GAIA on the agenda at ITAS Dublin
Dublin 29th September 2015
Courtesy of Ross McGill
The ITAS Conference in Dublin came just 24 hours after the GAIA press release, so perhaps it was not surprising that the topic had created a significant amount of interest amongst the attendees. Padraig Kenny, of RBC Investor & Treasury Services, in his welcome address at the event questioned whether GAIA represented one of the new disruptive influences that might change the face of the transfer agency business.
Representatives from the GAIA group, in the form of David Brosnan from Clearstream, Lauren Hurson from Euroclear, and Bill Gourlay from Idea Group, joined Babson Capital's William Gilson on a panel entitled "The Future of Alternative Fund Administration & TA Services". Given the questions raised earlier in the conference, Gourlay took time in the panel introduction to provide a little more clarity. He stated that, whilst GAIA could in some ways be considered disruptive, it was perhaps a more "friendly" disrupter. The reason being that the GAIA initiative has been developed with key industry participants, to take advantage of existing mutual fund messaging capabilities and expand them to also be able to handle alternative funds. The clear focus is also to enable the exchange of business information, rather than creating barriers around standards or transport mechanisms. These messaging practices had now been publicly shared, so the industry now had the tools at its disposal to take advantage of these changes.
In the panel itself David Brosnan stated that GAIA represented a good opportunity for the CSD organisations to work with transfer agency companies, performing a positive role as an intermediary and easing the technology burden across other firms. Lauren Hurson added that GAIA is a good example of how the future operational landscape should work, with industry participants working well together in order to provide automated solutions that offer a safer and more efficient service for end clients.
William Gilson, representing the alternative fund management community, picked on a theme that would later be echoed in a later session by COO Connect's Dominic Hobson, that the transfer agency space is ripe for change and that new technology solutions need to be adopted in order to provide the level of service that managers are now looking for. Indeed, Hobson took this point further and challenged the industry to work together in order to make the changes needed, rather than leave the space open to a giant new entrant from a different sector.