Three of Australia’s four asset consultants have signed up for eVestment Alliance, a web-based provider of investment data and analytic technology which competes with Mercer’s Global Investment Manager Database (which is entrenched enough to be known colloquially as ‘the Jim D’). eVestment differentiates itself from Mercer’s offering in various crucial ways, says eVestment’s president Asia Pacific, Frithjof “Fridge” van Zyp. Unlike Mercer, which is an asset consultant, “we’re a third party online software, services and information provider. Our focus is on collecting data and developing software to run analytics.
The main differentiator is not only the data we collect, but also our business model, which is to have multiple consultants and pension funds utilise the system, offering a wider distribution channel for the managers providing data.” Frontier Investment Consulting, JANA Investment Advisors, and Towers Watson have signed on the dotted line for the multi-currency database on institutional investment managers. Globally, eVestment contains more than 16,000 institutional strategies from 2,000 firms, and in Australia it has 164 products from 52 firms. While neither JANA, Towers Watson, nor Mercer would comment on the product, Frontier consultant Joey Alcock says Frontier has five eVestment userlicences and is looking to buy more soon.
“We’ll keep running both Mercer and eVestment together for a while because Mercer is still the standard and so it would be imprudent to switch.” The Australian coverage so far is better in equities than in fixed-interest, says eVestment’s van Zyp. “We aim to have most of the Australian equity and fixed-interest products in the database within the next quarter, with full coverage by the end of the second quarter.” Frontier is already encouraging fund managers to use the product because their performance data becomes available “in a timely fashion”, says Joey Alcock, who adds that Frontier has been trialling it for 12 months. “We’ve had a very positive response from managers because it’s an easy system to use and update.” The software has three sections: data submission (which is free), data analytics (requiring subscription), and eASE exchange (subscription).
Van Zyp says the “difference between us and Mercer is that the Mercer GIMD focuses more on performance whereas eVestment collects various product and firm level data points as well.” In the first section, data submission, fund managers submit performance data monthly, whereas product and company data are submitted each quarter. There are close to 1,000 data points in the questionnaire, and managers are not charged for submitting data. eVestment’s data management team “scrubs” the data and looks for information which has been entered incorrectly.