNY Mellon Asset Servicing, and one of the recipients of this year's Outstanding Service to the Fund Industry award, says that "keeping millennials engaged in our industry and focused on savings and investments" will be a crucial challenge in the years ahead.

Innovations geared toward emerging populations — from changing methods of communication to upgrading platforms using AI and understanding the increasing importance of sustainable investing - will be key.

At 84 basis points, the average expense ratio is over 40 basis points pricier than what investors paid on average last year.
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(Terry Metzger, retired head of SS&C's asset management solutions, also received an Outstanding Service to the Fund Industry award. He couldn't be reached for comment.)

Jackie Tilton, solutions architect for NQR and NextGen Committee co-chair for NICSA, notes, "It's my prediction that, as more time passes without aggressively addressing the [age] gap, the harder it will be to compete against tech giants for talent in years to come."

All award winners will be honored at NICSA's general membership meeting in Boston on Oct. 17.

"We are proud to celebrate these honorees, who exemplify NICSA's mission to advance best practices across all facets of the global asset management industry," says Fitzpatrick.

More about winners:

Richard Daly, executive chairman, Broadridge Financial Solutions
Richard Daly has been in the financial services industry for decades, and he has some words of advice for financial firms looking toward the decades ahead.

"No industry can be complacent in today's digital world," he says, "and every business leader must be ready to disrupt their own business before others do."

Daly began his career at Arthur Andersen as a CFP, after graduating from the New York Institute of Technology with a BS in accounting. Over the years his titles have included chief operating officer of the Independent Election Corporation of America, senior vice president of operations at Thomson McKinnon Securities and group president of the brokerage services group at ADP. In 2007, ADP spun off its brokerage services group, and Broadridge Financial Solutions was born.

At Broadridge, Daly moved into the CEO role after helping build Broadridge up from a spinoff to a fintech leader with $4 billion in annual revenue.

For the past five years in a row, Broadridge was named to Fortune Magazine's "World's Most Admired Companies" in the finance data services category. During Daly's tenure as CEO, Broadridge was added to the S&P 500. This year the role of CEO was handed off to Tim Gokey. Daly now serves as executive chairman of the firm.

Daly is a member of the Listed Company Advisory Board for the New York Stock Exchange and of the Economic Club of New York. Daly also serves as director of the SIFMA Foundation, a financial literacy program that helps teach students about the stock market through a simulated game. In addition, he is also the founding treasurer of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Suffolk County, New York. He has been honored by dozens of charities in the state of New York that largely help children in need.

Other professional awards Daly has received include the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2003 and Arthur Anderson's Best Practices Award.

"Effective leadership requires holding on to a company's strength in existing technology while at the same time developing innovative new capabilities," Daly says.

"It requires responding to what customers want today while developing plans for better products that customers will want in the future," he adds.

William Greilich, retired managing director and relationship executive, BNY Mellon Asset Servicing
Before retiring in October 2018, Bill Greilich worked in the financial services industry for over 30 years, focused on relationship management, business development, operations and information technology. He has been a manager in both information technology and in the mutual fund transfer agency operation at BNY Mellon, and has also worked as vice president within the client services division. Before joining BNY Mellon, he worked as systems manager at Fidelity Investments.

With the advent of desktop computing in the 1980's, Greilich helped design and develop one of the first broker-dealer interfaces to shareholder information. This tool enabled broker-dealers to have remote access on their desktop to detailed account data and performance.

Greilich also helped redefine client servicing through the implementation of dedicated client service professionals for the transfer agency line of business. This role evolved into the relationship executive concept prevalent today, in which all investment and banking services are the responsibility of a single relationship professional.

Greilich notes that some of the greatest challenges he faced during his career were intense competition from other service providers, including technology and pricing; making data and information readily available to shareholders and broker-dealers; and always keeping abreast of technology to streamline operations and make processing more efficient.

Looking ahead for the industry, he sees "continued industry consolidation for both asset management firms and service providers." He also notes that "Keeping millennials engaged in our industry and focused on savings and investments" will be a challenge.

Overall, he says, "I am proud of my long career in the financial services industry and positive impact on shareholder servicing."

Sandy Bolton, managing director, head of managed investments, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
From helping create the first Merrill Lynch mutual fund website to connecting RIA custodians with investment managers, Sandy Bolton has spent the better part of her career focused on the proliferation of investment products and the client experience.

"Early on in my career in financial services, I looked around me and realized that trading was the area without any women; and at that moment I decided that was exactly where I needed to be," says Bolton, recipient of the NICSA NOVA Strategic Leadership Award. "I first became a mutual fund trader, which was essentially a glorified order taker but still allowed me to get licensed. Next I headed into New York to work on the equity trading desk and quickly realized it was exactly not what I wanted to do. But I was very glad I took the risk and I learned a lot along the way."

