On 6th July, Ecclesiastical Investment Management rebranded as EdenTree Investment Management and marked the name change with the launch of a new corporate website. Dan Barber, Head of Sales and Marketing, managed the rebranding and the development of the new website which he sees as key to raising the profile of the new brand. He talks about FE’s contribution to the project – particularly in delivering the dynamic data and tools needed to drive the client-facing performance and price pages; tools which allow EdenTree to clearly demonstrate that you don’t need to sacrifice performance when you choose ethical or socially responsible investments.
EdenTree is an investment management firm with a strong heritage of delivering ‘profit with principles’, thanks to its background as part of the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group. The investment management business was set up 30 years ago and its Amity UK Fund, managed by Director of Group Investments Sue Round for over 27 years, was one of the UK’s first socially responsible retail funds.
Dan Barber joined Ecclesiastical IM six years ago, and was tasked with improving internal processes with external resources where appropriate to support a more robust solution. Among the first of these partners was FE – brought in initially to support the production of factsheets. Since then, FE has become “embedded in the business”.
With this relationship in place, when it came to developing the new corporate web-site FE was the logical choice to provide the data services.
Simplicity was an overriding aim for the website design. “We didn’t want to overcomplicate our propositions,” says Dan. EdenTree has six retail funds, selling principally in the UK, plus two funds for charities.
With the rebranding and the launch of the new website, EdenTree wanted to raise the profile of their funds, in particular their socially responsible funds, and increase total assets under management.
It’s no longer enough simply to offer ethical or socially responsible investing as a concept; the funds’ performance must also stand up when measured against peers. And EdenTree’s funds have performed very well over the years: the Amity UK fund, for example, has enjoyed good long-term performance and has outperformed benchmarks and peers.
It is important to be able to demonstrate this outstanding performance track record; and the introduction of FE’s XML data-feed solution is enabling EdenTree to do just that. The XML data-feed powers the web-site’s price and performance pages, using data delivered by FE to dynamically update charts and populate the details on individual fund pages, factsheets and PDFs. “The data just flows through, without the need for any intervention on our part,” says Dan.
As mentioned earlier, FE’s relationship with EdenTree began with the production of factsheets and the firm continued to use what had become a legacy solution for FE. With the rebranding and new website on the horizon, EdenTree recognised that an upgrade to its technology was required if it was to be perceived as being a “leading edge” player, operating to industry best practice.
Enter FE Precision+ Documents.
FE Precision+ Documents brings huge benefits in the production and distribution of factsheets - an otherwise onerous task. The whole production process is automated to meet RDR guidelines and brand requirements - although EdenTree retains control over what goes in and when. The distribution headache has been removed altogether too. “When we click ‘go’, we know that the fund information will be automatically disseminated through the market, via FE Trustnet, FE Analytics and the other relationships FE has in place.”
The ability to ‘white-label’ the information delivered by FE, when providing direct access from the web-site charts and in the production of the factsheets is all part of building the new brand profile. The factsheets appear with the EdenTree logo, but a careful eye will spot ‘FE’ in the navigation line. The charts display ‘Powered by FE’ below. Far from diluting the EdenTree brand, however, Dan sees this connection as strengthening it; giving an authority and independence to the information displayed on the website. ”After all,” he says, “FE is well known and respected in this sector.”
The rebranding and accompanying web-site launch was a major, time-critical project, bringing together EdenTree, the design team and FE. “FE worked very well with our technology and design teams to deliver on-time against all targets. All of the fact sheets were delivered on time, for example. It was good that the building blocks of the FE relationship were already in place; I was comfortable that we could rely on FE for a high profile project like this,” says Dan.
Of course, FE’s new tools don’t come free of charge, but Dan views this expenditure as the “necessary cost of doing business today.” The investment certainly seems to have been justified. EdenTree has seen “massive growth” in web-site traffic since the launch – with usage up an estimated 500% in the first week.
“Currently, we are talking mainly to advisers, who are not particularly incentivised to promote ethical or SRI funds,” says Dan. “Moving forward, we would like to speak more to the end buyer. The ability to demonstrate and compare performance easily and reliably is important in this process. The web-site is an important part of our tool-kit now. As a relatively small organisation it is very helpful to have a partner who can remove the strain of providing this kind of functionality.”