Middle Office Back Office
Transaction Management, Record Keeping, Data Management. PnA, Client Billing, Client Reporting, Recon, Corporate Actions  Fund Administration, Fund Accounting, Transfer Agency, Custody, Clearing & Settlement 
  • The primary role of an asset manager is to maximize returns on investments for their clients. The extremely challenging economic
    environment, especially post 2008, has forced Asset Managers to examine their business models and divest themselves of non-core
    activities so that they can cut costs and free resources to focus on their core competencies.
    Asset Managers are looking to outsource non-core functions such as investment operations and one area that is gaining popularity
    in the post-2008 world is Middle Office Outsourcing. When used effectively, Middle Office Outsourcing can bring about additional
    efficiencies, savings and provide more predictable costing. Choosing the right suite of middle office outsourcing services can help
    Investment Managers focus on the critical front office services while leaving the running of their costly middle office functions to
    the service providers.
    While the back office services have been outsourced to third-party Custodians for the last several years, the acceptance to
    third-parties managing middle office services is slowly gaining ground. With middle office outsourcing accounting for just about 20%
    of the current market size (back office outsourcing is about 90%), the scope for growth is tremendous and is driving major players
    such as BNYM, State Street, JPMC & Citi group invest in upgrading their platforms to offer a wide range of middle office services.
    As these major players are already Custodians, offering middle office services would only extend their portfolio while offering a
    seamless experience for Asset Managers.

  • An overview of outsourcing

  • From the early 2000s, the global financial markets have been growing across in both the developed and emerging markets. As
    shown in the figure, the world market capitalization grew from US $ 30 Trillion in 2000 to a peak of US $ 60 Trillion in 2007 before
    ending 2011 at US $ 47 Trillion. Supported by new technologies and processing capabilities, the trading volumes increased
    tremendously as did the number of global counterparties. In addition, with institutional investors increasing portfolio allocations to
    hedge funds and private equity, the use of alternative assets became mainstream.
    With asset managers operating on a global scale and offering diverse range of investment products, one complication that arose was
    that they had to contend with an array of technology systems built for trading in specific countries with different reporting
    requirements, different currencies, and different asset classes in play. Moreover, integrations and mergers seen across the asset
    management world focused more on consolidation of brand names while leaving the processing to multiple and disparate platforms.
    All this led to high costs and inefficiencies in data delivery and performance.
    By the beginning of 2000, it became apparent that the success of Investment Managers would be measured not just by the assets
    under management but also how efficiently and seamlessly they integrated the operational flow from the front to the middle and
    back offices.

  • What led to the Middle Office Outsourcing?

    Middle office refers to the post-trade and pre-settlement areas - where due to the disparate systems—the straight through
    processing automation was difficult because of multiple interfaces from brokers, custodians and other third parties. Thus, increased
    manual intervention was necessary to complete the transactions.
    Another factor that increased processing complexity was the increasing use of exotic, less-liquid asset classes by hedge funds and
    private equity. In such cases, valuations were difficult. This increased the need for a seamless middle office space, since the front
    office depends heavily on accurate data coming from the middle office for its investment decisions. Errors could lead to wrong
    decisions and/or delays in reporting which affects the perception of the investors on their asset managers.
    In most cases, the back office operations were already automated and outsourced. Given that the middle office space had to
    seamlessly integrate to their existing back office services, Asset Managers turned to their existing back office service providers for
    additional services. A major advantage that these service providers had was that they understood the world of investment
    However the road to middle office outsourcing was filled with many challenges, more than initially anticipated. This was essentially
    because of several decisions that had to be made with regard to consolidating systems, closing offices, reducing staff, and scoping
    business requirements. This resulted in significant delays of over 3 years or more in the complete outsourcing of various activities. In
    addition, the capital and time investment required of both the service providers and the asset managers ultimately led to the larger
    asset managers scaling back their middle office outsourcing goals.
    However over the past decade, large players like State Street, Citigroup, JPMC and BNYM have been investing significantly in the
    middle office outsourcing arena and enhancing their service offerings. They have leveraged the lessons learnt in the past and the
    result is more robust models, which have given asset managers the confidence to initiate middle office outsourcing.