After becoming a mutual fund trader and passing her Series 7 and 63 on the first try, Bolton got her MBA and became an SVP at the age of 31. With her career running on all cylinders, Bolton then took a step back from the industry after surviving and escaping the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"I was blessed enough to escape from the World Trade Center on the morning of 9/11, but the experience made me reevaluate all that was important in my life, including my career," Bolton recalls. "I realized it was time to take a step back and focus on real life for a while. I took one year off after giving birth to my third child and then began consulting in order to keep my head in the business."

After consulting for four years, she made her return after rejoining the post-financial crisis version of Merrill Lynch, where she ultimately found her way and came out "stronger and more dedicated to success than ever before," she says.

Today, Bolton is responsible for heading the firm's investment product delivery across all global wealth and investment management channels including international and domestic mutual funds, global ETPs, separately managed accounts and money market funds. When looking to the future of the asset management industry, Bolton says no matter how fancy or complex investment products become, the pressure will always be on delivery.

"The shift to fee-based has changed the way firms think about adding investment products to the platform," she says. "It is less about quantity and more about quality and ensuring the best products are available from the best providers and every product is fully vetted both initially and ongoing. There is much greater transparency than ever before. This includes internal fees of a product and performance versus expectations. If you can't deliver you won't be around for very long."

OnCorps Fund Operations ingests data from a variety of internal and external sources, automatically runs reconciliations, tolerance checks and artificial intelligence anomaly detection to scan for potential mistakes, according to NICSA.

OnCorp's fund operations team is funded by Andreessen Horowitz and former executives from Goldman Sachs, McKinsey, Bridgewater, Fidelity and Accenture. The platform aims to replace time-consuming tools such as Microsoft Office.

"Our solutions help leading asset managers save time, catch errors and enhance service provider oversight," according to a company spokesperson.

CAIS Group
CAIS has transacted over $8 billion in total platform volume with more than 1,500 asset management companies and teams, according to NICSA.

"Our mission is to empower independent financial advisors and asset managers with the tools and resources to drive business growth," says CAIS founder and CEO Matt Brown, who created CAIS in an effort to even up access for financial advisors by connecting them with alternative asset managers.

CAIS aims for another expansion of the company's technology team and its Los Angeles-based technology and innovation hub, according to NICSA.

State Street
State Street was honored for its ESGX platform, a solution aimed at helping assess exposure to ESG factors and quantifying non-traditional financial risks.

In order to develop a product with the ability to span across multiple ESG data sets and asset classes, ESGX incorporates data from leading ESG data vendors. This includes analyst-driven metrics as well as algorithm-based metrics using web scraping, natural language processing and machine learning technologies.

State Street ESGX is currently servicing approximately 15 clients through web-based subscriptions and reporting services.

DFIN Solutions
DFIN Solutions, a risk and compliance company, aims to provide asset management companies with domain, software and data analytics services.

The Chicago-based marketing company works to combine technology solutions with industry experts — regulatory specialists, technology innovators and advisors — to assist clients in making informed financial decisions.

"We provide domain expertise, enterprise software and data analytics for every stage of our clients' business and investment lifecycles," according to a company spokesperson. "Markets fluctuate, regulations evolve, technology advances, and through it all, DFIN delivers confidence with the right solutions in moments that matter."

After the company rebranded in 2018, changing its name from Donnelley Financial Solutions to DFIN, the company saw an overall 510% increase in marketing-attributed revenue, a 311% increase in marketing qualified leads, 227% increase in website users and 195% increase in website sessions.

TIAA's National Contact Center features three key components: education about continuous improvement and the customer experience, the Ideas Lab and National Support Line and operations team.

NCC includes 650 associates in three sites who engage with and execute the requests of retirement plan customers while providing financial education, according to NICSA. In 2018, over 150 contact center associates completed a training program known as White Belt, which was built to help associates develop methods aimed at removing waste and improving company processes. That year, NCC team members answered over 2.5 million calls and 95,000 emails helping assist in competitive intelligence and customer service, critical pain points for the industry, the firm told NICSA.

TIAA's NCC also aims to assist clients in financial education with its Ideas Lab, a platform structured to leverage crowdsourcing to streamline various customer challenges, "helping us move more quickly from ideation to implementation," the firm told NICSA.

Snehal Waghulde, senior manager, strategy and analytics, Deloitte
Snehal Waghulde is passionate about helping investment management organizations use data and analytics to innovate and gain scale and efficiency to achieve a positive impact on both investors and the workforce.

She specializes in creating analytics and digital solutions, including developing AI-enabled digital tools to support operations, client servicing and onboarding processes at asset management, asset servicing and private equity firms.

"I'm proud and honored to be recognized as a leader by NICSA," Waghulde says.

Melissa McDonough, vice president, investor services, Brown Brothers Harriman
Melissa McDonough serves as a fund administration technical leader at BBH. She is responsible for bringing market intelligence to internal working groups, managing regulatory and risk profiles, and providing resources and expertise to ensure communication and execution of market intelligence to the firm's client service model.

