EUROPE/UK – London based mutual fund research company, SalesWatch, has launched SalesWatchOnline, an internet-based service designed and developed on behalf of Europe’s investment management community to research and track Europe’s cross-border fund selling operations and sales trends.

The service is being marketed across Europe and the company already has clients in the UK, France, Switzerland and the US.

Diana Mackay, managing director of SalesWatch, says one of the big stumbling blocks to increased cross-border fund business is the lack of sales tracking devices. “Very often, fund companies are operating blindly when it comes to cross-border activity. They have no real way of measuring how they’re doing from a sales perspective. This is the gap in the market we are trying to fill,” she comments.

Mackay adds that many key industry players are now complaining that knowing about fund ranges and their availability is no longer enough when looking to expand their interests overseas. “Even major international groups that have a presence in all the major markets often operate on a local basis, so remain largely unaware of how their sister companies in other countries are doing.”

However, Mackay says that client confidentiality is the main reason sales measurement tools haven’t been developed before but that SalesWatch claims to have found the solution to this. “What we basically do is take a company’s sales reports and allow it to be measured confidentially against other companies. This way we can generate a sales aggregate. Companies can thus get an idea of how their area and peers are doing,’ she explains.

The service operates as a co-operative, but quality is more important at this stage than quantity, Mackay says. “It’s not simply a question of a large number of mutual fund managers generating large volumes of business. Many smaller managers operate on the fringes of their respective markets. What we are looking to do is get major industry players on board to ensure the depth and quality of the data available.’

The founder members of the service include BNP Paribas Asset Management, Gartmore Investment Management, INVESCO, Janus Capital International, JP Morgan Fleming, Julius Baer Investment Funds Services, Merrill Lynch Investment Managers, Pioneer Investments and Threadneedle Investment Services.