Dealing with the future of dealing desks. How outsourced dealing has now become a credible option for investment managers

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1 Dealing with the future of dealing desks How outsourced dealing has now become a credible option for investment managers

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3 Managing editors Richard Phillipson, Principal and Director of Institutional Consulting, Investit Carl James, Managing Director, BNP Paribas Dealing Services UK Contributors Philippe Boulenguiez, Managing Director, BNP Paribas Dealing Services Special thanks Franck Lambert, Head of Marketing, BNP Paribas Securities Services Shaun Hammond, Head of Marketing EMEA, BNP Paribas Securities Services Alexandra Bougie, Marketing Specialist, BNP Paribas Securities Services Tina Wilkinson,

4 Table of contents

5 Table of contents Executive summary Introduction Section 1 What is being outsourced? Section 2 What outsourced dealing services offer 2.1 Service models 2.2 What outsourced dealing services offer Section 3 Cutting costs 3.1 What are the costs of a dealing team? 3.2 What outsourcers charge 3.3 Who pays? Section 4 Market views of the pros and cons Section 5 Taking the decision 5.1 Execution outcomes 5.2 Cost and impact assessment 5.3 Due diligence checklist Conclusions About Investit About BNP Paribas Securities Services

6 Executive summary

7 Executive summary Executive summary Cost, risk management and regulatory pressures, combined with the possibility of achieving better returns for portfolios, are challenging the conventional approach to in-house dealing. Large investment management firms are successfully using an internal outsourcing model; firms without that scale should now consider external outsourcing. Market evolutions are forcing a change. MiFID, and the resulting market fragmentation, has changed relationships between dealers and brokers. The skills required of a dealer are changing and operational risks are becoming higher. We can see a shift of attitude towards outsourcing dealing: There is already a successful set of services aimed at hedge funds Conventional firms have become comfortable with centralised dealing desks and are now interested in reducing costs for both the firm and its clients For early adopters, outsourcing generally started with equities, however we see the trend continuing into bonds especially as more trading moves onto exchanges Instead of Why should we outsource this? the question is Why should we do this ourselves? What will our clients think? Institutional investment consultants are not against outsourcing but are against their clients portfolios paying for it. Fund selectors do not generally delve so deep as to be aware of dealing arrangements. The FCA in the UK is comfortable with outsourced dealing, not least because this separates buying execution from buying research. Indeed, it appears that the separation and transparency of execution and research costs will become the norm over time. The IMA s paper in February 2014 The Use of Dealing Commission for the Purchase of Investment Research provides guidance for investment managers in this respect. One of the clear benefits of outsourced dealing is built-in transparency of these costs. Firms must define what they want from dealing. In some firms dealing is seen as an administrative function; in others it is seen as an integral part of the investment approach. By considering outsourcing a firm will have to articulate what it wants from dealing and in turn that will inform the decision to outsource or not. In-house dealing is expensive and is not reflected in fees. Maintaining a good dealing desk is becoming more expensive. According to Investit research, each dealing station (data, systems, salary and overheads) costs around 300,000 per year. And yet the extra returns that might be available from reducing transaction costs are not repaid in extra fees generated on that marginal extra return. Faced with this cost some firms have considered the time is right to think about outsourcing. Can outsourcers demonstrate better performance? In dealing, objective measures are still hard to find and investment outcomes from dealing are not routinely measured against client specified benchmarks. While Transaction Cost Analysis (TCA) may not be perfect we believe it is useful enough to be used to test what an outsourcer has to offer. A decision framework to help assess the opportunity The first step is for a firm to decide what it wants to achieve from dealing and what that would cost. The firm may then assess whether it will get a better return for itself and its clients from developing and maintaining an in-house team or outsourcing some or all of its execution. Cost will not be the only factor in the decision, but it is an important one that is quantifiable. Last but not least, the due diligence work will help address key hygiene issues, such as the firm readiness to outsource and the working arrangements. 7

