CASE STUDY - Pactum Asset Management
By Cloud Direct • 30 Oct 2014
Complete cloud integration for City firm
When asset management firm, Pactum, got the green light for their office move, they had to work quickly. They needed to find a fully integrated IT solution that would allow staff to work and collaborate remotely. To comply with stringent Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations, they also needed business critical security and disaster recovery.
Cloud Direct’s packaged cloud services ticked all their boxes. They removed 90% of Pactum’s IT responsibilities, saving time and money. It even integrated with Bloomberg.
It was the only such solution Pactum could find.
- Pactum Asset Management is FCA-regulated, so requires sophisticated business continuity and security solutions
- Remote access to their working environment is important for mobile/ home working and late-night access
- Pactum did not want to waste time and human resources supporting/ upgrading local hardware or worrying about software updates
- They required an out-of-London server backup location for secure, mirrored data storage in case a security alert meant restricted access to the building
- A solution would need to support Bloomberg Open API, have low-cost phone recording facilities, email archiving with litigation hold, and 24/7 IT support
Pactum Asset Management Limited was created in 2010 to manage an equity fund and offer wealth management services in London.
The firm is authorised and regulated by the FCA, which has unbending regulations regarding security, data protection and disaster recovery policy compliance.
Pactum needed the flexibility of a modern, agile financial business with mobile and visiting workers, including their permanent staff of 11.
Are we? Aren’t we? …Finally, Pactum got the go-ahead for their office move. As is often the case with office moves, it was going to be a tight turnaround. Feeling the force of this was Peter Howlett, Pactum’s chief financial officer and IT champion.
Typically for a smaller business, Pactum didn’t have a dedicated IT manager. Instead, Peter was responsible for IT management, which he’d juggle with his day-to-day business concerns. A slick office move presented Peter with some immediate IT challenges. Fundamentally, the race was on for a solution that would give the business:
- Remote access to their working environment so staff could be mobile, work from home and have late-night access.
- A solution that avoided unnecessary hardware and software upgrades and licensing.
- A sophisticated security and disaster recovery solution that answered the FCA’s strict regulatory demands.
- An out of London server backup location for secure, mirrored data storage. This was important in case access to their building was suddenly restricted because of, for example, a security alert in the City.
The solution would also have to provide:
- Integration with the Bloomberg Open API, their business critical financial data application.
- Low-cost phone recording facilities – they had to record calls in accordance with FCA rules.
- 24/7 IT support – if something did go wrong, it would need fixing quickly and well.
“I was really surprised to discover that our incumbent IT service provider – a major player in London – was unable to deliver more than around a third of what we wanted. What’s more, my research for other providers was equally sparse. No-one could give us everything we wanted - until I found Cloud Direct.
“Not only did Cloud Direct say they could do everything – but they actually could. Now, I fully entrust 90% of our technology to Cloud Direct.
“I’ve been working with IT providers for around 14 years now, and you can identify people who know what they’re talking about pretty quickly. At Cloud Direct, I’ve mainly worked with Ben, Will and Simon; they’re all true professionals who really understand what you’re talking about. Right from the start they’ve been open and have got straight down to problem-solving. They’re really helpful.”
Cloud Direct’s packaged cloud services allow Pactum to access to their work environment from anywhere, on any electronic device.
Secure, compliant office and employee productivity
- Internet phone service (VoIP), with call recording facilities
- Encrypted file-sharing, editing and collaboration software
- Email archiving with litigation hold
- Hosted desktop infrastructure with Bloomberg integration
Integration with Bloomberg
Integration with Bloomberg Open API was key. Access to financial data is business critical for an asset management firm with investment interests. With Cloud Direct’s ground-breaking, automated hosted infrastructure technology, Pactum can now link their Excel list of trades to Bloomberg, so they can see what their portfolio is worth in real time - and lose zero functionality.
Simon Ponsford, chief technology officer at Cloud Direct, said: “Integration with Bloomberg is fascinating for three reasons. It requires technology that, firstly, understands its excess of keys - in comparison to the usual QWERTY keyboard. Secondly, Bloomberg uses a finger-print reader for biometric security. And lastly, it uses sound channels for some key presses, in the same way the secret services did during World War II.
“We were able to delve into Bloomberg and apply our experience of working with London & Continental Railways, when we integrated their systems with Thomson Reuters.”
Full FCA compliance - ISO 27001 accredited security & disaster recovery
For the highest appropriate level of security, Pactum chose Cloud Direct’s disaster recovery system.
It uses encryption technologies, combined with internationally recognised ISO 27001 security standards. Military grade data centres outside London are tier-three minimum and government approved. All servers have RAID 10 disk arrays for the highest levels of redundancy and performance.
With Cloud Direct, Pactum gets:
- Secure, virtual disaster recovery
- Cloud backup and storage in offsite, mirrored data centres
- Infrastructure failover, including of their internet connection (99.9% reliability
- Security for email, web and hosted telephony
Flexibility & scalability
Cloud packages allow Pactum the flexibility to increase or decrease their monthly usage, depending on their changing business requirements.
Peter knows exactly what he’s going to be billed each month, and is happy not to have to invest in hardware and infrastructure that the firm may not use from one month to the next.
And because a number of users exist on a shared server, the processing power not used by low CPU users can, instead, be used by high CPU users, which helps keep the business efficient. If they require more processing, it’s easy to upgrade.
Time and cost savings are already evident.
Peter said: “Without a doubt, it’s cheaper. Especially if you consider the costs of upgrades, processing and software – it’s dramatically cheaper. And the processing power of the servers Cloud Direct provides far exceeds that of even relatively high spec PCs.
“But more than anything, Cloud Direct’s packaged cloud takes 90% of the responsibility for IT out of our hands. Before Cloud Direct, IT management would suck up all my time. If something were to go wrong, I could easily spend two days sorting it out.
“Cloud Direct takes away the big unknown from a time perspective and puts the IT responsibility firmly into the hands of people who truly understand it. In our size of firm, you aren’t normally going to have IT specialists – but if you are, you’ll have a software person who’ll know a bit about hardware and infrastructure but not anyone who can touch what Cloud Direct can do.
“From what I can see, Cloud Direct is streets ahead of the competition. They give us proper remote access that is truly integrated across our business, telephone and IT systems.
“Frankly, any small or medium business that isn’t considering cloud is off their head. People need to get over any misplaced feelings of a lack of security. They need to come to terms with losing a degree of control, when they can no longer see their disks whirring. Once people get over their fears, their businesses can really benefit from packaged cloud.”
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