Firm Profile: Institutional Investment Consulting
Ellwood Associates has provided comprehensive investment consulting services to its clients since the firm’s founding in 1977. Through its work researching managers on the behalf of foundations, endowments, retirement plans and other clients, the consulting firm took on the task of gathering performance information, holdings, assets and other important data points necessary in the due diligence process. The firm asked select managers to complete an annual questionnaire. Should a new manager be introduced mid-year, however, they were unable to provide an accurate assessment. The depth of data wasn’t always sufficient either, and in other cases it had just gone stale. With the growing number of available managers to choose from and a limited data collection staff, Ellwood was forced to limit itself to a smaller universe of managers. Information was also being faxed, phoned and emailed with no true central location for detailed analysis.
A Better Way
Ellwood’s Chief Information Officer, Brad Levandoski, described the process as “painful” and knew there had to be a better way, so he started meeting with data providers. “It was clear early on that eVestment could relate to us because they were in our shoes not too long ago as consultants themselves. We were able to quickly narrow down the choices and formed a partnership with eVestment.” As one of eVestment’s original eleven clients, Ellwood was able to provide feedback regarding the information it needed in order to develop the data and solution provider’s first manager questionnaire. “It was very collaborative and motivating to us that we could have a say in what we wanted to see and what the solution could be. It was like eVestment was reading the minds of consulting firms to make the process of gathering institutional investment data easier,” said Levandoski.
The Go-To Research Tool
Today, Ellwood uses eVestment Analytics to evaluate managers for searches, prepare for meetings with new managers and generate reporting for clients. “eVestment Analytics is always the first place we go when we want to get to know a manager or to know if we even want to take a meeting. It is our step one. Our response to managers who call us asking how to get into our database is to submit their data to eVestment.”
Centralized Data in Seconds
Since choosing eVestment Analytics, Ellwood has been able to centralize its research, and its employees always know where to go for their data needs. “The number of managers we can now follow has increased because of eVestment. It used to take us months to collect responses from our annual questionnaire, but now it’s just a matter of seconds. You log in and you have the information. The time-savings are night and day,” said Levandoski.
Ease-of-Use and a Lasting Partnership
“Training is self-explanatory. The system is easy to navigate and requires little formal training. If you know how to spell the name of the manager you are pretty much set,” Levandoski joked. He also noted the client service team has always been friendly, and the extent of any issues Ellwood has experienced has been a missing password which was easily retrieved. “The experience has been fantastic, and we are truly impressed with the way the product has evolved over the years,” said Levandoski. When asked which words come to mind when thinking of eVestment, Levandoski listed, “Collaborative, reliable and comprehensive, but overall — we view our relationship as a partnership.”
“It was clear early on that eVestment could relate to us because they were in our shoes not too long ago as consultants themselves. It was like eVestment was reading the minds of consulting firms to make the process of gathering institutional investment data easier.”
Chief Information Officer