"I am passionate about both client service and our industry, and I look forward to continuing to represent BBH as we identify market disruptors and support our clients through innovation," McDonough says.

Courtney Farrell, director, dealer services, Foreside
Courtney Farrell oversees the dealer services group and has been instrumental in providing fund families consulting services related to dealer agreements, share classes, distributor conversions, intermediary platforms and fees, revenue share arrangements and more.

"As a company, Foreside has always encouraged innovation and ideas from all levels of staff," Farrell says. "This has allowed my team the freedom to refine processes and improve efficiencies to support the needs of our clients, and remain competitive in this evolving industry."

Wells Shi, vice president, Hengtian Services
As vice president of Hengtian, a global technology company created in alliance with State Street, Insigma Technology and Zhejiang University, Wells Shi is at the forefront of change in the industry.

"As new business models emerge we will need to continue to understand what challenges our clients are facing and collaborate to work through these together," Shi says of the future of financial technology. "Change is constant and the speed of change seems to only get faster. I see Hengtian continuing to be a reliable partner for businesses to navigate through their transformations."

Marika Christopher, director of product strategy, Janus Henderson Investors
For the last nine months, Marika Christopher, director of product development at Janus Henderson, has been working to gather senior support to draft a global, companywide ESG policy and global ESG advisory committee at Janus Henderson.

"As I look at the next decade, I see three key dynamics changing the way we do business: the transfer of wealth to our millennial generation and women, technological transparency and data wealth, and the change to delivering our business in a climate-aware generation across the globe," Christopher says.

Noel Samu, executive director of financial reporting, JPMorgan Chase
As head of JPMorgan's financial reporting division, Noel Samu has helped develop global partnerships in an effort to launch an industry standard for financial reporting as part of a larger organizational effort.

"Winning this award is a great honor," Samu says on receiving an Emerging Leaders Award from NICSA. "I am humbled that the work that the team and I have put into serving our clients and developing new tools and procedures to deliver scalability and manage risk in financial reporting has been recognized in this way."

Kelly Sherrard, vice president, conferences and events, NICSA
For almost two years, Kelly Sherrard has been integral in industry collaboration efforts in her role heading NICSA's conferences and events division.

"As a proud member of the NICSA team, I am fortunate to have a front row seat to many of the interesting themes that are evolving in the global asset management industry," Sherrard says. "Providing a platform for industry collaboration on central issues like artificial intelligence, diversity and inclusion, and innovative product development is key to the advancement of industry best practices."

Jackie Tilton, solutions architect, National Quality Review
Prior to the financial services industry, NQR solutions architect Jackie Tilton worked at Oracle as a cloud applications sales consultant.

"In my previous industry, it was not unusual to work and compete alongside many fellow millennials," Tilton says. "When attending my first NICSA conference, I noticed few millennials and a stark age gap between the two industries. I saw the gap as something that could have broad, long-lasting effects on asset management," she says.

This, she adds, is what inspired her to launch NICSA's NextGen committee.

Joe Motto, associate, Reed Smith
As a member of NICSA's NextGen Committee, Joe Motto, an investment management and corporate attorney at Reed Smith, is focused on advising financial institutions on both state and federal regulatory and compliance issues.

Motto currently works to inform investment funds, investment advisors and public and private companies on SEC rules that govern the securities industry.

"Engaging the next generation of consumers and attracting and retaining next generation talent are some of the biggest challenges facing the industry in the years ahead," Motto says.

Keith Slattery, managing director and head of fund services operations, JPMorgan Chase
At JPMorgan, Keith Slattery has spent the better part of the last year focused on fund services growth, "driven by both conversion and outsourcing activity."

"We continue to make the necessary investments in our technology, our personnel and even our facilities in order to scale our business in a cost-effective manner and maintain outstanding service to our clients," says Slattery, managing director and head of fund services operations at JPMorgan Chase.

Slattery, a recipient of the President's Award for Service to NICSA two years in a row, has been a member of the organization for 30 years.

"The fund services industry is in a period of rapid change, highlighted by consolidation among asset managers, major conversions between service providers, largest-ever outsourcing mandates and a steady stream of regulatory changes," he says.

Stacy Bernstein, head of financial intermediaries and strategic development, American Century Investments
Over the last 25 years, Stacy Bernstein has been involved in developing distribution channels, growing market share and investment product planning at Legg Mason, Liberty Funds Distributor and now American Century. When looking over her career, it is developing business relationships that are her "sources of pride."

Bernstein, a recipient of the President's Award for Service to NICSA, holds her series 6, 7, 26, 24 and 63 securities registrations, and sits on the NICSA Board of Directors, the ICI Sales and Marketing Committee, American Century's Extended Management Committee and works with the Expect Miracles Foundation, a nonprofit connecting the financial services industry to investing in cancer research.

"Giving back is very important to me and is one of the reasons why I decided to work for American Century Investments," she says, adding that the firm "distributes over 40% of its dividends to the Stowers Institute for Medical Research."

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