Cloud offers buy side big savings

Hedge funds and other buy-side entities across the world will get much-needed computing power and significant savings on technology costs if they move to the cloud.

This is the argument of a 2013 study by Greenwich Associates, Cloud Computing for the Buy Side: Moving Beyond the Myths. The study finds that hedge funds can slash their computing costs related to portfolio analysis by 50% if they switch to cloud computing.

Annual technology budgets for the buy-side institutions that participated in the study average $5.5 million. The biggest spenders are hedge funds, whose annual budgets average $7.9 million.

Many financial firms have already taken steps toward the cloud by adopting vendor-hosted solutions and software to replace local installations. While these steps have brought them lower costs and higher efficiency, buy-side institutions have yet to embrace a broader move to cloud computing, notes the report. “With budgets holding steady or shrinking, many firms still do not see a guarantee that the long-term benefits of switching to the cloud will outweigh the short-term costs.”

However, developments such as ongoing regulatory actions and the increased complexity of investing are driving up the demand for computing power, according to the report. It argues that cloud computing has the potential to provide badly needed computing power at a reasonable price. “Given the potential savings, the contraction of […] IT budgets, improved cloud offerings and a market that requires more complex calculations to be completed in ever-shortening time frames with ever-greater accuracy, […] the financial services industry needs to embrace cloud technology on a much-expanded scale,” says Kevin McPartland, head of research for Greenwich Associates’ market structure and technology practice.

The study polled 486 head traders at buy-side institutions around the globe.

Office workers suffer from infobesity

Move over, obesity. A new malady is afflicting modern society: infobesity, the overconsumption of information.

About 55% of office workers in the U.K. say they’re suffering from infobesity. As a result, 43% of those workers are stressed, and 34% are feeling overwhelmed.

This is according to a newly released Microsoft study called Defying Digital Distraction. The report also reveals that 40% of respondents constantly check their mobile devices to see if they’ve received an important work email. More than half (52%) say the last thing they do before going to bed is take a final look at the news and their email feed. And 45% of employees feel they should reply to work email instantly—no matter where they are or what they’re doing.

“But it doesn’t have to be that way,” the report argues. “Succumbing to the digital distractions of our lives and failing to harness the transformative power of technology are simply beginners’ mistakes.” What employees get wrong, according to the study, is using technology to speed up the old ways of working instead of using it to transform work and “fundamentally reimagine” the way they use information.

Industry insight

How is social media influencing employers’ hiring practices?

Shane Morgenstern, national communication leader and creative director, Buck Consultants:

“Because of social media—particularly LinkedIn—networking and generally putting oneself out there have become the way to connect people with organizations. Smart organizations know this and make recruitment a strategic goal when it comes to their social media strategy. This includes ensuring all their social media channels are updated, relevant and true to their brand. This includes the company’s website, LinkedIn page, Facebook page, Twitter feed and blogs. It also means there’s no hiding in the event of some bad press or a disgruntled employee spouting off on When something goes wrong, that information is easy to find and potential recruits are looking for it. Authenticity and transparency are musts in today’s connected world. As gen Ys become a bigger part of our workforce in the next decade, social media will play an even bigger role not only in recruiting but also in all forms of communication.”

Natacha McCrea, senior consultant, resourcing – people and communication, Standard Life:

“It changes recruiters’ approach to finding and contacting potential talents. The days of waiting for resumés to land in our inbox after posting a new position are over. Social media enables us to interact more with talents we think could be part of our organization in the future. For recruiters, social media is a gold mine of talents at the click of a mouse. We regularly expand our network, finding future talents through profes- sional networking sites like LinkedIn. We connect with them; we follow their professional evolution and ask them for recommendations in their own network. The conversations are definitely more personal than they used to be. In today’s competitive market, an employer has to be visible on social media to attract new talents. And the same goes for professionals looking to move up in their career. We are looking and listening to what’s happening online.”

Tod Maffin, president, engageQ digital:

“For jobs in the tech field or in communications departments, understanding the mechanics of social media channels like Twitter are non-negotiable skills. One marketing agency in the Netherlands asked potential employees to apply in 140 characters or less. Utrecht-based Energize designed a web page that replicated the post box: candidates ‘tweeted’ why they were the perfect person for the job. (The ‘tweets’ were never actual public tweets; they were only sent to Energize’s recruiters.) At first blush, this might seem gimmicky—but remember, the ability to stay on-brand and professional within a very small posting space is an important skill to have these days. Plus, it’s a great time-saver for the recruiter.”

Market Watch

Equitable Life has upgraded its EZClaim mobile app. The upgrade features secure sign-in, a robust claims history and integrating direct deposit for each claim, meaning that users can anticipate claims payments in as little time as 24 hours.

Great-West Life has committed $700,000 to support The Royal’s Campaign for Mental Health, seeking the acquisition of PET/MRI brain imaging technology. Funds will be used to further advance mental health research and treatment in Canada. Its ongoing support of The Royal is designed to complement the work of the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace.

Manulife recently unveiled TechLounge, a physical technology support centre. Designed specifically for Manulife employees, TechLounge offers personal instructions on a variety of technologies, including Microsoft Office, Manulife’s internal social network and smartphones. In conjunction with TechLounge, Manulife has also launched TechTV, an interactive online internal resource with training videos, self-help guides and tech news.

MyMedRec has been expanded to the BlackBerry 10 and Android platforms. The free smartphone app allows individuals to manage a wide range of healthcare information and administer their medications safely and appropriately from the convenience of their phone. It includes features such as refill and dose reminders, storing of medication histories, email capability, and contact information of prescribers and pharmacies. The expansion of MyMedRec was developed by seven leading Canadian healthcare organizations.

Recruitifi (a U.S. crowdsourced approach to recruiting) recently launched a gamification model—the first to offer cash rewards to recruiters by rewarding them for quality candidate submissions as well as for successful placements. The model allows employers to advertise open positions to 250 agency recruiters at a time.

This month in numbers

  • 53% of millennials would rather give up their sense of smell than their technology — 2011 McCann Worldgroup study
  • 76% of millennials own a smartphone — 2013 Nielsen research
  • 42% of U.S. IT employers expect workers to job-hop — 2014 CareerBuilder survey
  • 64% of employees visit non-work-related websites every day during work hours — 2012 survey

Workplace Benefits Awards

Nominations ARE NOW OPEN!

Benefits Canada
is proud to introduce our 2014 awards program to honour the success and achievements of exceptional Canadian plan sponsors and individuals.

Know a leading individual or organization that’s making a difference? Nominate them today!

Contact Francesca Gibson for sponsorship opportunities at 416-764-3883 or via email.


DC Investment Forum
September 25 & 26, 2014
Old Mill, Toronto

Benefits Canada’s annual DC Investment Forum is an exclusive educational event designed to bring together senior representatives from Canada’s largest DC pension plans as well as academics and leading providers. Stakeholders will share their views, practices and theories on DC plans. The event includes a combination of formal presentations, case studies and panel discussions.

The theme of this year’s conference is Understanding the End Game. As more Canadian employees retire from DC plans, the focus is shifting to retirement income adequacy. Stakeholders will debate what emerging investment strategies can help members to hit their retirement targets and how plan sponsors can facilitate access.

The event includes an expert panel on Rethinking Investment Decisions. Research indicates that DC members don’t plan well for their golden years and often make poor investment decisions that result in underperformance. Panellists will discuss a number of hot-button issues. For example, Should the industry give up on plan member engagement and instead focus on investments that remove most of the decision-making responsibility?

Find more information on this and other industry events at

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