BlackRock’s implementation of eFront establishes user/provider model

BlackRock Alternatives, which manages over $200 billion in alternative client assets, has completed phase one of its planned implementation of eFront, the world’s leading alternative investment management software, now a part of BlackRock Solutions. The initial phase involved onboarding three BAI investment teams with eFront, enabling automation of workflows and processes across fund and investment lifecycles.

We caught up with Edwin Conway, Global Head of BlackRock Alternative Investors (BAI), and Arnab Mazumdar, Head of Digital Strategy for BAI, to gain greater insight into how eFront will impact their team’s operations. Sudhir Nair, Global Head of the Aladdin Business, and Tarek Chouman, Global Head of Business Development for the Aladdin Business, also shared how the collaboration between BAI and eFront will help Aladdin better serve its client base in the future.

How will eFront enhance BAI’s operations?

Edwin: eFront brings automation and standardization to many of our investment and investment operations processes. This approach enables us to have a more unified investment culture through better connectivity, information sharing, and the utilization of a common language to communicate with one another. This unified view allows us to operate far more efficiently as a multi-asset class investment group.

Most technology solutions in private markets address the needs of one asset class (e.g., real assets) or one investment process (e.g., deal sourcing or origination). eFront provides a solution that is scalable across asset classes yet accounts for the nuances required between private equity and private credit, infrastructure and real estate. Similarly, eFront provides us an integrated technology that automates all aspects of our investment process.

Why do you believe it’s important to utilize technology such as eFront to manage private investments?

Arnab: eFront has enabled us to create a single source of truth by establishing an enterprise data platform. The solution suite offers well-organized data and self-service environments, allowing our investment teams to spend time on analysis, rather than on data gathering and quality control. With this technology, we can deliver powerful analytics for our executive team, portfolio managers, service providers, regulators, and, most importantly, our clients.

How will other Aladdin and eFront clients benefit from BAI’s implementation of eFront?

Sudhir: As with all Aladdin products, BlackRock’s user/provider philosophy brings a practitioner’s perspective to the eFront solution. Along with continuous investment into the R&D of Aladdin products, this enables constant innovation and development of eFront, providing world-leading solutions for our clients.

Tarek: Precisely. By establishing this user/provider model, BlackRock will ensure that the eFront platform will keep up with the rapidly evolving needs of private markets investors and participants. A constant feedback loop will be established between BAI and the eFront Product Development team, in turn, prioritizing, developing, and delivering enhancements to benefit all eFront clients. Mutual Aladdin and eFront clients will also benefit from BAI leveraging the strengths of Aladdin (e.g., hedging) and eFront as one comprehensive portfolio view. Equally, we seek feedback from all clients using eFront and regularly invite them to contribute to our product roadmap with further innovation suggestions.

What key challenges will the implementation of eFront help you address?

Edwin: Private markets are rich with information, but poor in analytics. As investors in private markets, we need the ability to efficiently harness, aggregate and interpret large volumes of information that is typically unstructured. Through eFront workflows, we gain a centralized and structured data solution that enables our investors to manage and analyze sourcing and origination activities, effectively identify attractive investment opportunities, underwrite portfolios with efficacy, monitor investments’ financial health, and present our clients with transparent, timely and accurate analyses.

How have you rolled out the eFront solution suite in this initial phase, and how will each product enhance business activities?

Arnab: We implemented the full suite of eFront solutions to manage our investment processes for the first three teams that recently went live. For future phases of the implementation, we will take the same approach – eFront will be used by our portfolio managers, deal teams, risk managers and operations team to support the end-to-end lifecycle of private markets.

We are using eFront Office as a centralized platform to connect various origination sources and discussion topics across BlackRock’s vast network in order to build a global deal pipeline. Historically, we have used various pipeline tools that were not integrated. With eFront, we can generate trend analytics and glean insights from our global cross-asset class pipeline.

We are also utilizing eFront Insight and eFront PM to support our ongoing investment monitoring processes, enabling our team to understand and mitigate risks, including market biases, exposure concentrations, or excessive idiosyncratic risks. Historically, our teams have relied on disparate systems and processes to collect information on our invested assets and spent a considerable amount of time in normalizing and aggregating this data. eFront provides us with consistent and quality-controlled investment data that allows our teams to analyze performance and risk of invested assets, providing in-depth analytics to both investment professionals as well as enabling best-in-class transparency to our clients.

Our Private Equity team has been a long-time user of eFront Investment Café, and we are now implementing it across all of our investment teams. Our clients will now have the ability to access information across all their BAI investments in one place, rather than having to log onto multiple portals. eFront will transform our investor relationship management, providing a modern, clean and easy to use cloud-based portal to guarantee investors secure access to information anytime, anywhere and from any device.

eFront Invest will serve as BlackRock’s investment book of record for real-time tracking from a portfolio level. Our Investment Operations teams supporting our funds will use the platform daily to record all investment activity and reconcile with our service providers. The platform provides them with numerous internal controls to ensure that clients are receiving timely and accurate information.

We are excited about implementing eFront and look forward to bringing all of our investment teams on to the platform.

Contact us to learn more

About BlackRock Alternative Investors (BAI)

BlackRock Alternative Investors (BAI) is a team of over 1,000 dedicated professionals in 49 office locations managing more than $230 billion of client assets across Real Assets, Credit, Private Equity, Hedge Funds, and Multi-Alternative Solutions. With more than 35 years of experience managing alternative assets, we are well equipped to meet investor goals by providing access to high-quality opportunities, greater transparency, an integrated view and a new standard of alignment.

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