In the second instalment of a three-part series, The Drawdown catches up with AnaCap Financial Partners’ COO Michael Edwards to discuss the firm’s proprietary central intelligence platform – from its beginnings as Pulse, to its evolution into Minerva.
Look out for the first instalment, focused on the must-have traits of private equity COOs, and the third, where Edwards discusses his outsourcing strategy as well as compliance handling.
The Drawdown (TDD): What is AnaCap’s current technology strategy?
Michael Edwards (ME): AnaCap invested early in systems and technology with the first version of Minerva (formerly named Pulse) taking shape early 2008/09. Our aim was to provide the business and specifically investment professionals with the intelligence required to support their role in a single easily accessible platform.
We continued to refine and expand the functionality of Pulse to such a degree that it felt like it needed a new name and Minerva (the Roman goddess of wisdom) was selected. Our proprietary central intelligence platform, which has been built from the ground up using an industry leading technology stack; Minerva is a centralised IT system providing instant access to all portfolio information, enabling dynamic monitoring and analysis to optimise asset performance. It also provides a centralised portal for calendar, network and document sharing and collation of relevant industry news and data, facilitated by the several industry leading information store and databases, which have been augmented into Minerva. All of this can be accessed securely from any AnaCap device, anywhere.
Today, building upon its core purpose of supporting our investment team, Minerva has moved further into providing functionality to support deal sourcing, pricing and proactive portfolio management. We always look to emerging technologies to identify solutions that can assist, automate or enhance investment activities across the firm.
To facilitate this we have established and grown a dedicated IT systems team. The team provide both technical and analytical services to all of AnaCap and its related entities, in particular the investment and investor relations teams, and through doing so increases the capacity of these teams to focus on their core value-add investment activities.
The systems team also enhance our research analytical capabilities by augmenting and distilling additional information sources into our central intelligence system and ensure we have the infrastructure in place to meet growing business needs and industry standards by keeping the technology stack up to date.
TDD: What technological systems have you introduced in the past year or so that enhance yours and the wider company’s processes?
ME: Our priority when introducing technology is it needs to “just work”, anticipating business needs and being intuitive, meaning there is little-to-no learning curve. We strive to make relevant intelligence effortlessly discoverable. To achieve this we select data services that allow simple system integrations, enabling us to provide seamless access to services and information.
As our Business Intelligence (“BI”) and analytics capabilities have matured we’ve developed the functionality to apply machine learning solutions to our datasets, to provide deeper insights on new and existing investments, to enhance the future decision-making processes.
A recent evolution of the Minerva BI tool facilitates a broader and deeper analysis of our credit portfolios. Minerva currently holds detailed information on over 600,000 accounts, each capturing critical data to inform asset management decisions and strategies. Minerva integrates directly with servicing partners systems, enabling immediate and comprehensive access to all portfolio data, providing proprietary insights to drive portfolio performance and collections strategies.
One of our current initiatives is the further development of a workflow engine and investment forum that will significantly reduce the administrative burden but more importantly ensure every member of the team can effortlessly stay connected to the progress of an investment or divestment project as it is developing.