Zenith Investment Partners (“Zenith”) provides the following guidelines on Zenith’s processes and procedures relating to research services, research methodologies and conflict of interest management. This information also addresses Zenith’s obligations relating to regulatory guidance as specified by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC). In particular, this document deals with Zenith’s obligations as defined by Regulatory Guide 79 and other regulatory guidelines and the Corporations Act.
Zenith Investment Partners Financial Services Guide can be located here: Financial Services Guide.
Zenith was formed as a Research House specialising in managed funds research in 2003 and is the holder of Australian Financial Services License (AFSL) No. 226872.
Zenith currently has a dedicated team of 15 analysts and additional analytical resources amongst the wider team can be brought to bear as needed.
All Zenith analysts and senior personnel at minimum meet the general standards of competency required for AFSL holders as set out in ASIC Regulatory Guide 146 Licensing: Training of financial product advisers. RG 146 is a guide for Australian financial services licensees and representatives who provide financial product advice to retail clients. In addition, all analysts also have academic qualifications to degree level at minimum. Further details on Zenith staff can be found on the "who we are" page.
Zenith's ratings and research reports are limited to “General Advice” (as defined by section 766B of Corporations Act 2001) and based solely on the assessment of the investment merits of the financial product. It is not a specific recommendation to purchase, sell or hold the relevant product(s) and does not have regard to the particular circumstances or needs of any specific person who may read it. Zenith advises that individual investors should seek their own independent financial advice before making an investment decision. No part of any research report is a solicitation to buy or sell any investment. Research reports are prepared exclusively for clients of Zenith.
Ratings are specific to the product to which it is issued. That is, Zenith rates products rather than fund managers. Zenith believes that while the skill of the investment management and strength of the organisation is paramount, product design features can differ even within the same investment strategy and so we do not see manager ratings as an effective way to capture these aspects.
Zenith's research process is fundamentally driven with a strong bias toward researching for quality rather than seeking to provide voluminous coverage of the entire marketplace. Zenith sees itself as a high conviction researcher and is determined to focus our research effort on illuminating those products with merit rather than undertaking in-depth research on all funds (see Coverage Policy).
Zenith’s coverage policy defines the investment universe of products which are potentially eligible to receive an investment rating. This universe primarily focuses on those products available to financial advisers via the major wrap platforms and master trusts. Products predominantly encompass Unlisted Managed Funds and Exchange Traded Products (ETP's) available via the ASX.
Zenith also includes in its coverage policy products in several asset classes which are traditionally only available directly ‘off-platform’ via a Product Disclosure Statement or Information Memorandum. These asset classes which have limited or nil platform availability include sectors such as Unlisted Direct Property Funds and products in the Alternatives asset class including Hedge Funds and Private Equity Funds.
Zenith regards research coverage based around platforms to be most efficient for the majority of asset classes as anecdotal evidence suggests that approximately 85% of adviser driven fund flows utilise platform products. It should be appreciated however that there is still a potentially large number of funds off-platform that are not being captured in the Zenith universe.
Funds in the investment universe may be divided into ‘Parent’ or ‘Sibling’ funds. This denomination relates to whether a fund is structured for a particular investment platform or not. Parent funds may have multiple sibling funds on one or more platforms. Sibling funds are identical to the parent with the exception of costs. At present Zenith’s total investment universe represents in excess of 1,300 Parent funds (over 3,000 including Sibling funds) and is viewable on the Fund Reports on the Zenith website.
Zenith's investment universe is predominantly made up of products which are open to investment. A small number of products however may periodically be closed to investment or utilise a closed end structure (a limited investment window followed by a fixed investment term). Such products are included for performance monitoring purposes. Products in this category are typically those with ‘Real Assets’ such as real estate or direct ownership of commodities as well as Private Equity funds.
It is important to note that the coverage policy only dictates how the investment universe is compiled and maintained, not how Zenith ratings are assigned and distributed across the investment universe. Zenith does not seek to apply any selection bias within the coverage policy outside the availability requirements listed above. Removal from the investment universe will only occur when a product is terminated and wound up or the minimum requirements regarding information availability cannot be met (see below).
Research coverage is predominantly undertaken on a sector basis (asset class) which operates on an annual cycle. Zenith’s research objective is to ensure coverage is formally updated as close to every 12 months as possible. Zenith has the ability to undertake research outside the scheduled cycle when required ('Out-of-Cycle' reviews). Out-of-cycle reviews are at Zenith's discretion and generally only considered where there is either strong client demand or the product is a new offering with compelling attributes. Out-of-cycle reviews are undertaken in accordance with our standard research process.
