Q&A with Vincent DiVasta, Managing Director, Global Head of Performance Analysis & Reporting, Manulife Asset Management
Vincent shares his views on some of the topics being covered at the Summit for Performance, Risk & Attribution 2013- North America
QWhat changes have you seen in the performance analysis and reporting sector in the past six months/year? How have they affected your role at Manulife Asset Management during that time?
The sales & marketing demands have increased significantly in the last year at our firm. The financial markets are rebounding and investors are taking on more risk while migrating toward active management. Therefore, firms such as ours are aggressively pursuing new business where appropriate. My role becomes stretched as the firm explores launching more and different products across the globe, and we continue to be nearly borderless in our sales approach.
Q There seem to be lots of new technologies out there to help with performance analysis and reporting. Are they really offering anything new/better? Have you changed/upgraded your systems recently (and why/why not)?
The technology around performance is becoming increasingly more mature. The total return space is stable and has been for some time. For attribution; equity is fairly standard, fixed income is seeing the methodologies levelling into fewer camps, and the alternative asset space remains the ‘wild west’. Finding the technology that reflects a firm’s investment process is critical. Each firm has unique demands and properly fitting the technology to those demands is what each firm must consider. Our most recent technological purchases were Barclays POINT for fixed income attribution and the StatPro Composite engine for GIPS composite maintenance. These additions fit in well with our approach and suite of best-of-breed tools.
QPerformance management can mean different things to different people/companies. At Manulife, what does it mean? What do you devote most of your time to as Global Head of Performance Analysis and Reporting?
Performance management is viewed as anything from total return to attribution to risk analysis. We support a multitude of internal clients with each of these elements in proper fashion across all of our products. My role is strategic in nature and most of my time is focused on maintaining an appropriate measurement standard while meeting non-standard client needs. Our clients can be anyone from sales staff to portfolio manager to CEO to our Board of Directors; so our analysts, data and technology need to accommodate disparate needs.
Q Manulife is a truly global company, working in 17 countries. What challenges does this present from a performance analysis/reporting point of view?
Managing the demands of many individual offices with native portfolio management in unique markets is the biggest challenge. Each of our firms began and operated as independent and autonomous organizations for years, and all were accustomed to tailored approaches. Extracting and supporting the common practices while understanding and facilitating the unique solutions of each firm/market is challenging. Also, addressing the data concerns where the market holds imperfect or insufficient information such as pricing/valuation is a key concern. Being based in North America where the data tends to be complete has me spoiled.
QThe updated GIPS handbook has provided a host of new information for professionals in your industry. How to you ensure your employees and clients are all up to date on the latest information and in compliance?
We have a dedicated GIPS analyst, which ensures our policies and procedures are up-to-date across the globe. This person ensures that we are not only current with the latest GIPS handbook, but also any new guidance, Q&A and Executive Council minutes that are required by GIPS. We conduct annual verifications and have very open discussions throughout the year with our verifiers. We have recently implemented an annual training session of all sales and marketing staffs across the globe to ensure there is proper performance reporting to all prospects.
You can hear more from Vincent and these topics at the upcoming Summit for Performance, Risk & Attribution 2013 – North America conference being held June 19 & 20 in New York.
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