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- PIMCO CEO Manny Roman said he’s investing significantly in four technology areas: pre-trade analytics, cybersecurity, cloud migration, and disaster recovery.
- Even though he said the $1.7 trillion asset manager is doing well compared with its peers in tech, he said he can’t invest enough, since new entrants could be a step ahead.
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The CEO of one of the biggest asset managers spends a lot of time and money on technology – but he admitted his efforts may not be enough to stay ahead of new competitors.
At Morningstar’s annual investment conference in Chicago last week, PIMCO chief executive Manny Roman highlighted a number of technology priorities for the firm:
- Pre-trade analytics: Roman said the complexity of making sure compliance reviews every trade and then allocating it automatically to different accounts is "incredible" but critical to the business. "The amount of time we spend in terms of lowering execution costs is enormous," Roman said.
- Cybersecurity: Like most large financial institutions, Roman is concerned with fending off cyberattacks – but it’s hard to know if PIMCO is spending enough money, he said. Other Wall Street CEOs have said their top fear is a cyberattack that takes down the entire financial system.
- Disaster recovery: PIMCO recently moved the firm’s disaster recovery center – a backup server location in case main servers go down – to Las Vegas to be closer to the firm’s Newport Beach, California headquarters. "Things like this that may not be obvious when you talk about it, but are all costly, and by the way, explain why technology companies have done so great," he said, noting the cost of changing the center.
- Migrating to the cloud: PIMCO is moving data stored in physical services to Amazon Web Services. "We need to do this," Roman said. But like the disaster recovery switch, "the move from A to B is expensive and costly and takes time and resources," he said.
Roman said he’s eyeing what companies like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are spending on technology – that’s the better benchmark than looking at what peer asset managers are investing.
"Whatever I invest, I’m not investing enough. I’m never going to be happy about this," he said. "If I benchmark ourselves against peers, I’ll feel OK. The real question is, what are other people doing and what is the ecosystem doing and how will we compete with new entrants we never see? That’s what keeps me up at night. I say that because I think that’s one of the possible evolutions of the asset management industry."
So far, Roman said he hasn’t identified any true competitors to PIMCO from new players like robo-advisors, but he expects that the next generation of robos and other groups may pose a bigger threat.
"We’re fully prepared to compete against that," he said. "You’ll see literally the landscape changing and we need to be prepared for this."
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