Q&A: MackeyRMS's Chris Mackey On A High Tech Fix To Broker Votes

Jun 23 2017 | 8:17pm ET

Editor’s note: The looming implementation of the EU’s MiFID II rules regarding research has put a spotlight on tools that will help managers deal with a host of new requirements and sparked a wave of innovation in the research process at large. We recently caught up with MackeyRMS CEO and founder Chris Mackey to discuss one such innovation, the company’s new cloud-based, secure, device-agnostic BrokerBallot platform aimed squarely at simplifying and automating the buy side’s archaic broker voting process.

FINalternatives: How is the broker vote process handled traditionally by hedge funds today, and what are the headaches associated with it?

Mackey: Voting for many funds is a lot like herding cats. Too often, the broker vote process still lives in Excel or disparate email threads, which can make the process frustrating and inefficient for many. Since votes take place so infrequently, compliance professionals and office admins can have a hard time streamlining the process for their investment professionals.

How does your new platform cure those headaches? What problems does it solve?

BrokerBallot is a new way of streamlining the voting process for investment professionals. It's minimally invasive for analysts and portfolio managers, as feedback requests piggyback on email, and can be satisfied in a matter of seconds. Compliance professionals can generate "ballots" as often or as infrequently as they'd like, with all votes flowing through to a web-based platform with robust query and reporting functionality. Additionally, it’s mobile-friendly, meaning that it caters to today’s modern analyst.

How does MiFID II fit in to what this platform does or doesn't do?

Our clients and prospects are still working to wrap their heads around what exactly MiFID II is going to mean for them. The one common thread we're seeing is that all firms realize they need to be taking a more active role in actively monitoring and evaluating the access and materials provided by their brokers. We're making it easier to gather necessary feedback without disrupting the research team's process.

What was the genesis behind BrokerBallot? Who conceived it, and why now?

We provide research management software to industry-leading hedge funds and asset managers. Over the last year, a number of our clients have talked about the need for a lightweight, standalone broker vote platform. Too many vendors over-complicate their products, and others lack the mobility and automation required for the modern analyst. To be honest, we were secretly hoping another vendor would step up and build what our clients were calling for...but it never happened! We found ourselves in a position where we could not ignore the need any longer. In June of 2017, we formally announced our newest platform - BrokerBallot.

More broadly, what’s the largest disruption from technology you see impacting hedge funds in the next 3-5 years?

We believe reports of active portfolio management's demise have been greatly exaggerated! Research teams that remain mired in technological inefficiency, however, will struggle to generate returns for their investors while also remaining compliant with existing and forthcoming regulation. Active managers and their teams need to work smarter by taking advantage of the bevy of mobile and automated front-office platforms available to them.

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