Getting senior buy in to improve investment data management

You might have tried our Investment Data Maturity assessment and thought to yourself that there are improvements you can make to the way your fund manages investment data. If that’s the case, you need to quickly consider getting buy-in from a senior leader within your fund.

Like any project, senior or executive buy-in is an essential factor. Success depends on having a good idea and the desire to deliver the outcome. So whether you like it or not, getting senior buy-in to improve your investment data management is critical.

What does ‘senior buy in’ mean?

Senior leadership is essential when kick-starting your project and the role they play in the ongoing project should never be understated.

Your executive sponsor will need to do more than approve the funds. Getting senior buy-in means you will have someone on the executive team who will actively support and participate in delivering the outcome needed.

The critical word here is ‘actively’.

The importance of senior buy-in

There can be many reasons why projects fail; even when managed by a great Project Manager, good projects can fail. Often these projects fail because they don’t: –

  • Focus on business value
  • Establish clear accountability for the outcome
  • Include key stakeholders at the beginning and during the project
  • Have motivated and experienced people playing the appropriate role on the team
  • Have access to the tools, systems and other resources needed to produce success

Senior buy-in will be overcome these pitfalls. Remember that your sponsor is the person who will be accountable (not responsible) for implementing the change within the business. So, they will need to go beyond just approving the budget to pay for the project. Inevitably, they will make significant decisions and engage other executives to help make these important decisions.

Secondly, this is likely a cross-functional project that will involve business politics and executives need to be the ones to resolve these issues. Remember, implementing what you are asking will require money and changing business processes, likely leading to organisational and job changes. Again, these cannot be resolved without executive involvement.

Finally, investment data is essential to funds and change is likely to impact most internal employees. Executives are the ones that can ultimately make these resources available to participate in the project. 

In short, it can be challenging to procure the employee resources and broader support needed to succeed without executive support. By having genuine buy-in to the project, executives will understand the importance of ensuring the right people are available to make the project successful.

Who is the right sponsor?

To answer this question, ask yourself, ‘who has the most to gain from the benefits that the project will deliver?’ Best practice suggests that getting buy-in from this executive member will lead to success. If this person doesn’t come to mind immediately, ask yourself, ‘who is the executive member most impacted by the change I’m proposing?’

The answer to those questions will lead you to the right person. Hint – for an investment data project, it won’t be the IT leader.

Six tactics to getting senior buy-in

Once you have a clear idea of who might be the best sponsor, you can start the process to get buy-in. There is no one-size-fits-all answer here, but there are some activities you can undertake to convince them.

1. Frame the Issue

Getting your project high enough on the list of priorities will depend on how well you link it to your fund priorities. Don’t focus on the solution; at this stage, it’s not about the technology/product or how you implement it; it’s the outcome that counts. For example, will it impact the efficiency of your investment operations team or improve your ability to respond to market changes quickly. If you can then turn this into a quantifiable impact, it becomes essential. Once people see how your initiative fits into the big picture, they’ll be more willing to devote resources to it.

2. Tailor Your Pitch

This is an essential tactic; tailoring your pitch to the target is necessary. But, first, become familiar with your target executive’s goals, values, and awareness of investment data issues and shape your message.

3. Get the Timing Right

Find the right moment to gain the buy-in. That moment might be at the start of the planning process, but it equally could be when the fund’s priorities shift or when certain people leave or join the fund. For example, you could notice that more of your colleagues are starting to be impacted by some data management practices, position yourself to ‘catch the wave’.

4. Involve Others

Don’t do this alone; you’re better off bringing others alone to support you. Start building an alliance of people across your fund to help you generate the buy-in more quickly and on a larger scale.

5. Suggest Solutions

If you are going to talk about the problem, then come to the table with a solution. Point to a specific solution that could deliver the outcome. Proposing a solution signals that you’ve put thought into the issue and respect the executive’s time.

6. Check your emotions

Fundamentally, you are selling your idea, which can get very personal and passionate. There’s a fine line between passion and anger; don’t cross it. Understand where your desire to improve the management of your investment data comes from. Have you proposed this initiative because you’ve had enough of the existing systems and processes? If this is the case, you might be coming from a place of frustration. Channel this frustration into the effort to create a solid and compelling story. Decision-makers who detect negative emotions often perceive those employees as complainers, not change agents.

Buy in can take time

This process can take some time, so don’t be disheartened if the buy-in doesn’t happen immediately. Remember, businesses go through planning cycles and budgeting processes, so consider your timing. Also, if you are not getting traction, consider whether you have engaged the right executive member.

If you want to discuss getting buy-in to improve your fund’s management of investment data, please reach out.

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