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Going against the grain. Why charging clients to access their data is wrong

By Gert Rautenberg

The asset management sector is a very crowded market. One could even argue it takes a village to keep the fund distribution machine going, with many participants working to support the asset manager in an increasingly complex regulatory environment. Regulatory compliance creates the biggest challenge and many asset managers decide to outsource this function in order to focus on the revenue generating areas of their business such as running investment strategies and sales.

Having said that, all is not lost. EFAMA, the European Fund and Asset Management Association, is working hard to provide common standards designed to simplify the process for both asset managers, 3rd party service providers as well as fund distributors. Significant progress has been made with the recent publication of a market standard questionnaire by EFAMA, however, the process of collecting and providing Due Diligence Questionnaire (DDQ) responses continues to be complicated as many asset managers and distributors are still utilizing non-standard sets of questions and responses.

In fact, many distributors have compiled their own set of responses for their own specific reasons, and this has resulted in a process that is opaque, fragmented and consequently inefficient for asset managers. We recognised this as a prevailing issue for our clients and their distributors and came to the conclusion that it would be far easier if distributors were able to provide their DDQ responses directly to the asset manager without the interference of a 3rd party. So, this is what we did.

We are pleased to launch an enhancement of our DDQ solution, allowing distributors to upload their completed questionnaires to the GFA platform and to forward these directly to their selected asset managers at no extra cost. In short, we are supporting the relationship between our clients and their distributors without getting in the way.

Why are we not charging for this? The answer to this is quite simple. It is our firm belief that we are facilitators and the data provided in the DDQ is the property of our partners, not ours. In the end it’s about working together to improve processes for all parties involved and if we are able to do our bit at no extra cost, even better.

If you would like to find out more about how we help asset managers manage, understand and leverage data, please contact


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