Access Data Corp., a subsidiary of Broadridge Financial Solutions, is looking to further its reach into the retirement market as well as expand on its current partnerships.

The firm has partnered up with Charles Schwab & Co. to expand Schwab's sales reporting and data analytics that it currently offers on its Schwab Mutual Fund OneSource and Marketplace platforms.

The data provider has also joined up with Strategic Insight to combine the financial information regarding mutual funds' and exchange-traded funds' assets and new net flow in the data products they offer to their respective clients. A key element of this data is that it will segmented by distribution channels and financial intermediary firms.

Money Management Executive recently spoke with Dan Cwenar, founding partner of Access Data, to discuss the impact of its technology platform, Access Data SalesVision, which aims to eliminate the time lag between transactions and reporting and what's next for the firm in terms of new ventures and collaborations.

 

Dan, please tell us more about your background.

 

I worked at Federated Investors prior to the founding of Access Data and understand some of the distribution challenges facing fund manufacturers. Access Data was founded in 1997 and became part of Broadridge in 2009.

 

How many mutual fund clients do you have in the U.S.?

 

In the U.S., Access Data provides services to more than 100 different mutual fund families.

 

What firms have already adopted SalesVision and how are they finding it useful?

 

Some of our clients are Charles Schwab, Legg Mason, OppenheimerFunds, BlackRock and Natixis. Most shareholders invest in funds via intermediaries as opposed to directly from fund manufacturers and the details of their investments are held on a sub-accounting platform used by their intermediary. Therefore, little to no sales data is readily available to fund manufacturers to help them understand product trends or the results of their sales activities.

SalesVision is able to connect intermediaries and manufacturers increasing the transparency of sales transactions and asset positions so that firms can efficiently run their businesses. SalesVision helps firms understand important trends related to investment style preferences (e.g., fixed income versus large growth equity based products), geographic activity (e.g., the sales production in the Northeast versus the Southwest), or simply buying and selling patterns. This data can help fund manufacturers determine what to pay their wholesalers, whether invoices from their distribution partners are correct, and whether shareholder buying and selling patterns are consistent with their market timing provisions.

 

What makes this tool relevant in today's environment?

 

Based on the ability to collect data related to product distribution from all parts of the market, SalesVision helps firms understand or find new product and sales opportunities and effectively manage their territories and lines of business which are key revenue generating activities. SalesVision also helps firms manage the expenses related to product distribution by managing sales compensation programs and distribution fee management.

SalesVision is also able to leverage its data gathering network to monitor for frequent trading activity to make sure that shareholders and advisors are operating consistently with prospectus provisions. If a given manufacturer distributes on 20 different platforms, we need to gather the data and interpret the formats unique to each platform. A retirement platform will have different data formats and elements than the Schwab brokerage platform, for example.

 

How does this product compare to others in the market?

 

Competitors include transfer agency platforms that support some activities like calculating 12b-1 fees but don't excel at distribution platform specific fees. We don't have an enterprise scale competitor and our data networks cover nearly all of the advisor and ETF market which provides unique insights into the entire market for our customers.

 

What improvements are you looking to make to this product?

 

We're always looking to improve our data network in terms of creating greater transparency on a more frequent basis on behalf of mutual funds (manufacturers) and the distributors (wirehouses, independents, emerging channels like RIAs and banks). We call it the Network Effect-the more customers we support, the greater the transparency we create and the more insights into the total market we provide.

 

Do you have other mutual fund products in the works?

 

Lately, we've been taking a deeper look into our data spanning over $7 trillion in mutual fund and ETF assets to identify market trends by distribution channel. For instance, the most recent data shows that IBDs and RIAs are growing at twice the rate as wirehouses when it comes to long term mutual fund assets under management. We have begun collaborating with Strategic Insight, an industry leader in research, to provide new direction to funds seeking to expand across emerging new channels for distribution.

 

What's next in terms of data services to mutual fund companies?

 

We've provided services for a few mutual funds with defined contribution investment only offerings for many years; however, with retirement becoming a rapidly growing channel, we're seeing more demand from funds that are focused on penetrating the DCIO marketplace.

In tandem, retirement plan providers are showing significant interest in reporting portals to provide sales and asset data back to mutual funds on their platforms; as well as to harness their participant data for customized communications to drive investor engagement and participant outcomes.

 

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