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Increasing visibility: How consultant database reporting can impact a manager’s visibility to search activity

Managers are often challenged with the demands of consultant database population due to a lack of internal resources to complete this timely yet critical task.  Managers who aren’t updating their profiles completely (missing key data points and other information) run the risk of missing out on potential search activity. 

Consultant databases are where searches start and often the precursor to receiving an actual RFP.   Managers can increase their visibility to search activity by doing to a few key things:

1.         Maintaining complete database profiles at a rate between 90-100%.

2.         Consistency and accuracy of information reported and data sources used.

3.         Ensure timely updates to avoid missing deadlines.

4.         Understanding the evolving database landscape changes and additional requirements.

When managers are not achieving high profile completion rates, they are allocating valuable resources with little ROI as they risk losing out on potential search activity.  It is Important to understand that any area of a database left blank can impact screening against their peer universe.  It is also important for managers to be aware of how they look in a database, yet many have no clue.  Many databases have alerts for missing information, structural changes, and new data requirements.  These are visible when logging into the database.  Most also allow managers to print their database profiles at the firm and strategy level to review.  Investors and consultants screen databases across many factors, and at a deeper level than just performance and/or fundamental data points.  Narratives are an opportunity for managers to tell their story and should be completed with the same attention to detail as an RFP/RFI or DDQ.  In addition, several consultants produce quarterly newsletters of Top Performers like Informa’s Top Guns, bringing increased visibility to managers if they make the list.  Striving to maintain complete profiles at a range of 90-100% allows for greater visibility to search opportunities.

Reporting information across the databases should be consistent and accurate.  While it sounds like a no brainer, there are instances where managers are unaware their information does not align across the databases until there is an issue and questions arise.  This happens for several reasons, and most often due to turnover in staff and a different interpretation of what is being asked.  Other reasons include an unfamiliarity with data point definitions, multiple individuals reporting at varying points, misunderstanding of data breakdowns of information such as sectors and countries with/without cash, composite versus strategy information, and assets by client type to name a few.   To that, analytics products based off that data are used by consultants and investors to source managers and inaccurate information can impact what a manager states it does by not aligning with what the analytics data shows.  Maintaining a point of contact responsible for data collection and a consistent repeatable process for reporting is essential to avoiding inconsistent and inaccurate reporting. 

Timely data is critical at all intervals of reporting, particularly quarter end when the level of data screened in search activity is far greater.  Performance is typically requested 4-7 days out up to as late as 14 days.  Managers are allowed to and should be reporting preliminary performance to meet deadlines but need to remember to finalize numbers when available.  While managers may opt to upload portfolios on a 45-day lag (which is acceptable), analytics used to research firms are run earlier.  There are databases that will request portfolios within the first two weeks of the quarter end, especially where it relates to a consultant who shares a client with a manager already.  Databases vary in timelines so understanding those deadlines and meeting them is important – missed deadlines often lead to missed search opportunities.

Finally, the past few years (2022 into 2023 specifically) have seen several large changes across many of the major databases.  Significant changes included the eVestment migration with Cambridge and Mercer and what it means for managers, increased D&I questionnaire sections, ESG, and data point requirements. One of the biggest changes affecting managers included the new SEC marketing rule and required Net of Fee data to be reported where previously it was not required.  For large firms who report many strategies to which the new rules would apply, or to smaller boutique firms with limited resources, these tasks can be daunting, so understanding the database structures and how to expedite the process can be a big timesaver.  While managers should have been alerted to these significant changes/additions, they may have overlooked them or not had the time or resources to address these new fields/rules/sections.  Familiarity with the databases and a dedicated team to oversee the process brings a much greater chance of not missing these critical changes. 

Recognizing the importance of how database reporting can impact a manager’s visibility to search activity is paramount to raising assets.  Inaccurate or incomplete profiles can cause managers to miss out on potential new business.  Whether you're a large firm or boutique manager, the value of high completion rates cannot be overstated and are critical to being on the radar.


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