Investors will have access to almost real-time fund data and analytical tools via a new service to launch this week under the Commission for Financial Capability’s (CFFC) Sorted umbrella.
The ‘Smart Investor’ website, due to go live on Wednesday, will allow users to compare funds, and other investments, across a range of metrics including fees, performance and complete underlying holdings, according to Tom Hartmann, CFFC managing editor.
“As well as the data, Smart Investor will provide a lot of education around it,” Hartmann said. “For example, it will help investors understand what factors are more important and why.”
For example, Smart Investor will compare all funds in the Disclose database in a given risk category against peers based on fees and performance (with five-year figures preferred).
The long-awaited consumer-friendly portal to Disclose uses application programming interface (API) tools to access the huge cache of data stored in the clunky government website.
Disclose, launched in 2015 as part of a new regulatory transparency push, stores all official documents, performance, fee and other information for investment products issued under the Financial Markets Conduct Act (FMC) regime.
However, the website itself was cobbled together on top of ancient Companies Office technology that rendered product comparison – or even finding some basic information – a frustrating, or futile process.
“Disclose has been great at hoovering up information, but not so good at spitting it out,” Hartmann said.
Smart Investor has set up four basic search categories: KiwiSaver and other retail managed funds; shares; bonds; and, ‘other investments’.
Currently, Disclose houses some 528 ‘schemes’ and almost 1,240 underlying ‘offers’ (however, about 820 of these are Australian products issued under the trans-Tasman mutual recognition regime).
Hartmann said Smart Investor will enable users to search and compare products at a deeper level than Disclose allows including, for instance, up-to-date lists of funds’ entire holdings.
“The intent is for that to be searchable, too,” he said. “So you should be able to find all funds that held Apple shares, for example.”
Smart Investor, to be offered free via the Sorted website, is the culmination of a more than three-year joint effort of the CFFC, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
The look of the new system was designed by Wellington-based agency, Chrometoaster, which also worked on the Sorted KiwiSaver fund-finder system and the Companies Office registers.
Sorted offers a suite of other tools including mortgage, budgeting and retirement planners. However, last year the CFFC dropped plans to roll out a financial planning template and a KiwiSaver lump sum retirement income calculator, citing a new push to make Sorted “more accessible to low income and vulnerable New Zealanders”, the group’s annual report says.
CFFC chief, Retirement Commissioner Diane Maxwell, was stood down in December last year pending an independent review of bullying allegations made against her. Commerce Minister Kris Faafoi is expected to hand down the findings early this year.