8 Introduction

9 Introduction There are several different dealing models. Asset managers in firms with small numbers of portfolios, both long-only and long-short, tend to do their own dealing. Firms with larger numbers of portfolios have for the most part set up central dealing functions. The largest managers have set up in-house global dealing teams, remote from the fund managers, to which all trading is directed. Some hedge funds have completely outsourced dealing, and some conventional investment firms use outsourcing for specific requirements such as overnight dealing in other regions or for overflow at peak periods. Very few long-only managers have fully outsourced dealing. We believe that this is partly because there is no clear framework for consideration of the options and partly because there is a lack of awareness of what is available. In this paper we compare what in-house and outsourced dealing can offer to fund management firms. This work has been carried out for BNP Paribas Securities Services, a provider of outsourced dealing services and a wholly owned subsidiary of BNP Paribas the global banking group. Method In the course of researching outsourcing dealing we have spoken to 31 investment managers with presence in the UK market. These range from in-house pension managers through to global giants. Assets under management at these firms ranged from around 10bn to 1.5trn. We interviewed senior staff from fund management firms, fund managers, CIOs and COOs as well as dealers themselves. Investit met Barclays, BNP Paribas Securities Services (dealing services teams), CF Global Trading, Quantum EMS Ltd, OutSet Global LLP and Williams Trading. We have spoken to other custodian banks that are considering launching such a service and do not reveal their names or exploit what we have been told in confidence. To gauge the reaction of influential gate keepers we spoke to four key investment consultants and four manager selectors. Investit has followed this topic with the FSA and FCA for five years and issued updates in summer 2012 and winter

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11 Section 1 What is being outsourced? 11

12 Section 1 What is being outsourced? To examine whether dealing can be outsourced, we start with how dealing teams are structured and what they do. Dealing team structures Historically the fund manager had responsibility for the execution of orders, which they did by making a telephone call to a broker who then executed the order in the market. As firms grew, technology improved and market infrastructure became more complex, leading to the introduction of order management systems, it became possible to create a centralised dealing function. Stages of centralisation This first wave of centralising dealing was driven by internal efficiencies and regulation to ensure clients were treated equally: To group trades To improve operational efficiency To prevent in-house front-running To allow fund managers to concentrate on managing portfolios and separate duties To identify crossing opportunities which could save clients money The dealing role has evolved and become more sophisticated as new trading methods and venues have appeared. With MiFID-driven market fragmentation the role of the dealer has become potentially less administrative and more specialist. However, not all dealing teams have the capability to deal with the new world. What dealers do The dealers are responsible for obtaining best execution as defined by the firm s execution policy. As dealers are themselves outsourcing to brokers or other execution venues they are selecting services and assessing how effective they have been at achieving best execution. Selecting dealing method Dealers usually select brokers from a previously approved trading list. Known supply/demand, indications of interest, guarantees of liquidity, anonymity or methods of minimising market impact are taken into account. The rate of take up of the new trading methods and venues (choosing algorithms or Alternative Trading Systems) has been variable. If a buy-side firm has been slow to take advantage of these opportunities, this may give an outsourcer the chance to demonstrate a superior capability. 12

13 Section 1 What is being outsourced? Monitoring external dealing performance In broker reviews dealers will usually rate brokers for their trading efficacy and fund managers will separately rate the value of broker research. The dealing team will usually monitor the efficiency of equity dealing using TCA, though this is not yet mature enough for bonds. TCA is mostly used by the buy-side to measure the performance of brokers. It is also valid for measurement of the dealers choices of venues and strategies as well as fund managers time to take decisions and release trades. Outsourcers should be able to offer objective measures of dealing quality. Negotiating rates The dealing team will generally be responsible for agreeing execution rates. The extent to which dealers have autonomy here depends on the extent to which fund managers have unbundled research from execution. Brokers still look at the combination of flow, execution commission and revenue from research. In an unbundled world the dealing desk should only be responsible for execution rates. Outsourcers should show rates that balance outcome with cost. Commission management One of the changes that has given dealers some freedom to select trading venues based solely on their execution capability is the advent of the Commission Sharing Agreement (CSA). The management of CSAs can be separately outsourced to brokers and custodians as well as to firms offering outsourced dealing. In a recent survey Investit found 70% of firms looking to outsource CSA management. Do clients care? Asset owners do not seem to have given a lot of priority to the costs of execution, implicit or explicit. However, all parts of the investment process are coming under more scrutiny. Local authorities seem more aware than some other classes of client. We talked to investment consultants and fund selectors about the value dealers can add. They mostly responded that it was not a matter of adding value, but not subtracting it. We believe that there will be more thought given to objective measurement of dealing outcomes. These measurements will enable firms to compare in-house and outsourced dealers on the basis of something beyond a hunch. We expect more scrutiny of every aspect of the investment process by asset consultants or owners and regulators acting on their behalf. Asset managers will be keen to control their costs. In many firms the dealing function has been taken for granted as necessarily an in-house function. We expect this assumption to be challenged. 13

