Rapid growth led Ares Management to adopt Intralinks® as its enterprise standard for client communications in fundraising, investing and reporting.
Ares Management LLC is a global alternative asset manager and SEC-registered investment adviser. Headquartered in Los Angeles with professionals located around the world, Ares invests across the capital structure – from senior debt to common equity. Ares Management is one of the fastest-growing firms in the industry, increasing from $3 billion in committed capital under management in 2002 to roughly $94 billion in 2016, with approximately 860 employees.
“Because Ares has been growing so fast, we undertook a complete revamp of our IT environment, infrastructure and applications to support the growth of the firm,” explained Lei Lu, Senior VP, Head of Technology at Ares Management. “Once you get over 500 people and have over $50 billion in assets under management, you need to have a whole different set of enterprise-level systems in place.”
Part of that assessment showed that there was a wide range of information-sharing solutions being used at Ares Management. This lack of standardization was inefficient, and, worse, it was potentially putting critical and sensitive information at risk. There was clearly a broad need across the organization and among different business groups to leverage a single technology platform, but each of these groups had its own specific needs and challenges for information sharing and client communications. Ares Management wanted a single solution that could work equally well to meet the needs of the people raising the funds, those making strategic transactions and those reporting back to the investors.
Ares had been a longtime user of Intralinks, particularly as Ares teams worked on mergers and acquisitions where deal information was shared via Intralinks. Because of this experience, Ares began publishing client reports on Intralinks, as well – which was convenient for Ares’ institutional investor clients, since many were already using Intralinks. “It’s the network effect: If everybody shares files in the same location, it makes everybody’s life easier,” said Lu. Ares also started using Intralinks for fundraising, as the flexibility and security offered by Intralinks made it easy to share documents with prospective investors.
It was that flexibility and security, combined with widespread adoption among its investors, that drove Ares Management to standardize on Intralinks. The solution could easily be configured for a wide range of uses, including investor reporting and fundraising for all of its private fund vehicles, as well as complete asset reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, and loan syndications. Because of its dominance in the industry, Intralinks was also the platform of choice for the dealmakers for any necessary information sharing during investment negotiations.
“Our use of Intralinks has grown tremendously since we standardized on it,” said Lu. In the first year, the total number of users jumped from 909 to over 3,000, and the number of Exchanges has grown from 21 to 53. “Streamlining the process made it easier than ever for people to use Intralinks. People had been using a lot of other, less-secure file-sharing tools. By making Intralinks the enterprise standard and making it easier for people to access it, we have eliminated the use of these other tools and improved our overall security.”
Ares Management is also now able to take advantage of additional features available to enterprise clients, such as single sign-on. Users can log on to Intralinks without going through separate credentials every time they access the Ares Management website. “It also opened up the possibility to integrate it with our other applications, to automate some of our other procedures.” Lu envisions automating the whole publication process which would, again, represent a tremendous savings in time.
"Standardizing on Intralinks for file sharing has reinforced security, compliance and file control. It makes me comfortable to have people use Intralinks, because we know there is a full audit trail."
Lei Lu, Senior VP, Head of Technology, Ares Management