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Mike Kerrigan on
Back-Office Transformation for
Asset Managers

Mike Kerrigan
Global Asset Management Lead

If your firm is looking to tighten operational governance, strengthen vendor oversight or re-evaluate your service provider relationships, Accenture’s new Back-Office Toolkit for Asset Managers is for you. In this Q&A, Accenture’s Mike Kerrigan examines the common challenges and critical success factors for selected back-office transformation efforts, and reveals how the Accenture toolkit could help.

Why is back-office transformation such a hot topic right now?
A confluence of factors has put back-office transformation on many asset managers’ radars. First, we’re seeing firms more aggressively pursue opportunities to scale their core operations functions. Second, new regulations have made operational oversight and risk management more important than ever. Finally, emerging technologies are creating opportunities to reduce costs and increase operational efficiency in ways that were not previously possible.

What types of benefits could back-office transformation provide?
It really depends on what type of back-office transformation you pursue. A change in service providers, for example, has the potential to help improve firm capabilities, reduce operational costs and realign processes and systems that have diverged over time. Something on a smaller scale, like the creation of new service-level agreements, could increase transparency and accountability, improve incentives for stakeholders and ultimately increase your operational efficiency. Either of those actions might prompt you to consider implementing a risk-based oversight model, which could help free staff to focus on higher-value activities.

What are the most common pain points that organizations face?
In the same way that the potential benefits of back-office transformation are numerous and varied, so too are the challenges. In the end, it often comes down to organizations being willing (or unwilling) to dedicate the time and resources required for planning, requirements gathering and execution. What does that look like? Well it might take the form of a rushed due diligence process or a poor definition on the targeted end state, inadequate funding/staffing or unreasonable timelines, unresolved stakeholder tensions or a lack of leadership at the top. This often results in missed deadlines, budget overruns and internal strife.

How can asset managers avoid these pitfalls?
Broadly speaking, by planning a back-office transformation that makes sense for their specific organization, and then devoting the time and resources required to execute that plan. It could help to have a partner like Accenture that is experienced in this area and has developed formal frameworks and methodologies for capturing business requirements, managing projects and establishing program governance.

If an asset manager is considering back-office transformation, where’s the best place to start?
Accenture recently pulled together some of its best thought leadership on back-office transformation into a comprehensive toolkit. In it, asset managers will find a series of four short papers that cover some of the most common questions we hear time and again: What are the pros and cons of a centralized project/program management office? Is it time we switched to a risk-based oversight model? What steps can I take to prepare for a vendor conversion? How do I develop service-level agreements that work for me? The toolkit will get you thinking about back-office transformation and asking the right questions. When you’re ready to get started, we can help you take it from there.