The ASX mFund settlement service has effectively doubled its retail footprint overnight with NAB's "enterprise-wide" commitment to join the service.
NAB announced yesterday that Nabtrade, NAB Asset Management and NAB Asset Servicing will join mFund – making NAB the first major bank to commit to the settlement service since it went live in May 2014.
mFund replaces the traditional paper-based processes for settling managed funds, and uses the same electronic processes (namely, CHESS) that investors and stockbrokers use to finalise ASX share transactions.
Speaking to InvestorDaily, ASX senior manager for funds and investment products Marcus Christoe said the major banks have never said 'no' to mFund – despite suggestions that mFund will compete with the banks' retail wealth platforms.
"It’s all about [the banks'] competing priorities. This enterprise-wide commitment from NAB is a very large commitment from them," Mr Christoe said.
mFund has always been explicitly targeted at self-directed investors, and ASX head of customer and business development Ian Irvine told InvestorDaily that about 85 per cent of investors in the service have 'SMSF' in their CHESS HIN holding title.
"I think there’s a growing recognition that mFund really plays out to the direct investor, and direct investors by definition are not being dealt with through financial planner platforms," Mr Irvine said.
The addition of Nabtrade brings the number of distributors using the mFund service to 13. Macquarie Online Trading and the Bank of Queensland (BOQ) Trading have also joined mFund in recent weeks.
Mr Christoe said the addition of Nabtrade's stockbroker network would double the retail footprint of the service.
"This significantly increases the distribution for the true believers [ie, 'foundation' product providers] who have been with us from the start," Mr Christoe said.
He added the ASX has had a number of calls from new fund managers expressing interest in joining the service since NAB's announcement.
There are currently 16 responsible entities/issuers using mFund, representing 35 fund managers and 125 managed funds – as well as 12 unit registries.
NAB Asset Servicing's client UBS moved 11 of its funds onto the mFund service last week.
Mr Christoe was confident NAB/MLC would gradually introduce its wide range of funds into the mFund network.
"Like any of the other managers they’ll bring on funds one by one. But it does open it up for any of the funds under the MLC banner or under the [Antares Capital] banner," he said.
But when asked by InvestorDaily, a spokesperson for NAB was more circumspect.
"NAB will work with the ASX to determine which funds will be launched onto mFund," said the spokesperson.