What is a fund master?
A fund master is a solution in which fund data is consolidated and centralized into one single golden copy of what an investable fund strategy looks like. It can be understood as a version of a security master, but for funds instead of individual securities. Fund masters allow firms to more accurately and easily onboard or launch new funds, create relationships between funds and relevant domains such as accounts, clients, and benchmarks, and establish and maintain fund strategy hierarchies. This data is then propagated to all systems that need information around that fund, such as publishing/reporting systems, retail websites, and CRM databases like SalesForce.
When fund data is propagated to these systems, it’s easier to understand the relationships between accounts and clients, and keep data consistent. Fund masters help fund administrators see those relationships. Some fund masters will include ETL (extract, transform and load) capabilities for working with data, and handle validation of data in that solution.
Why Do I need it?
Generally, fund data maintenance is still done through a fragmented operational process of spreadsheets, emails, and multiple data entry to disparate systems. Having a one touch, multi-feed approach reduces operational overhead with a single point of validation, data governance, data distribution, reduced data duplication, and quick exception resolution.
One practical example is new fund launches. When an investment committee decides to launch a new fund or strategy, there are multiple departments such as legal, fund administration or marketing, which need to input critical data elements. A fund master provides the framework to track those data elements, as well as the processes that track service level agreements (SLAs) around the launch process, across all departments in the organization.
Once this data is captured and organized, fund administrators can see what other domains and data sets it can be related to and what sorts of analytics can be performed. For example, linking to accounts or CRM systems and running analytics for better prospecting and sales performance and share of wallet, which in turn grows revenues.
That applies to existing funds just as much as it does for newly launching funds. Being able to examine all the securities in a fund helps fund managers understand and mitigate exposures, diversify or balance the fund’s holdings, and track fund investors’ participation. Fund “look-through,” which means the ability to see a fund’s exposures from multiple perspectives, is a sought-after capability for which a fund master can meet its needs.
What should I look for in a good one?
The key factors for a good fund master are robustness and business coverage, both in terms of data attributes associated with funds and features such as configurable workflows, controls and governance. On the data side, it should be able to capture the entirety of the data domain related to the firm’s business. This includes every associated, nuanced attribute, for enhanced fund management. A good fund master should contain all the terms and conditions of the fund, the fund’s pricing, and all its related documents such as statements and confirmations.
On the features side, it should be rich in its ability to integrate with new and existing systems, create and maintain workflows, and establish and update hierarchy settings across sleeves, accounts and other data domains. Finally, the system should also be flexible, giving firms the ability to extend, edit, or modify any or all of these. Managing such change has historically been disruptive and expensive. A fund master should overcome this as well as enhance fund management and administration capabilities.