The exception to the standard research schedule is where funds have adopted a closed-ended structure (as defined above). Given that such funds typically have a comparatively short timeframe in which to raise capital, Zenith will undertake the research process as and when such products are offered to the market.
Zenith's research process is fundamentally forward looking and relies on both qualitative and quantitative input from analysts. The research methodology is divided into two key processes.
1. Sector Universe and Preliminary Screening
Zenith's sector universe is derived from its coverage policy. Zenith maintains propriety in-house data on products which form the basis of our investment universe. This data is collected directly from fund managers and product issuers on a monthly basis. This data (and calculated financial ratios) forms the basis of Zenith’s quantitative analysis process.
Screening is undertaken on a sector basis which are typically categorised along asset class and regional lines. The following table shows the relevant peer groups in Zenith’s coverage universe. These groups are defined by common asset classes, objectives, investment styles and investment structures.
Peer Groups by Asset Class
Australian Fixed Interest
International Fixed Interest
All open products within the universe are subject to the review process with review schedules carried out annually. Each product undergoes a preliminary screening process to determine those candidates which have a strong probability of achieving at least an Investment Grade rating or higher.
The preliminary screening involves a comprehensive, multi-dimensional selection process using quantitative analysis with a qualitative overlay. Only products that pass the preliminary screening become eligible to undertake Zenith’s full research process (a Product Assessment). Products that do not pass are ineligible to undertake a Zenith Product Assessment as they have failed to meet the necessary quality parameters. These products which fail the preliminary screening are deemed to be Non-Investment Grade for Zenith clients.
Factual information on these products and their rating status remains visible to Zenith clients until the next annual review when they will again be screened for potential eligibility for a Product Assessment. It is important to note that every product in the universe is screened annually with the presence of an existing rating no guarantee that a product will not be downgraded during the annual review.
2. Full Due Diligence Review & Rating
Once a product has been confirmed as passing the preliminary screening process, the product issuer is invited to participate in the formal review process. Once Zenith’s Research Agreement is executed, product issuers are contractually committed to the research process and will be issued a Research Rating regardless of the ultimate outcome. This rating will remain valid until the earlier of either:
Once a rating is issued it will remain available for viewing on the Zenith website until it is replaced, updated or withdrawn (see ‘Currency of Ratings’ below).
The full due diligence review involves a formal face-to-face meeting with the investment management team and other key management figures to assess the product. These meetings typically take several hours and examine all aspects of the product’s objectives, structure and operation. It is at this stage of the process where Zenith probes deeply to understand all the nuances of the investment manager from its overall philosophy and process to the quality, experience and track record of the investment team. Zenith also undertakes a thorough review of all documentation and an in-depth "look under the covers" with respect to the investment portfolio and management systems.
For comparison purposes, managers are reviewed amongst both their peers within their sector, but also importantly with other managers of the same style. The research team consider factors which could impede attractively ranked products from repeating strong returns generated in the past. Examples include organisational issues or major staff changes.
Once this due diligence has been finalised, a formal research report is completed and a rating is assigned. Managers are permitted access to a copy of the draft research report (generated as a .pdf file to prevent editing), to identify any factual errors. It is important to note that Zenith retains editorial control at all times and draft reports do not carry a rating.
Once a report is finalised, the rating is assigned and the report published to the Zenith website. Each time a report (or suite of reports) is published, Zenith sends out a communication notifying clients that new research and ratings are available. Only after communicating this information to subscribing clients are product issuers informed of the outcome of the ratings process.
Zenith's Fund Research Methodology can be located here: Fund Research Methodology
Zenith utilises both quantitative and qualitative factors in its ratings models. Models maximise commonality across different asset classes while retaining flexibility for specialist asset classes and strategies.
The quantitative assessment is flexible in that we do not rely on a set minimum performance history to positively rate a product. Zenith may at its discretion use the history of an investment manager at a previous organisation if required. However it should be noted that lack of performance history is generally an impediment to conviction and will usually negatively impact on our scoring.
Zenith’s ratings are based on the output of a proprietary scoring model. This model and its broad factors are shown in the following diagram. Please note we do not disclose the weightings of factors and sub-factors may change for each sector. This information should be used as a guide only.