Eagle's Lehner Talks up SaaS, Integration, Global Expansion and Regulation for 2011

Blog entry

Following its decision to move Asian and EMEA managing director John Legrand from his London base out to Singapore earlier this year, Eagle Investment Systems has been actively bolstering its on the ground presence in the two regions and this hiring drive will continue into 2011, according to CEO and president John Lehner. The EDM and accounting systems vendor is focusing on four main areas of development next year, one of which is expanding its global presence, but also building upon its software as a service (SaaS) offering, adding new integration tools and keeping pace with regulatory change.

In October Eagle added a key new staff member in the EMEA region with the addition of ex-SimCorp exec Atul Mehta as its new regional sales director and it is now focusing on building its presence in the Asian region, focusing particularly on technical and sales support people. “We are looking at hiring these staff in Singapore and India in order to ensure we continue to provide 24/7 global coverage for our clients,” says Lehner, who assumed the additional role of CEO of the vendor around this time last year.

The vendor has also been focused on building upon its SaaS, or managed services offering and its integration capabilities over the course of this year and Lehner indicates that this will continue to be a focus for next year. Back in July, he spoke to Reference Data Review about the launch of Eagle’s data integration services offering, which effectively packages together its standard and reusable interfaces into a service layer that sits on top of its hosted Eagle Access data solution. The launch was an attempt on the part of the vendor to bring down the cost, risk and turnaround time in deploying its hosted data management solution and the focus now is on building out more data integration tools with other data vendor feeds and solutions in the market.

Lehner notes that vendor is convinced the best of breed approach to technology will persist in the market and Eagle therefore has no desire to attempt to extend too far beyond its current remit. Hence the addition of integration tools is not a conflict of interest and it has already packaged up its current set of standard interfaces to core institutional market data sources, including data around pricing, benchmarks, corporate actions and FX rates. Other vendor solutions such as those offered by Fincad are next on the list, adds Lehner: “We need to be seamlessly integrated to as many of the solutions and applications that our client are using.”

As for SaaS and outsourcing, 70% of the vendor’s business is now coming via this route, he says. Consequently, Eagle is looking for new hires with experience in this space to increase its bandwidth, along with the usual investments in technology.

Eagle is not alone in recognising the SaaS and integration services trends, however, with competitors such as Netik, GoldenSource and Asset Control all having added functionality and add ons to their various hosted solutions over the course of this year (see the launch of Asset Control’s AC Connect in May for example, here). The EDM vendor community is seemingly engaged in a race to add more downstream capabilities and flexibility into their solutions, in a bid to win more business. And the regulatory environment should help ensure that there is plenty of business to go around.

Lehner indicates that Eagle has been forced to earmark a significant portion of its development budget to keep pace with regulatory developments and accounting rule changes, which he says “creeps up” every year. Much like the financial institutions they service, vendors need to keep pace with change in order to be able to win business, after all.

As for the regulatory developments on the cards, Lehner reckons the entity data challenge can be more easily met via the introduction of a more structured approach to the data. Although entity identifiers are largely proprietary to every firm at the moment (ahead of the potential imposition of new legal entity ID standards by the US regulator), having this data in a centralised and easily auditable system should assist firms in meeting new reporting requirements, he says. “Those that have addressed the challenges by implementing an EDM solution will be better able to map this data to transaction sources and accounting data, and be able to see hierarchies between entities,” he contends.

For now, Lehner recommends that firms should take a snapshot of where they are with regards to this data and determine the approach they wish to take. He acknowledges that an outsourced or managed services approach is not suitable for every firm and therefore such a contract should not be entered into lightly. This is why many firms are coming to vendors such as Eagle and taking a component-based approach to implementing such a service. “By trying it and validating whether it works for one particular area they are able to determine whether the model works,” says Lehner. “It is not a one size fits all model and that is why the big bang approach is not as popular as it once was.”