SEI, the adviser and administrator of some $884bn globally, has announced a partnership with Inovéa, which will see six Ucits sub-funds pitched to clients of the French independent wealth management network, as part of a broader push into this market segment across the region.
The deal will see Inovéa use a French version of SEI GoalPortal - a proprietary discovery process - as well as SEI Discovery Board - used to prioritise financial goals. GoalPortal facilitates production of custom reports and ongoing monitoring of individual clients' progress towards the financial goals identied through the wealth planning discovery process.
Supporting this will be a set of six Ucits sub-funds, bracketed as 'Strategic Portfolios': SEI European Conservative Fund, SEI European Moderate Fund, SEI European Core Fund, SEI European Balanced Fund, SEI European Growth Fund and SEI European Aggressive Fund.
Training in the use of SEI's systems progressed throughout France and the Caribbean for more than 450 advisers, SEI noted.
Kevin Barr, executive vice president, and head of SEI's Investment Management Unit and Asset Management Distribution Team, confirmed that as Ucits sub-funds, the six portfolios would also be available to other investors.
He stressed that the sub-funds rely on a manager of manager approach, in which the idea is to contract with managers directly, not by buying the managers' underlying funds. This makes the approach more cost effective and enables access to more specialisation, he suggested.
"They will be available in France to other investors, but the packaging with GoalPortal is something that we have done in partnership with Inovéa," he said.
There is potential to increase the number of Strategic Portolios, but this is not seen as necessary. It is possible to build combinations of the six funds, which means they should be seen more as building blocks on behalf of clients, to suit different outcomes being targeted. it is not a case of "one goal equals one portfolio", Barr noted.
"It's a spectrum; to fine tune it you just change the combination."
On the issue of Caribbean jurisdictions also covered by the deal, Barr noted that this has come about through Inovéa's relationships in those countries. However, the bulk of opportunity identified for SEI and Inovéa is in France, while the French network has aspirations to expand beyond France, he said.
The deal announced involves a packaging of GoalPortal with the six portfolios and an element of exclusivity for a certain amount of time, Barr said, but this does not preclude SEI from engaging in other sorts of relationships in France, or elsewhere in Europe.
Any other deals in France "would have to be structured differently than the one with Inovéa," he aknowledged.
One of the key reasons for the partnership deal is that SEI felt Inovéa's approach to wealth management, of working with clients and determining their financial objectives, is consistent with its own philosophy, Barr said.
Additionally, Inovéa's approach to growing its business on a network model is "unique globally, let alone Europe," Barr said.
There has been obvious success in building the network model, training advisers, bringing advisers through the accreditation process, and delivering advice, Barr suggested, coupled with evidence that Inovéa not only wants to expand within France, but elsewhere too.
SEI may work with other French companies, but Inovéa "has a different approach to what we've seen with most firms" as well as being something that SEI sees as leveragable into other jurisdictions throughout Europe and beyond.
"When Inovéa was talking to partners, it was one of things that brought them to SEI," Barr noted.
"They quickly realised what we are trying to do is not just provide asset management products, but help advisory and wealth management firms build and capitalise on delivering advice to clients."
"Oftentimes, advisers don't have the necessary tools to increase the level of advice they give to the client."
"What we shared with them is not only 30 years of history and vision, but also shared with them the tools we have developed over that time, and focus on behavioural finance, which links not only modern portfolio theory, but also how people feel when markets go up and go down - and bring together concepts of goals-based investing, which when it starts to get more specific, and have discussions about setting out goals and priorities, how they invest their money."
"Rather than thinking that's going to be done via a face to face converstation with notes from an adviser, we have put money into tools and technologies that help advisers have those discussions, and find out how to put feelings into investment decisions."
The package that SEI brings is not only about engendering good advice, but also to track how well that advice is working, and how well clients' goals are progressing. The GoalPortal has been part of SEI's strategy since before Inovéa was contacted, and will continue to drive business with other clients, Barr said.
The deal overall also signals SEI's intent to expand globally in this area of wealth management. It has been present in the UK market, and linked markets such as Hong Kong and Canada, but there is an opportunity to supply advisers across Europe with what is being supplied to Inovéa, Barr added.