“For something seemingly quite formulaic, factsheets are surprisingly difficult to get right”, according to a Citywire investigation.
A 2017 Money Marketing article suggested that factsheets are failing to hit the mark – and in some ways, things don’t seem to have moved on much since then.
While producing fund factsheets is not a regulatory requirement, there is an expectation from investors that fund information is set out in a consistent way. Factsheets have therefore become the norm for firms promoting investment options such as investment trusts, funds, OEICs and so on.
But because they are formulaic, as the Citywire report suggests, it’s easy to become complacent about the content and design of your fund factsheets. When you pay such close attention to your other marketing and communications materials – brochures, shareholder communications, annual reports – why do many firms fail to apply this same rigour and creativity to their factsheets?
Here we explore how you can make your fund factsheets more user-friendly.
What is a fund factsheet?
A fund factsheet is a short document – usually just one or two pages long – designed to help investors decide whether a fund is right for them. Funds publish factsheets monthly to give investors up-to-date performance and other fund data.
A factsheet typically includes:
- The fund’s investment objective
- Its biggest holdings (i.e. where it is invested)
- Past performance data
- Risk information
- Information on fees
Factsheets tend to be set out in a standardised way, to help investors make comparisons between different funds.
Why some fund factsheets are missing the mark?
There are a number of reasons why factsheets fail the ‘user-friendly’ test.
- They lack information
Factsheets from fund management firms are designed to contain brief information on fund performance; charges; assets and investment objectives. But in many cases, the documents do not contain sufficiently detailed information to be useful to investors.
This can be for a number of reasons – sometimes the marketing teams producing factsheets can struggle to find accurate data, meaning that the information included is incomplete. Getting Compliance team sign-off of the data used can also be a challenge. And presenting the data in a user-friendly way can fall into the ‘too difficult’ pile, leading to its omission.
- It’s hard to compare different fund managers
The whole idea of a fund factsheet is to facilitate comparisons between fund managers. But although these should be standardised documents, all too often it can be difficult to compare one fund manager’s offerings with another’s; the Money Marketing investigation found that ‘each provider’s information varies wildly’.
A lack of equivalent data, and factsheets that present information in different ways, making it difficult to evaluate data even when it is comparable, can really impact the usability of your fund factsheets.
- Factsheets are unclear/lacking transparency
Clarity on fund returns, risks and charges is essential if you want your factsheets to be user-friendly. The information you present should also include the objectives of the fund, its strategy for achieving them, and the timescales involved.
- They don’t present the information in a clear and engaging way
Your factsheets not only need to include accurate and concise information, this also needs to be presented in a way that’s appealing and easily understood. Do your factsheets draw the reader’s attention to the parts that matter? Do they make it clear which elements are essential information and which are less important? Do they present data in a consistent way, that helps to make the messages and figures easily comparable?
How to make your factsheets more user-friendly
- Include all the right information – in an engaging way
Investors use factsheets to get the low-down on a fund’s composition, performance, fees and risks. Make sure yours include all the information can expect to see, checking other funds’ examples to ensure nothing has been missed, and to give you ideas for presenting data in a way that enables easy comparisons.
Think outside the box when it comes to presenting this data – infographics, graphs, charts and other visuals can create an instant picture that a dozen words would struggle to convey.
Regulatory rules on suitability demand that investor information is appropriate for the reader – keep your audience at the front of your mind when producing factsheets and you’re more likely to be compliant.
- Ensure your data is accurate
Inaccurate information not only risks regulatory compliance breaches, it will not endear you to your readers. Double-check the veracity of any data you include, and you will produce a factsheet that gives readers a clear and true picture of your fund’s make-up, charges and past performance. Keeping a library of approved content can help here, enabling you to access pre-signed off information quickly to meet tight deadlines.
- Don’t under-estimate the importance of branding
Your factsheets may be rather dry, data-heavy documents, but that doesn’t mean they can’t reflect your brand’s personality – through design, if not content.
Design is a vital cornerstone of your brand; producing factsheets that align with your corporate look and feel creates recognition and gives readers assurance that your fund is as professional as the rest of your operation.
The role of design in user-friendly factsheets
Producing factsheets might not seem like the most glamorous or exciting part of a marketing team’s role – but it’s an essential job for every fund marketer.
If you want your factsheets to make the grade, providing clear, usable information to investors, we hope the tips above will help. It’s important not to under-estimate the role professional design can play in engaging documents, including factsheets; external design expertise can be invaluable, bringing experience to bear on your challenges.
Perivan’s design studio has many years of experience in producing corporate documents and reports, including factsheets. Our insight into what makes great design, coupled with our in-depth understanding of the financial sector, makes us the ideal partner when it comes to creating factsheets that stand out for all the right reasons. Find out more.
Nothing in this document should be treated as an authoritative statement of the law. Action should not be taken as a result of this document alone. We make no warranty and accept no responsibility for consequences arising from relying on this document.