We recently caught up with Bill Elcock, who focuses on strategic partnerships and market research at DiligenceVault. His firm is sponsoring the current season of the Operational Leaders podcast. In this interview, Bill shares his thoughts about the digital transformation occurring in the investment management industry and gets us up to speed on the latest at DiligenceVault.
Terrance O’Malley: Bill, how did you end up in the investment management field?
Bill Elcock: My path was somewhat intentional. Going back to my college days, I knew I wanted to get involved in finance. I started out interning at my school’s endowment office for a few years. That led to some internships, and ultimately a full-time position at NEPC as a research analyst.
Terrance O’Malley: How did you end up at DiligenceVault?
Bill Elcock: After almost six years at NEPC, I had the opportunity to shift gears a bit and take a position on the other side of the table at Brookfield Asset Management. I thought this would end up being a long-term stop. But a chance introduction to Monel Amin, the founder and CEO of DiligenceVault, changed that plan.
Terrance O’Malley: What got you interested in DiligenceVault?
Bill Elcock: Monel and I met through a chance networking opportunity and started comparing notes and I became very interested in what she had to say about DiligenceVault and their efforts to digitize the investment due diligence process. Going back to my days at NEPC and also at Brookfield, I knew as well as anyone about the pain points of due diligence and manager research. I could immediately see the appeal of the DiligenceVault platform, and it’s promise for a 2-sided ecosystem. I’m also a big believer in the future of FinTech, and specifically the InvestTech niche.
Terrance O’Malley: Get us up to speed. Tell us a bit more about DiligenceVault.
Bill Elcock: Sure. So big picture, DiligenceVault is a technology company that’s created a digital diligence ecosystem, which is a game-changing behavior shift. The industry has always heavily relied on Excel, Word, PDFs, and email chains. But with the DiligenceVault ecosystem, users streamline and structure many of the manual and inefficient efforts that arise with making initial investments, conducting ongoing monitoring and ad hoc and event-driven diligence.
From the perspective of asset owners and allocators, the tech solution has a lot of flexibility. That allows us to work with investment, operations, compliance, risk and ESG teams across public and private markets. For allocators, it goes beyond just DDQ, RFP and RFIs to any sort of structured quantitative, qualitative or document request. From the asset manager’s perspective, we help minimize the redundancy that rises when responding to various diligence requests by centralizing all diligence requests and content on the platform, and enabling intelligence to reuse content. So, it’s a two-sided collaborative solution.
Terrance O’Malley: Can you talk about the company’s growth?
Bill Elcock: Absolutely. DiligenceVault has grown to the point where nearly 6,500 different asset owners, investment consultants, asset managers, banks, and service providers have managed digital diligence requests on our platform. We’ve also hired significantly in NYC, London, India and Singapore to support our growth and deliver exceptional client service.
Terrance O’Malley: You’ve also worked with some of the trade associations?
Bill Elcock: Our philosophy has been to deliver value to the industry at large. Standardization of not just the process, but also the content of diligence is a significant challenge, as well as a critical component of what delivers value to both parties. In support of this standardization, we’ve worked with some of the top trade associations who have put together various standards and digitized those standards for our platform. For instance, we’ve worked with AIMA for hedge funds, ILPA for private markets, PRI for responsible investing, ICI for distributor diligence, SBAI for alternatives, etc.
Terrance O’Malley: How have you seen diligence processes shift recently?
Bill Elcock: We’ve seen use cases expand beyond initial and traditional ongoing diligence to include many more structured ad hoc and event-related diligence processes. Investors have a need to get a sense for the impact on their managers from things like Archegos Capital, SolarWinds, and business continuity from the COVID impact. Even some investors leave a board meeting or IC meeting and need to now monitor and gather information around an ESG or DEI initiative and have turned to the DiligenceVault technology for it.
Terrance O’Malley: You’ve taken the initiative to provide the industry with a number of helpful resources. Can you talk briefly about that?
Bill Elcock: Yes, I’ll mention three of them. First, we created a job-posting initiative. You know, we sit in a unique position in the ecosystem and have touchpoints with various teams conducting manager research and monitoring. And we also have regular contact with investor relations, RFP and marketing teams. During COVID, we realized many people in our networks were looking for jobs, and heard of others looking to hire. So as a way to help the community build more connections and collaboration, we compile job postings and opportunities from our network and share it weekly. And if someone in FinTech is looking to hire, they should reach out to us on LinkedIn through our hashtag #DiligenceSearch.
Terrance O’Malley: And what’s the second?
Bill Elcock: The second initiative I’ll mention is our blog. This is where we post observations about the asset management industry, due diligence trends, and we try to answer some questions that we frequently hear from our clients. Readers can find our blog here.
Terrance O’Malley: And is the third your webinar series?
Bill Elcock: That’s right. We also have an ongoing webinar series. We bring in top experts in their respective fields on topics which are relevant for our industry and are important for our clients. And of course, the webinars often have a due diligence theme. Readers can find out more about the webinars, including upcoming events, right here.
Terrance O’Malley: What are some of the things you’re looking at in the future.
Bill Elcock: Like other FinTech firms, we’re always looking for ways to improve value-delivered by our offerings and connect with the real issues our clients face. Technology developments are occurring incredibly fast and we’re committed to staying at the forefront.
We also value and believe in product excellence. So instead of building functionality, which is broad, we continue to explore integrations with other technologies in the InvestTech space. In fact, we publish an InvestTech map annually showing a sort of gallery of different firms and where they sit in the ecosystem. Readers can find a copy of it here.
At the beginning, I mentioned that DiligenceVault is an ecosystem. It’s the core of who we are, and is much beyond just technology. Our future strategy includes a significant focus on this ecosystem where all data flows freely between two parties breaking down the functional silos and asset class barrier.
Terrance O’Malley: On a personal note, what are you known as at DiligenceVault?
Bill Elcock: Biligence, Due Biligence. LOL. Nicknames are a must within DV.
Terrance O’Malley: If people want to reach you, how can they do so.