Legg Mason Progresses on Multiple Tech Fronts
By Dana Jackson, Chief Technology Officer at Legg Mason
You were named to your current role as Legg Mason’s chief technology officer in 2016. What was your first priority?
My priority was to engage with our business partners to develop a digital technology strategy that would be a catalyst to drive growth and greater efficiency.
Our strategy is focused on embedding technology into everything we do. Our aim is to use technology to deepen client relationships, become a more data-driven organization and implement tools to drive operational efficiencies.
In order to set the foundation to drive our strategy forward, we first needed to modernize our technology infrastructure. Employees are now more tech savvy and we had to create an experience that matches their expectations based on how they consume technology in their day-to-day lives.
We did a major overhaul of our end-user computing experience globally. We now have an environment where our employees can work anywhere, anytime, using tools like Office 365, WebEx video conferencing and Surface laptops. All these systems work together to give employees a seamless experience, and the employee feedback has been tremendously positive.
What’s your top priority right now?
Automation. We are looking at different ways we can become more operationally efficient. We are using multiple automation platforms to automate manual processes, which in turn frees up our employees to focus on more high-value activities.
We’ve already realized tangible benefits and savings. For example, we automated some processes in our fund accounting department that were outsourced. We were able to generate savings while enhancing our oversight by adding additional controls when we brought these processes back in-house.
We’re now actively engaging with the finance department to evaluate robotics process automation (RPA) tools. And we continue to work with other departments to identify more process automation opportunities.
Has technology impacted how we engage with clients?
The client experience or client journey is a hot topic in our industry. We are using data and analytics to provide a set of visual dashboards to help our sales teams have more focused and more targeted conversations with clients. From a relationship management point of view, it improves client connectivity as well as the entire sales experience.
In fact, we were really pleased that Legg Mason won the Model Asset Manager 2019 Distribution Award from Celent for our sales and marketing analytics initiative. Celent is a research, advisory and consulting firm focused on financial services technology.
What role does technology play in the asset management business today?
Industry-wide, firms are looking to technology to create a competitive advantage. Asset management firms understand that technology can help them drive growth, be more efficient and better manage risk. At the same time, the expectation is that technology will be bigger, faster, cheaper.
We were able to generate savings by moving our technology infrastructure to Amazon Web Services. We now have a faster time-to-market for deploying solutions and better disaster recovery capabilities. We’re also using AWS technologies in our enterprise data environment, which supports global distribution, corporate shared services, and certain services that are shared across our nine affiliates.
How has IT changed over the course of your career?
The IT function has changed dramatically in my 25-year career. In the early days, IT was viewed as a back-office department that performed break/fix activities and provided help desk services.
Now, IT departments play an integral role in shaping business strategy. Technology is an important part of the profit equation, but it’s not just about technology. It’s about taking our people through a digital transformation and the process of learning how to use it.
Digital transformation is not a technology event. It’s more about evolving the skillset of our employees. We have partnered with University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to pilot a data and analytics program. We’ve received significant interest cross the firm. We have 40 employees that will be participating in the program – 20 participants in the business analytics track and 20 participants in the advanced analytics track. We’re very excited about this partnership and the opportunities it will provide for our employees.
Dana Jackson is Chief Technology Officer, Head of Data Solution and Strategy at Legg Mason. His opinions are not meant to be viewed as investment advice or a solicitation for investment.
Chief Technology Officer
About Legg Mason, Inc.
Guided by a mission of Investing to Improve Lives™, Legg Mason helps investors globally achieve better financial outcomes by expanding choice across investment strategies, vehicles and investor access through independent investment managers with diverse expertise in equity, fixed income, alternative and liquidity investments. Legg Mason’s assets under management are $747 billion as of Jan. 31, 2019. To learn more, visit our web site, our newsroom, or follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
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