openfunds: a global standard for the characterisation of investment funds
During recent years, the volume of data and the required speed of information transmission have increased dramatically across most industries. Although most business sectors have adapted to these demands through the adoption of standardised, globally-implemented data protocols, the financial industry has lagged behind.
This is particularly true when considering the interchange of complex and often lengthy static data which is used to characterise investment funds.
Static fund data refers to the large number of attributes used to characterise an investment fund such as Fund Group Name, Umbrella Name, Fund Name, Fund Currency, ISIN, Fund Manager, Fund Domicile, etc. Currently almost 200 fields may be required to characterise a single fund. Static data differs from dynamic data such as NAV price, performance or ratings which are subject to frequent change and are generally not disseminated with static data.
To improve this situation, the openfunds initiative provides an open, extensible and license-free standard that enables the automated transfer and validation of fund data. The goal of the openfunds initiative is to improve the quality, speed and efficiency of the dissemination of fund information globally.
Disseminating fund data: the situation today
Today, investment fund data is often sent from fund providers to their distribution partners in an anachronistic fashion: via Excel spreadsheets (see figure 1), whereby the content and format are specific to each distribution partners. This can lead to duplication and errors at the fund provider’s end given that the individual spreadsheets usually have to be created manually for each distributor.
Likewise, the current fields often leave room for interpretation. This results in inefficiencies, errors and ambiguities during data transfer requiring reconciliation between fund providers and their distribution partners. Incomplete or erroneous fund data can have serious results which could negatively affect investors – they may choose not to invest in the fund.
The goal of the openfunds standard is to improve efficiency by eliminating potential sources of error and ambiguity during fund data interchange. openfunds does this by providing a common, normalised standard which supports the autonomous collection, processing and exchange of fund data between fund houses and fund distributors. Investors ultimately benefit from increased transparency, reliability and improved ability to evaluate and compare investment funds.
The heart of openfunds: data-identifiers
The openfunds standard offers a normalised, extensible set of clearly defined fund reference data with unique identifiers. These identifiers are referred to as “data identifiers” – or “data-IDs” for short. The standard is published online at https://www.openfunds.org/en/fields/. The content of this website is published under a Creative Commons Licence and may be used by anyone free of charge.
An example of a fund data-ID is shown below:
The format of all data-IDs are the same:
- Data-ID: this is a unique 10-character alpha-numeric number associated with each data-ID
- Field Name: the descriptive name of the data-ID
- Field Tags: Each openfund field may be tagged with one or more field tags like “Purchase Information”, “Taxes”, “KID” etc. With these it is possible to filter out all fields that are related to one topic with ease.
- Field Level: level that this data-ID belongs to. In the above example, the data-ID describes an attribute of a Fund. Other examples of field level could be “Umbrella”, “Company”, “Share Class”, etc.
- Link Reference: If a value change in one field leads to a change of a value in another field, the two fields are linked. If it is a loose link, openfunds calls the fields “dependent”, if it is strict, openfunds mark them as “linked fields”. More information can be found on https://www.openfunds.org/en/fieldtypology/
- Data Type: either a text string, boolean value (yes/no), or date (YYYY-MM-DD)
- Introduced with version: which version of openfunds this data-ID first appeared
- Values: possible values for this data-ID
The complete and latest list of openfunds data-IDs in PDF and Excel format can be found at:
- FAQs are available at: https://www.openfunds.org/en/knowledge/faq/
- White papers are available at: https://www.openfunds.org/en/knowledge/whitepapers/
- Terms and conditions for using the openfunds standard are outlined here: https://www.openfunds.org/en/licence/
- A quicklink to individual openfunds field descriptions can be found by using this URL syntax:
Example: if you would like to link to openfunds description for “OFST160100 Legal Form”, just use the following hyperlink: https://www.openfunds.org/OFST160100
Who is behind openfunds?
Founded in 2015, openfunds is a non-profit, global consortium of financial institutions collaborating on a common industry standard for the interchange and dissemination of fund data.
Supporters of openfunds
These firms support the new openfunds standard. They are or will soon be able to send and receive fund data files that comply with the openfunds standard.
If your firm has a need to reliably send or receive fund data, you are more than welcome to use the openfunds fields and definitions. Interested parties can contact the openfunds committee by sending an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel.: +41 44 286’80’20