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Coming soon: The Wealth Managers Review
A comprehensive review of the practices and preferences of DFMs and wealth managers in the UK today
Due for publication in September 2017, Research in Finance’s new Wealth Managers Review is designed specifically to help sales, distribution and marketing personnel at asset management companies operate more effectively. As the wealth management landscape evolves, it is crucially important to take stock and adapt. Asset managers need to be able to understand how the different types of firm work, where they are headed, where the investment decision-making power lies and how to offer decision makers the right kind of contact and support.
The Wealth Managers Review combines top-down quantitative research on trends and preferences with bottom-up qualitative and secondary research on individual leading firms, to provide a comprehensive view of this market.
The report will answer important questions, including:
• What investment propositions do these firms offer and where are the bulk of assets going
• Who is making the fund selection decisions within firms?
• How is decision making split between central and regional offices?
• How actively do they review and change up portfolios?
• What are DFM firms’ business aspirations? How much appetite is there for further M&A activity?
• What are the most effective means of asset manager communication, and how does this vary by job function?
• Who are the best business development managers/sales contacts and what are they doing right?
Research in Finance is uniquely placed to produce such a report. With over 55 years’ cumulative experience across the wholesale, institutional and private investor markets, we believe our understanding makes us an invaluable partner with any business working in the sector. We speak to DFMs and wealth managers regularly across an array of topic areas, building strong relationships with influential individuals at key firms.
In addition to report copies, subscribing firms will receive a supporting PowerPoint summary document and be invited to a breakfast briefing upon launch at our office in the City. For the first five subscribers, we have an “early bird” offer of additional, bespoke feedback on how DFMs and wealth managers perceive your firm.
A number of investment managers have recently launched SRI and ESG investment strategies. Is demand from UK pension schemes growing to the degree that the industry hype suggests, or are these managers jumping the gun? Annalise Toberman, Head of Insight at RiF offers her views.
As we began analysing the results from the first wave of our UK Institutional Market Study, back in November 2015, the Research in Finance team undertook the unenviable task of trawling through every local government pension scheme’s Annual Report. Aside from aggregating information on current asset allocation and recent changes to mandates, we sought to understand how much importance the schemes were placing on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles. Mounting press attention and general industry chatter suggested that these factors were really gaining traction. There was also a sense of inevitability about institutional investors in the UK finally boarding the ESG train: we increasingly lagged our European counterparts on these principles, and a growing body of evidence pointed to them having a positive effect on long-term performance.
In this context, we were surprised to find a muted response to ESG from the local government schemes. Just over a tenth were taking action beyond simply joining industry bodies – i.e. talking about the issue – and expecting investment managers to consider the principles on their behalf. The findings from our online survey of schemes, investment consultants and corporate advisers confirmed that ESG investing remained a minority sport for UK pension schemes. Deficits and longevity risk were weighing heavy on the minds of scheme managers and trustees – and of course, continue to do so. With this mind-set, there is a reticence to embrace investment strategies that could restrict returns, at least in the short term.
A year on and our research indicates that ESG remains of secondary importance to schemes and consultants. It ranks low relative to other factors in investment manager selection. Most scheme managers and trustees report that they don’t engage with ESG principles at all, or that they only do to the extent that they expect investment managers to have a clear ESG policy. One cynical scheme manager commented, “I consider ESG to be nothing more than well-intentioned window dressing.”
Yet lack of enthusiasm for ESG is not universal. In fact, a sizeable proportion of larger UK schemes are taking ESG more seriously, including it as a criterion for selecting managers across the board or investing/ planning to invest in ESG-themed mandates. Additionally, some are employing a specialist consultancy such as Pensions & Investment Research Consultants or Hermes EOS to help them improve their corporate engagement.
Returning to the opening question, ESG hype does appear to be outpacing actual demand, but it feels like the growth potential is there, and it certainly doesn’t hurt to build a track record in this area. What remains to be seen is whether regulation will come along to spur ESG investing in the UK, or if the investment management frontrunners will have to play the long game.
If you’d like to hear more about UKIMS please drop me a email.