BMO Global Asset Management enjoyed a busy month in June, appointing a new chief executive officer and promoting its new order management system.
Over the past two years, the business – which boasts some US$230 billion in assets under management – has been going through some structural changes.
In 2014, BMO acquired London-based investment group F&C Asset Management for $1.2 billion which gave BMO Global Asset Management 24 offices in 14 countries.
A year later, the group created BMO Global Asset Management (EMEA) with headquarters in London and then, last month, the parent group promoted former F&C chief executive Richard Wilson to chief executive officer and chief investment officer for BMO Global Asset Management.
During this period of change, the legacy IT and development team of F&C Investments team were working on a platform review programme to identify areas that could be rationalised. Leading the project were BMO GAM’s head of IT, Ian Barringer and head of development Sacha Anderson.
The purpose of the project was to review the existing OMS and portfolio management system arrangements and trial some new platforms on the OMS market through demos with the front office teams.
Sacha Anderson, head of development at BMO Asset Management, recalls the process that led to the business opting for Markit’s ThinkFolio.
He says: “We had demos to front desks quite early on with a short list of platforms. By a process of scoring the various platforms, front office feedback, looking at costings and scalability, we arrived at ThinkFolio. We already had experience of ThinkFolio because our Treasury desk had been using them.”
After the research process, the team spoke with rival buy-side firms to get reviews on the quality of the system where it has been used elsewhere. The business leaders recalled receiving positive reviews from emerging markets group Ashmore among others.
Since then, the OMS has been deployed in London, Toronto, Hong Kong and the Netherlands although the majority are legacy F&C business units. It is unclear at this stage whether all of the global BMO Asset Management business units will eventually deploy the system.
Ian Barringer, head of IT for BMO told The Trade: “I think that would be the objective but we are not in a situation yet to make any decisions like that. We represent what was formally F&C.”
With Richard Wilson’s move to global chief executive officer only announced last month it is perhaps understandable that technical integration remains a work in progress.
However, there is plenty of scope with the new platform. While F&C’s Treasury team may have used it previously it is easily adapted for multiple asset classes both for order management and for portfolio management requirements, according to Anderson.
Barringer adds: “We have… vanilla equity to credit and everything in between. Those were the requirements against which the selected platform was chosen. It was chosen because it covers all the products we invest in.”
CORRECTION: A public relations representative from Markit has asked us to clarify that the conversation with Ashmore mentioned in the interview, was after the selection of the platform had been made and not part of that process. It was apparently mentioned as an illustration of the fact that IT departments of asset managers do sometimes share experiences of systems. The story has been updated to reflect this.