Asia calling: Nikko AM platform seeks best of Europe managers

Nikko Asset Management is looking for new fund managers for its World Series Fund Platform. Aoifinn Devitt (pictured) explains how managers are selected and monitored

With many investors and asset managers turning to Asia for business growth and for investment returns, Nikko Asset Management is positioning itself as a broker between the region and the rest of the world.

In May, the firm hired Aoifinn Devitt (pictured) from Ignis Asset Management to head its manager selection business from primarily Japan, to Europe and other parts of Asia.

Previously at Cambridge Associates and at Goldman Sachs, London-based Devitt says said the World Series platform evolved from a need among Nikko AM’s Japanese clients looking for the best managers outside of Japan and Asia. “

We have in-house capabilities, but we also want to access global manager talent,” she explained. “So we have developed flexible pull and push strategies to meet client demand.”

The pull strategy is when clients are interested in the best-of-breed funds already on the platform, while the push strategy is pre-emptive – doing due diligence on funds not yet included. “There are many ways to reach a solution,” says Devitt, partly because client requirements are very different.

The platform now has over $29bn of third-party manager products distributed across Japan, Australia and Singapore. It includes vehicles sub-advised by more than 40 managers, including PIMCO, Wellington, JP Morgan Asset Management, Ashmore, Blue Bay and Franklin Templeton.

Yield and inflation hedging are the most sought after outcomes at the moment. The funds are marketed under the Nikko AM brand and distributed to institutional, retail and high net worth investors across Asia. The firm is actively expanding the network of 300 intermediaries it already uses in Asia, with a greater focus outside Japan.

Devitt, already highly regarded as a global fund selector, describes the platform’s process: “We do full due diligence on investment strategies, operations and risk management, drawing on the resources of the wider firm (Nikko AM). Then we see how the product can best be wrapped for the client. That may involve an overlay or a share class for tailored solutions, but we also check the fund can do that without detracting from the overall value proposition.”

Unusually, there are no set requirements in asset size, strategy or even track record for inclusion on the platform. “We are open minded and constantly scouring for talent. There are not always strict constraints. We want to source innovators who are in touch with changing times, who have a dynamic approach and product.”


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