Union Investment Improves Operational Efficiency and Competitiveness by Developing Intuitive Web Application to Manage 960 Investment Funds
 
 

Union Investment Improves Operational Efficiency and Competitiveness by Developing Intuitive Web Application to Manage 960 Investment Funds

  • Oracle Customer:  Union Investment
    Location:  Francfort on the Main, Germany
    Industry:  Financial Services
    Employees:  2,572
    Annual Revenue:  $500 Million to $1 Billion

Union Investment is one of Europe’s leading asset managers for private and institutional clients, developing and providing a wide range of investment solutions in various asset classes and investment styles, including equity, fixed-income, money market, alternative investments, and quantitative structured funds. Established in 1956, and firmly rooted in its German home market, Union Investment has grown into a leading international asset manager through subsidiaries and strategic partnerships. Today, it is one of Germany’s largest asset managers, with more than US$250 billion worth of assets under its management, and more than 4.5 million customers. The company manages close to 1,000 funds, which have won a number of awards and are licensed for sale by 1,100 banks through 13,000 branches, one of Europe’s densest sales networks.

 
 

 
 

Challenges

A word from Union Investment

  • “We have a long history with Oracle Database, which we rely on to be efficient in our asset management business. It is certainly the market’s leading database, and by using Oracle Application Express we have developed a game-changing web application at the very heart of our business, which has enabled process improvements throughout our core operations.” – Rolf Fillinger, Team Leader, Union Investment (Union IT-Services GmbH)

  • Boost operational efficiency by enabling 800 multifunctional staff to access all fund data—including numerous identifiers such as currency, asset restrictions, and benchmarks—from a single system, avoiding bottlenecks such as unclear classification of securities
  • Enable structured data management—particularly concerning investment limits—of nearly 1,000 investment funds, so that portfolio managers no longer need to involve IT staff for fund set-up and modifications
  • Improve competitiveness by increasing speed and cost-effectiveness of creating and managing investment funds—for example defining asset types to invest in, such as stocks, real estate, currencies, or fixed-interest assets
  • Deploy an intuitive fund management application so that fund managers, who only access the system a few times per year, can easily design and launch new investment funds containing up to 500 data fields

Solutions

  • Implemented Oracle Application Express 4.1 (Oracle APEX) on Oracle Database, Enterprise Edition to enable rapid development of FondsProfiler, the company’s business-critical intranet application containing the definition of nearly 1,000 investment funds, leading to substantial cost efficiencies and enhanced customer service
  • Increased business agility thanks to the ability to automatically process all investment fund master data within FondsProfiler, including complex asset classification with up to 500 data fields, which were previously distributed to IT staff using spreadsheets
  • Introduced structured data management to significantly increase data quality while reducing fund management and administration costs, because users now have immediate desktop access to all fund information, and authorized managers can create and modify data without needing to email requested changes to IT
  • Enabled speedy, cost-efficient set up and management of high quality investment products, resulting in faster service and higher returns for customers
  • Reduced operational costs by enabling structured input of investment limits so that fund managers can efficiently decide which types and amounts of products to invest into a specific fund—for example 20% in shares, of which 30% in US company stocks
  • Used FondsProfiler to improve customer service by eliminating improper asset classification on spreadsheets and removing the risk of making false promises to customers—for example promising an investment split across a complex mix of companies with a detailed benchmark which subsequently could not be mapped in the system
  • Gained the ability to use blended benchmarks, such as of 50% of Euro Stoxx and 50% of Dow Jones performance, making it easier to compare the company’s investment vehicles to market performance
  • Gained visibility into daily operations thanks to enhanced reporting capabilities, enabling seniors managers to instantly check which asset classes portfolio managers are investing in, how those investments are split over geographical regions, and how they are benchmarked against market performance
  • Provided a centralized repository of investment fund master data—used by 800 employees including accountants, controllers, and account managers for private and institutional clients—accessible through an intuitive interface so that for example portfolio managers can easily make adjustments for benchmark indices such as the DAX or Euro Stoxx 50
  • Gained flexibility to rapidly improve processes and investment fund management based on user feedback by enabling portfolio managers to provide remarks on fund descriptions through free text fields, so that more appropriate fields can be added for improved analysis and reporting
  • Ensured high availability, reliability, security, and scalability for FondsProfiler by using Oracle Database, Enterprise Edition as a data foundation
  • Worked with Oracle Platinum Partner MT AG to develop the FondsProfiler application—consisting of 67 pages, 344 tables, 366 views, and 107 packages—in only 12 months with Oracle APEX and at a fraction of the cost of building a full-client, Java-based application

Why Oracle

“We had already had good experience with Oracle Application Express in the past, especially developing individualized and easily adjustable web applications which are stored in Oracle Database, and we had also established a good relationship with Oracle Partner MT AG,” said Rolf Fillinger, team leader, Union Investment (Union IT-Services GmbH). “However, we researched the market to see if there was a product available that could fulfill the vast scope of our fund management project requirements, but there was none. When we decided to develop our own application, we needed to choose between Java based and browser based. Going with Java would have meant a cost-intensive, full-client version for 800 people, and so a browser-based solution was preferable, and at this stage only Oracle APEX could meet our needs.”

Implementation Process

Instead of expanding its existing system, Union Investment decided to introduce a new system with the necessary interfaces and then perform a data migration. The project consisted of two phases. First, all new dialogs were provided in a simplified form, which were coordinated with stakeholder departments. Following final specifications, the second phase resolved issues such as authorizations, internal and external views and interfaces, and involved more than 270 expert examinations, seeing the project through to successful production.

Partner

To develop the FondsProfiler application, Union Investment worked with Oracle Platinum Partner MT, which provided 19 staff during the development phase—including Oracle APEX, PL/SQL, data modeling and interface experts, project leaders, and a quality assurance engineer.

“We had a detailed list of specifications that we needed in our fund management application, and at that time, only MT AG had enough German-speaking and Oracle Application Express dedicated manpower to fulfill our business requirements in time,” said Fillinger. “We were very much in a hurry to get the application up and running and, as often happens in those cases, we came back to the programmers with a lot of change requests during the project. MT AG did a great job, providing 10 to 12 full-time programmers plus external staff, and even though we modified the project scope a few times, they provided an optimal solution to fulfil our requirements.”