Canada Pension Plan Investment Board
Pension funds that invest in private markets are increasingly advocating cost transparency from GP community. Cost transparency brings benefits of cost savings, increased efficiency, and enhanced trust among LPs and GPs. The ADS (Adopting Data Standards) Initiative is focused on fostering a collaborative and conflict-free forum to build momentum in private capital for global data standards.
Christine Campney, Senior Manager, Investment Finance, Private Investments, CPP Investment Board, and Lorelei Graye, President, ADS Initiative, will join a panel at Private Markets Virtual Forum for a discussion on private markets cost transparency. In advance of the Forum, Christine and Lorelei answer questions regarding why the initiative of cost transparency is important for LP and GP communities, and how to get there.
1.What benefits does cost transparency add to LPs and GP constituents to transition into such initiative?
Christine: Access to necessary data for fiduciary and reporting reasons. Increase of efficiency through reduction of manual, non-value add work such as emails and phone calls to elicit the data. Limited Partners spend substantial amounts of time contacting General Partners for information. This follow-up is inefficient and non-value add effort for both the Limited Partners and the General Partners.
Lorelei: While measuring and managing investment costs are important for every investor, the key for the Adopting Data Standards Initiative is data interoperability (of all reporting, not just fees) for private capital reporting meaning that the GP-LP data exchange can and should be more efficient and automated for the benefit of all market participants. Today, however, substantial resources are required to collect and normalize incoming investor reporting for analysis.
2.What is required from LP, GP and other industry constituents in order to fully achieve data standardization and cost transparency in private markets?
Christine: The most important step to fully achieve data standardization is the identification of the data elements and the corresponding data definitions. This ensures that Limited Partners obtain what they require and that General Partners understand and agree with the data being requested.
The next important step is getting a critical mass to adopt the standards so that both GPs and LPs see better data results. Key to the critical mass are the other industry participants including the administrators who serve many GP and LP clients.
The technology solution to transfer data would vastly improve the current pull of pdf data from portals which is time consuming. This solution could be furthered by the support of the various technology providers.
Lorelei: Adoption of a common reporting language – data tags and definitions- that can be leveraged by any market participant with any technology or platform. This way, any reporting requirements or templates can be easily mapped so an electronic file can be used to populate different reporting formats as required.
3.What challenges are there in transitioning to a data standard?
Christine: Initial cost outlays facing GPS for updates to systems or data enrichment. If automated data exchange is solutioned then LPs would also have some system costs as well.
However, in the long term, costs savings will be achieved on manual resourcing efforts.
Lorelei: Timing more than anything. If we consider the investment cycle of private capital, the practical application of a new standard means working within the limitations of existing reporting and accounting capabilities for older funds and fully adopting standards for new funds so that we can achieve market adoption over a realistic timeline.
4.What advice do you have for organizations that are looking to align themselves with transparency initiatives?
Christine: Transparency initiatives only work if there is critical mass. Banding together to come to a solution that benefits all parties is critical. Joining ADS is a good idea because they have already started the conversations and have put together a realistic strategy.
Lorelei: The most important thing to think about is how to ensure success and that only comes when market participants can work together for the benefit of our industry. Representatives from GPs, LPs, providers, and other stakeholder groups must work together to ensure each perspective is considered and taken in account in the rollout of a data standard. My advice is, get involved. This means joining or contributing to the work of ADS to ensure we have the best possible outcome through collaboration.