A Snapshot of Private Markets with an IHS Markit Director
Advances in financial technology couldn't have come at a better time, as private equity firms and their portfolio companies absorb the lingering effects of events like the WeWork saga and the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new partnership between Workiva and IHS Markit gave me a chance for a Q&A with Jennifer Theiss, Managing Director, Global Head of Private Markets Sales, at IHS Markit. I wanted to tap her firm's expertise as a leader in information and analytics technology for the financial services, energy, and transportation industries, and get her take on recent events.
So, let's get right to it.
New trends from the pandemic
COVID-19 has been a disruptor for investors and the private markets business. Jennifer notes three changes she has seen:
- Data collection: Private equity firms are collecting substantial amounts of data from their portfolio companies around the effects of the pandemic, from head counts to monthly revenues.
- Private credit: More firms have been pivoting to credit strategies given the recent dislocation with debt and distressed assets.
- The use of virtual data room technology: As people limit business travel, firms in the middle of fundraising rounds or mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are using technology like virtual data rooms to help facilitate conversations with investors.
We can expect these more robust processes to continue, long after the threat of COVID-19 fades, in Jennifer's view.
Reacting to fallout from a high-flying startup
Jennifer sees two main impacts from what happened to WeWork. "Valuations and transparency are becoming additionally important in this environment," she said, "and certainly technology can help facilitate both of those trends."
Technology can help firms act nimbly and trust the information in their reports. For example, as valuations fluctuate, private equity and financial services teams can use the Workiva connected reporting platform to:
- Directly connect dynamic data to financial statements, performance reports, and management reports, so information remains up to date
- Gain visibility into how numbers or narrative have changed
- Provide controlled access to working documents in the cloud, with permission settings that limit who can view and edit
That work can then be integrated into IHS Markit's iLEVEL platform, which streamlines data collection to help general partners, limited partners, and fund of funds managers with portfolio monitoring, analytics, valuations, and reporting. Final documents can be shared within the Workiva platform or also via Prism from IHS Markit, which serves as a virtual data room for securely sharing sensitive content like board communications or M&A documents.
IHS Markit extends what users do with the Workiva connected reporting platform, while Workiva solutions can give iLEVEL and Prism users more confidence in the documents they share, whether financial reports or board reports.
From a Workiva perspective, we're happy to work with another leader in the fintech space that also values innovation and letting customers' needs drive what we do.
Request a demo to see more of how private equity firms can use IHS Markit and Workiva.
About the Author
Steve is Senior Director of Product Marketing and Accounting Industry Principal at Workiva. Previously, Steve served as an accounting leader in multiple roles including Vice President and Controller for Backcountry.com, a private equity owned, online retailer of outdoor products, and as the Director of SEC Reporting for Overstock.com (NASDAQ: OSTK), a $2 billion revenue, online retailer of home goods and blockchain technology company. His experience includes multiple acquisitions, debt offerings, an IPO, and the world’s first digital debt and equity offering (by Overstock). Steve is the Executive Advisor of the SEC Professionals Group, and a former member of the US XBRL Data Quality Committee. He began his career as an auditor in public accounting, received his Accounting degree from the University of Arizona, graduating summa cum laude, and received a Master of Accountancy and Information Systems degree from Arizona State University.