Published on June 15, 2023 by Shanteri K Rao
Factsheets are a vital means of communication between potential/existing clients and asset managers, providing key information on a fund. Therefore, in addition to focusing on marketing and branding efforts relating to factsheets, managers need to ensure these documents are produced on time. The longer time to market associated with manual production not only diminished a factsheet’s inherent value, but also increased the overall production cost. Subsequently, automation enabled managers to achieve improved efficiency, but customisation remained a challenge. However, with further technological advancements, organisations have developed capabilities to create and deliver well-designed data-driven factsheets that can be adapted to a client’s specific needs. This blog details how manual methods have given way to innovation in the automated production of customised factsheets in recent years.
The great leap – from manual to automated production
Factsheets were historically prepared manually or semi-manually by filling out a structured template for each fund using data collated from multiple sources. The finalised factsheets were distributed to clients and made available on websites. With volumes increasing, it has become extremely challenging to produce data-driven factsheets manually. The following are the key issues that made manual production of factsheets unfeasible.
As a result, automated systems that could source data directly from host systems and produce a factsheet gained prominence, and flexible databases that could tackle data-driven disclaimers and footnotes were established. Additionally, graphical and tabular components were set up to allow conditional formatting to accommodate unique situations.
Automated factsheets were produced with a variety of different systems relating to proprietary software. Easy-to-use workflows were implemented for fund manager commentary. The end result of automation was faster delivery times, fewer errors and the ability to produce factsheets that matched the required branding guidelines.
However, asset managers should remember that automating the production process should be done in a holistic manner. A 2018 Mutual Fund Factsheet Production study found that despite automation, around half of the 47 asset management firms surveyed took longer than the industry average to produce a factsheet, owing to data integration challenges. Thus, while transitioning beyond legacy systems, firms need to choose an automated solution that is compatible with their database management system.
Customised and interactive: the next-gen factsheets
Digital factsheets may be the solution. In contrast to manual factsheets, digital factsheets involve transforming the entire process of factsheet production and modifying all sales and marketing efforts. In terms of the standard two-page factsheet, the following are a few rules to ensure basic factsheet hygiene:
In addition to factsheet hygiene, companies also need to ensure the timeliness of data through data automation. This primarily involves eliminating the redundant process of fetching data, which may take an analyst as long as 40-120 hours to manually calculate and compile a database for each reporting period. Having a central data dashboard in addition to a factsheet automation system would provide access to data in an accurate and consistent way, saving around 2,000 hours a year. This is achievable with data automation that collects, validates, computes and updates a factsheet automatically with little to no manual intervention.
How Acuity Knowledge Partners can help
Through its proprietary suite of Business Excellence and Automation Tools (BEAT), Acuity Knowledge Partners (Acuity) offers automation and template production support to clients wanting to overhaul their existing non-standard processes and unstructured datasets. Some clients want to enhance the efficiency of their existing processes, but they are unable to achieve this with off-the-shelf software solutions. In such a scenario, Acuity combines BEAT and third-party tools to streamline a client’s semi-standardised data and processes via customisation and manual intervention.
In addition to accuracy and speed, clients are assured of scalability when they plan expansion to address increasing production needs.
Acuity also offers a broad range of marketing material support as part of its financial marketing services, combined with its rich experience in working with professional software. The staff are highly qualified capital-market specialists with extensive experience in asset management and project delivery. Acuity’s customised and integrated technology solutions offer more flexibility than off-the-shelf software for fund factsheets. Additionally, it offers Seismic slide library management support, support with migration and regular maintenance and overall insight to ensure clients' financial marketing material and fund brochures are up to date. The following are the key components of Acuity’s factsheet production process:
Clients also benefit from a range of extended factsheet-related support:
Periodic update of fund/ETF factsheets and marketing material, including presentations, pitch books, brochures, flyers, laminates and fund lists
An automated solution for data validation, analysis, calculations, charting and document updates through the proprietary “Report Generator” tool and automatic audit trail
Final-form reports in multiple formats – Word, Excel, PPT, PDF, InDesign and HTML – for web, mobile and handheld devices
Interactive web and HTML-based factsheets
In-house designers and ability to scale up
End-to-end support – from data collation to final production/delivery
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