Making life easier for investors can help funds to keep mandates
In the increasingly competitive world of investment management, it is still possible to achieve a critical edge by simply presenting information to clients in an efficient and secure manner. Many money managers subconsciously see a client as being invested solely in their fund, and yet investing clients have their own difficulties keeping track of the numerous different funds and other investment types they have exposure to.
For investors, one of the big battles continues to be around procuring information about alternative fund investments in a format that meshes effectively with their own internal mechanisms. This conundrum offers the fund of funds manager an opportunity to seize a distinct competitive advantage and win investor goodwill at the same time.
Investors face the weekly struggle of collating performance information, much of which can get lost or arrives in a format which can only be transcribed with much manual effort and with the data errors which are an inherent risk with such a process.
A typical medium sized investor will be receiving data from alternative investments as emails, sometimes as PDFs. This contrasts with data on listed securities, which is cheaply and readily available in a convenient format. It is an enormous irony of the hedge funds industry that while the fund strategies themselves are highly sophisticated, the way in which their performance is reported is not.
Know your client
Today’s hedge fund investor is looking increasingly institutional in character; moving up the sophistication curve from the individual investor towards the requirements of pension funds or insurance companies, reveals a demand that information be delivered in an easily digestible format.
For the fund of funds manager, it becomes increasingly important that you identify the manner in which your investing clients would like to receive information. It becomes critical that you become aware of how your clients view that information and particularly how that data relates to the way your investors make use of their assets – for example their risk analysis protocols.
A fund of funds manager needs to understand that his fund still comprises only a small percentage of an institutional investor’s overall portfolio. Yet, all other things being equal, the investor is likely to favour the fund which will offer him better reporting, that can allow clients to readily process the information it generates.
Tailoring your data
To secure your competitive edge, you will need to consider the process you are using to report to investors, including the data points your clients want to see, and automate this process as much as possible. In today’s back office environment the technology now exists to provide high quality transaction-driven data in a format that is easily configured to the requirements of different stakeholders.
Funds of funds must recognise that for most investors, alternatives will comprise less than 50% of their portfolios, and frequently less than 25%. Therefore, managers of alternative investment fund portfolios need to be able to report into a framework that has probably been designed to harvest information from listed security investments. It will require involving service providers like fund administrators in the reporting conversation, and being consistent about how data is marshalled and presented. It will also require investment in tools which can be shared by service providers, helping to drive down the cost of delivery.
Overall operational compliance within the hedge funds industry needs to be a lot less problematic if funds are to meet the established reporting frameworks of institutional clients. As the character of the hedge fund investor base becomes increasingly institutional in nature, fund managers will need to make more use of technology – like the secure reporting opportunity offered by the Cloud – to ensure they make the most of the competitive edge efficient data delivery can become.