The vindication of independence at Italy’s Anthilia Capital

Launched in the teeth of the global financial crisis, Anthilia Capital is meeting growth targets and fending off golden buyout offers.

Anthilia Capital Partners was formed with the specific aim of being a pure asset manager.

The principles behind its formation were set in reaction to the structural problems in Italy affecting the fund management sector’s overall performance, in particular the sector’s subservience to the banking and insurance industries.

But the Italian banking system, and by extension the fund management industry, is undergoing big changes.

“I don’t talk of a crisis in fund management it is a sector in transition,” says Giovanni Landi (pictured), senior partner at Anthilia.

“The banking system still predominates, but it is changing and has yet to reach maturity, while fund managers offer far too many products.”

However, criticism of the industry must also be seen in the context of erratic client demand, caused in part by a lack of financial education.

Anthilia was launched as an independent partnership, a structure that encourages fund manager partners to focus on the business of obtaining consistently higher returns, free of any benchmarks.

Operationally, Anthilia was formed with two criteria in mind:

“We focus on simplicity and on the funds that we know,” specifically European equity, says Landi.

The firm has four Luxembourg-domiciled Planetarium Sicav funds (the Blue, Red, Green and Grey funds), all total return funds with different strategies delivering absolute returns; the Dublin-domiciled Plurima Low Volatility Fund, designed to produce positive absolute returns with low volatility and low correlation with global fixed income and equity markets; and Anthilia You, a portfolio management offering.

The Planetarium funds charge management fees of between 1% and 1.75% and performance fees of between 15% and 20%, with high watermarks and no resets.

Discipline

Anthilia has adopted a highly disciplined approach, which Landi describes as “almost military”.

The team of nine partners has high expectations of their own performance, as all partners are expected to invest in their own funds.

At the moment, they account for 3% of Anthilia’s AUM of €450m.

They have certain expectations of their clients, too. The clientele is mainly institutional (45%); private banks or other operations offering segregated accounts account for 32% of assets; direct clients make up 20%; and the remaining 3% is the ‘skin in the game’ of the Anthilia partners.

Being a boutique means Anthilia has to screen the investors. “We would rather have fewer and better clients,” says Landi.

This exclusivity policy has its advantages: “We would rather be in a position where clients are anxious to get in to our funds, rather than anxious to get out.”

This reduces the need for costly investor relations and administration teams, and enables the partners to focus on the core business of fund management.

Their priority is clearly focused on performance, which puts asset gathering a distant second. Landi is happy for Anthilia to remain a boutique.

Expansion or asset gathering will only happen under certain conditions.

“Alpha generation is not about economies of scale, unlike ETFs. It is about people, skills and the quality of management.”

The Anthilia co-partners are more than just colleagues they are like minded professionals who are also friends. The closeness of the group, as well as being the strength that keeps them together, will also mean that expansion into other asset classes will only happen if they can find other like-minded managers.

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