Netflix-style shopping for funds

A former member of Macquarie's insto equities sales team is launching a new platform which ultimately aims to offer a Netflix-style shopping experience to financial advisers and clients.

Forum 360 has been working for two years to build the prototype for its cloud-based platform to connect fund managers and listed companies with advisers and clients, in a group meeting format.

Co-founder and chief executive Rowland Hirst said the way investor relations are currently done (one-way webcasts or conference-style webinars) is inefficient, time-consuming and lacks engagement.

"A group meeting is different because participants can help set the agenda of the discussion," Hirst said. "The closest we have to [Forum 360] is BHP Live."

Hirst worked in investor relations in the US for Macquarie's hedge funds. Along with his co-founder, Hirst is looking to penetrate about 2% of a $7.1 billion market across seven jurisdictions in the next eight years.

The company recently launched a minimum viable product, and has a couple of fund clients.

The way it works is: investors are sent an encrypted link to sign up so the managers know who is attending. When attendees register, they are shown a menu of options they would like to have on the meeting's agenda.

During the meeting, attendees can click on a button to ask a question, or on another button to be led to a place to buy the investment product, or to be sent an email with details of the fund which they can then forward on to their adviser.

Forum360 provides feedback and analysis based off hard data from shopping through to booking, in-meeting activity, and post meeting reviews to fulfilment. The feedback is data-led and is not subjective or based on shareholder trading activity at a later date.

Around November, Forum 360 will introduce a neutral meeting place where investors can browse funds, listed companies, Netflix style, while keeping their adviser in the loop. They will also be able to search for an adviser from those advertising their services.

The company currently does not make any affiliate commissions on product sales or referrals, Hirst said. It has no links with administrators or advisers.

"We are very clear that we are a communications company, we are not a disruptor but an enabler," he said.

It will initially charge fund managers a per-event fee but will eventually move to a subscription model.

"In comparison to roadshows and conferences, Forum 360 is far more cost effective and time efficient. It is no more than two hours every marketing cycle from the office," Hirst said.

Read more: Forum 360NetflixMacquarieBHPfinancial advicefunds managementinvestmentRowland Hirsttechnology
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