Focus on multi-asset – Appetite for strategy sparks bidding war for talent

The popularity of the strategy of ‘multi-asset’ has sparked an intense sales war in one of the few ‘hot’ spaces of European asset management, but it has also initiated a recruitment race to fill teams with talented people.

The running really began last year, when multi-asset funds were the only discrete strategy to receive net inflows in Europe, of €7.3bn, according to Lipper.

Managers that did not have fully-developed teams were at a serious disadvantage, not least because there seemed to be little appetite for other investment strategies from allocators.

One Swiss-based fund buyer said: “There has not been much demand for anything else, everyone wants safety in investments, and that suggests multi-strategy.”

Asset houses have been busy hiring senior managers.

Tobly Nangle left Baring Asset Management to head up Threadneedle’s multi-asset product line, but even as he left a spokesman for Baring AM said it was looking in London and Boston to boost its own asset allocation capabilities.

It later replaced Nangle with Christopher Mahon from Momentum Asset Management.

At Franklin Templeton, Todd Saunders became senior portfolio strategies for multi-asset, while Samer Habl was recruited as a managing director on the allocation team, among a large number of additions in this area for the US-headquartered group.

More recently, Schroders hired two senior analysts – Jingjing Cui and Matthew Joyce – to its multi-asset team, after losing diversified growth fund manager Michael Spinks to Investec Asset Management.

Picking staff for multi-asset is a complicated affair, says Miles Geldard, who heads up Jupiter’s merged fixed interest and multi-asset team.

He says having security selection skills is not enough, but nor is only having the ability to review different asset classes.

A deeper knowledge of asset flows, of the nature of central bank decision-making and even political insight are all helpful in strengthening a team, he says. Having worked for central banks directly, Geldard (pictured) brings a fair amount of knowledge on these matters to his task at Jupiter.

One German fund buyer agreed with Geldard’s comments: “You need to know how the wider world works if you are going to allocate between, not just in, asset classes broadly. Otherwise you can be caught off guard in your timing, your selection, and your sizing of allocations, especially in the volatile conditions we see now.”

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