Smartkarma raises $18m for overseas sales and distribution

A Singapore-based company supplying independent investment research has raised US$13 million (S$17.7 million) to expand its sales and distribution overseas.

The Series B round of financing brings Smartkarma's total funding to US$21 million, it said yesterday.

Existing investors such as Wavemaker Partners, Jungle Ventures and Spring Seeds Capital joined the round led by Sequoia Capital India.

Founded in 2014, Smartkarma launched its service last year and now has over 150 subscribers. These are institutional asset managers including sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds and family offices.

Sequoia Capital India managing director Shailendra Singh said: "The traditional equity research model has been broken for a while. Smartkarma is empowering independent researchers and creating a new paradigm of transparent pricing in this industry. The early success of the company is a strong testament to its innovative business model."

Smartkarma said it will use the fresh funds to consolidate its leadership position in the Asia-Pacific region by strengthening its network of 400 independent analysts, augmenting the tools and features on its platform, as well as adding new services.

It will also open a new office in the United States and grow its London office, which opened in September.

Smartkarma chief executive Raghav Kapoor said: "For us, what's very significant is that there's profound regulatory change in the market for research. It's called MiFID II (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) and we're very well positioned for this change."

MiFID II, which will be rolled out in the European Union from next year, will require fund managers to tell investors exactly how much they pay banks and brokers for external research. These fees have long been bundled with trading commissions and other services fees.

The idea is to create greater fee transparency, which is what Smartkarma offers, said Mr Kapoor.