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How CID and FactSet’s Thematic Intelligence and Investments opened up the world for the first plant-based ETF

Discover how the world’s first plant-based ETF built comprehensive thematic lists that delivered high performance – despite only operating with a handful of experts.

At a glance

VegTech runs EatV, the world’s first plant-based ETF. As a challenger run by a handful of subject matter experts, scalability was a major obstacle

And with a view to invest across the plant-based supply chain, the depth of research needed was enormous. FactSet & CID’s Thematic Intelligence and Investments solution allowed VegTech to build comprehensive, detailed thematic lists they could rank and scrutinise, rapidly downsizing the research footprint they needed. And companies identified via the solution are already delivering alpha.

The challenge

The insights gap – the difference between the information traditional fundamental and quantitative data sets deliver and what is needed by investors and funds – is a very real issue. It’s even more of an issue when you’re trying to change the world.

That is the goal of VegTech, and their EatV fund. The world’s first exclusively plant-based ETF, EatV is tackling traditional meat-based agriculture and processes in a bid to change the way we eat.

From climate change to deforestation, food insecurity and global health, it’s an impressive (and daunting) undertaking for VegTech.

There were several challenges that VegTech needed to solve.

They were working on a global scale, tackling businesses and supply chains in dozens of countries and languages. This made it incredibly hard to collect and convert information into a ready-to-use format.

Their ambition didn’t stop there – VegTech weren’t just focused on the final plant-based consumer products, but companies across the entire supply chain. Smart agriculture, synthetic biology, suppliers and end products meant they needed to screen a huge amount of potentially investable businesses.

A new fund, VegTech is run by a small team of subject-matter experts. As brilliant and dedicated as they are, it simply wasn’t possible for them to tackle a challenge on this scale. Scaling their research capabilities and growing the fund in a sustainable way would need a different approach.

The solution

“A fund is only as good as the companies within it.” That’s a telling statement, and why VegTech turned to FactSet and CID to help them research, screen and invest in a more comprehensive and efficient way with Thematic Intelligence and Investments.

A specialised AI tool for thematic investing, Thematic Intelligence and Investments (TII), based on CID’s Affinity and FactSet data, is designed to support portfolio and fund managers with their thematic strategy.

TII’s web-crawling AI captures unstructured, qualitative data from a host of sources – the news, financial reports, company news and more. VegTech can then use this data to set up specific research lists to then be filtered and customised by users.

Automated and efficient, the solution was used by VegTech to close their insights gap and allow them a deeper level of detail, depth and transparency when searching for equities around the  globe.

The results

The impact of Thematic Intelligence and Investments was transformative for VegTech and the EatV fund. 

The process of pre screening and filtering investment opportunities shrank from taking weeks of manual research to a matter of hours. Suddenly the number of companies VegTech could investigate grew by several orders of magnitude.

This included being able to examine translated information from a host of languages, meaning their researchers could explore global equity opportunities across the globe just as quickly as domestic ones.

Described in their own words as a ‘mega-trend’, this automated efficiency resulted in a huge time saving for their research efforts.

Multiple screens and fields could be set up in the space of a day, meaning that the enormous scope of industries they were covering could be cross-referenced and researched in a fraction of the time needed via traditional methods.

It wasn’t just the time saving though – the level of intelligence and customisability delivered by FactSet and CID meant their fund managers could quickly specify and explore potential companies at a far deeper level, capturing hyper-relevant information on repeat.

Ordering and filtering meant that companies that were only superficially suitable could be quickly checked and avoided. One Italian dessert company ticked every box for EatV – until their liquidity and volume was scrutinised and found to fall short.

But for those that have been uncovered and invested in, the returns are already speaking for themselves; A recent addition to the fund is already generating alpha. In VegTech’s own words, Thematic Intelligence and Investments’ impact is nothing short of ‘ground-breaking’.

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If you want to find out more about how CID and Factset can help your thematic investment processes and performance, we should talk.

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