Fund administration: There's an app for that

Two years after a lack of client interest apparently killed off KKR’s attempt to launch an app that would allow LPs to search performance data and receive investment updates, Partners Group is attempting to revive the idea.

The iPad app, which will allow its LPs to review performance data and explore possible investments, is an extension of the firm’s internal app created three years ago, says Raymond Schnidrig, chief technology officer at Partners Group.

Technology is becoming “increasingly important in the private equity industry, because of the timeliness and accuracy it can provide, alongside the interaction it can provide between firms and clients,” argues Schnidrig.

Partners Group planned to launch the app last month, having presented a beta version to its investors during its annual general meeting earlier this year. Schnidrig expects decision-makers within an LP to use the app to gain a “consolidated, high-end view” on their investments and any new opportunities.

Partners Group clients will be able to find personalised intelligence on portfolio summaries and have the option to review performance using interactive charts.

While some firms have the resources to develop their own solutions in-house, there are options for those who don’t want to build a dedicated app. An example is TopQ, which offers web-based performance tools that allow fund managers and investors to upload spreadsheet-based data about fund performance and cashflows.

TopQ was set up by former SL Capital founding partners Graeme Faulds and Graham Paterson, and Drake Paulson, previously of fund administrators Vitech Systems Group.

“What really struck me was the way that fund managers and investors communicated performance to each other really had not changed throughout my 15 years as an investor,” says Faulds.

Today’s investors want to look further than high-level performance numbers, he adds. They want to understand the key drivers of value within a fund manager’s track record.

Instead of a dedicated app, TopQ was built as a software-as-a-service tool, which enables it to be accessed from any web browser. And despite a demand for mobile technology – TopQ has seen a steady increase in usage of the site on mobile devices – Faulds says technology does not have to be packaged as an app.

Using technology to communicate large amounts of private data also comes with its own set of data protection and cybersecurity risks.

According to Schnidrig, Partners Group has taken all of the necessary precautions: “We have done a specific penetration test on the app to make sure that we have all of the gaps closed and to make sure that the client’s data is protected appropriately.”

Private equity firms often use investor portals to relay fund information to investors and Schnidrig says that Partners Group still intends for its investors to use their portal as a tool for more detailed fund information.

“The app will give clients access to the most relevant information only. If they want the full history or more detailed data to process in their own systems then they are expected to access the investor portal.”