A former fund manager has created a platform to help simplify corporate access, an area the UK regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), has recently looked to reform.
Michael Hufton, ex-fund manager at Polar Capital, has set up ingage IR in response to stricter rules around corporate access that include regulatory proposals that will ban paying for corporate access with client funds.
In November 2013, the FCA launched a consultation on the way fund managers pay for services using commission. Among the proposals was banning payment for corporate access, where brokers arrange meetings between asset managers and corporates they are seeking to invest in, via commissions using client funds.
Hufton, managing director of ingage, said: “Paying for corporate access using client commissions is a practice that the FCA is determined to eradicate; our low cost platform brings efficiency and transparency to the corporate access market and provides new tools to investors, company management and investor relations officers. This makes a clean break from the opaque practices of the past.”
Ingage’s solution has been developed with input from the regulator and will respond to the need for greater clarity and transparency in engagement between investors and listed companies.
The cloud-based solution enables companies to display their meeting schedule and roadshow timetable online and investors are then able to request a meeting.
Hufton said: “The ingage online marketplace removes all barriers to access and offers a low cost system where investors can request meetings with companies directly.
“Companies control meeting allocation and can thoroughly research the investors, making sure they see those who are most relevant to their business and not the ones that pay the most.”
The service is currently in testing with a single buy-side client, Fidelity, and corporate users Nestle, Tullow Oil and National Grid, but it is expected to formally launch on Monday.
Hufton said he is currently in talks with most major UK-based institutional investors and both UK and European listed companies. Initially, the platform will focus on UK buy-side firms, looking to help arrange meetings between them and corporates from across Europe when they run roadshows in the UK. However, future expansions across Europe and into the US are also being looked at.
The platform runs on a Microsoft cloud-service with robust server architecture to minimise the chance of service disruption. Both buy-siders and corporates can create a profile, which they can show to those they arrange meetings with. The system also helps with productivity by ensuring CEOs and fund managers can better organise their meeting time, with features such as automatically offering out cancelled meeting slots to other interested investors.