APN Property Group is a specialist Asia-Pacific real estate investment manager. Since 1996, they have managed real estate and real estate securities on behalf of institutional and retail clients. APN is in a unique space in Australia, as there are very few other real estate specialists. They manage over $2.4bn AUD across a range of funds, including domestic and international property securities, direct property and listed funds.
APN’s focus is mainly on the Australian market, but there is an emerging and developing international fund in Asia. As momentum gathers, APN needed a partner who could help them grow their business.
Previously, APN were using fax to process all of their managed fund transactions. They came across similar problems faced by the industry as result of manual trading, including increased time and risk when processing trades. Faxes could be incomplete, or be missed entirely, meaning that important requests could be missed or significantly delayed.
Simone Newman, APN’s Head of Group Marketing and Distribution, said: ‘When we were first approached by Calastone a couple of years ago, whilst they were a large and well established player in the UK, they were a relatively unknown name within the Australian market. However, Calastone quickly established a strong and highly credible footprint within the financial services industry, emerging as an innovative and progressive business.’ APN observed Calastone grow as a leader in the market, having transformed the Australian funds industry in just over two years.
As a boutique fund manager with a unique structure, APN were reluctant to be the first mover, preferring to observe others join the network first.
‘The case for signing up with Calastone soon became conclusive as we witnessed their success in the market with leading platforms and administration systems (all of whom were major clients of APN). Calastone’s track record overseas and proven success in the Australian market solidified our decision to work with them.’
Selecting Calastone and Onboarding
Implementing Order Routing quickly, at a low cost and with full end-to-end support was central to APN’s decision-making process. They were also concerned about Calastone’s commitment to the Australian market, especially in regards to service and support.
The onboarding process was orderly, executed to plan and was overall a seamless integration. The system was implemented quickly, smoothly and professionally.
Since going live in October 2015, the level of support provided by the Calastone team has been excellent. Newman added: ‘‘Calastone instilled us with a sense of confidence from the get-go by taking a truly partnered and proactive approach across all aspects, from operations to strategy.
Calastone has vastly improved APN’s service standards by ensuring all instructions are sent and confirmed in real time and providing transparency through their web interface of this entire process. This avoids any delay and allows for the platforms to reconcile positions faster and easier.
The removal of paper based processing has also significantly reduced the risk and costs associated with manual processing errors. The straight-through processing of orders via Calastone removes the potential error (and significant cost) of keying in incorrect details.
Since converting to Calastone messaging, the time saving is sizeable and has allowed team members to focus on value adding activity. For example, phone calls from the platforms to check the order has been received or where the confirmation note is have been completely eliminated.
Calastone has been working with APN to understand the other manual pain points they face, and Transfers has been identified as a key outlier. APN has recently committed to the transfers pilot group along with other market participants, and have worked closely with Calastone to identify and understand these issues and build a solution that is ready to roll out to market.
APN is also looking at Calastone’s solution for statements of reconciliations and distributions. Sending an automated feed of these statements will further reduce the need for manual processing and will allow the platforms to receive the files in any format. APN is committed to providing a better service to the platforms, and the transparency of these feeds will eliminate the volume of calls they receive looking for misplaced statements.
Newman concluded by saying ‘We see Calastone as a valuable long term business partner. We look forward to working on further developments and exploring exciting opportunities together which help us as a fund manager and more broadly for the industry, to deliver greater levels of service with less risk and reduced cost.’