14 Section 2 What outsourced dealing services offer 14

15 Section 2 What outsourced dealing services offer Outsourced dealing firms have different offerings that tend to reflect their client bases. CF Global Trading, Outset Global and WTCO started with a hedge fund client base from which they are now expanding. The BNP Paribas Securities Services Dealing Services team manages the dealing for most of BNP Paribas buy side (Investment Management, Insurance, Wealth Management) as well as firms outside the group. Quantum comes from a broking background. Custodians have generally seen this as an extension of their business with existing clients; standalone providers are certain that it can be a business in its own right. The benefits that most providers offer are: Scale benefits giving clients access to a highly skilled dealing operation Possibility of lower costs for fund managers and portfolios Connectivity to a wider range of markets and venues Provision of strong infrastructure and systems 24-hour dealing Management of CSAs (Commission Sharing Agreements) Settlement services Reporting (activity, best execution) Regulatory watch Newsflow They also identify less tangible benefits such as a high level of market anonymity, the ability for their client firms to demonstrate that there are very clear Chinese walls between portfolio managers and dealers. 2.1 Service models We identify three models of outsourced dealing. The first is agency brokers looking for an exclusive relationship. The second is where the outsourcer is constituted as a broker (though dealing through other brokers) and the third is where the service is an outsourced service that is more like that achieved by the in-house outsourced dealing teams. Pros and cons of the service models Pros Cons Example of providers Agency brokers Faster execution as it cuts out the dealing function altogether Likely to be technologically advanced with sophisticated use of algorithms This is the model with the most concentration risk There is reliance on a single broker for achieving best execution. The brokers will go direct to market where possible and offer a low touch service The firm s order flow will be anonymous to the broker community until it is disclosed later. This may have a negative impact on the firm s Many providers Sole brokers are ITG-BTG Broker and outsourcer model This service is not seen technically as outsourcing by the FSA. Equity execution may be paid from commission as this is defined as an execution service Can offer clearing services if required Obliged to provide best execution as registered as a broker dealer Clients that have outsourced all their dealing are mostly small hedge firms Most of these providers are not well known brand names CF Global, Outset Global, Quantum EMS, William Trading Pure outsourcers No ambiguity, clear differentiation of the roles Some investment firms may see this as an appropriate extension of the outsourcing process Broker neutral, warranting full alignment or interests between the outsourcer and its client Full recognition of flows by broker: complete visibility from the sell-side on whose behalf the outsourcer is working Firms offering this model are not able to anonymise trades This service is seen technically as outsourcing by the FSA and will be subject to full FSA SYSC 8 outsourcing oversight requirements Only two firms: BNP Paribas Securities Services under its dealing services offering and Exoé 15

16 Section 2 What outsourced dealing services offer 2.2 What outsourced dealing services offer Scale and skills Dealing teams benefit from economies of scale. Many small firms teams are underemployed. Larger firms will generally have invested in keeping dealing teams current with best practice. So smaller outsourcers will only be able to offer comparative advantages of scale to smaller managers and will need to build more volume in order that this would apply for larger firms considering outsourcing. By contrast, BNP Paribas team is more like those at the global firms that have the internally outsourced model with over 100 staff and over 400,000 orders handled in The combined client base manages over 550bn. Outsourced teams have a range of experience with buy-side, sell-side, hedge and long-only dealers. They do not yet have more specialisation in different markets, sectors, program or algorithmic trades than the biggest buy-side houses, but for small and medium sized firms they already represent a considerable step-up in experience. While the outsourcers may not yet be writing their own algorithms they are more likely to have a full range of dealing options than many buy-side teams. Providers coming from a broking background are likely to be particularly strong in electronic dealing as this will already have been a core part of their business. Market connectivity The range of markets covered by the outsourcers varied. The quantified claims we saw were, for example: 55 markets and 250 brokers plus links to electronic crossing networks and multilateral trading facilities. While many fund managers might deal with a similar number of different venues in a year, there may be a stronger relationship from the outsourcer simply from more regular contact and combined valuable flow, especially as these businesses get larger. Infrastructure and systems For some potential clients, an imminent systems upgrade may be the driver to examine what outsourcers have to offer. The best of the outsourcers are in-line with the systems at the very best in-house teams. Fund managers will need to do the due diligence to reassure themselves that the outsourcers have adequate systems and will be able to cope with the volumes and instrument coverage required. 24 hour dealing Not all outsourcing firms are offering 24 hour dealing. 24 hour dealing has tended to be mixed up with having dealers on the ground in US, Europe and Asia. Those that have the capacity to pass a book around the world see this aspect of their offer as a natural opportunity for fund managers to try outsourcing. This might be particularly useful as fund managers can outsource trades where they have less opportunity to add value on the in-house desk. This would be one way of testing outsourcing with low risk, while keeping the option to reverse the decision and bring it back in-house. 16

