Why the funds industry is so bad at creating a utility

A central utility to help standardise operations and speed up data processing in cross-border European funds has largely alluded the industry for many years. The funds industry simply has a terrible track record at collaborating to build co-operatively-run networks that could remove frictions and reduce costs.

“It is a fair shout to say that the funds industry is bad at setting up utilities,” says Bill Gourlay, managing director of Independent Consultants Network and former regional head of fund and investment management markets at financial cooperative Swift, a messaging utility for the banking industry.

FundsTech conference to take place in April

“The problem is that there have always been too many vested interests and no one with either the credibility or authority is willing to pull all of the different players together.”

Gourlay makes the comments in a Funds Europe article that explores this topic. He is also due to participate in a FundsTech Forum panel, organised by Funds Europe, on April 25th in London that will discuss this issue further and consider if the utility model could yet still become a feature of the funds industry.

For example, the European Fund and Asset Management Association (Efama) set up the European Fund Classification system in 2012 to ensure that investors comparing cross-border funds are comparing like with like. Thomas Tilley, who also takes part in the panel and is senior economist at Efama, says: “What sets our classification system apart is that it is completely free to use and super transparent. All the information is publicly available.”

Another initiative is openfunds, which intends to automate transfer and validate fund data, thereby making it easier to disseminate fund information.

Another participant in our panel will be Simon Swords, founder of Fundipedia. In the UK, The Investment Association has partnered with Fundipedia to develop a platform for product data.  The firm’s ambition is to become the leading end-to-end data management platform for the asset management industry.

Read the full article here.

*Bill Gourlay, Thomas Tilley and Simon Swords will discuss the need for utility bodies in the funds industry at the FundsTech Forum conference, which is organised by Funds Europe and takes place on April 25 in London.



The tension between urgency and inaction will continue to influence sustainability discussions in 2024, as reflected in the trends report from S&P Global.
This white paper outlines key challenges impeding the growth of private markets and explores how technological innovation can provide solutions to unlock access to private market funds for a growing…


Luxembourg is one of the world’s premiere centres for cross-border distribution of investment funds. Read our special regional coverage, coinciding with the annual ALFI European Asset Management Conference.