Five Critical Dimensions of Data: A Primer for Asset Managers

By Nicsa posted 12-13-2022 10:45 AM


Thought leaders from Citi and Capital Group shared their perspectives on how to consume big data, manage its governance, and deploy comprehensive management solutions during a recent Nicsa GMM session moderated by Brad Mahaney, Managing Consultant at Aliter Investment Services.


"The amount of information available to us has grown exponentially, and that's a function of innovations in hardware storage and computational power," said Tom Lloyd, Director of Quantitative Research and Analytics at Capital Group. "Twenty to 30 years ago, storing a megabyte of data was hugely expensive. Today, we're talking about terabytes of data the same way we were talking about megabytes of data in the 80s, and they're cheap to store."


To better serve clients and shareholders, the industry must first ensure the data consumed is of high quality — and that's where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. "One aspect of AI that we don't discuss is its role in getting data ready," said Mary Gaspar-Hillenbrand, Managing Director, Global Head of Digital Transformation at Citi. "This technology allows us to bring the right data into our data management solutions, accelerating ingestion (and resulting insights) over time."


Comprehensive Data Management Ecosystems

Ideally, vast and often siloed data should be aggregated and analyzed through comprehensive data ecosystems. To illustrate the complexity involved in creating such an ecosystem, Mahaney laid out five critical dimensions of data:


  1. Regulated and unregulated data
  2. Self-generated and externally-generated data
  3. Data used to make predictions
  4. Data used to look backward in time
  5. Geographical data


Addressing all five dimensions in a truly comprehensive data ecosystem inclusive of multiple information streams would be difficult, if not impossible, without tools like the aforementioned AI. The key is implementing such tools from the start.


"Invest in data wrangling tools and determine what is fit for your data management solution upfront," Gaspar-Hillenbrand said. "Without good data quality and an understanding of your data sources, you'll end up with conflicts within your own data management solution."


It follows that data governance — the policies and standards designed to ensure data is available, accurate, secure, and usable — is also of utmost importance. Lloyd said data governance practices should be infused into the DNA of a firm. "Everyone has a responsibility for data governance; we're a regulated industry, and that's part of our job, frankly," he said. "Opacity, if you will, is the enemy."


What's Next

Additional complexity should be expected as the industry works to embrace big data and use it to fuel growth in sales enablement, among other areas. "The ESG area, for example, is extremely complicated, yet we will have to serve that need for our clients and shareholders in the future," Lloyd said. "Ideally, it will pay dividends for our investors because that's who we serve."


In the future, personalization will enable the industry to achieve even more. "Mass customization will allow for rapid product development, leading to rapid commercialization," Gaspar-Hillenbrand said. "But I don't think the data we need for a real-time, 360-degree view of clients is quite there yet."


The data landscape will undoubtedly continue to grow and evolve. In the meantime, Gaspar-Hillenbrand recommends brainstorming practical use cases for data management ecosystems and prioritizing efforts based on goals well before deployment.


"All this new data and technology presents a great opportunity to push the boundaries, grow your businesses, and serve clients a more tailored experience." Gaspar-Hillenbrand said.

For a full replay of this session, employees of registered firms can visit Nicsa’s 2022 General Membership Meeting website. 


May contain forward-looking statements subject to various uncertainties. Personal views and observations of individuals contained herein are as of the date of the live event or written material and do not necessarily reflect the views of Nicsa or its member organizations. Nothing herein is intended to be or should be construed as legal advice. Contact your own counsel in order to obtain legal advice regarding these or any other matters. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation of best practices.