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Oct, 19 20235 min read

Waters Rankings 2023 Winners’ Circle: Interview with SS&C Technologies' Karen Geiger

WatersTechnology interviews Karen Geiger of SS&C Technologies about the company's recent wins in the Waters Rankings.

SS&C Technologies won four categories in this year’s Waters Rankings: best buy-side OMS, best EMS provider, best portfolio management system provider, and best accounting system provider.

In this interview, originally posted on the WatersTechnology news site, SS&C Senior Vice President and Co-General Manager Karen Geiger talks to WatersTechnology about what SS&C’s clients are looking for across their front, middle, and back offices and how the company maintains the freshness and relevance of its products in a constantly evolving investment management industry. 

WatersTechnology: SS&C won more categories than any other technology/service provider in this year’s Waters Rankings. What is it about the firm that you believe continues to appeal to the markets it serves?

Karen Geiger: We take pride in these four wins, but we don’t take them for granted. We continue to work on and invest in our technology, and SS&C has the benefit of being a large technology and service firm with solid backing.

Eze and Advent are well-established brands, although we continue to manage them with an entrepreneurial spirit. What drives that spirit is how client-centric we are. We value our clients above all else, and we continue to evolve and stay fresh in terms of what we’re offering in our platforms. There is no one at any level of the organization unwilling to take a call from a client—I’m not too senior, and neither is [founder, chairman and CEO] Bill Stone. You won’t find that in every large institution, especially one of our size and scale. 

SS&C’s value proposition has been to bring together best-of-breed brands under one roof and leverage those strong technologies and extensive expertise to create unique solutions across the front, middle, and back offices. We’ve been recognized across many different categories because we cover holistically that front-to-back process, and firms are seeing the value of a single-vendor experience. We’ve grown through acquisition, and we’ve worked hard at creating that single-vendor experience without sacrificing the depth of capability or limiting the customers’ options.

WatersTechnology: Your first two wins in this year’s Rankings are front office focused: order and execution management. What are the key functions your clients are looking for that you believe help differentiate SS&C from other vendors/providers?

Karen Geiger: It goes beyond the traditional activities of order and execution management. Front offices are looking to focus on the highest-value activities and less on the more manually intensive and tedious tasks that can be automated. We’re in a fee-pressure environment, so it’s about how our clients differentiate themselves and drive alpha, while spending less time on some of the lower-value activities. 

We’re also ensuring we provide reliable data that’s easy to access to help with decision support. With our front-, middle- and back-office systems, we have all the data needed to fuel the front office, so surfacing more of that data and providing more analytics around it is an area of focus for us.  

One of the things we have done to greatly expand our capabilities is build out our Eze Marketplace, allowing third-party applications to be embedded within Eze solutions. Whether it’s Eze OMS or our Eclipse platform, you can have interactive widgets in the same desktop experience delivering, for example, a risk, a market intelligence, or a cash management solution. We’ve been growing out the network of partners on Eze Marketplace.

The last thing I’ll mention is our asset class coverage; we’re always expanding it as firms continue to diversify. If you look at our portfolio accounting products, we have more depth than anybody in terms of asset class coverage, ensuring our front-office solutions can support the different types of asset classes firms are diversifying into. 

WatersTechnology: Two wins came courtesy of SS&C Advent: best portfolio management system provider and best accounting system provider. Advent Genesis (portfolio management) was unveiled in late 2017, but APX and Geneva (accounting) have been around for a long time. How does SS&C keep those products fresh and relevant in a constantly evolving asset management segment?

Karen Geiger: APX and Geneva might not be the newest products on the market, but they offer the most depth and complexity.

Being able to understand the accounting rules for the esoteric securities in the market is difficult to replicate. This capability has taken us decades to build, and I’ve been around long enough to know nobody does that overnight. 

How do we stay fresh? The heart of it is the accounting piece, but we continually evolve and modernize everything around it. Today’s users want more of a dynamic user experience rather than running a batch of reports and waiting for them to finish. We aren’t married to what we built in the early 2000s—we’re married to that domain expertise. We must continue to evolve everything around that expertise and connect what’s in the back office to the front office.

Earlier, I referred to our data-centric approach. Well, the data is in our accounting system. That’s the source of truth and unlocking it and making it available for intelligence and analytics for whoever in the firm needs it is another area of focus for us. 

WatersTechnology: Looking ahead, how is the company planning to consolidate its position in the market? Is there anything on the workbench right now that you are especially excited about?

Karen Geiger: I mentioned earlier we have grown through acquisition. I am now responsible for both the Advent and Eze businesses along with my counterpart, Steve Leivent, who focuses more on the wealth side.

We’re excited about what we’ve been able to unlock by looking across SS&C’s technology assets. One area that we are investing in is a trading suite for investment managers, combining best-of-breed components from Advent and Eze. We’re finding we have a lot of hybrid asset/wealth managers who want the wealth management/portfolio management experience combined with advanced trading capabilities. We’re bringing those two pieces together as a single platform.