by Matthew Franey
I recently sat down with our friend and partner Bill Hortz, Founder and Dean of the Institute for Innovation Development, to address several critical questions relating to the application of technology to distribution efforts.
Celera Systems, LLC is proud to be a Gold Sponsor for SunStar Strategic’s 2019 Mutual Fund Conference. The conference is ideal for small to medium-sized funds who want to grow. This event takes place April 29 & 30 in Washington D.C. and will feature speakers from among the most successful firms presenting a wide range of distribution strategies to encourage and inspire you.
The event features two keynote speakers: Chris Davis, Head of U.S. Research at Strategic Insight, who will present “Distribution Essentials for Boutique Funds.” He will share research to support his hypothesis that multiple channels of distribution should be pursued. He’ll also address the popular core and satellite model and how to maximize sales. Warren Miller, founder of Flowspring, will also present a data-based presentation entitled “Beating the big guys – How to attract assets as an active, boutique manager.” His comments will include a close examination of the characteristics of funds that are driving significant asset growth.
Matt Franey, director of Business Development for Celera, will moderate a panel addressing Advisor Outreach strategies. In this panel, we are highlighting SalesStation clients that are leveraging data and technology to grow and retain assets.
Please call Matt at 414-306-6411 or email him for more info. firstname.lastname@example.org. We hope to see you there!
by Beverly Dube
Here’s important news for asset managers who have been wanting a deeper understanding of their fund distribution but have found the price of entry cost prohibitive. Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) has lowered the cost of Omni/SERV® effective January 1, 2019.
- Omni/SERV membership is now $1,500 per month, down from the previous $2,500 per month.
- The 40% price reduction is part of a broader pricing simplification as DTCC seeks to “maintain a fair and equitable pricing methodology while maintaining its compliance with regulatory guidance and driving best practices.”
Why this matters to you
DTCC Omni/SERV integrates with Celera’s SalesStation, a data management and reporting platform that provides asset managers with actionable insights about the intermediaries that represent, recommend, and ultimately buy your products. There are certain intermediary firms—LPL, Morgan Stanley, and U.S. Bank for example—from which you simply cannot obtain data without a subscription to DTCC Omni/SERV. Omni/SERV supports the exchange of mutual fund activity and position files for funds held in omnibus. Therefore, if you have omnibus relationships and require data transparency from one of these intermediaries, DTCC’s new pricing is positive news for your firm.
Financial intermediaries are an increasingly important distribution channel to a growing number of asset managers. In fact, the Investment Company Institute (ICI) estimates that 80% of households that own mutual funds outside of employer-sponsored retirement plans purchased their funds with the help of an investment professional.1 However, without understanding the motivations and behaviors of the firms and advisors that make up this channel, many managers struggle to retain and grow intermediary assets.
SalesStation is instrumental in helping managers gain the critical insights needed to understand your client base and optimize your marketing and distribution strategies. We are thrilled to see intermediary-level data from Omni/SERV® and other providers become more accessible and affordable as it levels the playing field for asset managers of all sizes in this increasingly competitive—and important—distribution channel.
For more information on Celera’s SalesStation, please click here. For more information on Omni/SERV, please visit the DTCC website.
by Matthew Franey
The process of purchasing or evaluating your current sales reporting and data management solution, be it a formal offering or home-grown process, need not be as daunting as it may first appear. Although such solutions can be inherently complex, establishing a framework for evaluating their various aspects can simplify the process and ultimately provide assurance that decision makers select the proper solution for the right reasons. Based on our experience, we identified the following seven items as the most critical points in the decision making process:
- Accuracy and Timeliness of Flow and Asset Data
Data is only valuable to decision makers if they are able to draw the correct conclusions and react to it in a timely fashion. The process through which your data is obtained and cleansed warrants close attention, as today’s omnibus accounting environment introduces a multitude of complexities to managing fund sales data that are not common to other industries. Significant reconciliation requirements can be prevalent in a complex trading environment, so be sure that your current or prospective vendor understands industry standards and has a process to deal with them. Additionally, reporting mechanisms and standards frequently change, so your provider needs to be aware of potential hurdles these changes represent and react accordingly.
The potential ramifications of making decisions based on inaccurate or outdated information can be profound for a company in any industry, let alone distributors who operate in an environment of increasing investor scrutiny and regulatory oversight. The extent to which your sales reporting solution helps or hinders decision making translates to real dollars and directly impacts your bottom line.
- Efficiency and Scalability
In most cases, the primary goal of obtaining a sales reporting solution is to systematize manual processes and, when successfully adopted, organizations should expect a number of tangible benefits:
- Freeing up valuable human capital to perform more value-added tasks
- Significantly reducing, or eliminating, human error
- Realizing economies of scale as your firm expands its distribution footprint
As expanded distribution and/or external market forces can result in a significant uptick in trading volume with little notice, home-grown processes or less sophisticated solutions will not keep pace with the sheer number of producer records and could be of no value to you at a critical juncture in your business cycle. Make sure your solution and resources supporting it are up to the task.
- Robust Data Mart and Reporting Options
Even with the most state-of-the-art data warehouse and highest quality data stewardship processes, your sales and asset data will be useless unless it can be easily accessed and consumed. Your firm will realize the most value from a system with an intuitive interface, dashboards customized for your unique view of the distribution landscape, and reporting that is functional out of the box or easily created.
