The following represents commonly-asked questions that we’ve gotten over the years:
- Do you do work ONLY for hedge funds?
- Of course not. We have also done work in other industries like medical
practice management, mortgage loan loss litigation services, education, retail,
and publishing. We emphasize our work with hedge funds because we figured that prospective
customers would be most impressed with our experience in that space, since hedge
funds are the most difficult client segment to penetrate in consulting. Our technology
and problem solving skills translate very easily to other industries – and it helps
that we’re smart.
- What about your experience with other financial services clients?
- Not surprisingly, our services and subject matter expertise in financial
services are in demand from both buy-side and sell-side firms. We have worked with
leading sell-side firms and service providers in asset management, prime brokerage,
fund administration, custody, independent research, investment advisory, and wealth
We offer services as a business analyst, bridging the gap between business units
and their corresponding IT staff. In this role, we gather business requirements,
develop prototypes, assess the usability of client solutions, review application
architectures, and prepare roadmaps, and manage project execution. Typically, for
such assignments, our senior business analysts work on-site with clients for the
- Do you develop software?
Our skill set in technology is quite extensive. We develop on the Microsoft platform
(.NET, SQL Server), and we have worked with many vendor products. We employ a database-centric,
object-oriented approach to software and web site development with leading edge
technology, architecting ergonomic, modular, client-centric applications. Generally,
our software solutions are intended to be rapid, lightweight solutions that serve
specific business functions and integrate with a client’s vendor products. We are
careful not to try and compete with the numerous vendor products that serve the
hedge fund market. We work with our clients to identify off-the-shelf product where
appropriate, and then offering our services to integrate and customize bolt-on solutions
within a cohesive application architectural approach.
The work that we do for clients is done as a “contractor for hire” and becomes the
property of our client, with licensing fees attached only to those components (if
any) that we bring to the client. Harvest Technology framework components and packaged
solutions are sold on an annual licensing fee basis, with ownership retained by
us, in our sole discretion.
- Are you a product vendor?
- No, but we do have a solution framework that allows us to build rapid,
customized solutions. We charge annual license fees for the use of our components.
We are careful not to push any of our components on our clients, and instead offer
them as part of our consultative approach to meet business objectives. Remember,
we’re consultants, and our focus is on problem solving for our clients, not selling
- Are you a general-purpose body shop, search firm, or a placement
- No, but our clients do ask us to find skilled resources with domain
expertise. We are often able to leverage our full-time staff and network of professional
consultants to service our clients with such requests. Our resources are typically
high-end consultants with significant market knowledge and work experience.
- Is there anything you don’t do?
- What a question! We’re consultants; we can do anything.
We will, however, admit that we don’t do statistical/quantitative programming, stochastic
modeling, software testing, or mainframe technology. We also don’t try to build
enterprise-scale solutions that compete with vendor products for order management,
portfolio accounting, and partnership accounting. We also don’t handle cash transactions,
securities transactions, portfolio pricing policies, client accounts, money transfers,
order execution, or other activities that could affect the custody or accounting
of the firm. Our solutions are intended to help aggregate multiple sources of data,
report information, and provide analysis.
- What is the size of your typical projects?
- Our client relationships usually last many years, consisting of a
steady stream of project work. Many of our projects are 2-6 months in duration and
range in price from $25K to $500K. We don’t accept any projects less than 1 month
in duration or priced below $25K.
- How many people work for your firm?
- Our staff size varies based on our client workload. We have a sizable
network of professional consultants and domain experts that work with us on client
- Do you work on-site with clients?
- Yes. Our ability to work with traders, end users, and product managers
is one of our strongest skills. Our sell-side clients often ask us to talk to their
customers in order to gather intelligence and business requirements about their
- Do you work on a fixed-price basis?
- No. Our service model for consulting is based on “time and materials”
The success of technology projects is based wholly on building solutions that are
aligned with business objectives and following a disciplined process in project
execution – i.e., Requirements Definition, Prototyping, Analysis & Design, Data
Modeling, and Application Architecture; the actual Software Development work is
the least problematic phase of delivery. We believe that delivering business results
is an iterative process to build the “right” solution with the “right” resources,
not a marching exercise to travel on a straight line within a fixed budget.
Our experience has taught us that fixed-price work ends up becoming a game of limiting
scope and enforcing constraints, instead of fostering an iterative process of joint
solution development with the client. We believe quite strongly that consulting,
especially in financial services, is about working towards good outcomes. Fixed-price
contracts shortchange clients and force consulting firms to find ways to preserve
margins. For these reasons, and many others, we do not do fixed-price work. We are
currently working on an article related to this topic that is likely to get published
in a trade journal.
- What are your rates?
- Sorry, but we don’t publish our rates. Generally, our pricing is
relationship-based, and our rates are well below that of management consultants,
product vendors, and other general purpose software consultancy firms. Our premium
resources (e.g., our CEO, our Directors) are priced commensurate with the depth
of their experience in financial services and technology. We do not try to compete
with the rates of offshore companies, given that our service offering is differentiated
from their resource-based model. We have no overhead in our pricing, and we’re transparent
about how we offer our services. Clients appreciate our approach and typically give
us commitments that allow us to service them effectively with the “right” resources.
In general, the shorter the project, the higher the rates; the longer the project
commitment, the lower the rates. The reason we have long-term client relationships
is because we offer a compelling alternative to hiring full-time staff. Our clients
have noted that it would have cost them much more to build an internal team versus
using our services as consultants. Our advantage is that we can deploy expert resources
for specific project stages, without the need for retaining them as full-time staff
for the entire duration of the project. Clients typically don’t have such flexibility
when they hire full-time employees. A full-time employee is a permanent resource
that adds to the firm’s overhead and cost structure.
In addition, some or all of our services may qualify to be paid through a soft-dollar
arrangement with a fund’s execution brokers – an option that is not available in
paying full-time employees.
- Why don’t you have samples of your work on your web site?
- Our work is proprietary and we are very careful about protecting
the confidentiality of our client solutions. Almost all of our solutions are integral
to a fund’s investment management process, and thus, we cannot offer any samples
of our work for public consumption.