Backstop finds IR, BD staff slogging through heavy workloads

The technology provider’s industry survey found that investment firms’ support staff work longer hours than they think, and suggests tech can make their work more efficient.

Support staff at alternative asset management firms actually work more hours than they realize, and mostly wish that their workloads could be more efficient, according to a new survey from industry technology provider Backstop Solutions.

While respondents’ own reporting indicated that they worked an average of 52 hours per week, a tally of their individual tasks found that the figure stood at 58 hours.

The firm surveyed more than 100 asset managers across private market strategies, mostly with less than $5 billion in total capital raised, less than 50 employees, and five or fewer offices. Responses were taken in May and June.

Sixty-two percent of respondents reported doing “double duty” for engaging with LPs, meaning they were involved in capital raising plus retention. LP interactions also took up significant amounts of time, with an average of 35 hours a week. Additionally, 13 of those hours entailed unplanned interactions, or 35 percent of the total.

While interactions and double duty take up considerable time, Backstop notes that respondents view both as important to their firms’ LP relationships.

A significant majority of respondents’ time is spent on “core” tasks (67 percent), such as building and maintaining LP relationships, along with preparing capital calls and reporting for LPs. Next are the “non-core, but value-adding” tasks (21 percent), which includes preparing LPs’ tax documents. “Non-core, non-value-adding” tasks came in at 12 percent, which includes manual data entry for fund administration.

Backstop said asset managers are spending nearly an entire day a week on non-core, non-value-add tasks.

How tech changes may cut workloads

When it comes to handling their workloads, Backstop said that close to 80 percent of respondents have recently wondered to themselves, “There must be a better way of doing this?”

The most frequently cited tasks that stirred respondents’ thoughts included manually entering fund data (18 percent); finding investors that are currently allocating (17 percent); and reconciling fund administration data (14 percent).

Backtop notes that the data entry and reconciliation can be automated, while “disciplined use of a CRM” is a possible solution for finding investors who are allocating. That entails “allowing teams to collaborate via a portal where calls and meetings with allocators are available to all.”

The company found that 56 percent of respondents were either satisfied or very satisfied with their own technology and solutions.

“And CRMs? Managers love them and hate them. CRMs are the technology solution that managers are most – and least – satisfied with, according to our survey,” the report said.

“Most people overcomplicate their CRM to a point where it becomes annoying for people to use and difficult and time-consuming,” one asset manager said, according to the report.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said out of out all their firm’s technology and solutions, they were most satisfied with CRM, followed by investor portal (18 percent), investor relations (10 percent) and other/write-in (10 percent).

Among technologies that respondents were the least satisfied with, 34 percent said CRM, 18 percent said investor portal and 15 percent noted fund accounting.

Backstop said that companies can improve their CRMs through practices like data hygiene, making them tailor for firm-specific needs.