Investment management consultancy Shoreline has hired Chris Vera, a technology expert formerly at Singapore sovereign fund GIC and BlackRock, to expand its team advising asset managers and owners on their operating models and technology setups.
Vera will start in the Singapore-based role on March 1 to help investors select tools and develop operating models to strengthen their investment insight and data management and reduce operating costs. He declined to name any Asian clients but said they included large pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.
Vera will report to James Baker, who had joined in 2016 to head the Asia business and now needs help to service a growing client pipeline of asset owners, as well as asset and wealth managers.
Baker had previously worked at Eastspring, the fund management arm of insurer Prudential Corporation Asia, and oversaw its project to switch onto BlackRock's Aladdin portfolio risk and trading platform.
Institutional investors’ approaches to portfolio management have been changing rapidly in recent years, not least because of their rising focus on alternative assets and on insourcing investment capabilities.
As a result they have seen an increasing need to review their operating models, with an eye on areas such as operating costs and data management. Likewise, external fund managers have been forced to adapt – and seek advice of their own – as their clients have grown more sophisticated and demanding.
As AsianInvestor noted in mid-2020, asset managers and owners are fast ramping up spending on systems and tools to manage portfolios, data, risk, compliance and operations. For instance, Australian investors such as Cbus and Future Fund, and British insurer Prudential, are increasingly implementing concepts such as the 'total portfolio approach' to manage money. TPA relies on sharing real-time, entire-portfolio data across an institution and strong collaboration between investment teams.
Technology is now arguably seen as the most important area for capital expenditure in the investment industry.
Vera is well placed to understand and service the technology needs of institutional clients, having most recently led projects for the data and analytics team at GIC and before that heading Asia Pacific data engineering group at BlackRock. He spent some 14 years at the US fund management giant working with its Aladdin system.
Vera's LinkedIn page shows he was also a founding member of BlackRock's Asia Pacific innovation committee, networking internally and across the industry to develop ideas to help improve investment and/or operational efficiency and data quality, data science applications and analytics.
Vera left GIC, where he was a senior vice president in the public market department, in December with a view to taking a break for a few months before taking up a new post. GIC declined to comment on whether he had been replaced.
This article has been updated to include a reference to asset owners' growing use of the 'total portfolio approach'.