INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
How One Company Refuses to Let the Pandemic Kill Investment Productivity
We talked to Chris Mackey of MackeyRMS about modernizing the research management process.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Chris Mackey: We are healthy and hopeful. Thanks for asking!
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded MackeyRMS.
Chris Mackey: I previously worked as a buy-side investment analyst and was struck by the crude and inefficient tools available to capture and share internal research. While some RMS (research management software) providers in the space had achieved commercial success, none were designed or equipped to work seamlessly across front-office investment teams with varying objectives and processes.
As the industry’s appetite for more modern software grew, I was confident the segment would reward a new entrant focusing on mobility, automation, and usability. In 2011, I became fast friends with two product folks – one a consumer software designer and the other an enterprise platform engineer – whose skillsets complemented my own. We set out to build the prototype for what would become MackeyRMS. Fast forward to today, and investment management organizations with trillions of dollars in assets under management rely on our platform to service their research management needs.
How does MackeyRMS innovate?
Chris Mackey: We innovate by taking the industry’s most realistic approach to research management. Our platform works alongside existing productivity tools to enhance – not replace – your research and investment routines. We lessen the burden of manual and tedious steps in clients’ investment and compliance processes via automation, so everyone has more time to make their best decisions.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business?
Chris Mackey: When you talk about our client base, which consists of front-office investment teams for actively managed investment organizations, you’re talking about groups that have already enabled their teams to work from anywhere. We’ve seen consistent usage patterns throughout the pandemic. These teams are largely operating as designed during an otherwise disruptive period.
That said, there are certainly wrinkles worth noting. We have observed more research being conducted within our native applications, as opposed to research content or notes being submitted to the RMS via other analyst productivity tools. We have also seen an uptick in the usage of our iOS and Android apps.
Where we’ve seen a significant change is from clients who recently signed on to the platform or were not fully deployed in the spring when we went on lockdown. Those groups have displayed a serious sense of urgency to get their teams onboarded and to get more mobile and automated tools in their users’ hands.
We have seen the same sense of urgency from sales prospects. Many have been focused on maintaining or improving their team’s ability to be productive and collaborative through an extended period of working remotely. My guess is that’s something that many SaaS-based technology providers see this year and that it’s not necessarily unique to our business.
What difficult choices have you had to make this year, and what are the lessons learned?
Chris Mackey: Difficult decisions come with any business, but our Covid-related decisions are the easiest to make. At every turn, we choose to be good global citizens by any means necessary – whether that means adhering to safety protocols designed to protect ourselves and our neighbors or just going the extra mile for our clients as their businesses adapt.
How do you deal with stress, and how do you project yourself and MackeyRMS in the future?
Chris Mackey: For us and many of our peers who came to market as a mobile-first provider or a work-from-anywhere solution, we’ve clearly been through a tremendous stress test here. Our team is busy analyzing features that have been relied upon heavily over the last several months and scrutinizing the types of features being used more sparingly in an effort to properly allocate resources to our near- and medium-term product roadmap.
That analysis doesn’t just include looking at usage rates. We’re also talking with customers and soliciting their feedback. One of the things I like most about working with the investment management industry is that our clients will not pull any punches when it comes to product feedback. They will tell you exactly what they like and dislike and why. We’ve gotten a tremendous amount of invaluable feedback. We are listening, and we are acting accordingly.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Chris Mackey: Our primary competitors are shared drives and email inboxes, which were not designed to appropriately manage the droves of research influencing institutional investment decisions. We also compete with more purpose-built homegrown solutions, but the enthusiasm for maintaining an in-house build has dissipated as analysts develop greater expectations around mobility and automation.
Your final thoughts?
Chris Mackey: We hear increased calls for mobility, transparency across individual and team workflows, and virtual collaboration in 2020. Like many others, our team looks forward to the day we can return to an office environment. However, the table stakes for enterprise technology have changed, and the need to support distributed teams with work-from-anywhere solutions looks like it is here to stay.
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