Flexibility is key, as consumers of the data might operate in a variety of capacities within your organization and require that the reporting be consumed outside the tool, for example in Excel or PDF. Report delivery options also need to be considered as well, as your stakeholders will benefit from a diverse set of options through which they can receive or view reporting and analysis. Finally, users should expect a solution that not only permits on-demand access to relevant data, but also the ability to distribute that data on a scheduled and/or periodic basis, or based upon certain system triggers.
- Integration to CRM
The power of sales and asset data in the context of a CRM endpoint cannot be understated. Such a tool empowers wholesalers and other marketers to correlate sales activities to results and nimbly react to new trades as actionable data automatically shows up in client account and contact records. Native integration with leading CRM platforms, for example Salesforce.com, permits sales, asset, and contact data to be further leveraged with other applications in their ecosystem, multiplying the potential use cases.
- Extensive Product Support and Resources
Distributors evaluating sales reporting solutions also need to consider what resources vendors put behind their product, as post-implementation support can ultimately make-or-break your experience. Your data and reporting needs can change quickly, and both the system and the personnel supporting it need to be diligent in engaging with their clients, as well as their clients’ service providers, to ensure these needs continue to be met as they evolve. Also, consider what level of investment the vendor has in their solution:
- What does the product roadmap look like for future enhancements and functionalities?
- What other solutions are offered and how will that impact support for the data management solution specifically?
- Does the vendor offer ancillary services such as consulting to facilitate adoption and customization?
- What forums exist for knowledge sharing amongst the client base?
All of these factors, while not individually significant, together can significantly impact the long-term value distributors realize from their decision.
- Bench Strength and Expertise of Team
Data management applications in fund distribution are highly specialized and require a partner with industry experience who understands your goals and concerns. You should not need to expend scarce time and resources educating potential vendors on the intricacies of your industry. Likewise, home-grown solutions can present a learning curve that can prove costly to an organization whose core competency is investing and distribution, not data management. It is therefore imperative that you select a vendor that can rely on its own individual expertise to speak the same language, understand your unique business model, and successfully deliver a solution that achieves what you are trying to accomplish.
- Flexible Pricing Arrangements
Asset management and distribution organization business models are becoming increasingly diverse. As a result, one-size-fits-all sales reporting solutions often miss the mark because they do not reflect the intricacies of the firms they support, resulting in a client potentially paying for features they do not need. Vendors should be able to quickly assess the needs of their clients, tailor the solution to meet these needs, and price it accordingly. ROI is a critical metric in any investment situation and applies equally in this context.
In summary, opportunity costs for asset managers who fail to consider how their firms produce and consume sales data will continue to rise as the industry becomes increasingly data driven and more dependent upon omnibus accounting. Make sure your firm is equipped to handle this new distribution necessity.
Director of Business Development
SalesStation™ from Celera Systems provides accurate and timely reporting of sales and asset data as an efficient, scalable solution for any distribution organization. We developed SalesStation™ around a sophisticated data warehouse and reporting tool that seamlessly integrates with Salesforce.com, and our clients enjoy highly responsive support provided from a team of industry experts at an affordable price.
by Matthew Franey
As distribution organizations in the asset management industry are all too aware, navigating blind-spots in sales data can be a tricky proposition. “Know your customer” remains a fundamental tenant of any effective marketer regardless of the product or service being offered, and achieving this level of understanding depends almost entirely upon accurate, timely, and actionable data. In an industry famous, and sometimes infamous, for its lack of transparency, acquiring such data can prove to be especially vexing for even the most seasoned sales and marketing executives.
This situation does appear to be changing, however, as evidenced by a recent watershed announcement from the new head of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch’s mutual fund platform. Merrill Lynch, or “Mother Merrill” as it has been affectionately nicknamed, remains the single largest broker on Wall Street, reporting over $2 trillion in assets under management across their 16,000+ advisers according to their 2014 annual report, and has traditionally been viewed as an especially challenging platform for data transparency by both the fund industry and the data management companies that support it. As the consumption habits of investors continue to evolve, Merrill Lynch and other large asset allocators seem to be getting wise to the fact that the advisers driving their fee-based businesses can be most impactful in raising assets when provided with enhanced tools and resources direct from the asset managers, as together they can most effectively “tell their story”.
An absence of transparency makes identifying and executing upon such collaborative opportunities between managers and advisers both difficult and inefficient. Indeed, asset allocators only serve to benefit their bottom lines from an increased level of transparency, as permitting the fund companies on their platforms ready access to sales and asset data serves the dual role of not only enabling nimble execution of sales opportunities but also reducing the carrying cost of assets held under management by minimizing turnover as managers are better equipped to insert themselves at critical points in the investment cycle.
While it remains to be seen exactly how Ms. Bolton will execute on her vision, and pockets of opaqueness still remain in other channels of distribution, asset management executives should view this news as a positive sign that the new, data-driven environment in financial services is slowly breaking down the traditional paradigm of protecting access to advisers. Enhanced data transparency with respect to fund distribution seems to be an all too rare win/win for both managers and intermediaries alike, and will ultimately prove beneficial to both the financial services industry at large and the investors they serve.
For more information on how enhanced data transparency, and our data management solution SalesStation™, could potentially impact your specific distribution efforts, please get in touch with us.
Director of Business Development