At Fundipedia, we try not to slip into jargon but recognise that we throw around terms such as “product master” and “product data management” assuming that everyone knows what we mean. As it is never wise to assume, we’ve decided to post a series of blogs explaining the most common terms we use, starting with, “What is a product master?”

What is a product master?

Putting it very simply, a product master is a full and complete repository of information about a product. It is the single source of truth and enables all stakeholders to have full access to current and correct information throughout a product’s lifecycle. Product masters are a well established fact of life in many industries and evolved hand in hand with the product management and development process.

Product masters are, however, a relatively new innovation for the asset management industry with many players still not realising just how much they need one.

Why do asset managers need product masters?

Asset managers need product masters as, at the moment, many of them can’t and don’t trust their data. In fact, 77% of corporate, trust and fund services companies surveyed in the Trust Quay Future Focus Report 2024 listed data quality as their top business challenge. The survey also revealed that 2 of 4 companies wanted to improve data quality, 44% are still using spreadsheets and manual processes and 93% have not fully automated data inputs, data checks and workflow processes.

This means that these companies are spending huge amounts of time and money on data activities such as sourcing, cleansing, formatting, distributing etc and still have no overview of their entire product range.

Tomorrow’s world will be driven by data so, to be able to innovate tomorrow, you need to know you have your product data right and if you don’t, you will be at a significant disadvantage.

What should an asset management product master include?

A well set up product master should include all information about all funds, no matter their legal form, managed by a company or a group of companies.

The information originates at the product development stage and then evolves, increasing as the products, i.e. the funds, mature, becoming more and more detailed as more and more information becomes available. So, at the beginning of a fund’s lifecycle the product master might just include details of a fund’s name, its planned legal form, details of sub-funds and share classes.

Then as the fund gets nearer to launch, information will be confirmed and fleshed out to include detail of currencies, benchmarks, disclosures, ESG ratings, full investment objectives, policies and strategies. More and more information can be added; detail of who the asset manager is, any delegation arrangements, the name of the custodian, depository and fund administrator, the auditor, board of directors, conducting persons etc.

As time goes on and the fund is launched, the product master will include details of registration status, all fund codes (ISINs, Sedols, WPKs and system generated codes), any and all changes e.g. changes in investment strategy, of benchmark, of service provider and whether the sub-fund or share-class has merged or closed.

In other words, if it is information about a fund, it should be in the product master and all funds should be included, side-by-side, allowing all information about all funds to be collated and consolidated into one place.

What’s the best way to set up a product master?

To set up an effective product master means an investment and many companies will ask themselves whether they should buy Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) from a specialist provider or whether they should build it themselves.

Our view is that dealing with large volumes of product data requires systems and software designed and built by experts who understand software and systems AND who also understand every aspect of the data at all stages in its lifecycle. With the exception of some of the extremely large companies, asset managers and asset servicers are not software companies and do not have these skill sets in house.

We believe that this combination of software skills and data expertise is best provided by specialist SaaS and, judging by the Trust Quay Future Focus Report 2024, many companies now agree and list moving to SaaS as a digital priority.

Product Masters by Fundipedia

We started Fundipedia because we recognised that dealing with product data at scale requires intelligent systems backed by experts who truly understand the root cause of the problems from both the software perspective and the product perspective.

We are the first and only fully agnostic data management platform for the asset management industry. Data is at the centre of everything we do and, since 2007, we have been on a mission to make managing data for asset managers easy.

Our product master functionality gives our clients a powerful tool to improve competitiveness by democratising data across the organisation, giving everyone who needs it, access to the single source of truth. Impenetrable data silos are eliminated, data quality is improved and a common understanding of data flow is established.

All this improves transparency and, with “set and forget” regulatory reports, control of data leaving organisations is achieved. Collaboration across teams is improved, decision making facilitated and, most excitingly, the ability to consolidate high level data enabling advanced data analytics is gained. Snapshot overviews of all product data can be made and sliced and diced as needed, enabling instant assessments of, for example, exposure to certain asset classes or a departing investment manager or to asses which assets are impacted by a change in a particular legislative regime.

This is not all; effective data management today clears the way for tomorrow’s innovations. Forward looking asset managers and servicers understand this as they are already re-imagining client relationships in a fully digital arena but to achieve this, they must have control of their data.

To find out how Fundipedia’s product master solutions can help you achieve this, please reach out to us.