What’s really holding up your fact sheet production? (Hint: It’s a four-letter word)

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By Emilie Totten

Poor Data Management Causes Inefficient Fact Sheet Production

Fact sheets are a staple of the investment marketing collateral mix.  Studies show that they are still the most widely used sales tool in the field.  Every quarter, there is a rush to get them into the hands of the sales force, and to do so faster than your competitors.  Many factors can slow down your fact sheet production timeline, but the factor that is the most critical is…your data.

The efficiency, accuracy and consistency of marketing and communication output is directly tied to a firm’s data management strategy. Firms can significantly reduce their time-to-market and risk associated with producing fact sheets and client performance reports by automating their data management process.

Data: The root of fact sheet production inefficiency

On the west-coast, there is a Turnkey Asset Management Provider (TAMP) that saw their data as a key bottleneck in their fact sheet production. They produce a variety of fact sheets and performance reports for advisors and strategists which provide reporting by allocation approach and by strategy to show performance of each profile and strategy. The fact sheets must be produced quickly with the correct data shown consistently across all marketing and communications.

TAMPs provide practice management, marketing, and investment strategies to independent financial advisors, and timeliness and accuracy of communications is critical to their business operations. This west-coast TAMP is among the most successful of their kind, experiencing substantial growth as they add more strategies and more clients (advisors) to their platform. The Director at the firm knew that in order to scale their operations effectively, meet their SLAs, and manage risk, they must address the root cause of their production inefficiencies. They started by taking a closer look at how they were managing their data.

The cost of manual data management

As with all types of investment firms, this firm is inundated with data from many different internal and external providers in non-user-friendly formats. However, their data scenario is on the more complicated end of the spectrum. The firm’s strategies are often composed of Funds, ‘Funds of Funds’, or higher level composite investments that can be up to 5 levels deep, resulting in a great deal of source data to be aggregated and calculated. For instance, if they want to calculate class exposure for US Equity in a particular strategy, they first have to evaluate the strategy holdings and then if those funds are multi-asset, the fund’s holdings. It was a very nested calculation that was done manually in Excel by their very talented Analyst.

This manual process was taking their analyst anywhere from 40 to 120 hours to complete for each reporting period. Their Director saw this as a poor use of talent and an impediment to the firm’s growth. He immediately pinpointed data automation as the low-hanging fruit.

A SaaS data automation solution was selected in conjunction with a fact sheet automation solution. The platforms work together to save the portfolio management team an estimated 2,000 hours annually. This allows them to focus on core business functions that drive the business forward like managing and enhancing the current investment process, researching new topics, and creating new investment solutions for their clients — instead of pushing data around in Excel.

Reaching fact sheet ‘nirvana’

Typically when a firm needs a more efficient way to product fact sheets, they immediately start looking at fact sheet automation. And, rightfully so. But for this firm, they recognized that the real ticket to efficiency and risk management was getting their data under control first.

Their data automation platform provides the firm with immediate access to their data  in a clean and consistent form. For an investment marketer, this is a dream come true. Instead of wondering where the data is — trying to hunt it down, or waiting for it to arrive — the marketing team can see the status of the data at anytime from a central dashboard. When the data is approved, they can access it immediately for use in any type of marketing collateral.

This firm is using data automation in conjunction with fact sheet automation to streamline the entire process from data aggregation to final fact sheet output. The data is collected from every source provider, validated, calculated and then fed directly into the fact sheet automation platform to generate 50 types of strategy fact sheets and a dozen different monthly performance documents.

The marketing team gets their fact sheets out much faster without having to worry if the data is correct or consistent from document to document. That’s what we call fact sheet nirvana.

This automation solution is a scalable platform that will continue to accommodate their growing production demands and manage risk as they grow and expand the firm.

To learn more about how this firm used data automation to streamline their fact sheet production, read the full case study here.

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Emilie is Head of Marketing at Synthesis. Emilie earned her B.S. in Advertising from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has 15 years of integrated marketing experience in the financial services, technology, and healthcare industries. She lives in Chicagoland with her husband, two kids and two cats. When she isn't marketing or parenting, she can be found practicing yoga or reading a good book.

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