Under the bonnet of fund research agencies: RSMR

RSMR defines itself as an adviser-centric research agency. We agree with that view but also think it has yet to reach its full potential. Established in 2004, RSMR is now the fifth most influential research agency among advisers, according to our report The Influence of Research Agencies.

The proportion of advisers using RSMR has increased from 15 per cent in 2014 to 18 per cent at the end of last year. But that is still a long way from the levels of growth enjoyed by some of its peers.

The good news for the agency is that it has one of the highest proportion of advisers that pay for its services, at 34 per cent of its total users. This represents a share of almost 9 per cent of the market of advisers that pay to access third-party research.

Advisers can access RSMR’s fund ratings for free through its research hub, so those paying are doing so to use the bespoke investment consultancy service RSMR Select or the model portfolio solutions Rfolios.

The FCA and market commentators have expressed concerns about research agencies’ potential conflicts of interest. With this in mind, it is important for them to diversify their income streams with things such as paid-for services and avoid relying wholly on selling marketing licences to fund groups. If not, it is highly unlikely ratings agencies will ever escape the regulator’s spotlight.

Putting the portfolios together

RSMR’s ratings are qualitative and cover most fund types, apart from exchange traded funds and Sicavs, which are not generally popular with advisers. That said, it does provide ratings for investment trusts, and our recent research into these products shows advisers who use them are more likely to also recommend ETFs to clients.

Investment trusts and ETFs share similar barriers to their use but also provide some of the same opportunities. With this in mind, we expect to see more agencies, including RSMR, adding ETFs to their research coverage.

According to our data, users of RSMR’s research are more to likely to favour investment solutions such as multi-asset funds and model portfolios. With this focus in mind, it has recently launched a discretionary fund manager rating.

RSMR’s model portfolios are available on an advisory or discretionary basis. The models consist of seven active and seven passive portfolios (it is neutral on the active versus passive debate), which are aligned to match advisers’ risk profiles for clients.

RSMR_Data

On top of these, it also provides a model portfolio solution based on socially responsible investing criteria, as well as a list of SRI rated funds established in conjunction with SRI specialist sriServices.

The only other leading research agency offering SRI based ratings is Morningstar, so this feels like a sensible long shot that could pay off if SRI strategies gain momentum in the advice market. Uniquely, the same team responsible for the fund research also runs the model portfolio propositions.

Indeed, where others agencies prefer to establish robust Chinese walls, RSMR sees a competitive advantage with this approach. The thinking is that it makes sense for the team (which has been boosted with two recent hires) to see fund groups and remain close to advisers’ feedback.

Last year, RSMR partnered with the white-labelling platform Hubwise to offer advisory portfolios at a competitive bundled fee of 25 basis points. It is also working on making the portfolios available across other adviser platforms.

With the use of model portfolios still on the rise, a wider presence on platforms should turn out to be critical to the success of RSMR’s Rfolios and the future influence of its research.

Rodolfo Crespo is senior analyst at Platforum

For MM’s full series on fund research agencies, visit here.

For more information on Platforum’s The Influence of Research Agencies report, contact rodolfo.crespo@Platforum.co.uk

Recommended

Under the bonnet of fund research agencies: FE

We continue our series profiling the main UK fund research agencies with a look at FE; the most popular among advisers. According to our research, 61 per cent of advisers use research agencies to inform their fund selection process, of which a huge 80 per cent use FE through one of its two adviser propositions: […]

2

Under the bonnet of fund research agencies: Morningstar

If there is one name that comes to mind when discussing research agencies, it is Morningstar. Asset managers make the headlines when a fund has won or lost a rating from the group thanks to its global reach and reputation. Morningstar has enjoyed market domination for years and acquired its main UK competitor at the […]

Newsletter

News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up

Comments

    Leave a comment