7 Reasons Why Producing Factsheets Yourself Never Works Out The Way You Plan
August 17, 2017
- You underestimate the workload
If you only have a few funds, you may be thinking “how difficult can it be to produce 2 pages of copy text, with a few graphs, a few tables and some performance figures…”. So, let’s break this down further to see exactly what will be needed to produce this “simple” two-page document.
Say you have 10 funds, each with 3 share classes – that’s 30 factsheets you must produce, every month. If you are doing this completely manually, that means producing and updating something like 90 graphs, 120 tables and making sure around 6000 different components are present and correct. (The average factsheet has around 200 separate components.)
- You underestimate the risk
Given the above, it is all too easy to make a mistake in copying and pasting data. This may not sound too serious, but what if you apply the wrong disclaimer to the wrong fund? What if an investor makes an investment decision based on incorrect figures you are displaying. At the very least, your firm can be made to look unprofessional. A worst-case scenario may not bear thinking about. You have a fiduciary responsibility to not only think about this, but to act on mitigating this risk.
- You suddenly realise those 30 factsheets are not the same.
If you have done some partial automation with macros and data links, you may have a template which is working well for a fund. However, factsheets have variants. To take a simple example an equity factsheet template will not be the same as a fixed income, or bond template. You may want a maturity graph on your bond factsheet but the same graph has no place on an equity template.
As there are several fund “types” the number of templates can balloon out of control. Advanced automation platforms have exhibit hierarchy rules with complex programming that takes all this into account, massively reducing the number of templates and the resultant cost of any future changes or re-branding.
As your firm gets bigger and you sell to different markets, you will encounter the additional burden of translations. Suddenly, those 30 factsheets have become 150 just to cover 4 more languages. If, previously, you were struggling to make sure you were copying and pasting those 6000 components correctly, just wait until you are dealing with Chinese hànzì or Japanese kanji characters. Or even another European language you are not so familiar with. External translation companies can help here, but they will normally be charging you on what words have changed from the previous set of factsheets to cost their translation services. Most operate using a translation matrix engine, so previously translated words are not charged again and again. Could you even tell them what exactly has changed between months? Could you deliver them a templated XML feed with unique identifiers for each field or component data item on the factsheet template?
- Dissemination, meta data
You may have overcome all the above, but now you have to send these factsheets to external parties. Most fund companies would have a list of perhaps 30-50 end points where they want their factsheets to go to (excluding each investor). The likes of Fund Info, Morningstar, Lipper et cetera. Each one of these end points will want the factsheets delivered in different formats, including embedding different metadata. Metadata is a set of data that describes and gives information about other data. In the case of factsheets, factsheet metadata will describe exactly what the factsheet is. This would contain data such as version, language, area, registered for sale in which market or jurisdiction. All this information needs to be appended to the factsheets and/or provided alongside the factsheets every month. Wrongly formatted or incorrect metadata can mean factsheets are “refused” and suddenly your firm’s funds will be missing from these platforms.
- All designs are not equal
Does you firm understand design? A factsheet that is replete with correct data, tables, graphs and interesting commentary can be made to look seriously outdated or unprofessional by bad design. Reporting technology specialists will have created hundreds of different factsheets templates and know what does and doesn’t work in terms of design and content.
The leaders in this space understand pixel perfect design and the importance of vector based graphics in presenting, what is for most investors, the most frequent form of communication they will have with your firm and your funds. Remember, first impressions last.
- Web copy
So, you now have your Factsheets, they look good, all the data is there and now your head of sales wants you to replicate all that data on your website. Traditionally, this used to mean copying up the factsheet PDFs to an FTP site and your web site just picked them up and placed them in the correct area of your site as static PDFs. Investors now not only expect complete factsheet data and chart replication, but they also expect these exhibits to be totally interactive. That means drag and drop columns on tables, mouse over charts to get data points as well as zoomable graphs by default. Ah, a quick tip, when you are creating your factsheet PDFs, don’t forget to make them totally interactive – investors will be viewing these on a screen, not printing them out. Make sure you hyperlink relevant logos, buttons, exhibits and even commentary linking to your corporate blog site. You do have a blog site don’t you?
Factbook is a specialist investment reporting solution provider. Contact us today to discuss your needs.
(We are rather good with factsheets….)
Abbey Shasore, CEO Factbook.
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