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Articles Tagged with: Asset Managers

Asset Managers Improving Yields With Resi Whole Loans

An unmistakable transformation is underway among asset managers and insurance companies with respect to whole loan investments. Whereas residential mortgage loan investing has historically been the exclusive province of commercial banks, a growing number of other institutional investors – notably life insurance companies and third-party asset managers – have shifted their attention toward this often-overlooked asset class.

Life companies and other asset managers with primarily long-term, risk-sensitive objectives are no strangers to residential mortgages. Their exposure, however, has traditionally been in the form of mortgage-backed securities, generally taking refuge in the highest-rated bonds. Investors accustomed to the AAA and AA tranches may understandably be leery of whole-loan credit exposure. Infrastructure investments necessary for managing a loan portfolio and the related credit-focused surveillance can also seem burdensome. But a new generation of tech is alleviating more of the burden than ever before and making this less familiar and sometimes misunderstood asset class increasingly accessible to a growing cadre of investors.

Maximizing Yield

Following a period of low interest rates, life companies and other investment managers are increasingly embracing residential whole-loan mortgages as they seek assets with higher returns relative to traditional fixed-income investments (see chart below). As highlighted in the chart below, residential mortgage portfolios, on a loss-adjusted basis, consistently outperform other investments, such as corporate bonds, and look increasingly attractive relative to private-label residential mortgage-backed securities as well.

Nearly one-third of the $12 trillion in U.S. residential mortgage debt outstanding is currently held in the form of loans.

And while most whole loans continue to be held in commercial bank portfolios, a growing number of third-party asset managers have entered the fray as well, often on behalf of their life insurance company clients.

Investing in loans introduces a dimension of credit risk that investors do need to understand and manage through thoughtful surveillance practices. As the chart below (generated using RiskSpan’s Edge Platform) highlights, when evaluating yields on a loss-adjusted basis, resi whole loans routinely generate yield.

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In addition to higher yields, whole loans investments offer investors other key advantages over securities. Notably:

Data Transparency

Although transparency into private label RMBS has improved dramatically since the 2008 crisis, nothing compares to the degree of loan-level detail afforded whole-loan investors. Loan investors typically have access to complete loan files and therefore complete loan-level datasets. This allows for running analytics based on virtually any borrower, property, or loan characteristic and contributes to a better risk management environment overall. The deeper analysis enabled by loan-level and property-specific information also permits investors to delve into ESG matters and better assess climate risk.

Daily Servicer Updates

Advancements in investor reporting are increasingly granting whole loan investors access to daily updates on their portfolio performance. Daily updating provides investors near real-time updates on prepayments and curtailments as well as details regarding problem loans that are seriously delinquent or in foreclosure and loss mitigation strategies. Eliminating the various “middlemen” between primary servicers and investors (many of the additional costs of securitization outlined below—master servicers, trustees, various deal and data “agents,” etc.—have the added negative effect of adding layers between security investors and the underlying loans) is one of the things that makes daily updates possible.

Lower Transaction Costs

Driven largely by a lack of trust in the system and lack of transparency into the underlying loan collateral, private-label securities investments incur a series of yield-eroding transactions costs that whole-loan investors can largely avoid. Consider the following transaction costs in a typical securitization:

  • Loan Data Agent costs: The concept of a loan data agent is unique to securitization. Data agents function essentially as middlemen responsible for validating the performance of other vendors (such as the Trustee). The fee for this service is avoided entirely by whole loan investors, which generally do not require an intermediary to get regularly updated loan-level data from servicers.
  • Securities Administrator/Custodian/Trustee costs: These roles present yet another layer of intermediary costs between the borrower/servicer and securities investors that are not incurred in whole loan investing.
  • Deal Agent costs: Deal agents are third party vendors typically charged with enhancing transparency in a mortgage security and ensuring that all parties’ interests are protected. The deal agent typically performs a surveillance role and charges investors ongoing annual fees plus additional fees for individual loan file reviews. These costs are not borne by whole loan investors.
  • Due diligence costs: While due diligence costs factor into loan and security investments alike, the additional layers of review required for agency ratings tends to drive these costs higher for securities. While individual file reviews are also required for both types of investments, purchasing loans only from trusted originators allows investors to get comfortable with reviewing a smaller sample of new loans. This can push due diligence costs on loan portfolios to much lower levels when compared to securities.
  • Servicing costs: Mortgage servicing costs are largely unavoidable regardless of how the asset is held. Loan investors, however, tend to have more options at their disposal. Servicing fees for securities vary from transaction to transaction with little negotiating power by the security investors. Further, securities investors incur master servicing fees which is generally not a required function for managing whole loan investments.

Emerging technology is streamlining the process of data cleansing, normalization and aggregation, greatly reducing the operational burden of these processes, particularly for whole loan investors, who can cut out many of these intermediary parties entirely.

Overcoming Operational Hurdles

Much of investor reluctance to delve into loans has historically stemmed from the operational challenges (real and perceived) associated with having to manage and make sense of the underlying mountain of loan, borrower, and property data tied to each individual loan. But forward-thinking asset managers are increasingly finding it possible to offload and outsource much of this burden to cloud-native solutions purpose built to store, manage, and provide analytics on loan-level mortgage data, such as RiskSpan’s Edge Platform supporting loan data management and analytics. RiskSpan solutions make it easy to mine available loan portfolios for profitable sub-cohorts, spot risky loans for exclusion, apply a host of credit and prepay scenario analyses, and parse static and performance data in any way imaginable.

