NN IP partners with Aladdin to deliver more for its clients
Case Study

NN IP partners with Aladdin to deliver more for its clients

Learn how NN Investment Partners, a Netherlands-based investment manager, integrated Aladdin’s product suite to help increase agility, reduce complexity, and improve data accuracy – while keeping customers’ needs at the forefront.

The client

NN Investment Partners (NN IP) is a Netherlands-based investment manager with more than €300 billion in assets under management across fixed income, equity, alternatives and multi-asset solutions. NN IP is an active manager that is focused on responsible investing to improve clients’ returns, while simultaneously contributing to a more sustainable future.

The challenge

NN IP was looking to optimize its client experience by increasing agility, reducing complexity and increasing data accuracy. On top of that, NN IP aimed to simplify its operating model and reduce the complexity of its overall IT landscape, in order to realize cost efficiencies. Central to the process was ensuring that its customers’ needs remained at the epicenter of the investment approach.

The solution

After using Aladdin for nearly a decade, in 2018 NN IP initiated a review of its target operating model with a view to streamline and simplify its data architecture wherever possible. This led to an expansion of the existing Aladdin relationship to include Aladdin Accounting, Aladdin Provider, and Aladdin Data Warehouse. The integration of Aladdin’s full value proposition within NN IP’s overall data management landscape made it easier for teams across NN IP to collaborate more effectively, to respond to client demands more nimbly, and to leverage data more efficiently. 

To learn how the Aladdin team and NN IP worked together to help achieve NN IP’s objectives, we sat down with their head of investment reporting, Ralph Ruijters, for a conversation about the power of a unified data platform, the benefits for clients, the keys to a successful partnership, and why NN IP is working with Aladdin to increase its commitment to sustainable investing.

What challenges was NN IP trying to solve and how was Aladdin able to help?

The heart of the problem was that we had several different books of record. There were separate investment, accounting, risk, and performance books, and they relied on different data suites and data-management processes. As a result, we had a complex operating environment, our cost structure was higher than it needed to be, and—most important—the process for delivering consistent data to our clients was cumbersome.

We were already using Aladdin as our core investment platform, and we knew that its capabilities were evolving rapidly and there was untapped potential we weren’t harnessing. When we learned about solutions that would allow us to consolidate all our different books and data into a single source of truth, that was very attractive.

It was a complex change to implement, and we involved our clients from the beginning. Internally, we had to break down some silos to get it done, but making the change delivered several important benefits. Eliminating the inconsistencies in our data allowed us to collaborate more effectively, because everyone is now looking at the same information at the same time. And we’re able to deliver even more consistent and reliable data to our clients, which has increased customer satisfaction.

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Eliminating the inconsistencies in our data allowed us to collaborate more effectively, because everyone is now looking at the same information at the same time.

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We’ve also realized cost savings by consolidating our books, and that’s critical as the industry is increasingly competitive. Finally, by simplifying our operations and effectively outsourcing non-core functions, we’ve been able to free up people’s time to focus on the things that we’re really good at and that deliver value to our clients.

How did your organization evolve after you implemented these changes?

Once we had a single source of consistent and reliable data, the logical next step was to get the data out of the system, organize it, and distribute it across our organization. There are a number of ways to go about this, and the route that we chose was to leverage Aladdin Data Warehouse and Aladdin Studio. They allow us to take full advantage of the broader Aladdin system, and they’ve helped us bring all of the benefits together.

Aladdin Data Warehouse has helped us redesign our digital client-reporting platform—which was a top priority—and longer term it aligns with our vision of embedding data science throughout the investment process. Additionally, it has allowed us to unlock numerous opportunities for improvement that we hadn’t identified previously, particularly in the areas of trade and regulatory reporting.

How have your clients benefitted from the changes that Aladdin and NN IP implemented together?

By simplifying our operations we became more agile, and we’re now able to respond to our clients’ demands more quickly and effectively. For example, we’ve built a number of client portals that are powered by Aladdin. By harnessing both Aladdin Accounting and Aladdin Data Warehouse, we’ve made the portals more relevant, and we can optimize them according to the clients’ needs to provide relevant information. We’ve also shifted from delivering monthly reports to providing them daily, and this has been a pleasant surprise for many of our clients. Clients now have all the information about their investment portfolios at their fingertips, and the data is refreshed on a daily basis. 

