Before getting caught up in the big-data hype, and spending big on elaborate technology projects, superannuation funds should first reach out to their custodians for help and ideas.

That is the view of Australian Custodial Services Association (ACSA) chief executive Robert Brown, who spoke to Investment Magazine ahead of facilitating a session on the topic at the upcoming Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) Conference of Major Superannuation Funds (CMSF) 2018, to be held in Brisbane on March 14-16.

“Most super funds are now aware of the potential of big data, but there is still enormous potential for many funds simply from improving their information management systems and data governance,” Brown says.

He says that at a time when many super funds are considering investing in new technology solutions to help them better harness data, it can be valuable to take a pause.

“Like everything super funds do, data projects need to be cost effective and directed at achieving better outcomes for members,” Brown says. “Working collaboratively with existing key service providers, including custodians, is one very practical way that super funds can make sure they are maximising the data they already have.”

Brown says custodians typically manage lots of regulatory data sets on behalf of funds that can be re-sliced-and-diced into different formats for other purposes.

“Funds should keep in mind how they can better use the data they already have,” he says. “This might mean using a data warehouse to cut existing data in a different way.”

His advice to fund executives not sure where to begin improving their data management systems was to start a conversation with their custodian.

“Come to the custodian with a framework of what types of things – whether around investments, risk management or administration – that you feel the fund needs to know more about.”

Robert Brown will facilitate a session at CMSF 2018 titled, ‘Data – the life blood of your fund’. For more information or to register, visit the event website.

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