  • Key considerations

    Asset Managers while considering outsourcing the MO operations, should look into the following criteria’s:
    1. Will the service provider be a true partner and not just a vendor?
    2. Are low fees the only reason for outsourcing?
    3. Are short-term savings the only decision factor? Have the firm’s long-term gains and needs been factored in?
    4. Is the data provided by the service provider accurate?
    5. How fast will the service provider be, in providing the services?
    6. Will be service provider be able to service all the asset classes?
    7. Will the service provider be able to service globally?
    8. Will the front office receive all data accurately to make investment decisions?
    9. Will the service provider be able to provide customized solutions? Fr example, reporting?
    10. What will be the impact on BAU during transitions/ conversions?
    11. What will be the impact on the existing teams with the Asset Manager?

  • Current outsourcing models:

    Lift outs:

    1. The Asset Managers operations teams and all other related functions are carved out, ring fenced and taken over by the service
    2. This way the service provider gets the experienced staff and the asset manager immediately gets the benefit of the costs
    reduction, both fixed and variable.
    3. Care should be taken by the service provider to ensure a seamless transition experience for the transferred employees including
    change in work description, location, corporation culture as also the associated uncertainties.
    4. When application system and technology movement is involved then service provider have to make significant investments to
    ensure integration with their existing platforms.
    5. In terms of execution, this model is complex.


    1. There is no movement of staff or systems to the service provider; only all services and business are moved to the provider’s
    2. This model has gained popularity due to the reduced time to execute with conversions (in some cases) completed in a year’s
    time, though the service provider has to invest significant time and material in the areas of due diligence well ahead of the

    Component based:

    1. Reduction in costs associated with technology, staff and locations
    2. Don’t have to build or renew licensing on systems, thereby reducing large investments in technology
    3. Expand quickly geographically in business and not having to invest heavily upfront on technology to enter new markets
    4. Leverage capabilities of large service providers who continuously upgrade and invest in technology to give the latest and faster
    service offerings
    5. Don’t have to invest regularly in the changing regulatory requirements, as large service providers will anyways invest in them,
    given their global scale
    6. Can add new asset classes, without having to bother about enabling or building new technology to accommodate these new
    asset classes
    Though the middle office outsourcing opportunities certainly add to the existing revenues of these service providers, it does come
    with a number of challenges. The service providers seek to address these challenges by teaming up with their IT vendor partners to
    execute at lesser costs by outsourcing to the partner’s offshore locations in India.

  • Some Challenges in Client Onboarding in Middle Office Out sourcingg:

    1. Extended Requirement Phase (Scope Creep)
    2. Prolonged impact analysis of core systems and process
    3. Mismatches in systems cause increased manual intervention and lowered STP
    4. Prolonged migration timeframe
    5. Indefinite testing timeframe
    6. Negligible standardization of reporting
    7. More time needed to define requirements to appropriate level of granularity
    8. Difficult for operations and technology stakeholders to understand feature/functions being described and requiring sign-off
    9. Requirements and system design need to have more detail and be written in conjunction with technology and operations
    10. Operating model needs to be better understood at the time requirements are written
    11. A heavy reliance on module/component testing, “stubbed” data and manual testing
    12. Full end-to-end integrated testing only undertaken in UAT
    13. Lack of business domain knowledge results in a heavy reliance on Requirements and Business SME’s
    14. Lack of quality test data and minimal use of automations
    15. Need for a better understanding of data lineage/ flows through architecture
    16. Need for more comprehensive test data in the technology testing phases
    17. Need for more domain knowledge within technology and more staff with end-to-end knowledge of architecture and business
    18. Disparate locations of technology, operating and product teams hamper communication, learning and knowledge sharing
    19. Too many handoffs between AD teams and a need for better ownership of key interfaces

  • Where FORFIRM can help in the MO outsourcing process

    Due Diligence and Analysis:

    1. Deploy domain consultants with deep end-to-end middle and back office asset management experience for accelerated/ rapid
    business understanding of the customer operations with detailed business flows
    2. Use FORFIRM developed application portfolio mapping tool for quick mapping of customer landscape
    3. Compare client requirements with standard service catalogue and identify gaps
    4. Deploy process mapping experts for detailed process mapping in reduced timeframes
    5. Use FORFIRM developed process mapping tools / techniques / templates like Belva and Verzonen
    6. Document application and gap analysis using templates based on industry best practices
    7. Create online knowledge management for future reference

  • Transitions and Steady State:

