AMWatch

Fund platform grows user base and starts expansion abroad

Fundrella, which serves as a digital facilitator between fund managers and investors, is expanding. The platform allows fund managers to showcase their products for fund selectors - but without a third-party assessment of the information, it may not match reality. "Fund companies are heavily regulated, and it's not in their interest to claim things they know are not true," the CEO says.

Wava Bodin is the CEO and Founder of Fundrella | Photo: Håkan Målbäck

Fund reporting platform Fundrella has grown since its September 2019 launch, and now counts fund selectors, fund distributors and asset owners from all over the Nordic countries among its users, according to founder and CEO Wava Bodin.

Fundrella aims to make fund companies' reporting more efficient by functioning as a one-point hub for fund documents, such as monthly reports, KIID documents and market commentaries. The idea is to make it easy for professional investors to access documents rather than having to receive the documents manually after ad hoc requests. 

"Fundrella has made fund reporting more efficient and digital, which has been a hassle for a lot of fund companies, both in terms of time and resources but also in terms of business continuity," Bodin tells AMWatch, adding that the platform is developed alongside fund selection teams to adhere to their needs.

Collaboration in the product development phase and the platform's automated report retrieval has been crucial for the growing user base, Bodin says. The automation makes reports visible when they have been updated by the fund managers.

"This has been received positively because its means that the reports are always updated in real time with absolutely no human intervention needed. It has been a hassle for the fund companies that somebody has to go in every month and upload reports onto a platform," Bodin says.

"The automation is also better from a compliance perspective, too, as for instance KIIDs always need to be kept updated," she adds.

The initial pilot users included Futur Pension, Folksam, Länsförsäkringar Manager Selection and Movestic Fund Selection.

One of the companies to onboard the platform after its launch is Ålandsbanken. According to firm's ESG specialist, Anna-Stina Wiklund, the idea of gathering all fund documents in one place was appealing.

"We receive many emails from various fund management companies, and when you need to find a specific report, you needed to go through your inbox," she says to AMWatch.

No assesment of information

Another area that has been under development since its launch is the addition of ESG filters to the platform. When a portfolio manager adds a new fund to the platform, the fund manager answers a questionnaire about which of the roughly 25 parameters concern ESG.

This could, for instance, involve whether the fund's investment strategy excludes the usual suspects such as alcohol, tobacco and oil, to name a few. 

Does Fundrella assess whether funds uploaded to the platform really live up to criteria that the portfolio manager ticks off in the questionnaire? 

"Fundrella serves as a facilitator between fund managers and professional investors. The information is subjectively defined and it's the managers that are responsible for the information, as they obviously know the funds best. This is a way for them to showcase their ESG work. We'll leave it to them to decide what is what is correct for each fund," Bodin says. 

Wouldn't it be better to have a third-party assessment to determine whether a fund lives up to its promise?

"No, I think that would risk some information being lost. Fundrella enables fund managers to highlight what they do and market their funds for what they are. The fund managers are obviously legally obliged to provide correct information," Bodin says.

"But there could be a situation where a fund manager has ticked off a box for an aspect that doesn’t match reality?

"Theoretically yes, that is obviously a risk, but the fund companies are heavily regulated, and it's not in their interest to claim things they know are not true. Fund selectors would also conduct their own thorough investigation of a fund before they invest in a fund. It's difficult to mitigate all risks, but we have at least tried to make it possible for fund managers to highlight what they actually do and to differentiate their products," Bodin says. 

When asking Ålandsbanken's ESG specialist whether it would be a good idea to make third-party assessments of the platform’s questionnaires, Wiklund replies that it would be a good idea but highlights that she is very happy with the platform.

"As the supply of asset managers that use Fundrella grows, it becomes an even better tool, also in terms of screening for the funds available on the market," she says.

Rolling out abroad

Fundrella is currently rolling out its platform in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and plans to move on to the Benelux region in the fall.

"We already have a person in Switzerland covering those markets, and we are preparing our next go-to market strategy, which is very exciting," she says, noting that staff increases are planned in the future.

Afterwards, the ambition is to become present in France, Italy and the Iberia region, too.

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