Northern Trust's investment professionals play a pivotal role in coordinating the activities of our front office, back office and research functions, bringing the full resources of our organization to bear on the task of investment supervision. Monitoring is performed by all departments as follows.
Trading Activity Monitoring
The transactions in most manager accounts, for example, are reviewed by our investment staff on a daily, ex-post basis. Trading activity provides valuable insight on manager decision making and strategic direction. Any unusual positions can be investigated immediately. In addition, the research team can use daily price data feeds to review estimated portfolio returns at any time.
Monthly Portfolio Valuation Reconciliation
Our accounting and administrative staff reconcile portfolio valuations monthly. The investment team then reviews valuations, returns and cash flows, creating another valuable checkpoint for assessing manager portfolios and performance.
Comparative Performance Analysis
The research staff updates our performance and portfolio databases each month, and compares analysis of this new data against our original quantitative assessment of each manager. In addition to these techniques, we also use a combination of proprietary and commercial tools to perform attribution, style benchmarking and tracking risk analysis on the most current live performance data. Again, the purpose of this analysis is to measure consistency in risk-taking, and to raise questions for discussion.
Regular Communications With Our Managers
The investment team maintains regular communications with our managers. Portfolios are reviewed at least quarterly, but more frequent conversations are common and can even occur daily during fast-moving markets. In many cases, we can provide valuable feedback to our managers based on our market intelligence and experience. Among other things, reviews typically include discussion of market views, strategy, research direction and likely future trades, all of which can be discussed in hindsight in future conversations.
Investment Committee Peer Review
Our investment committee reviews performance, risk analysis, investment policy, strategy and client activity. Committee approval is required for any fundamental product or process changes. This body is in turn answerable to a master investment committee responsible for all Northern Trust Asset Management multi-manager business. The master committee provides peer review, assuring that all decisions are consistent with program objectives, client interests and the standards of the firm.