Custody Risk has named RBC Investor & Treasury Services (RBC I&TS) Private Equity/Real Estate Fund Administrator of the Year at its 2015 European awards. The judges of this year’s Custody Risk awards were impressed by the significant increase in assets under management (AUM) that RBC I&TS saw in the year to June 2015. European real estate and private equity (Repe) AUM reached €49.218 billion from €36 billion a year previously.
These increases are partly due to several significant new contracts and renewals that the bank has won over the past year.
In a market that has seen significant consolidation in recent years, custodians must be able to offer scale and financial stability. RBC I&TS administers in excess of $206 billion in alternative assets, with more than $84.2 billion in real estate and private equity assets. Emma Crabtree, managing director, global client coverage, UK and Channel Islands at RBC I&TS, also attributes the firm’s success in attracting new clients and maintaining long-running client relationships to the high level of expertise it can offer. ”A decisive element in winning new business in this environment is the highly technical expertise of our team who understand the technicalities of fund structuring and valuation that enable us to offer bespoke advice and support to clients,” she says.
Dirk Holz, Repe product director at RBC I&TS, agrees and adds: “We also work closely with our clients to understand their goals and challenges and we view our subscription financing services as another key differentiator within our product offering.”
In addition to the drive to consolidate service provision, fund managers now face more intense regulatory scrutiny in the post-financial crisis world. Regulators throughout the global financial markets are on a drive to significantly increase transparency, and firms must adhere to more in-depth reporting requirements as a result. Fund administrators need to be able to provide solutions that support clients’ compliance efforts now and in the future as markets and regulations continue to evolve. As a result, they now face increasingly rigorous selection and due-diligence procedures.
Crabtree believes the more strategic offering that RBC I&TS provides is particularly attractive under such circumstances. For example, in launching country-specific services and coverage in the first half of 2015, RBC I&TS supported clients’ regional compliance efforts while offering them the opportunity to streamline services, cut costs and increase business efficiency. This included extending a complete range of fund services for the Repe and infrastructure sectors to the UK, which covers depositary services, central administration and committed lending.
Increasing its coverage to support the bank’s US clients with funds domiciled in Europe was also viewed as a priority within 2015. The bank can now offer US-based asset managers cross-border fund services. According to Crabtree, this level of support is important for existing and prospective US clients who are looking for opportunities to expand across borders to gain access to new markets and to generate business growth. RBC I&TS, together with RBC Wealth Management, is currently able to support Repe funds domiciled in 13 centres, including Ireland, Luxembourg, the Channel Islands, France, Singapore, the US, Canada and the Caribbean.
Crabtree adds that RBC I&TS will continue to develop its Repe services as institutional investors seek further diversification and investment in tangibles such as infrastructure due to ongoing equity market volatility. “Repe solutions are evolving quickly,” she says, pointing to examples of new European fund structures such as the Irish Collective Asset Management Vehicle (ICAV) and the new Restricted Alternative Investment Fund (RAIF) which is currently under development in Luxembourg. “We need to ensure we keep pace with these changes and leverage the full potential of our expertise based in the UK, Singapore, continental Europe and the Channel Islands.”
Holz adds that the continued evolution of RBC I&TS’s global IT infrastructure and operating model allows the company to service funds centrally while keeping operational contacts in each of the jurisdictions in which it operates. As a result, RBC I&TS will be able to continue to build on the same theme of providing consolidated, cost-effective services for an increasingly global financial services industry.