At an increasing number of institutions, demonstrating the power of analytical tools and the feasibility of applying them to the operational and risk management challenges at hand will solve many if not most of the hurdles standing in the way of obtaining asset class approval for mortgage loans. The barriers to access are coming down, and the future is brighter than ever for this fascinating, dynamic and profitable asset class.


Top Hedge Fund Administrator: Risk Metrics & Performance Reports via Tableau and the Cloud​

A leading hedge fund administrator sought a better way to provide compliance reporting and overnight risk and portfolio reporting for its clients.

Reporting at this scale requires extraordinarily flexibility in computational bandwidth.

The Solution

RiskSpan delivered computation and distribution via the cloud of all required analytics and risk metrics to all relevant parties using the flexibility and attractive visualization of a seamless Tableau integration.

  • Ingestion, validation, and integration of disparate data sources (rates, implied volatility data and terms and conditions from six data vendor sources)
  • Reporting, distribution and publishing of the client’s full range of risk metrics, including VaR, custom aggregation, scenario analyses, interest rate shocks and other stress testing — all readily viewable to every client stakeholder via the cloud using Tableau.

The Edge We Provided

A fully hosted, outsourced solution. The administrator’s highly dynamic reports are delivered by way of a secure, hosted environment to a large number of diverse, institutional clients.


Residential Mortgage REIT: End to End Loan Data Management and Analytics

An inflexible, locally installed risk management system with dated technology required a large IT staff to support it and was incurring high internal maintenance costs.

Absent a single solution, the use of multiple vendors for pricing and risk analytics, prepay/credit models and data storage created inefficiencies in workflow and an administrative burden to maintain.

Inconsistent data and QC across the various sources was also creating a number of data integrity issues.

The Solution

An end-to-end data and risk management solution. The REIT implemented RiskSpan’s Edge Platform, which provides value, cost and operational efficiencies.

  • Scalable, cloud-native technology
  • Increased flexibility to run analytics at loan level; additional interactive / ad-hoc analytics
  • Reliable, accurate data with more frequent updates

Deliverables 

Consolidating from five vendors down to a single platform enabled the REIT to streamline workflows and automate processes, resulting in a 32% annual cost savings and 46% fewer resources required for maintenance.


Large Asset Manager: Implementation of Comprehensive, Fully-Managed Risk Management Reporting System

An asset manager sought to replace an inflexible risk system provided by a Wall Street dealer. ​The portfolio was diverse, with a sizable concentration in structured securities and mortgage assets. ​

The legacy analytics system was rigid with no flexibility to vary scenarios or critical investor and regulatory reporting.

The Solution

RiskSpan’s Edge Platform delivered a cost-efficient and flexible solution by bundling required data feeds, predictive models for mortgage and structured products, and infrastructure management. ​

The Platform manages and validates the asset manager’s third-party and portfolio data and produces scenario analytics in a secure hosted environment. ​

Models + Data management = End-to-end Managed Process

The Edge We Provided

”Our existing daily process for calculating, validating, and reporting on key market and credit risk metrics required significant manual work… [Edge] gets us to the answers faster, putting us in a better position to identify exposures and address potential problems.” 

                        — Managing Director, Securitized Products  


Asset Manager: Cost-Efficient and Flexible Solution

An asset management company needed to replace an inflexible risk system provided by a Wall Street dealer.  The client’s portfolio was diverse, with a sizable concentration in structured securities and mortgage assets. The legacy analytics system was rigid with no flexibility to vary scenarios or critical investor and regulatory reporting.

Every portfolio manager requires reliable and accurate analytics to manage risk and improve investment decisions. They require understanding of investment positions and the impacts on risk metrics measures such as value at risk (VaR). The faster they can assess a portfolio’s total exposure and understand the key drivers, the better they can react and align activities with the overall firm risk appetite.

“The challenge was that our existing daily process for calculating, validating and reporting market and credit risk metrics required significant manual work. If we could get to the answers faster, we would be in a much better position to identify exposures and address potential problems.”                             

The Solution

As a fully-managed solution, RiskSpan’s Edge Platform provides the asset manager with a cost-efficient and flexible solution. The service bundles required data feeds, infrastructure management, and predictive models for mortgages and structured products. Edge manages and validates third-party data as well as client portfolio data, and produces scenario analytics in a secure hosted environment. With the combination of models, data management, and an end-to-end managed process, Edge provides the asset manager with unmatched value.

The Benefits

  • Portfolio risk measures on-demand
  • Structured product expertise
  • Outsourced data management
  • Predictive models for mortgages
  • Outsourced hardware management
  • Customized dashboards and reports

The asset manager used the Edge Platform to cut hours from daily risk-reporting processes and free several analysts to focus on their primary task: optimizing analytics and processes that support better investment decisions.

Deliverables

Analytics Software

The Edge Platform provides for the calculation of key market risk metrics for over 70 different instrument types. The service provides for a combination of on-demand or overnight batch processing. Users have online access to platform to run ad-hoc analyses, including additional scenarios or what-if analyses. The hosted platform makes the processing speed lightning fast.

Data Management Outsourced

The Edge market-risk analytics platform integrates data from six major data vendors.  Our data management services support integrated data for interest-rates, implied volatility, and terms & conditions for over 70 different instrument types. The platform includes loan-level data for Agency and non-Agency mortgage-backed products. The platform integrates seamlessly with Intex subroutines to support all structured products.  Further, Edge clients have access to a team of experts in mortgage and structured product – not just technical support.

Technology and Infrastructure Management

As a hosted solution, the asset manager is able to leave management of hardware to the Edge technology team. We secure and manage all required hardware, freeing up millions of dollars in hardware acquisition costs and labor costs required to manage the infrastructure.


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