Comgest named best boutique as investors agree – ‘smaller can be beautiful

French headquartered fund manager Comgest has won an award in Germany for the best fund boutique of the year, at a time investor appetite is growing for such independent managers.

The proportion of investor assets managed by houses selling 20 or fewer funds in Europe has grown from less than 5% of total assets in 2008.

It almost reached 40% by the third quarter of 2011, according to recent research from data providers Lipper.

This figure was nearly as much as in 2007, when investors who used European-registered funds gave about 41% of their total assets to such smaller houses. This was the highest ‘boutique’ proportion since at least 2002.

In the credit crisis from 2008, investors moved to larger houses, leaving managers with 20 funds or fewer with less than 5% of total assets.

But this percentage has grown significantly since then.

Detlef Glow, head of Lipper EMEA research, said: “Investors were disappointed by the performance of plain vanilla active fund managers during and after the financial crisis, as they had not been able to generate added value for investors, due to the fact that the majority use a relative risk management approach.

“As a result, investors are looking for managers who have the ability to manage absolute risk, rather than managers who just look after the relative risk compared to their respective market benchmarks. This means that investors are looking for more active managers to generate real alpha for their portfolios.

“Groups with special knowledge and a high degree of freedom in their investment process, who enable investors to gain exposure to niche markets, are enjoying increasing assets under management.”

The Comgest boutique beat about 50 competitors to win its category in the European award from Finanzen Verlag.

Comgest managing director Jan-Peter Dolff (pictured) said the award – for groups with between 10 and 30 funds – showed the success of the €13.5bn fund manager’s “quality growth for the long term” approach, applied in both developed and developing markets.

Comgest also highlighted its long-term investment strategy, only buying shares with “earnings visibility over an extended time horizon”. It has therefore avoided bank equity in almost all its funds.

It also pointed to the fact it is owned independently, and so decisions are made by non-conflicted people.

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