Investment managers rely heavily on the Advent Geneva® accounting system to manage their middle and back-office operations but often fall behind on version upgrades. By continuing to use the older version of Geneva, firms miss out on several benefits such as:
- New features and functionalities that offer better and faster ways to book transactions, set up data and run reports
- Using a version that is supported by the vendor and covered under warranty
- Improved system performance that results in faster processing and saved time
- A smoother transition when upgrading Geneva in the future
Upgrading Geneva is a time-consuming and cost-intensive process that often coincides with its own set of operational risks. This is because the upgrade process involves data migration, historic data reconciliations, RSL/RDL migration, workflow manager setup and custom integration with other third-party systems. For those who have experienced the trials and tribulations of a Geneva upgrade in the past, it’s no wonder the decision to upgrade is repeatedly delayed by firms.
However, with some legwork performed in advance, careful planning and experienced team members, the journey of upgrading can actually be quite predictable and fulfilling. To ensure a seamless process, we’ve outlined some broad guidelines to keep in mind when planning your next Geneva upgrade.
Analysis, Impact Assessment & Budget Estimation
In order to accurately estimate the amount of effort and time that it will take to fully upgrade, a preliminary analysis of technical and functional requirements should be completed. Some of the details that may be needed before getting started include:
- Number of portfolios that need to be migrated
- Number of open tax-lots across asset classes
- Transaction volume for each asset class
- Use of closed period accounting
- Use of lockdowns/freezepoints
- Use of TWR runs
- Number of custom reports that need to be migrated
- How the data feed of trading data, prices and corporate actions are handled
- Integration with other third-party systems
- Bloomberg adaptors/accelerators, corporate data feeds, etc.
- Data warehouse integrations
- Security Master
- PB feeds
- Reporting system
- Reconciliation platform
- Partnership accounting system (e.g., Investran and World Investor)
After completing this initial assessment, you should be in a good position to estimate the amount of work, the skill set of the team, and the overall time and cost needed to embark on your upgrading journey.
Upgrading to the New Version of Geneva
In order to set up the new version of Geneva, the Advent Global Area (AGA) from the old production system must be copied into the new Geneva. Advent provides a list of recommended utilities to run while performing a version upgrade, which must be completed before starting to use the new version. However, this is not required for all utilities so be sure to review the full range of asset classes, modules and integrations you have and run only the relevant utilities to shorten your journey.
Data Migration, Reconciliations & Bug Fixes
A core component of the Geneva upgrade process is the migration of data from the old system to the new system while ensuring that the data in the new system is correct. Since the upgraded Geneva introduces new features and alters the accounting for several asset classes, it is important to remember that the transaction data may not provide the same accounting results in both versions. This will be a problem for funds that need to maintain historic data and reports due to the fact that the accounting changes may have an impact on cash balances, cost, market value, accruals and P&L. After migrating the AGA data, an inception-to-date dynamic position and P&L report can be run to identify any accounting differences as an initial check.
Any change in accounting or data setup in the new version of Geneva may impact the balance sheet or P&L for a closed period, but differences in the attributes in P&L or balance sheet can be corrected by using Geneva’s accounting flags. The Advent website maintains the details of these accounting flags, which can be applied one by one to get a sense of those that will work for your data.
Finding the accounting flags is an iterative process, and it may take several iterations of running the position and P&L reports before all issues are identified and resolved. Because of this, it is important to do closed period reconciliations for historic data to ensure that the accounting data is consistent.
The datasets that must be reconciled in closed period mode for past periods include:
- Investment Position and P&L – Quantity, cost, market value and P&L components
- Tax Lots – Quantity, cost, market value and accrued interest on a tax lot level
- Cash Receivables and Payables – Local amount and book amount on a financial account level
- Settled Cash – Quantity, cost and market value for currency
- Trial Balance
For any differences that remain where accounting flags do not work, adjustment entries can be booked in Geneva to specific financial accounts in order to match accounting records. These can be inserted at the time of the upgrade or they can be backdated into the system to match historic reports with earlier known dates.
Reports & Data Extract Testing
Most firms use custom reports and queries for their reporting purposes, which are not provided out-of-the-box by Geneva. These custom reports and queries will need to be tested thoroughly in the new version of Geneva to ensure both RSL and RDL compatibility.
Peripheral System Integration & Testing
Geneva’s workflow manager and custom accelerators feed security, trading and pricing data, as well as corporate actions, directly into the system. With this, there might be several other systems feeding data into Geneva or consuming data from Geneva. While doing a version upgrade, all of these processes must be tested thoroughly. All cron jobs, scheduled scripts and batch reports must also be set up in the new version to ensure that peripheral system integration works.
To make use of the full potential that the Geneva platform has to offer, users must be trained on the features that were introduced between the old and new version. This should include accounting differences across asset classes, new workflows and technical enhancements.
Before going live, the new version of Geneva must be set up for user testing with the latest data from the current production system. Typically, the testing phase will be around two weeks of user acceptance testing (UAT) and one to two weeks of parallel testing.
Issues raised by the users during the UAT and parallel testing phase must be tracked and addressed diligently to ensure adherence to upgrade timelines.
Go-Live and Post Go-Live Support
The final part of the upgrade process, after thorough user testing and sign-off, is setting up the system for final go-live. The new version of Geneva must be set up with the latest data from the production system and components must be retested before the go-live date. After the go-live date, the old version of Geneva will be set as read-only, and the new version will be used as the production system. With this in mind, there should be a rollback plan in place to ensure that, in case there are unforeseen issues or if the new version of Geneva is not set up as expected, all the peripheral systems point back to the old version and the go-live process is reassessed.
The process of upgrading Geneva can be arduous and time-consuming given the amount of work that needs to be done. However, if you follow a well-defined plan and a scientific method to upgrade based on the guidelines above, the journey can be seamless.
IVP provides complete Geneva upgrade services, including project management, with a team comprised of Advent Geneva subject matter experts like RSL consultants, accountants, operations analysts and project managers. Leveraging a proprietary and proven model that utilizes in-house developed tools and processes, Geneva clients can expect certainty and a smooth transition when upgrading to the new version with the help of IVP. To learn how, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org