Seven Ways Fixed-Income Investors Will Benefit from the Digital Revolution
At long last, fixed-income investing is entering the digital age—and investors should pay close attention to what their asset managers are doing to keep up. From better pricing to better solution design, the digital revolution that’s transforming the fixed-income management landscape can lead to a host of benefits.
To grasp the performance gap between managers who upgrade their technology and managers who don’t, it’s important to understand just how behind the times many fixed-income teams still are. Roughly 80% of the notional value of US corporate bond trades comes from transactions executed over the phone. The biggest innovation in credit research until very recently? Microsoft Excel, which came on the scene in 1985.
The investment process is just as analog. Portfolio managers in many shops spend a lot of time going back and forth with different analyst teams to vet an interesting idea, then pinging it to traders, who in turn spend lots of time going back and forth with brokerages to see whether the idea is executable at a price that’s worth bothering with. And if it doesn’t work out, the whole tedious process begins again.
There is a better alternative. In fact, technology is already helping progressive fixed-income managers get to market and execute their ideas faster by allowing humans and machines to do what they do best. Computers crunch mountains of data at breakneck speeds and instantly tease out patterns from a swirl of numbers. Humans do the abstract thinking and high-level strategy planning that’s still very hard to code.
The end result: Machines make it easier for humans to instantly collect information from disparate trading pools so they can compare prices and availability, consider analysts’ views within a consistent framework, and even find new ideas by integrating the data that traders, analysts and portfolio managers rely on.