Kneip Lee Marschall_ Lee Godffrey

In 23 years, KNEIP has lived through several major digital transformations. Today, the FinTech company has adopted an open IT architecture and a flexible IT infrastructure, whose implementation and management were entrusted to EBRC. Thanks to these efforts, the company, which is involved in the management of financial data, is ready to confront the technological and regulatory revolutions to come.

KNEIP mostly juggled with impressive amounts of paper. The company founded by Bob Kneip has always responded to the needs of the investment funds industry. At the time, it supported companies in their efforts to meet legal obligations, by offering distribution channels for their official publications and ensuring the legally required publishing of their general assemblies. "Digital was just a dream for most, we were living in a world of print”, says Lee Marshall, Head of IT Operations & Infrastructure of KNEIP. Since then, the world has changed, and KNEIP brilliantly managed to take the digital turn, again and again. "Digital has always been key for KNEIP and happened early on in our life as we continued to grow our business within Europe and also outside."  KNEIP quickly realised that its development would depend on the commodity that financial data represents and on its own ability to exploit it. "To ensure sustainable development in a rapidly changing environment, it is important to be able to project into the future, starting with a good understanding of the trends driving the current market, explains Lee Godfrey, CEO of KNEIP. By becoming aware of the growing need for information of companies in the fund industry, we could consistently adapt our IT systems in order to process an increasing volume of data and deliver information more quickly, in a wide variety of media, while ensuring its high quality..."

One of the largest suppliers in the world for fund-related information

In 2008, KNEIP contacts Bloomberg. The Luxembourg hub wishes to deliver information on its investment fund customers to the media company. To convince this influential player, KNEIP offers to provide information that can immediately be released. Until then, Bloomberg had to verify the information it received in heterogeneous tables from fund managers, prior their broadcast. 8 or 10 days could pass before the release of these transmitted data. "Internally, we had implemented processes and information systems to check the validity of the transmitted information directly, in order to use it immediately", recalls Lee Godfrey. It did not take long to convince Bloomberg and then other media companies to trust KNEIP. The company quickly started allowing its customers to upload their data via a simple portal. The FinTech company then took care of its verification, while making the effort to automate the processing methods over time to improve efficiency. "In this way, KNEIP has become one of the largest information providers in the whole world in terms of fund data for Bloomberg", says Lee Godfrey.

Combining automation and diversification

Based on the data itself and on its processing, the company diversified its services to make things easier for the actors of the fund industry. "As the number of services provided along with the volume and diverse reach for these products grew, we have always needed to remain cognizant to ensure their automation and the high level of accuracy and control for the contained data. It is vital not only for the operations side of KNEIP but most importantly for the clients, while ensuring their own corporate brand and image remain true", says Lee Marshall. Full control of the data eases its utilisation for different purposes. "Using the high quality data we receive from our customers, we can respond easily to a wide variety of needs. For example, we have greatly facilitated the production of KIIDs - Key Investor Information Documents - which are legally required for each UCITS fund. The use of our services in this area allows fund promoters to accelerate the commercialisation of their products and to ensure compliance", adds Lee Godfrey. KNEIP's dynamic management now makes it possible to automatically produce a new KIID if the change of the values ​​linked to the fund makes it necessary. "Try creating a document manually and you could do this within a few days. Try creating thousands of these and then updating just a few data elements and you will be there for a few months! Our system makes this process efficient, very quick and manageable", says Lee Marshall. Today, KNEIP is also able to meet the requirements of PRIIPs (packaged retail and insurance-based investment products), a new directive that disrupted the insurance industry.

Focus on value creation

To reach such a level of data management and to facilitate the production of such a wide variety of quality documents, KNEIP had to develop a high-performance system environment. "Nearly four years ago, we embarked on a large scale project to completely rethink our approach to managing the IT landscape from the bottom up. This was the only way to ensure we were able to keep up with the constant changing demands of our IT teams", says Lee Marshall. This transformation was first thought of in terms of data governance, including the matter of quality, safety and identification. Then, they had to rethink the infrastructure. "The management of infrastructure is not our core business. The infrastructure layer is essential to our operations to the extent that it underpins all our processes, but it is not where our value is created. So we chose to outsource its management with EBRC", adds Lee Marshall. As an IT service provider, a support PFS, and a specialist in sensitive data management, EBRC handles and adapts the entire IT infrastructure for KNEIP according to its actual needs. "EBRC allows us to focus on our core business and applications. We know that we have a trustful partner who is able to scale and meet the demands of our business, continues Lee Marshall. Leveraging the skilled resources across both companies and the infrastructure platform, EBRC allows us to provide strong guarantees in terms of security, service availability and quality."

Sustainable architecture to support a changing strategy

"The heart of our clients' business is investment advice and risk management, but certainly not producing reports or calculating NAVs, explains Lee Godfrey. Through our services, and starting with a set of high quality data sources, we automate the production of key information, indicators and various documents. Starting with the fund, analysing its lifecycle, we strive to constantly improve the support we provide to companies for their business and regulatory needs." For KNEIP, a digital transformation is a matter of looking at long-term opportunities to offer its customers an optimal experience. "With our approach and on open architecture, we are able to adapt to the opportunities of the future from a client, technology or regulatory perspective without the headaches and hurdles of the past”, adds Lee Marshall.

In this environment, an open architecture is the key to surviving and adapting quickly. "Everything is constantly changing and we need to adapt our strategy to meet these demands. We don’t want to have IT as brakes on progress but as a catalyst to allow our business to meet these demands while ensuring the platform is able to solution some of the upcoming industry challenges”, says Lee Marshall.

Published in IT Nation Mag, Oct 2017