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How to visualize and improve your mutual fund development


How to visualize and improve your mutual fund development
May 28, 2015

Most mutual fund companies have data stored across many places within the organization—from individual desktops and emails to shared drives or even hard copy.

Teams spend an inordinate amount of time on:

  • Consolidating financial statements and investments
  • Separating account financial data, prospectus information, insurance documents, schedule of investments, fund performance, and portfolio commentaries
  • Maintaining changes when information is updated across departments
  • Gathering verifications and executive reviews from emails, voicemails, and sticky notes

And teams have developed sufficient processes around moving this data to and from storage points. They evolve over time and are generally shaped and organized around people, technology, and requirements. When presented this way, it sounds simple enough.

However, even an organized process gets exponentially more difficult when the information crosses various departments like legal, financial reporting, and fund accounting. Toss in disparate sources, formats, and systems, and processes at the best-run companies can begin to bog down.

Some of the data and statements—e.g., financial highlights, fund performance and common content, objectives and risks—overlap and flow into several regulatory and shareholder fund filings, as well as marketing pieces like fund fact sheets.

These challenges will only get more difficult as requirements increase. Companies have a choice—adapt or get left behind.


Leading companies don't allow their processes to dictate the use of technology. Rather, they approach these challenges by building their processes around leading technology.

Mapping data flow is the visual depiction of a process, how it's organized, and the first step toward process improvement. It requires a detailed knowledge of the gathered data, the people who interact with it, how they interact with it, and what the desired outcome is. 
 The most effective way to complete a mapping project is to bring together subject matter expects, key stakeholders, and report developers to map out and organize the process from beginning to end. The goals of these meetings should be to identify inefficiencies, eliminate repetitive steps, and enhance data efficiencies.

Once the process has been mapped, the team can begin to search for solutions that can enhance the effectiveness of individual contributors or close gaps in any perceived inefficiencies. Features of technology solutions should include a way to manage disparate information sources, formats, and systems while empowering a team to collaboratively develop any new funds.

To learn more about improving the processes that surround your mutual fund data, read our white paper, Process Improvement: A Universal Framework for Effecting Change.

Mike Rost
Vice President of Partnership and Alliance

About the Author

Mike Rost is a key contributor to product strategy at Workiva and works with business leaders in the areas of financial reporting and compliance. With more than 25 years of experience assisting organizations using technology to optimize business processes, Mike has an extensive background in finance and accounting, corporate performance management, and GRC technology. Mike was a founding member of XBRL International with involvement in the XBRL initiative dating back to 1999. He has also been active in industry associations, including the Open Compliance and Ethics Group (OCEG) and the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA). Mike has a bachelor's degree in economics and an MBA in marketing and finance from the University of Minnesota.

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