Helen, Rory and Eric never sleep, take weekends, or go on holiday – and yes, they are robots. They’re the ones who complete the day-to-day, sometimes tedious, tasks of fund administration at global advisory firm Maitland Group. As LPs become more sophisticated and demand an increasing amount of information from their general partners in a timely manner, those focused on fund administration have been turning to automation.

For Jacolene Otto, head of private equity and real estate at Maitland, the fact that more traditional long-only managers are entering the world of private equity – seen as a more lucrative and higher performing part of asset management – and their demand for faster and more efficient reporting, has also meant that those who don’t automate will fall behind.

“That demand to be so fast-paced is definitely driving a lot of automation”
Jacolene Otto

“That demand to be so fast-paced is definitely driving a lot of automation that, as administrators, we need to look at,” says Otto. Automation also cuts down on staff costs and frees up the fund administrator to focus on more important aspects of the job, she adds.

The days of manually inputting data into an Excel sheet, scanning individual letters and sending separate emails to each investor are long gone of course, but not everything that should be automated actually is, according to some.

Repetitive tasks

Hemal Mehta, the founder of AtomInvest, an alternative investment platform and software provider to private equity firms, says there are still examples where most tasks are completed using email, MS Office and paper and post, apart from fund accounting. It’s part of the reason he set up AtomInvest. For a quick win and a bigger gain in efficiency, firms should focus on automation around process and process governance, Mehta says.

Still, says David Sarfas, head of private capital at Intertrust, the adoption of automation has increased in recent years and the next step in its evolution will be the creation of ecosystems, with fund administration moving away from individual products and services to holistic platforms.

“We’re going from closed network type of data solutions to more platform type of environments. We’re looking for transaction efficiency, automation in calculations, automation in identification of issues and democratization of that data to make things more and more transparent,” Sarfas explains. Intertrust currently uses robotic process automation for common processes such as capital calls and distribution notices.

SEI, the tech-driven services provider, has also found RPA is a good way to control manual repetitive tasks. Carmine Remo, managing director and head of alternative operations at SEI Investment Manager Services, says: “We’d take those tasks and unify them to a more consistent, controllable platform approach with RPA rather than solving for those items with disparate technology or bodies.

“Those ‘old’ methods still get the job done, but I do believe you get more scale and efficiency if you aggregate them with a consistent solution. It also helps mitigate the risk of manual intervention and disparate processes. As we continue to evolve, this could lead to an ability for us to utilize RPA for more complex tasks or even potentially help with system integration processes.”

The rise of automation

The past year has shown that a slew of firms are investing in automation

February 2021

Roboshore optimizes Robotic Process Automation (RPA) usage
Digital Workforce announces that its Azure Cloud-based Roboshore service has been adopted by dozens of large organizations since the launch of the service in August 2020 – including global technology company Nasdaq. Through Roboshore, companies can deploy RPA automations from the cloud and deliver automation maintenance as one managed service.


G4S Cash Solutions picks Cerillion Skyline for billing automation
Cerillion announces a new three-year contract with G4S Cash Solutions, UK provider of cash management services. G4S is using Cerillion’s cloud-based recurring billing platform, Cerillion Skyline, to fully automate its customer billing and streamline its financial operations.


SoftBank Vision Fund CFO on predictive analytics
SoftBank Vision Fund CFO, Navneet Govil, says smarter analytics will “forecast future performance, identify untapped opportunities, expose hidden risks, and assist in strategic decision making.” He also says the company will use analytical technology to provide actionable insight for itself, its 150 portfolio companies and, eventually, the financial sector at large.


State Street deal brings automation platform
State Street buys Mercatus, a private markets data management firm, and launches a new front-to-back-office platform that looks to fully automate aspects of private markets investment for GPs and LPs alike.

Hazeltree taps Lionpoint to drive PE cash management automation
New York-based treasury specialist Hazeltree joins with Lionpoint, a global consulting firm, to help drive the digital transformation of cashflow between private equity firms and their banks. Hazeltree has spent the better part of three years helping major PE firms improve speed and efficiency by digitizing the cash management process.