When Richard Philbin, Chief Investment Officer at Wellian Investment Solutions, sought a flexible, automated approach to building his team’s sophisticated fund research reports he adopted FE Analytics FinXL, an excel add-in that pulls data from FE fundinfo’s database, to support his use of FE Analytics. FE Analytics is an investment research platform used by over third of the UK’s top advisers. Having used the products together for a number of years, Wellian are reliant on the software for their fund research.
Wellian Investment Solutions, part of the larger Harwood Wealth Management Group, are a discretionary investment management company based in Tunbridge Wells. The firm have £700m under management in multi-manager solutions offered via unitised funds as well as advisory and discretionary models. The wider group has £3 billion in assets under advice.
Richard Philbin, Chief Investment Officer at Wellian Investment Solutions, has worked at the company for three and a half years ‘I’ve been using FE Analytics FinXL for pretty much all the time I’ve been working with FE fundinfo to be honest and I use it extensively alongside FE Analytics’.
Background with FE fundinfo
When Richard and his partner set-up the business, they had a blank canvas when it came to sourcing a funds database. He had extensive experience with a number of other providers but had never used FE Analytics, or FinXL software before. He decided to try it out in case it offered something different to other software he had used in the past.
‘I hadn’t used FE fundinfo’s research services so trying it out was part of my due diligence as part of setting up a brand new business - to go and research which products were on the market and what they could offer. I’ve been running money for over 20 years and I can put my hands up and say I’ve used the other software on the market and we chose FE Analytics after trying it because it was simple, quick, and had high integrity’.
However, due to the breadth of research and data analysis Wellian carry out as part of their investment process, using FE Analytics on its own to collect all the data and reports they run became quite a hefty process.
‘After using FE Analytics, we realised it was good, but it didn’t do everything we wanted it to do. So in conversations with FE fundinfo, and showing them what I was doing and how time consuming it could be, they suggested I look at FinXL which is an Excel add-in that pulls data from FE Analytics and allows for more in depth analysis. It was an immediate realisation that this could really improve efficiency at our end’.
FE Analytics FinXL at the core of the investment research process
As a multi-manager business, Wellian do not buy direct equities but rather funds and FE Analytics FinXL is central to their research. ‘I consider FinXL in reality almost like Bloomberg but for funds. Our business couldn’t operate without it.’
Central to Wellian’s proposition is being able analyse vast amounts of data to spot consistency in their research criteria. ‘We look for managers we believe to be skilful rather than just lucky and to be able to assess this we need to look for consistency – not just in performance but volatility, and tracking error for instance; there are many different measures we look at when assessing funds’.
FinXL has allowed Wellian to efficiently and accurately spot consistency over the range of time periods and data points they need. ‘The spreadsheets we look at are vast, and cover a range of time periods between 3 months and 22 months in time, anywhere between the most recent data and seven years ago’.
In addition, Wellian find that FinXL works seamlessly with FE Analytics and using the two software solutions in parallel is very useful. ‘Once we have used data from FinXL to research which fund is a sell, hold or buy we can then use FE Analytics to chart those funds against their benchmarks and use that to explain to advisers or internally.’
Integration and support from FE fundinfo
‘The implementation as an excel add in was extremely fast and easy, although I’m told the next version is even easier to use.’
From a support perspective FE fundinfo are also good at resolving queries – ‘If there are issues, FE fundinfo are really good at helping me and sorting those out as well - on that I’ve been nothing but grateful.’
Richard also values that FE fundinfo are open to suggestion and continuously developing the product roadmap. ‘What I have been able to do as an extensive user is spots areas for development and I have been able to feed this back to the team at FE fundinfo and they are actually very good on that front. I’m looking forward to version two of the FinXL tool launching in 2017– it will actually allow me to move the efficiency scale even further and faster so I’m very much looking forward to that.’
As with any manual element, Wellian realised there were risks when creating and running reports first in Analytics and separately exporting them to excel to create the output they needed.
‘Before we had FinXL getting this information meant we had to export a number of different files to CSV and re-import data just to be able to get the same spreadsheet. We were stitching the data together and would have to manually double and triple check whereas now it’s more fluid as an excel add in and the room for human error has been removed’.
Improved consistency and reliability of the output
Richard also values that process is fully automated and Wellian can just pull the updated data from FE Analytics into their existing spreadsheet when they need to.
‘We need to know what we are looking at is consistent, and using FinXL I know that in column C4 there will always be the answer I’m looking for. It gave us a lot more confidence in the ability to deliver.’
Because FE Analytics FinXL is able to pull through so much of the data they need to analyse, Wellian could not run their business without it. ‘We can deliver the efficiency without having to employ 15 people to do it.’