17 Section 2 What outsourced dealing services offer CSA management CSAs are the mechanism by which commission is unbundled into the part to pay for execution and the part which is held back in a separate account to pay for research. Management of these is a job often left to the dealers. Some outsourcing firms do offer to manage the CSA budgets and report on commission spend and targets to their clients. As about 45% of research budgets now pass through CSAs we expect this service to remain popular. An outsourced dealing world highlights the conflicts within the overall concept of commission that buys research and execution. The FCA s view is that this clear distinction between decisions about how to trade and from whom to buy research will speed the unbundling they wish to see. Market anonymity Market anonymity is offered by the firms that have registered as brokers. Market anonymity will immediately be helped by the fact that a firm s trading will be mixed in with that from other sources. This alone may help to mask the intent and source of a trade. In practice the sell side will probably eventually know who an outsourcer acts for, but this will not be deal by deal. Because there will be multiple managers with the same deals using outsourcers raised questions with some intermediaries about priorities and they would need to be confident these were well handled. The flip side of anonymity is that brokers have to wait to see who has been responsible for their flow and research payments, although the allocations will give them some clue. Where fund management firms have compliantly unbundled execution from research this will be even clearer when execution is carried out without reference to the rest of the broker/fund manager relationship. Demonstrable Chinese Walls Buy-side firms that manage both long-only and hedge funds with different fund manager teams might also consider maintaining their Chinese Walls by separating their dealing as well. We are aware of one boutique element of a conventional and large fund management business that feels their dealing is disadvantaged by orders being amalgamated with those of the larger affiliate. Boutiques within larger firms have begun to discuss outsourcing as an economical way to achieve un-conflicted and separate dealing. 17

18 Section 3 Cutting costs

19 Section 3 Cutting costs A business case for change will often revolve around a cost benefit analysis. For third party managers this means the cost to the firm rather than any reduction in the costs bourne by the portfolio. Firms considering outsourcing dealing will have different levels of understanding of their existing costs. The more firms understand their costs the more clearly they can think about the pros and cons of outsourcing dealing. The economics of improving in-house dealing Each firm needs to achieve best execution within reasonable financial constraints. What might it be rational to spend to make improvements to the dealing function given the different fee structures that firms use? For the sake of this example we will use a hypothetical firm managing 20bn in global equities with 100% turnover. Suppose a concerted project to improve dealing outcomes could improve the cost of change achieved by the dealers by as much as 20bps or 40m of extra return for the funds after a full year. The table below shows how this benefits the firm itself and illustrates the massive contrast between the different types of fee structure. In the table we show how extra return of 20bps translates into return for the investment manager. A subsidiary of a life and pensions firm might be running funds at 8bps. Even if the dealing desk could deliver an extra performance of 20bps translating into a 40m growth of the asset base (almost certainly an over estimate of what could be achieved) when the firm only keeps 32,000 of that there is no great incentive to invest. But as the fees rise, so does the incentive to improve dealing. Share of 40m dealing improvement benefiting to the firm Own funds (cross charge) 8bps Segregated 32bps Hedge Fund type 2% + 20% Fee structure 20bn portfolio Growth of asset base thanks to 20bps improved dealing outcome 40m 32k 128k 8.8m Additional fees after improved dealing outcome 16m 64m 400m Fees prior to improved dealing outcome It may not be surprising that the high-turnover hedge fund firm is so strongly incentivised to improve dealing outcomes. The very interesting contrast is when a fund manager is running its parents assets life and insurance funds, self-managed pension schemes or sovereign reserve funds. This business is often done at very low fees, sometimes calculated on a cost-recovery or cost plus basis. In the 8bps example above the fund management arm will only stand to keep 32,000 from the dealing improvements and yet the parent firm could benefit by 40m. So, for the same funds under management, but depending on the ownership and fee structure, the budget for improving dealing for a one year pay off could be somewhere between 32,000 and 40m. It is against this unpromising background that conventional firms charging institutional fees should understand the cost of dealing. 19

