When a boutique firm’s primary business is the institutional or high net-worth marketplace, some executives would rather manage portfolios than manage the product line of mutual funds. “We pay for investment research over mutual fund industry research,” said one CEO and portfolio manager of a boutique asset manager with just a handful of funds who was networking at the TDA Conference recently in San Diego.
Going to the conference for the first time was an eye-opening experience for him. “I had no idea how competitive the industry really is,” said the CEO whose mutual fund assets come from smaller client accounts. “We just haven’t allocated much of a budget for growing our funds even though the performance is strong and our separate account business is profitable.”
Registering as an advisor instead of an exhibitor saved him over $20,000 between the investment and time out of the office, although he acknowledged he missed out on some visibility.
There is a cost to not keeping up with industry trends and understanding your competition to make decisions around growth. Fund managers may not understand they have the potential to grow their revenues if they commit to the business because their story is so strong and the timing is right.
They also may not realize that their current investment into the business won’t likely help them grow due to stale product configurations, lousy story, and challenging industry trends.
“Competitive research, news and information on the mutual fund industry are worth paying for,” said Fund Board Views editor Hillary Jackson.
Good thing there are plenty of good free and low-cost resources available that will help firms better understand the industry and their opportunity in it. We’ve asked our fundster friends to help us compile the list below.
MFWire.com was the first online publication for fund pros and is the only one that is still free today. It covers mergers & acquisitions, people moves, product innovations and more.
LinkedIn groups like Mutual Fund Industry, Mutual Fund Industry Professionals, and Mutual Fund Marketers are great for industry insiders to share information and ask questions. In addition, groups such as RIA Marketplace and Financial Advisor Magazine help you understand what’s going on in the mind of advisors. But be careful. “Groups are often highjacked by people selling stuff or posting jobs,” according to Ultimus Fund Solutions Jeff Young.
ETF.com and MutualFundObserver.com are both free options for all types of asset managers, according to Gene Podsiadlo at Wasatch Advisors. “The former offers current news and flow data for ETF’s. The latter engages readers with discussion boards which can be interesting as you launch a product.”
Sentinel Investments’ Brett Graffy uses Savvyinvestor. “It’s a great aggregator for white papers, research, and other industry news.” You can also contribute your own content by registering for free.
Brightscope is a free service to quickly look up fund flows on a fund family and per fund basis. You can also access basic financial advisor information.
Morningstar offers a free comprehensive monthly mutual fund and ETF report of fund flows and performance. You can sign up for email notifications when the latest report is available.
Jeff Provence, president of PFS Fund Services, adds the Investment Company Institute’s website in general is “chock full of free research and white papers.”
Citywire Americas, according to Craig Pirtle at NearSide Distribution Asset Services, help support a global perspective on the business of asset management.
And if you’re a networker, consider two organizations.
Mutual Fund Education Alliance (MFEA) is an organization for mutual fund professionals that focus on growth. MFEA offers multiple conferences and webinars each year led by industry leaders and the opportunity to be on committees focusing on product development, digital marketing, marketing communications, among others. I have been a partner to MFEA for many years. While it’s not free, it’s an AUM based fee starting at $5,000 per year.
The Money Management Institute, recommended by Frank Gregory of FMG Consulting, offers industry research and conferences. One highly popular conference is their Emerging Managers Forum which is coming up in March. Yearly membership starts at $5,000 but conference attendance is just a fraction.
Finally, don’t forget about learning from your trusted partners. Some include research and resources in their offerings for free or at a lower price because of their scale. Others offer client conferences or webinars to constantly be sharing good ideas.
What are your favorite resources that didn’t make our list?