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Introduction to Cutter Associates, a new member of NRI Global Group

Feb 08. 2017

Interview with Mary Storrs, Principal – Director of Cutter Research and Benchmarking

What are Cutter’s greatest strengths?

Our greatest strength is the experience of our people, and the deep expertise they bring from a broad range of backgrounds in the industry. And we’re really focused on our clients. Even in Research, we spend a lot of time with clients, discussing their concerns and what they’d like to get out of the research.
Trust is another strength. Clients trust us and they are willing to share information. It is because Cutter has built the trust over decades, clients understand that we protect any information and never disclose it to another firm.
And we provide them with unique and valuable opportunities. We host in-person and online gatherings where Operations and IT managers can network with their industry peers. We’ve really created a unique environment where even managers from competing firms can come together to network constructively, sharing insights into how they’ve overcome common process and technology issues.

How does your research team operate?

Our research team is small, just ten people, but highly skilled. Typically, two team members focus exclusively on one topic for six months. We deliver the finished research to more than 200 clients through live presentations and through printed and online publications.
Our vendor evaluations are extremely technical and detailed. They require highly disciplined processes and lots of work. It’s easy to take information vendors provide and repackage it into a report. Lots of research providers do that, but we don’t. Our research content is original.  We perform due diligence on the information provided by vendors, conducting in-depth product demonstrations and vendor interviews. The rest of our insight is gleaned from client firms and our Consulting and Benchmarking work.

What topics are generating the most interest right now among your client firms’ IT and Operations managers?

Definitely regulations. Regulatory requirements for investment managers have multiplied and they’ve become much more demanding. On top of that, our clients’ customers are demanding greater transparency, asking what they’re paying for and why, and asking what the investment management firms own. We expect regulations to continue proliferating, even under the new US administration. 
Our clients are also very interested right now in consolidating the systems supporting their investment operations. Most of them have long preferred to use the best system for each specific function. But that strategy results in an architecture of multiple technology ‘siloes’ that’s cumbersome and expensive to maintain. Many vendors now deliver a unified platform offering a broad range of robust functionality across asset classes and our clients are seriously considering those platforms as cost-effective replacements for their best-of-breed solutions.
With increasing competition, managers are also recognizing the importance of having a strong client facing technology framework. It can be a differentiator for the business. Client onboarding and other client facing processes can now be managed using tools and in ways that really improve efficiency and client satisfaction.
Finally, new technology models are of interest to clients, too. For example, many of our clients are starting to investigate ways that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning can be applied to the investment process.