Another way that we’re improving the client experience is by utilizing some of the APIs that Aladdin Studio provides, next to our proprietary APIs, to standardize and simplify our data analysis and processing. These same APIs allow us to create bespoke templates for our clients and complete the service offering in our API store. When we realized that we could simultaneously standardize our operations and deliver a more customized experience for our clients, that was a real lightbulb moment.

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When we realized that we could simultaneously standardize our operations and deliver a more customized experience for our clients, that was a real lightbulb moment.

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Our clients have responded very positively to the level of customization that we’re providing, and we’ve been able to do this at scale because of the standardization that Aladdin Data Warehouse enables. It might seem counterintuitive that the ability to standardize internally allowed us to deliver more customized solutions externally, but standardization is the key to scalability and it helps us seamlessly deliver bespoke solutions for our clients. And we’re just getting started here—by continuing our partnership with the Aladdin team, we think there’s a lot more we can deliver for our clients.

Speaking of partnerships, what advice would you give to other organizations about how to partner successfully with the Aladdin team?

To begin, both sides really need to put in the work to understand each other and to make sure that they are philosophically aligned about how best to solve the clients’ challenges. This alignment is something that we strive for with all our service providers, not just the Aladdin team.

You also need to be realistic about what Aladdin can do for you and in what time frame. Aladdin has improved our organization and allowed us to serve our clients better, but it’s also important to make sure that it is well-integrated with the solutions that we’ve created in-house and with those that our other vendors provide.

As for timing, you need to accept that complex changes take time, and that progress will often occur in stages. That’s why it’s critical to have a joint plan and strategic priorities, and both sides need to take them seriously. Partnerships are hard work, but the Aladdin team is very professional and when we collaborate we’re able to achieve great things.

What are some of NN IP’s most important goals for the future and how can Aladdin help you achieve them?

Two areas come to mind that are top priorities for both of our organizations: increasing sustainability and leveraging the power of the cloud. We see a lot of overlap between our companies’ goals here, so we’ll certainly be looking to the Aladdin team for help.

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Increasing sustainability is the top priority for both NN IP and Aladdin.

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We have a longstanding commitment to integrating sustainable practices wherever we can in the investment process, and we also have specific goals related to the EU’s Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR). By 2023, we want at least 80% of our funds to be ESG-integrated and to either promote sustainable characteristics or have sustainable investment as their objective. In the spirit of partnership, we intend to work closely with Aladdin to co-create new sustainable investment platform functionalities that will help us meet these important goals.

Some of the challenges that our industry faces are the lack of clear standards when it comes to ESG data and the fragmentation of the data that is available. We would like a solution that makes it easier to plug in different ESG datasets, that helps our portfolio managers and risk managers to make even better-informed decisions, and that allows our attribution models to demonstrate the costs and benefits of our responsible-investing decisions. We know sustainability and ESG are core focus areas for Aladdin, and as a leader in sustainability we’re looking forward to partnering further to reach our goals, including  SFDR compliance, which is our highest priority.

When it comes to our other focus area—cloud computing—we’re firm believers that all the applications we use should function in the cloud. We were one of the early adopters of Aladdin Data Warehouse, and we’re excited by the recent announcement that it is evolving into Aladdin Data Cloud. The ability for us to manage multiple databases in a single cloud-based solution should really help our engineers do more with our data, maintain sufficient control over it, and deliver additional value to our clients and our organization.

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We’re excited about Aladdin Data Cloud and the fact that it makes it easy to combine Aladdin data with non-Aladdin data.

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  • NN Investment Partners (NN IP) is the asset manager of NN Group N.V., a publicly traded company listed on Euronext Amsterdam. NN IP is headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, and manages approximately EUR 293 billion (as of 31 March, 2021) in assets for institutions and individual investors worldwide. As a responsible investor, NN IP aims to improve clients’ returns by looking beyond financial performance. Responsible investing and putting capital to work is integral to NN IP’s investment strategies and approach. NN IP allocates all of its investments in a responsible manner, contributing to a more sustainable world. ESG criteria are integrated in 74% of NN IP’s AuM, the goal is to increase this to 80% by 2023. In 2020, the UN PRI awarded the NN IP a rating of A+ for its responsible investing and ESG integration approach.

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