In August 2021, investment analytics platform Aumni announced that it had closed a $50 million Series B funding round led by investing banking company J.P. Morgan, along with a host of other investors. Aumni announced its intentions to use investments from the funding round to deepen its presence with investors in the private capital markets and expand its offering to limited partners, law firms, and company founders.
Aumni leverages untapped data in private portfolios to track key investment rights, portfolio performance, and emerging investment patterns. The new information is used to provide insights and help clients make better investment decisions. With Aumni, access to structured data in private capital markets can now exist at scale.
The latest news from Aumni carries big implications for its offices in the Philippines. With its latest investment round, Aumni joins the throng of many multinational companies choosing to operate in the country.
Yet unlike many other companies, Aumni chooses to base its Philippine offices outside of Metro Manila. Rather than set-up base in the capital region’s hustle-and-bustle, the investment analytics platform’s head office is in the summertime capital of Baguio.
The case for shifting away from Metro Manila
According to VP of Culture Brendan Kussman, there are several reasons why Aumni chose to base their Philippine offices in Baguio.
First, large cities like Metro Manila are already saturated with similar multinational companies. By moving to a city like Baguio, Aumni has the opportunity to stand out and offer something different to employees in terms of lifestyle and balance.
Second, it helps that Baguio is a university town. This helps Aumni find talent capable of critical thinking and willing to learn complex topics (such as investment analytics), without having to deal with the same level of competition as in Metro Manila. Finally, it helped that Baguio was large enough (it is officially classified as a Highly Urbanized City) to support Aumni’s growth.
Though many multinationals open offices in the provinces, they are usually in the BPO industry. Aumni bucks this trend and is one of the first investment analytics firms to look beyond the national capital. “There is huge, raw, untapped talent in Northern Luzon that are hesitant to move to Manila,” Kussman said. “With a solid talent and development program for these folks, a company could establish an equally productive and highly performing organization in Baguio City.”
Maggie Po, VP of Data Operations, also points out that having Aumni’s offices in Baguio is beneficial for employee well-being. “Work-life balance setup is much easier to execute in this city because we do not have to deal with the big time-consuming hurdle Manila employees face daily: the ugly traffic of the big city,” Po observed. “The cost of living here is also reasonably lower than in Metro Manila so it allows us to offer competitive compensation and benefits.”
According to Aumni Founder and CEO Anthony Lewis, it is worth noting that Aumni’s main offices are based in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. “That was an intentional choice to leverage an educated workforce in a geographic region that allows for both outdoor recreation, room for families, and a sophisticated environment for arts and culture,” Lewis said, noting similarities to Baguio. “Baguio seems to offer a similar alternative for talented professionals in the Philippines. We care about our people and we believe that these locations are unique and offer something fresh.”
Tech connects us all
The rise of remote work has further justified Aumni’s decision to move away from the hustle and bustle of Metro Manila.
To better connect Aumni’s Baguio offices with their counterparts abroad, the company uses an extensive stack of apps to bridge any communication gap. Additionally, Aumni follows the example of other North America-based companies and offers night shifts to foster much more efficient communication between the Baguio office and its US counterpart.
Beyond remote work, Aumni has also leveraged tech like artificial intelligence (AI) to process over 100,000 transactions. The practice has helped Aumni pride itself on the accuracy of its data and analysis.
Yet despite Aumni’s growing use of tech in its operations, Chief Technology Officer Rob Wise is quick to point out that there will always be a place for human talent alongside the rise of AI. Though natural language processing technolgy has evolved greatly in recent years, human intervention and oversight will still be necessary to combat the technology’s natural limitations and biases.
“The two approaches work side-by-side in a symbiotic manner,” Wise explained. “As an example, we have sophisticated rule-based reasoning and threshold analysis system to identify data integrity issues. Aumni personnel then review and triage the results of the analysis accordingly—a job that AI cannot perform on its own. It’s a paradigmatic example of the marriage of automation and human capital that is at the heart of many of Aumni’s processes.”
Looking forward to tomorrow
The recent funding round is expected to make its impact felt soon in Aumni’s Philippine office. Given that Aumni’s Filipino team members play crucial roles in customer service (particularly with regards to ensuring data fidelity, decreasing customer onboarding time, and deriving insights that Aumni’s customers can use), the company is heavily interested in fostering their career growth. With the Series B funding, Aumni’s Filipino team members can look forward to playing a crucial role in the growth of the company and subsequently gaining new experience.
The importance of Filipino employees has been long-recognized in the top levels of the organization. “We consider our team members in the Philippines to be one of our essential components to improving customer experience, particularly with regards to ensuring data fidelity, decreasing customer onboarding time, and deriving insights that our customers can use to improve their own bottom (and top) lines,” Lewis said.
The timeline to grow the organization in Baguio has already escalated and the team has grown from 20 employees at the start of 2021 to 150.
It’s thanks to the Series B funding that Aumni’s Baguio team still continues to expand—even looking to expand to other provinces around the country. The expansion would require an additional level of management to ensure smooth transitions and operations, which is why Aumni is even going as far as offering relocation packages to any successful management hire.
Ultimately, Aumni’s leadership recommends other companies follow suit and consider their options outside of Metro Manila to create a culture where productivity goes hand-in-hand with employee well-being. “The millenials and Gen Z workforce are putting a lot more weight on mental health and workplace happiness when making their career choices,” Kussman concluded. “Moving away from the metropolis allows businesses to bring more into the table for the employees and in turn, happier employees turn in better performance at work.”