    1. Use FORFIRM developed tools like DART, BIMA, and BELVA for quick and efficient data migration
    2. Leverage best-in-class SDLC incorporating tenets from FORFIRM
    3. Deploy domain consultants with deep end-to-end asset management experience for more business-focused support during
    BUAT and CUAT testing.
    4. Tap into alliances with our partners such as HP and IBM for test automation tools
    5. Use of FORFIRM in-house Testing COE
    6. Leverage optimized onsite-offshore model for extended coverage
    7. Off-the-shelf service management process packs like Rapid SM (service desk, incident, problem, change management)
    8. Periodic analysis based on Lean & Six Sigma principles

  • E2E Conversion - Where FORFIRM can help Service providers

Conversion Program Management Project Planning- Tasks, Resources, Timelines and Risks

Conversion Program Management Post Due Diligence Gap Analysis Business Process Analysis Business Requirements
Business Analysis & Business systems Analysis

I.T Team Product Evaluation Technical Analysis Functional Analysis Design & Develop
Data Dictionary Creation

Data Migration Migration Planning Migration Requirements Tool Setup Testing Data Gathering Testing Support Dry Runs Go Live
Data Migration Tools – Belva/ Recon Tool- Verzomen

Testing Test Planning Test Requirement Test Data Test Design Functional Testing Regression Testing SIT-UAT Business Process Validation Model Office Testing
Hexaware Proprietary Testing Tools & Accelerators

Operations BPV Support Operations Readiness Model Office
BPS – IT/BPO/KPO Synergy

Conversion Phases Planning Requirement Analysis Pre- Conversion Conversion Parallel Run

Scope for improvements in the future

Requirement Analysis: Interface Mapping
  • Format & layout Mapping of data structure and formats
  • Data requirements: Data enrichment / transformation and data field omission
  • Delivery channel: Mapping of delivery channel for each data source

Transaction Data

  • Trades
  • Positions
  • Cash Balances
  • Fund Flows (Subscriptions / Redemptions)
  • Collaterals & Margin
  • Expenses
  • Corporate Actions ( Dividends, Income, Maturities, Splits. M&A etc)

Static & Reference Data

  • Securities, Currencies, Exchange, issuers, Issues, Country, Region, State, Cities etc.
  • Counterparties / Brokers / Custodians / Banks / Portfolios / Funds / Managers
  • Pricing Information (MTM, FX Rates, OTC Valuations)

Internal Data Interfaces

  • Downstream Feed Requirements
  • Reporting / EDW Requirements


Pre-Conversion: Configuration & Data Set-up
  • Application Customization & Enhancements
  • Application & System Settings
  • Static & Reference Data
  • Fund Set-up

Transaction Data

  • Brokers, Custodians & Counterparties
  • SMF Data
  • Cash Accounts Setup
  • Capital Account, income Account, Margin Account
  • Fund and Cash Account Linkages
  • Country and Currency Setup, Tax Tables, Holiday Schedules
  • Base rates and foreign exchange rates
  • Custodian Deadlines, etc

Fund Setup

  • Base Currency, Transaction Currency Accounting periods & Reporting Cycle
  • Accounting parameters and rules
  • Chart of Accounts
  • Price source for various instrument types
  • Taxiot selections of the fund ( Average LIFO, FIFO, Maximize/ Minimize Gain/ Loss, Specific lot)
  • Fund groups and blotters based on requirements
  • Fund-Custodian linkages


Conversion Data Migration (Base-lined & Forward Period data)
  • Data Dictionary mapping
  • Data set sequences & dependencies
  • Data enrichment / transformation, data validation and reconciliation exception resolution
  • Post Migration Data building (Rolled up Summary information)

Historical Data

  • Trades / Cash
  • Transactions/Corporate Actions
  • Positions
  • Taxiots
  • Investor Register
  • Accounting Data ( Journal Entries, GL/ SL Data, Trial balances, balance Sheets)
  • Static & Reference Data

Dynamic Data

  • Unsettled trades
  • Open Cash / FX Transactions
  • Open Corporate Actions
  • Corporate Action entitlements (post Ex-data)
  • OTC transactions


  • Data Comparison / validation
  • Data Quality Testing
  • Interface / Integration
  • Functional Testing
  • Business Process Testing


Parallel Run
  • Setting of baseline conversion data until prior period
  • Posting of transactions
  • Running batch cycle for accounting
  • Validation and reconciliation with existing client system