Fund factsheets; they are everywhere but are they good enough? Firms that manage and promote funds, OEICs, Investment Trusts, ETFs, NURS etc., all need fund factsheets to market, promote and provide basic information to investors and potential investors but are they fit for purpose, do they truly represent your firms exacting standards and differentiate you from your competition.
What’s the current market norm for fund factsheets?
Considering the standard 2-page factsheet, we are seeing the following;
- The factsheet should be produced at share class level, not a summarised fund level representation. Production of the factsheet specific to each shareclass, so that the reader doesn’t have to try to pick out the relevant pieces. There’s also more room on the page for relevant information and it’s not overcrowded with irrelevant details of other shareclasses that the investor isn’t invested in.
- The factsheet should be produced in the local language appropriate to the region where the fund is registered for distribution and promotion, local to the reader. No longer do single English language versions of factsheets satisfy today’s investors. The factsheets must be produced in local language, and for regions such as Switzerland, that means multiple languages for a single country or region.
- The factsheets should be produced at least monthly and within a few days of the month end. Factsheets are a historic document, but should still be produced and circulated within a few days of the month end to be relevant and informative.
- Relevant information; the factsheets must contain information that is relevant and appropriate to the fund and the investment policy, and be communicated in a way that readers can understand and digest e.g. multiple diagrams / tables and infographics.
- Availability; the factsheets should be automatically distributed so as to ensure accurate and timely receipt. Automated distribution includes distribution to platforms and libraries as well as to individual investors.
These days the elements noted above are really hygiene factors of the 2-page factsheet and should be fully automated whether a firm is producing 10 factsheets per month or 10,000 the same process, standards and personalisation should be automatically created, and the final reports automatically distributed. It goes (almost) without saying, that each completed factsheet should have a full audit trail to capture and document every step in the production and distribution process.
However, an over-arching trend within factsheet production and distribution is economics & standards. Economics in terms of wanting to spend less on the function overall and standards in terms of wanting a single solution and model to produce all the required factsheets and variations. This often creates tension between the need to produce more specific factsheets, more quickly and for them to be more readily available to investors more cost effectively. This is further challenged when we look at the trends we are seeing.
With regard to future trends, we are seeing firms building on the 2-page factsheet, to create multi-page extended factsheets for their larger investors. These may be 6 or 8 page factsheets containing more detailed data and information about the investments, the investment decisions, the fund and the market. Typically, these extended factsheets would also include up to date written commentary from the fund managers and analysis on both the markets and the fund. These extended factsheets would typically be provided to larger investors in the funds, who are perhaps more sophisticated, certainly investing significantly in the funds, and for whom a 2-page factsheet simply doesn’t provide sufficient detailed information.
These extended factsheets require all the hygiene factors of their 2-page counterpart; share class level data, region and language specific to the investor, timely production and distribution, and, critically, the data must be consistent between the two documents.
Legacy systems including labour intensive manual processes simply aren’t able to accommodate and deliver against investor requirements and the needs of internal marketing departments to deliver efficiencies to the investment firm. What we are seeing is a trend towards cloud based expert solutions, specific in function, that address all these challenges noted above and more, and are cheaper to run than their legacy and manual process driven predecessors. Technology provides opportunities and good use of that technology provides solutions.
If you identify with the need to enhance report production, and if it certainly isn’t a hygiene factor, contact Opus Nebula to discuss Reporting as a Service. It represents the future of fund reporting, and it’s here today!