20 Section 3 Cutting costs 3.1 What are the costs of a dealing team? The key costs that are attributable directly to dealing are people, data and systems. Dealing may also bring large and increasing operational risk, which in turn will drive the firm to spend even more on systems and controls. People The largest cost of a dealing desk is usually staff. Buy-side dealing desks are often manned for levels of activity higher than they generally experience. A centralised desk will need at least two or three dealers to cope with holidays, sickness, training and lunch. There may sometimes be dealing for both but often for neither. There are immediate benefits here for firms that outsource, who will get a more flexible staff cost model. Fund management firms also lose the direct cost of recruiting and training new staff, though these costs are only smoothed and shared, they are met somewhere. Data Market data is often the second largest cost to an investment management firm after staff costs, with budgets for a mid-sized firm of several million pounds a year. Market data is vital for the dealing team with requirements for Bloomberg and/or Reuters terminals, real time and delayed price feeds often from a wide range of exchanges; historical price data; data feeds that give information on depth of liquidity in different markets. The amount spent by the dealers will vary depending on the number of different markets and regions of the world in which the dealers are trading. Some data is bought specifically for the dealing desk and some data costs are shared with other users and part allocated to dealing. Firms that outsource will immediately save these direct costs. The only threat is if the data providers raise their license costs for this type of organisation. Systems For dealers to keep up with the dealing activity in the market, to find where liquidity lies and to deal with as little market impact as possible, they will need increasingly complex systems. Firms that have centralised their dealing almost always have an order management system (OMS) to support the order generation, routing the orders from the fund managers to the dealing desk and then providing the dealers with support for order execution. Some firms have added execution management systems (EMS) to provide more sophisticated dealing capability. These systems provide FIX connectivity, links to alternative trading systems and to the brokers as well as having embedded broker algorithms and DMA. The cost of such systems can run into millions of pounds, and there are also substantial on-going support and upgrade costs. The costs of dealing system upgrades are moved and appear as part of the general tariff so the cost of an upgrade may be the driver to consider outsourcing. 3.2 What outsourcers charge Perhaps unsurprisingly, prices offered by outsourcers, whether trade or bps related, seem to be broadly in line with costs at fund managers with relatively high volumes. Firms with smaller volumes but all the costs of systems and data for a two or three person team, for instance, might find more cost advantages in outsourcing. 20

21 Section 3 Cutting costs Providers are open to a range of approaches to fees, with considerable emphasis put on volume discounts. Once a provider knows the range of services required and the scale, they may offer three types of tariff: Basis point-based tariffs: These ranged from 1 to 6 bps, depending on volume, complexity and asset classes, sometimes with optional floors and/or caps per transaction. This approach to prices reflects that most of the suppliers come from a broking background and the expectation that the payment will be coming from commission. Fixed fee tariffs: The estimates for running our model desk on a retainer basis ranged from 30,000 to 300,000 per month ( 600,000 to 3.6m per year). Getting to a quote will require a careful description of the services required, the expected volumes and their complexity which are generally linked to the size of the firm. There appears to be no minimum tariff and so partial outsourcing is available as a trial service. Price per order tariffs: The per trade prices ranged from 12 to 35. Prices cross charged for internal outsourcing between offices within firms also fell into this range. These price-per-order levels are quite comparable with the range of 12 to 40 that we found when we made our realistic hypothetical models. Firms considering outsourcing would need to be clear what costs were actually going to be lost when making these comparisons. 3.3 Who pays? The current convention is that dealing with brokers is paid for from commission charged to client portfolios while conventional fund management firms with dealing desks pay for these from their own resources. Generally it seems to be hedge funds that have outsourced dealing and used commission to pay for it. One of our interviewees said he already was outsourcing: he gave the dealing to brokers. In much the same spirit, the FCA draws no distinction between paying for agency broking and paying for outsourced dealing and, if it is in the interest of the client, then they believe it can be paid for with commission. Some funds and private clients are already paying for this service from commission. The FCA told us that so long as a firm could demonstrate that the service bought was to the benefit of those paying the commission then it could fall within the range of permitted execution services that might be bought with client commission. It is COBS (11) prohibiting the payment of salaries that means the FCA would not accept firms paying for their in-house dealing function with commission. The industry is however looking at the topic: in February 2014 the Investment Management Association issued a paper on The Use of Dealing Commission for the Purchase of Investment Research, which provides guidance for investment managers on planned transparency of dealing costs versus cost of research. Attitudes among intermediaries vary. The view from institutional consultants was that while they might be open to managers choosing to outsource dealing, their clients should not be faced with any extra costs. One of them said that charging outsourced dealing to commission would lead them to reconsider their manager selection. One of the funds of funds managers bemoaned the rise in other expenses carried by funds. But in his view adding dealing into these expenses would not remove the fund from the list of possible choices. Those who support the use of commission to pay for outsourced dealing say that if the commission rate stays the same and the cost of transactions in total is the same or better then why not? To which the response from those opposed is that if it was possible to fund that service from commission then either something has been given up, perhaps some part of the research budget, or the commission rate should have been negotiated down in the first place. Principles based regulation allows managers to interpret the regulations. Fund managers will need to consult their client relationship managers, institutional sales force and clients before deciding whether to pay for outsourced dealing via clients commission. 21

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